I don’t know what it is, but there is something about gaming maps that I just love. I adore collecting maps from various games and having a huge store of maps to use from various locations. It’s a lot of fun to have a nice big collection of maps for a variety of occasions.
So when you play BattleTech, where do you get your maps? Are you still playing on the hex maps made long ago for the game? Do you play with 3-d terrain or maps? Maybe you download some maps online and print them out. Some of you might even make your own maps using various programs and print them for play. Today let’s look at several map ideas, and then hope that you can add some of the things you are doing in the comments.
A few years ago I realized that I didn’t have all of the mappacks that were officially released for the game. I was missing Map Set #4, which had a lot of water maps. I managed to pick it up and complete my collection. You can check out the wiki page to see if you have all of the maps.
A lot of games have hexmaps as part of their game. You can even buy generic hexmaps in gaming stores or through online venues that are designed to be used in multiple games.
Of course, you can make your own maps. The Heavy Metal Map Design Software is a good choice. It’s easy to use, and the objects in the map set are already selected with an eye to making a BattleTech map, so it will save you time over other graphic programs. You can still add images to the map of your choice; if you really want to add something, you can. Not only can you add various backgrounds, textures, and objects to the map, but you can create your own palette for it as well. You can have alien colors and palettes for other worlds. You can check out their info page for a lot more about the software. If you like it, they have the site for buying it online as well.
The good thing about making your own map is that you can create a map specifically for your next play session. If your group is going to be assaulting the NAIS next Saturday, then you can make a map for that battle. You can build a coal mine map or an international corporate HQ – whatever you need!
One of the benefits of this strategy is that other people have made maps that you can print out and use. Several places have a few maps for download. For example, the weblog ScrapYard Armory features a few maps for download. (I like the Winter Wonderland map). Some people have even taken Google map images and just tossed a hexgrid over them and used them as well. (Check out the Sandhurst Military Academy as a map).
Of course, one of the issues with this strategy is print and storage costs. One of the reasons we go back to the basic map sets is that many of the maps are sufficiently generic that they can be used over and over again. But if you make that NAIS map, how many times can you use it? You have to make it, pay to print it out, and then store it for later.
That’s why I love the Heroscape map making system. The old Heroscape game came with hex-shaped pieces that snapped together. You could build your own terrain, like LEGO. Then after you are done, you just pull them apart and put the back into storage. The game is a fantasy styled game with figures that are human sized, but it works just well as is. ‘Mechs will smash face with aplomb.
There are a lot of people that have also crossed the streams and combined the terrain from one with the carnage from the other. You can find a lot of support for it. Some have even combined BattleTech hex maps with this terrain while making the Heroscape terrain look better with flocking, pebbles and such.
So, when you get ready to play some BattleTech, what maps will you use?
When my group plays it usually depends on who is playing what we use. If the younger or new players are playing we use the good old original map sets. Intermediate players we will use the Heroscape stuff, but we have a ton of 3d unhexed terrain and felt for use when we wanna make it look a tad more realistic.
That’s awesome! I love that others are actively using Heroscape terrain for maps. I’ve read a few on forums here and there, but you can never tell numbers from that, you know? Thanks for responding!
I’m still using the old paper maps produced by FASA and others, supplemented by the new, more rugged maps in the current introductory box set. Although mostly these days I play on MegaMek, there’s a charm in digging out my old paper maps and playing, and I picked up one of the sets (the one with the spaceport buildings on it) fairly recently – at least, within the last 3-4 years – so I perhaps favor those maps more than I should.
I keep debating trying to get some BattleTech going in what passes for my local FLGS (it’s about 35 minutes away, but because of public transport I can’t really do evening games there) and if I do, it’s going to be paper maps, cardboard standups and maybe some of the BTech plastic minis – after all, if I’m going to try and teach people, I’ll be more comfortable doing it if they start the same way I did ;) And having recently read about grinders, that looks like a great way to start.
I just need to remember how to play without MegaMek…
I hear ya. I have a major fascination with MegaMek too. Random Map Generator being just one of many (elimination of dice rolls being another.)
Thanks for your comments!
I am a woodworker. Years ago, I played on paper maps provided by the owner of the house we played at. I got hooked, of course, and owned my own mechs for use. Since then, after theft, lost contacts, and a big decline on availability, I am sad to report my collection is no more.
While I have toyed with the idea of purchasing some new minis to replace those gone, it was hard to justify when all they would really get to do was sit on a shelf. Conversely, the few times I’ve have a few people interested in some classic Battletech, I had to make do with paper cutouts and hex maps printed over MS Paint pictures.
And then I got the opportunity to pick up one of my favorite mechs for a really low price. With the aid of MWO and MW;Tactics, Battletech is seeing some resurgence. If they could just get some merchandising rights to convert some of the game mechs into proper minis…
Upon purchasing the Catapult, I was offered a great deal on a Centurion-D. Which led me to hunt down the Yen-Low-Wang Wizkids mini… the collection is making a comeback.
And I realized that with my skills in the workshop, as well as sourcing some pieces from railroad kits and such, I could build maps. Functional, playable maps – but with the level of detail that it can be used as a diorama. Display the mechs in style, With a little cabinetry know-how, I can even make these maps store together, without crushing trees and farmhouses.
The design has grown to the point where I have blueprinted a hinged box that will lay flat, and contain two painted maps on either side, thereby making the box itself another playable board.
We all need hobbies. While us collectors enjoy finding a classic paper map hiding in a bin at a garage sale, the way to hook the younger crowd, as well as the “gamers” who need something more exciting than a piece of paper is to use a little ingenuity. And just think, next time your granddad is showing off his model railroad, you can show off your model battlefield of the 31st century. I bet the old timers could teach you a few things, too.
Point is, with a little work, and an attempt to make it more appealing to more than just the CBT fans, we can keep the surge going. They’ve brought back the model cars to Wal-Mart – maybe we can bring back game stores, too. I hope so – still missing pieces to Keys to the Kingdom…