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Dominant Map Features - Castles

Posted May 14th, 2008 at 09:42 AM by Velenne
Castles are lovely. I remember being thrilled when I saw the first preview pictures of them. They certainly add a sense of majesty and even authenticity to the Heroscape brand.

But Castles are also tricky for the cartographer. A single tower is immediately the most dominant feature of the map, since few of us are willing to invest the tiles to create other levels of greater height. So while everyone wants to see two castles sally troops from their gates to meet in the midfield and lay siege, unfortunately that doesn't make for a very good game of Heroscape. On the other hand, our favorite game is modular. While the name of the set inclines us to build fortresses and walled structures for units to cower behind, the tiles of the set themselves offer the most variety of dominant features of any set. What follows are just a few examples of ways to use this set without building two castles across from each other.

The first dominant map feature I call "Central...
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Dominant Map Features - Tundra

Posted May 12th, 2008 at 09:05 AM by Velenne
To refresh your memory, here are my thoughts on the terrain from the Thaelenk Tundra expansion set from my Advanced Mapmaking Techniques article:

Snow: Used as normal snow, this terrain is an aesthetic addition to a map using this expansion. As heavy snow however, these tiles slow the advance of units in and out of critical areas, especially if its elevated. Be careful stacking these too high or wide however, as they can more of an impedance than they’re worth.

Ice: The same guideline I provide above for Snow applies to Ice. The only difference is that they look good next to the glaciers and can provide channels through or around water without adding elevation in much the same way as Swamp Water, only slowing down movement.

Glaciers: These provide excellent LOS management. Obviously the larger glaciers can be easily placed to section off your map and protect certain areas, but the smaller single-hex glaciers do this to a much lesser extent. Like
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Dominant Map Features - Lava

Posted May 7th, 2008 at 10:00 AM by Velenne
You may recall from my Advanced Mapmaking Techniques article that I feel the "Volcarran Wasteland" expansion is great for leaving your terrain open while forcing players to keep their figures moving. I've been looking for lava maps since the site update, but it appears that we've lost many of them in the transition. Few of these feature similar basic features, so it's not going to be quite as intuitive as my article on Roads.

The first kind of dominant map feature for this terrain is the Central Volcano. Take a look:

Road Not Taken by Soul Shackle

Look specifically at the way the lava terrain is used in relation to the shape and size of the map. In "Fire Isles", the molten lava splits the map in half length-wise for walking units and the lava rock offers the only heights. ...
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Rating: 3 votes, 4.33 average.

Dominant Map Features - Roads

Posted May 5th, 2008 at 09:58 AM by Velenne
In my last article, I discussed some of the basic features I look for on every map because every map has them to some degree (except possibly glyphs, but then their absence is noteworthy).

Now I will begin to look a little more at what distinguishes one map from another- their dominant features.

In this article, we're going to explore a few maps that use road tiles to alter the flow of the game. Used properly, road tiles should offer units the ability to expediently cover ground. This can negate the extra movement normally required to climb a hill, allow a melee unit to engage a ranged unit without being fired on, and stretch an army thin to force players to moderate the movement of their units.

All of the following maps offer similar basic features. Their dominant features may at first appear to be the same, but are actually very different.

Let's look at two examples:
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Basic Map Features

Posted May 1st, 2008 at 06:58 PM by Velenne

From "The Cartographer's Scribe":

There are two things which define a map, two things that will determine how it will be played.

Height, for all strategists covet its advantages.
Glyphs, for all players need their bonuses.

Proverbs aside, if you plan your glyphs and heights carefully then your map will probably end up balanced.

Bear in mind the highest points of your map. If there is one high point, put it an equal distance from both players. If there are two, either put them both in the middle, or give one to each player (but be wary of this as encourages turtling). If there is more than 2, try to space them out evenly.

Multiple highest points which are less than or equal to 7 spaces apart (for a flier) is ideal because it will allow many units the ability to cover...
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