Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Scrap On The Road

With a few bases in hand, it’s time to turn thoughts once more to fighting.  I’ve been turning over the idea of playing the upcoming Luftberg retreat march as a kind of ‘protect the convoy’ mission.  Basically, the idea is to get a long and narrow stretch of ground mapped out, with a road running the length of it.  Luftberg will start at one end, burdened with a collection of slow-moving wagons to represent their baggage train.  They have to move them (or at least as many as they’re able) to the far end of the map and escape, all the while guarding against a random entry by a raiding Aschenbach force seeking to cut the road. 

 Step one on this is to carry out the long-overdue replacement of Conrad Von Hentsch, shot down in action at the conclusion of the last campaign, and still unreplaced as one of the more gifted sub-commanders in the Luftberg army.  I have therefore (on behalf of Felix von Hentsch, you understand!) posted an advert on EvE to see if any other blogger out there has a character they wouldn’t mind volunteering to fill Conrad’s vacated boots.  It seemed appropriate given the cosmopolitan nature of the military in the 18th century, but if no colourful characters are forthcoming I’ll simply create one myself.


Step two is to knock together a map.  I did this for the river crossing and approach marches to the battle of Passditz, and I actually liked the effect.  I thought it really lent something to the whole battle, so I’ll do the same here, and in case anybody is interested, I’ll explain the process.  I’ll be looking for a map that’s about 4ft wide, in order to give all the units a generous bit of elbow-room, and the area for possible fighting will be roughly four times as long as it is wide, to create the ‘corridor’ required for the scenario above.  So, 4ft x 16ft – 64 squares in all, and in each one I’ll put a single dominant terrain feature.

 Having tried and failed on repeated occasions to just imagine a map, I’ve given up.  You always stick a hill or something right at the point of maximum interest, and spoil it for other options beside the one you’ve expected going in.  A purely random process has proved itself perfectly good, and I’d recommend it.  Plus, you can computerise it for free!


Thinking up terrain for 64 boxes can be pretty tedious, and you’ll probably need more than 64 if you’re doing a decent battle, so I like to use an Excel spreadsheet.  Without getting technical (although I will in the comments boxes if anybody wants me to) you can instruct Excel to generate a random number for you – effectively a dice-roll of any number of sides.  I set up a ‘terrain table’ which numbered 1-10, and assigned a terrain type to each number.  These were pretty basic, like ‘hill’ or ‘light woods’ or ‘Village’ and I made about four options ‘clear terrain’ so the map would have some open areas, and not be like fighting in a mountain range or rainforest. 

 All you do is knock together a grid of the size & shape of your map, and in each cell you put the random number generator so each square is being rolled for at once.  I then create a second grid beneath it, and tell Excel to look up the number generated for each box above, refer to the ‘terrain table’ to look up the corresponding terrain, and print the result – and bingo!  You’re done.  Your grid should now list the terrain for each square, and you don’t get an aching wrist from rolling dice all evening.  I’ll post the results of my own map next, so you can see the fight taking shape.


trailape said...

The Holy Mormoan Kingdom of New Wales has a candidate.
All we require is a d (postal address), and Scale? (15mm or 28mm).

trailape said...

"All we require is a d"??
d = "destination".
Sorry, dodgy keyboard,..

Snickering Corpses said...

If it's of use to you, I've got a terrain generator on my website at computerized with permission from Henry Hyde's system.

Prinz Geoffrey said...

I look forward to seeing how you run the scenario, as I need ideas for one, in which the Prinz coach is being escorted and his guard ambushed.

Prinz Geoffrey said...

I looked through your older blogs and it looks as if you are doing 15mm. If so there is a very promising, Obrist-Wachmeister(Major) named Drozden of IR-Christie that is looking to advance his career. If elected as your candidate I would need uniform details for our tailers and his arrival would be post-poned until early April. If you elect another due to speediancy or social taste we will not be offended. If you would choose Herr Major Drozden feel free to contact us at jeffreycavender at gmail dot com.

CWT said...

Wow, people are being so generous! I had imagined that people would volunteer a character, with a suitably colourful biography, and I'd take the character over to see what happens. Now it seems generous folk are willing to send an actual, physical figure! Wow!

People are of course welcome to submit offers, either for a figure or just a colourful biog/amusing name they've created.

I should warn everyone however that the character will be a 100% participant in the fighting, so don't loan out any beloved character only to see him picked off by a sniper on his first outing!

Anyhow, General Felix von Hentsch will ponder all applications in due course. Thanks to all!