Saturday 13 January 2018

2D or not 2D, That is the question....Part 1

Using blocks on a free table - not a grid in sight!

Examples of block types from Kriegspiel

The more traditional use of Kriegspiel blocks on a map

One of the main reasons I went to the trouble of making my block armies was to enable me to fight games covering a variety of periods without having to invest time and money in multiple ranges of figures. I am an avid student of military history but a reluctant painter of figures so tackling new periods would usually mean a lot of time and effort which is frankly beyond my fickle nature. The blocks were successful without a doubt and fulfilled their intended use beyond my expectations. They are not perfect by any means - I am quite sure someone who is a better with graphic design software than I could produce far more readily attractive labels - but they hit the spot for my needs.

Traditionally Kriegspiel blocks would be used on a two dimensional basis using a map or a hand drawn layout. Indeed, I have received suggestions along the lines of using board game terrain tiles for my games on a flat playing area - a good idea but not quite what I want to do. 

If you look at the top picture you will see a game that someone has set up using troop blocks and three dimensional terrain on a normal playing area - essentially off the grid so to speak. I really liked the clean lines of this approach and the terrain gelled with the use of the blocks in a very pleasing way. Mind you, I also rather liked the action being fought in the bottom picture as well.

I believe that by using a careful selection of representative terrain - I am thinking of the 'Town in a Bag' buildings or my holiday collection of Greek buildings - I am thinking that my games will capture that all important '3D Map' look I am aiming for. It will also mean that I can use a far greater selection of rules than currently as everything I have been gaming has tended to be Command and Colours or Portable Wargaming based.

I intend conducting a few experiments using my block armies 'off the grid' so to speak and will be exploring using blocks on a map and also with 3D terrain to see how they look. I will also be drawing maps to fight over and this will certainly take me back to my early days of wargaming. The hand drawn maps though will certainly have an advantage in terms of practicality as they will be very easy to store and will be instantly reusable.

Something else to think about then


Jonathan Freitag said...

I like the look of your blocks on map very much. My start in wargaming 40+ years ago was very similar.

Archduke Piccolo said...

Probably the reason why blocks on an 'open game board' have never appealed to me is much the same as the 1:300 scale doesn't - too 'distancing' somehow. But I do find the blocks on a map quite attractive. Aberration of taste, no doubt, but to my mind the block's 'go' better on a 2D map.

Having said that, I'd like to see more if this sort of thing in action.

Charles Litka said...

I’ve forgotten how I came across your blog, David, but it was your block armies that caught my interest. They seemed a perfect way of reducing a miniatures game into one that could be played on a kitchen table. (We were playing a lot of Shako at the time.) Ascetically, however, I think they look better when played on a map board rather than on terrain. I picture them as sort of an animated battle map. They don’t seem to fit as armies on a bird’s eye view of a battlefield with trees and buildings, but that may be a lack of imagination on my part. Still, these days with the internet, all sorts of maps of battlefields can found and downloaded easily enough to use as map boards. They could enlarged to size in photoshop (or gimp) and printed out in sections, or they could just be printed out, and divided into inch squares. For the playing board, scale up the squares and draw the map board square by square, which is not too demanding. You can always use buildings for towns on the map, if desired. But really it is just a question of ascetics, which is in the eye of the beholder.

David Crook said...

Hi Jonathan,

Sadly they are not my blocks on the map but I understand what you are saying. I can remember drawing maps and using Lego bricks as units many years ago.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Archduke,

The picture was probably not the best I could find - it is not mine in any event - but I think if using blocks and 3D terrain that is relatively close in terms of ‘the look’ it can work well. My blocks have a frontage of around 30mm so look OK with any terrain up to around 15mm at a push. This means you can organise scenery to suit the block. Most of my gridded games used Town in a Bag buildings or those little ceramic Greek style holiday souvenirs. They look fine with these. I am planning on getting some 1/300th terrain in due course which will work very nicely. I will also be using maps so hope to find a happy medium in all this!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Charles,

Used in the right way one can use blocks with 3D terrain but I take your point about aesthetics. It is very much a perception thing but oddly enough the blocks look fine with 3D terrain when using a grid.

Much to ponder though but you can be sure I will be posting the results on the blog.

All the best,


Simon Quinton said...

Certainly well done imo! looks good. I really enjoyed playing games the likes of Horus Heresy and Battle for Armageddon so this is a nice idea and scratches the itch for less effort.

David Crook said...

Hi Simon,

I never played Horus Heresy but remember Battle for Armageddon very well. I think this will be something that grows over time but I am making progress with the all important look of the thing.

All the best,