Sunday, 6 June 2010

Campaign Map Making

Strategic Map of Spain

The arrival of summer here in Spain means that we do not get out walking as much as in the cooler months. So I have had more time for indoor pursuits out of the energy sapping heat of the sun.

A lot of effort has gone into my map making with ProFantasy CC3. If you compare the map of Spain above with my first effort on 11 April 2010 you will see how much has changed. This is the strategic map of Spain, which is used for grand tactical planning. Once armies are within 100 miles of each other a tactical map is produced (see first attempt at one posted on 1 April 2010).

All of the major towns have now been placed on the map. Each square is 20 miles, and the towns are all in their correct square. This has left a number of squares empty, but they can be added to the tactical map as required. The map also shows the Spain and Portugal border and the major rivers. An attempt has been made to show major mountain ranges.

The mountains have proved the biggest problem. I have based my map on the AA Road Atlas of Europe. As a road map it does not show much detail of mountains. I have spent some time studying Google Maps, which at first sight appear to be a good source. However the more you try to determine the extent of hills and mountains the more confused it becomes. I have finally settled for a compromise which will show where the major terrain obstacles were, and are, but without attempting to recreate the actual terrain

Strategic Map Madrid to Bayonne

It should be possible to run the campaign on the computer, but I have not yet mastered making military symbols, importing them into ProFantasy and moving them around the map. I know it can be done, I just don’t know how yet.

In the meantime I have printed this section of the main map to see how it would work for strategic movement. I do prefer to have a hard copy of a map, and symbols I can move by hand, rather than a completely computerized map and movement. Mostly because it is just so much easier and quicker to carry out complicated multi corps movements.

I could have made this map by printing part of the larger map of Spain. However I found I could not make a copy of the exact area I wanted to print. I found that it was difficult to anticipate exactly what would print, and it was not possible to have a border. So I made a new map, based on the original one. This allowed me to tailor the mountains ranges and add minor roads (in yellow).

Strategic to Tactical Map

The next stage will be to make a new Tactical map of the fighting area. I can not really do this until we start on this stage of the 1813 campaign. I have placed the corps symbols where they will be at the start of this stage of the campaign, probably to be called the Valladolid campaign.

I have made a first attempt at creating the Tactical Map. This will show the terrain as it will look on the wargames table. However I have to first isolate the exact Strategic map squares which will become the tactical map. This is my first attempt. You will see that I have added villages to the towns, so that each square has at least one build up area as an objective. I have also added more minor roads and even bridges. From this map will be made the actual Tactical Map. However I have not started work on that yet.

Progress to Date

I am very pleased with the progress to date. It is very enjoyable creating the maps, and trying to resolve problems such as terrain features. I am also confident that each map will be an improvement on the previous one.

When I have completed my Tactical Map for the Valladolid campaign, I will start work on the far more ambitious map of Central Europe. This will cover the area from the north coast of Germany to the Alps, and from Amsterdam to Poland. I have started the initial stages, and it is clear that terrain features will be even more of a problem than they were for Spain.

But I have a long, hot summer ahead of me. It’s cool and comfortable sitting in front of the computer playing with the maps. When I get bored we have a few moves in the current wargame, which is always waiting on our permanent wargames table downstairs in the coolest part of the house. And if it gets too hot we can always jump in the swimming pool to cool off. There is a lot to be said for retirement here in Spain!

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