In this post I explain how I go about drawing a map for Crossfire. All that preparation from earlier posts makes drawing such a map really easy.
Rather than talk in general terms I thought I’d take you through the process I used to draw the map for Papa Eicke – A Crossfire Scenario.
Save all the time
I save all the time using cmd-S on a Mac. You should also save all the time. I’m not going to mention it but you can assume almost every instruction is followed by “and save your work”.
These are the steps I went through when drawing a PowerPoint map for my Papa Eicke Scenario:
- Make a new PowerPoint presentation and save it with an appropriate name
- Choose the blank or title only template for the single default slide in your new presentation
- Copy and paste a table grids of the appropriate size for the table from the previously prepared collection of grids
- Copy and paste the entire slide containing the Crossfire Symbol Catalogue to the new presentation
- Rotate the map compass to point towards North
- Add a title and date for the scenario
- Add terrain by type
- Rough Ground
- Contour Lines
- Name major features
- Add boundaries etc
- Tweak some more
- Update your Crossfire Symbol Catalogue
Obviously you can vary the above. But the first frew of steps are essential.
Make a new PowerPoint presentation
The first step was to make a new PowerPoint presentation and save it with an appropriate name. For the map I chose the file name “Table for Papa Eicke Scenario”. Fairly obvious really.
Choose the blank or title only template
You need an appropriate canvas to work on. I just use the single default slide in the new presentation but change the slide template. I favour the Blank or Title Only slide templates – you don’t want any templates with content panels as you’ll do the content a different way.
For Papa Eicke I chose the Title Only template so that the title is really obvious when I’m looking at the file in Finder – the file preview will show the first page.
Copy and paste a Table Grid
Next step was to get a grid for the table. The reason I previously prepared collection of table grids was so I could just copy and paste a grid of the appropriate size for your table.
The guidelines on maps for Crossfire suggest 4′ width (not necessarily length) when the defender is 1 company or less, regardless of size of the attacker (could be up to a battalion). 6′ width is reserved for when the smaller/defending side has at least 2 companies. Papa Eicke is an odd scenario, with the defenders having only a reduced company on table at the start of the game then building up to a battalion. I opted for a 6’x4′ table. Partly because the defenders start so small and partly so the rescue force has to travel a bit to get to the the plane and village thus giving the Russians an opportunity to interrupt any withdrawal.
Copy and paste the Crossfire Symbol Catalogue
I copied and pasted the entire slide containing the Crossfire Symbol Catalogue to the new presentation. Notice in the picture that there are now two slides in the presentation: (1) Grid (2) Crossfire Symbol Catalogue.
Rotate the map compass to point towards North
In my table grids I assume north is up and point the compass rose that way. That means I often have to rotate the map compass to point towards the appropriate direction for north. Unless I know something specific about a scenario I assume, for the Eastern Front, that the Germans are in the west and the Russians in the east. For Papa Eicke I just rotated the compass an arbitrary distance, mainly so I could include this step in the instructions and you’d see an obvious difference in the map afterwards.
Add a title and date for the scenario
Whilst working on this series on PowerPoint Maps I realised it would enhance the utility of the maps to have a title actually on the map. This is so anybody can glance at the map, whether on the web or on paper, and know what scenario it relates to. So I’ve added a title box to my table grids. I also added a Crossfire logo.
When I copied across the grid I got both the title box and logo. So I changed the title and date for the scenario – in this case “Papa Eicke” and “29 February 1943”.
Add terrain by type
Now for the fun bit. Laying out the terrain. The particular order in which you do this doesn’t matter. I tend to start with the distinctive features, fill up the space (fields, rough ground, woods, buildings), ensure there is LOS blocking terrain (buildings, woods, crests, hedges) and tweak.
Key features for Papa Eicke are:
- Crashed Fieseler Storch along with the bodies of Eicke and his companions
- Village of Michailovka near the crash site, or at least the ruins of it following the bombardment
- Village of Artelnoye, or at least a portion of it, including Russian AA positions
- Usual mix of woods, fields (out of season), rough ground, crests, hedges, hills, roads
- Germans enter from the west
- Russians deploy in Artelnoye
- Russians have lines of fire from Artelnoye to the crash site
- Russian reinforcements enter from the east
Obviously I had to include those elements.
To this is the order in which I added terrain to the Papa Eicke map:
- Rough Ground
- Contour Lines
I started with the Buildings because the two villages are the most distinctive features of the scenario. In both cases I didn’t include the entire village just a edge to suggest where the actual village was. I have also assumed that Artelnoye is bigger than Michailovka. Because we know the previous bombardment “flattened” Michailovka I debated making it rough ground in the form of ruins but ended up opting for buildings instead on the assumption that “flattened” is artistic licence.
Next game the fields. Nothing in the historical situation said “fields” but I assumed that the bulk of the area between two villages would be cultivated. Being February they’ll be out-of-season but you don’t have to show that on the map.
I usually add the woods early in the process because they are the major way to break up lines of sight (LOS). In this case I left them to third place because there was no specific mention of them. This is also the reason I went for scattered woods rather than a big clump of woods features like I did for Crossfire at Position Four – The Village P Scenario.
Add Rough Ground
I always add in some rough ground between the fields on the assumption that land is never completely cultivated – there is always areas of rubbish, compost, fallow fields, broken down machinery, rocky areas, or areas of brush to chop up the farmland. It also makes the games a bit more varied.
Add Contour Lines
Next up are the contour lines. Again they are significant because they block LOS. But they are also interesting because they can see over some intervening terrain that normally does block LOS (hedges, crests, in-season fields). That means placing them is very significant. For example in my SU-76 “Colombina” in Action – A Crossfire Scenario I deliberately included a hill that dominated the board.
For Papa Eicke I included a few hills but positioned them carefully so that visibility from the top of the hill wasn’t too open. Woods or buildings blocked the LOS.
Next up were crests. Again their main purpose in map design is to block LOS. So I added a few were the out-of-season fields and rough ground meant that LOS was quite open. I also had half an eye on the position of the hills as these can see over crests.
What, you say? He’s adding hills when he’s already added the hills. True but there is a difference between Crossfire Hills and Hit-the-Dirt (HTD) Contour lines. A CF hill is a HTD contour line with rough ground on top. Given I use HTD contour lines, and I’d forgotten the rough ground, I added them to each raised area.
Name major features
At some point you’re going to want to name the major features. Not every map has named features but Papa Eicke has two: “Artelnoye” and “Michailovka”.
Normally I tweak as I go but, in the interests of this tutorial and having screen shots that show each terrain type appearing in sequence, I just plonked the terrain features on the map and left the tweaking to the end. Tweaking means moving features, deleting some, adding some (e.g. hedges in this case), changing the size of features (e.g. some woods got bigger on this map).
Add boundaries etc
With the terrain mostly in the right place I put in the boundaries. For Papa Eicke I needed a Soviet deployment zone (Line A-A), German deployment zone (Line B-B) and entry point for the Soviet reinforcements (Line C-C). As a starter for ten – and this is a point that play testing will challenge – I made the two deployment zones very small and the reinforcement zone quite large. I want the Germans to have to push past the wrecked Storch (near Michailovka – notice the graphic I added about this point) to other end of the table to be able to get to the Russians in Artelnoye. I expect the original Russian defenders to be overwhelmed fairly easily but don’t want the Germans to be able to corner the Russian reinforcements and mow them down as they enter the table.
Tweak some more
Then a final tweak. Check lines of sight. Entry points. Are their covered lines of approach.
Export to a JPG
The last step is to export the map to a image file. I use the JPG format for this to ensure the map has a white background.
To do this select all the elements of the map, right click, select Save as Picture…, and choose and name and location, and bobs your uncle.
The final map is:
Update your Crossfire Symbol Catalogue
- Created a crashed Storch graphic
- Changed the size of my rough ground features to make them more like rounded rectangles based on dimensions of 4″, 6″, 8″ and 12″, and added a couple in the process
- Added rough ground to the top of my hill symbols (so I don’t forget)
- Added a couple of new woods features (4″x6″ and 6″x8″)
Although I didn’t mention it above I was continually updating the catalogue as these things occurred to me.
Series of Blog Posts on MS PowerPoint Maps
This post is part of a series on using PowerPoint to Draw Maps. The series will cover:
- From CC2 to PowerPoint for Drawing Maps
- Choosing Map Scale
- Drawing table grids
- Creating a Symbol Catalogue for Crossfire
- Drawing Maps for Crossfire
- Creating a Symbol Catalogue for Optional Maps
- Drawing Maps for Operational Level Wargames