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The Miniatures War College
Advenio paratus. Egressus melior paratus.
D&D Miniatures strategy and analysis.

August 9, 2005

My thoughts on Maps

Everybody's commenting on the speculated changes that are coming to the skirmish game, so here's my two cents. Executive summary: I don't think it can happen soon enough.

What I will focus mostly on is the change that is known for sure: maps will be used instead of tiles. I think this brings D&D Miniatures closer to the core of what it should be, tiny plastic dolls attacking other tiny plastic dolls. In many of my games a battle can absolutely be won or lost by good or bad tile placement. This is unbelievably important against a ranged attack based band, I literally won a game with a TPK and no figures lost on my part with a Double HEBI/Valanear Commander band in Cave of Pain because I routed all of his hitters before they could base anything meaningful. I attribute this entirely to good tile placement. Maps won't eliminate these situations but they will get rid of the amazingly abusive setups that a skilled placement can get against a non-skilled placement.

The down side is that I don't see thins going 100% until War Drums ships. The reason being every player conceivably will need to be able to bring a map to the game. I completely expect the retail kits to start shipping maps instead of tiles and templates, much like they did with the Lost Temple play mat. But to get the game to a point where you can expect all players to have a map won't happen until you can have players go out and just buy a map they could bring to the table. It may be possible when Fane of the Drow ships, but realistically there will be backlash when they require a map and the only feasible way to guarantee one is to get a RPG product. There would be mass cries of cramming a product.

Given the chatter on the boards from official sources it seems that this is a given. Comments such as "we will have from 12-15 maps available" as a metric seems to indicate that this will not happen any sooner than march of next year. One hope I am holding out is that the floor rules update after GenCon will allow for fixed map tournaments like are possible with the Giants of Legends "Lost Temple" play mat. We may get some official word as well as to how maps and specific scenarios will be handled with the new rules and the "effective march 2006" being appended parenthetically. But if there are any substantial changes that would result from the switch to maps I would expect another floor rules update just before the constructed championship season again.

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