Thursday, 25 March 2010

Campaign Maps

Malcolm's campaign map

This map was made by a member of Campaigns of Napoleon forum by the name of Malcolm. As soon as I saw it I was inspired to replace my existing campaign maps, which have served me very well for more than two years.

When I organised my first campaign, many years ago, I used 1:50,000 scale maps of northern Germany, similar to the Ordnance Survey maps available in UK. They covered the area I wanted, but they had a modern road and rail system and much too much details for my purpose.

A few years ago I decided to make my own maps. I wanted to cover all of Europe, and that would require a lot of maps to get the same scale. So I bought an AA road map, one of those ring binder books, which has a scale of 16 miles to 1 inch. This was better, because I could use that for my normal daily march rate.

AA Road Atlas of Europe

The problem is that I am not a very good map maker, indeed I am a pretty rubbish one. I considered trying to use the computer, but gave up after a few days very frustrating days. So I decided that I would make them by hand. They were for use in a solo camapign, so no one else would see them anyway.

I photocopied the relevant pages and drew a grid of 1 inch squares. I then copied them onto A4 pages by hand. I only showed the main towns, the main rivers and a road system more or less based on 1800. My first map looked like this:

Strategic map of Austria (including Mattsee)

These maps were fine for major geographical items, the march distance between say Munich and Vienna would be more or less correct. But there was not enought detail to transfer a campaign battle to the wargames table. Then came the clever part, or at least I thought so.

I would make another map for the tactical movement when the two armies got closer together. Again it would be on A4, but this map would show what the wargames table would look like. The scale would change from 16 miles to 1 inch to 5 miles to 1 inch. This may seem a strange scale, but it was based on the size of my wargames table.

My table is 6x6 foot and the scenery is 2x2 foot scenic squares. So my 1 inch to 5 miles on the tactical map would be one square on the wargames table.

Each square on the tactical map would look like one of my scenic squares. I have 26 of them, so my map would be changing combinations of those squares. It would look like this:

Tactical map of Salzburg area (including Mattsee)

The area with the template shows the area which would be transferred to the wargames table. The table would look like this:

Wargames table of Mattsee

This system worked extremely well for about two years. Then I started the blog, and realised that my hand made maps looked very amateur. If my drawing skills were better I could probably have gotten away with it, but they are not.

A few months ago one of the members of my Campaigns of Napoleon forum put his maps on the forum, and offered to let anyone who wished to use them. This is an example:

Malcolm's map of Austria

I was really impressed and wanted to use them for my campaign. They would replace the strategic maps and I would still use my own tactical maps to transfer to the wargames table.

I copied one of his maps onto A4 and drew a grid. It was immediately obvious that it would not work. Malcolm’s maps are designed to be both strategic and tactical. But I could not produce his maps on my wargames table. So I would have to find some sort of interface. After weeks of trial and error I was no nearer to solving the problem.

I am reluctant to give up my tactical maps, because they make creating wargames so easy and that is the whole purpose of my campaign. If you wargame regularly you quickly come up with the problem of designing new tables. This avoids that problem. In addition they mean that I use all of my scenery over a period, so they are very practical.

Reluctantly I have come to the conclusion that I will have to try to produce my own maps, but based on Malcolm’s. He uses Campaign Cartographer 3 to make his maps, and I have bought a copy. As I expected, it is far from easy to understand or use. But that will be my project over the coming months.

It’s quite possible that it will not work, that I will just find it all too difficult. But it cost less than £50 to buy the system, and if it keeps me busy for 6 months it will have been money well spent.

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