I’ve always felt that Midway was a great concept. It covers the strategic and the tactical parts of the battle. You search for the enemy on a strategic map, then when there is an actual encounter, you take it to the tactical Battle Board. Same with the Bismarck game and Jutland.
So why can’t we do something like that with a land wargame?
I’m particularly thinking of the Avalon Hill games, 1776 and Frederick the Great. They are both strategic games, covering the whole theatre of operations of their respective conflicts. They are great for moving the armies of the day, but when it comes down to battle, “compare the numbers and roll the dice.”
So why not use them as the strategic element, and create a tactical game to go along with them?
This is something I’ve been thinking about and working on for well over a year now. However, every time I start working on a new set of counters for some other game, this gets thrust onto the back burner.
I wanted to create counters that could actually look something like the units that were there. Since this was a very linear type of warfare, I decided to use my “ship counters,” the ones that are ½” wide by 2” long. That will definitely give a linear look to the units.
So I started with a base decoration on the counters that was supposed to look like grass; single-pixel dots in various shades of green. Then I created shapes looking like soldiers as seen from above. I only had to create a few; soldier advancing, soldier marching, officer, standard bearer, drummer, artillery crew and mounted trooper/officer. I laid them on the counter-shaped grass pattern to make nice military formations, and they looked great.
Then I printed them out to see what the counters would look like.
I work in up to 24,000 dpi on my computer. At that size, the little figures have great detail and are bright and colourful. When you reduce the graphic down to 300 dpi, however, the darker colours tend to close in on each other and the whole comes out darker than you expect. The counters looked like a dark smear on dark green grass. Their black tricorns looked like stealth fighters crashed on the soldiers’ heads.
So I made the individual figures larger, hoping they would stand out more.
Not much of an improvement.
Finally I decided to try a much lighter base, hoping that the contrast between figures and base would let the figures show up much better. It’s definitely an improvement. I’m not really thrilled with the bases, however. They’re basically beige with a sprinkling of green. Las Vegas lawn! Still, it is better. I think the counters are finally taking their final shape.
Something similar happened when I made the new version of the Panzerblitz counters. What looks good by itself doesn’t always look good when placed on a counter shape.
On and off I’ve been working on a map to go with the counters – or should I say maps. Taking my lead from AH and other manufacturers, I wanted to make several smaller geomorphic maps so you could put them together in many different ways. I had in mind maps with 1” hexes – a counter would cover 2 hexes – or 2” hexes that could take a counter entire.
The Panzer Leader boards were about the level of detail I was looking for, but the hexes were too small. So I blew some of them up by 133% to give them 1” hexes and tried a test battle.
Not good. On a pair of hexes you can face 6 directions. In one direction you can position your units squarely, but if your battle line develops 90 degrees from that your units are always diagonally facing each other. Doesn’t really look good. It would be the same if you used 2” hexes.
So I have decided to take a step back to 1958 and go with a map with actual squares on it. On a square, your unit can face 8 different directions. Battle line facing will be more realistic with flanking positions more obvious. The method of movement will have to be changed to compensate for diagonal movement, however.
Of course, I still have to make the board(s) and test it/them. Once that is done, we’ll see if I still like them.