How to… Make a Simple Map Campaign

As some people have asked me how I made the map campaign, I thought I might give you a short description of the practical side of things. As I have already said, I wanted to have simple rules that convey the feel of a boardgame – my inspiration was the old GW game Mighty Empires and I started with the wish to recreate the experience of moving armies and fleets around a nice map.

The first problem was drawing the map. I am not much of an artist myself, so I was looking for software that would take the hard work out of my hands. Unfortunately, I work on a Mac, so many of the more popular mapping tools were out of my reach as they work only with Windows. However, I did discover a nice tool called Hexographer. As the name says, it allows you to generate a map made up of hexes. You can get a randomly made one or you can draw your own. There are a large number of symbols for terrain features, much more than I needed. It is easy and fast to use and the basic version is free. You can pay for an advanced version which includes many more features, but for my purposes, the basic program worked just fine.

Having made the map, I needed some nice counters to represent the armies and other features. Some time ago, I came across a German company that produces all kind of material for board game designers called spielematerial.de. You can get such practical things as blank dice or blank playing cards. The cards especially are great, as they feel just like real playing cards (not just pieces of strong paper cut into the right shape) – I use them for the campaign, but also for the WotR adapdation of the Sharp Pratice rules, which use a card driven activation mechanism. They also have a large number of wooden counters of all sizes, shapes and colours: classical meeples, wooden discs (which I use as fatigue markers for SAGA), houses, ships, animals – you name it. It seems that many of them are made for boardgames like Settlers of Catan, but there is no reason why wargamers can’t adapt them to their purposes! I selected some wooden discs to represent the armies, a ship for the viking flotilla, some houses for the villages and a small fortress for the Norman castle. The piece are really cheap, so you can get a pack of mixed stuff and let yourself be inspired. They also sell map tiles like the ones used for Settlers, and I briefly thought about using them for the campaign map (and thereby emulating Might Empires even more), but then I decided it would take up too much space.

To be able to store the whole game in between turns without disturbing the set up, I stuck the map to a large magnetic sheet and put steel foil to the counters. This works really great and lets us put the campaign in a box until we have time to continue.

Concerning the rules, I kept them as simple as I could. I have already mentioned the core mechanisms in an earlier post. For those of you with a deeper interest, I have now put together a more detailed outline of the rules as a pdf on the ‘resources’ page – feel free to adapt them to your needs!

So far, the game works really well. However, please keep in mind that the rules are made for casual play and probably won’t work for competitive gaming. K. and I are rather relaxed players who actually prefer playing to winning. If something comes up that might throw the game off balance, we use our imagination and some common sense to resolve the issue so that we might keep going – after all, we enjoy the campaign and we’d rather continue gaming than exploit a gap in the rules and win after two turns.

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