In the run up to Christmas, gaming always has to take a back seat, so I’m not playing much at the moment. I can still hatch plots, though, and currently I’m looking at the time- and space-saving properties of hexmaps.
I’d love to have proper wargames scenery, but I have no-where to store it. That led me to the idea of battlemats, which fold flat. Experience from the solo gaming threads has shown that I’m spending about 25% of my actual gaming time generating and setting up terrain, and I want to reduce that; which leads me to the idea of a few standard terrain layouts, one of which can be selected and deployed in a few seconds and stored flat when not in use.
There’s a fair amount of this about – go to RPGNow and search by product type for “2D Buildings/Terrain” under “RPG Accessories” – but due to the dominance of D&D, it is almost all set on a 1″ square grid. This has two problems; firstly, diagonal moves give a figure an advantage; and secondly, the grid is a little small for 28mm miniatures – their arms bump into each other. To give them some room to manoeuvre they need about a 35mm grid. There’s also an annoyance, in that most of them are 6″ square terrain pieces that print out on A4 or Letter size paper, wasting over half of it.
However, some sort of grid is useful, because I find it faster and easier to count spaces than measure with a tape measure.
Grognards will see where this is going. I need some standard maps with a hex grid, such as those used in SPI or Avalon Hill games of the 1970s and 1980s.
I’ve already selected 28mm figures as my scale of choice, so I need maps with 35mm hexes. That eats up table space, but I can declare one hex to count as 2″, which will mean my table will behave as a somewhat larger one. Sadly, such maps are hard to come by; most hex wargames use a 15-20mm hex and small card counters, and even they are much less common than they used to be.
A rummage through the Wargames Graveyard under my bed, where old games go to die, reveals that I have some flimsy paper battlemats with a 1″ hexgrid from the days of GURPS, and a set of maps for the board/miniatures hybrid wargame Daemonworld, which are actually pretty good, but now out of print. The picture below shows a party of adventurers facing off against a couple of warforged on those maps.
The maps I like best, though, are those from Cry Havoc, sadly out of print these 20 years, but available electronically and (sometimes) in hard copy from Cry Havoc Fan. These maps have a 20mm grid, but by printing an enlarged scan, I can get one Cry Havoc map to fit my table almost exactly, with 35mm hexes. So those, and the Daemonworld map, will become standard in my battle reports going forwards.
And the lesson learned? If you see something you think you might want for your hobby, don’t hang about, get it as soon as you can afford it. If you wait for a later time, it will be out of production when you come back for it.