Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Online Interactive Maps (Part 1) – by Nick Luft

I have been thinking how to enable the players to have their own interactive map and counters.

I was disappointed how I facilitated the players’ map in my recent game “Seize Warsaw“.

I had provided the players with a map and counters via a Google Slides (PowerPoint). James Kemp copied this and maintained his version during the game. Some players knew about this and used it (regarding it as essential for the gameplay) and others did not know of its existence and were using a different map. This did cause some confusion. And that was my fault.

The two controls on the day were using a Control only interactive whiteboard via ConceptBoard.

Two Interactive Maps

My intention is to have two maps. One maintained by Control and the other maintained by the players.

I duplicated the Control map and then removed a few things. The players have the same map, counters, and some notes on their map.

During the game I will grant players editing rights to their own map and them leave them to organise it themselves.

So far so good.

Hiding parts of the map

And then I thought why not customise the players’ map to hide sectors they could not see.

Here is the players’ map for “Seize Warsaw”. (This entire board is currently “locked” to avoid anybody accidently damaging it.)

I have covered the player map with multiple grey polygons to denote areas they cannot currently see. My intention is to unpin and delete these grey polygons when their units reach trigger points. One polygon for each “vista” to make it simple.

I have also added broad details of things the player would be able to see in the distance or know about. For example the Warsaw citadel is large and raised above the town and the old town has many church spires and tall civic buildings making it visible from many kilometres away. I have also drawn a general line to show where the River Vistula flows.

Advantages

Hopefully this will give a better experience to the players.

I don’t think there is going to be a technical issue in maintaining two maps, as I have a computer setup with two screens.

Disadvantages

I have yet to do this in a live game. It might create yet another thing for an overloaded Control to do during the game.

Of course I have to trust that the players will not unpin and shift the squares when I am not looking!

Vistas

Hiding sectors of a map reminded me of one of my first ever design sessions back 1990/1 at COW.

I had the idea that we could cut a paper map up into “vistas” and only provide them to players as they explored the map. It was a good idea but just utterly impractical in the era of analog. But now with digital online interactive maps, I will be able to do this.

I just might have realised a thirty year old “game design dream“.

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5 Comments
  1. Peter Merritt

    That is certainly interesting – although for ‘modern’ games (like WW2 in the West) wouldn’t both sides have maps? They just wouldn’t necessarily know who/what was located ahead… I know that the Allied breakout in 1944 actually outran their detailed maps, but they still had large scale ones.

    On the other hand, be great for some of the ACW stuff I’ve been working on lately – could even issue ‘corrected’ ones for the real terrain/direction of roads, new rivers etc – as the Union players move!

    • Nick Luft

      My original idea for “Vistas” was developed from my experience of playing an original Kriegsspiel on very detailed maps. And yes, I think pre-20th Century wars would have poorer maps and thus this approach is more applicable.

      In this 1939 scenario my premise is that the Division had gotten itself into a position where it had not got any decent maps of Warsaw. It is an unusual event. But I agree not that common a problem in the 20th Century.

  2. I do wonder if this is getting a bit complex. In the game I was told that one of my staff had produced a Baedeker guide. This would actually have included quite a lot of detail even if I had run off the edge of the 1:50,000 or equivalent OS type map. Surely the main problem in the game is info flow between the players on where their units are, where the Poles are and what to do, to say nothing of the war crimes sub plot. I think give the player teams a straightforward map – some of us remember Crete where the player teams all had different maps – aaarrgghh suffering a PTSD attack…..

    • Nick Luft

      Hmmmm… yes you might be correct. Perhaps I am using a solution that does not have a problem in this scenario.

      The problem I identified from the game was that I did not give the players their own interactive map. I could just leave it at that.

      My scenario premise is that they did struggle with not having a map. So the hidden “vistas” solution.

      I would still like to try it though. My guess is that it will not be that difficult to do and it should reflect the actual problems the men had on that day.

  3. Pingback: Interactive Maps for Players (Part 2) – by Nick Luft - Military Muddling

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