Pros and Cons of using Maps for Crossfire Scenarios

Many of my Crossfire posts come from email discussions with Dick Byrant. Recently he asked “do you generate scenario maps for your players to plan from in your games”. I do. Drawing a Map is a key part of my Scenario Design for Crossfire.

In a recent email exchange Dick Bryant asked:

Out of curiosity, do you generate sceanario maps for your players to plan from in your games or do you just have them sidle up to the table and work it out from there?

Why I provide Maps

I always have a map – lately I using PowerPoint for drawing maps.

Here are four reasons I provide a map:

  1. Map design is integral to Scenario Design; maps provide a lot of flavour
  2. Having tried lots of plotting hidden deployment mechanisms the easiest is plotting on a map
  3. It increases consistency between re-plays of that scenario
  4. I like drawing maps

But the Table is different!!

Dick elaborated on the cons of using a map:

I always have done the former [provided a map], but it always ends up being a real pain in the neck (actually I have a much lower opinion of it).

No matter how I try, my terrain doesn’t fir the map or visa versa and I get no end of complaint that ” this wood should be 2″ closer to this one”, or “This rough area is mach larger than on the map” , etc.

I play with the caveat that the table terrain governs, no matter what the map portrays – as in real life.

My group make every effort to match table to map, but, as Dick pointed out there is never an exact match and table must triumph over map when there is a discrepancy. Unlike Dick, I’ve never had complaints from my players. The map is a convenience and nothing more.

In one, recent, notable, and now infamous incident (in Village P – A Crossfire Battle Report), we even introduced a new wood feature that significantly affected the game.

The Village-P map:

Crossfire at Position Four- The Village P Scenario
Village-P Map

The Village-P table. Notice the “mysterious wood”. We discovered this in the game – to my detriment as it happens. But such are the fortunes of war.

Deployment and Plans
Village-P Table

More commonly lines of fire change because the terrain is slightly different. Again, this due to the gap between pre-battle information and reality.

7 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of using Maps for Crossfire Scenarios”

  1. Enjoyed the article. In my club we play on a Thursday night so have only 2.5 – 3 hours to game (Often the game is carries on to two or three weeks to finish them)> So to speed things up, I send a map, scenario description, and T, O & E to each side commander the week before the game for them to plan with. It is this “map planning” that causes so much heart-burn when they reach the table top. The fire zone they planned on may not cover as much ground as they would like; Or a piece of terrain may not hold the reinforced platoon they planned on; or that hill does not screen the (supposedly) enemy occupied house from their line of attack as they had expected. But this is true in the real world. In the past, I have tried to provide ” arial reconnaissance” but cannot get my camera up high enough to give a good rendition of the terrain overall. I am going to try it in small sections next time to see how that works out.
    Dick Bryant

    • My games happen in the living/dining room so I can’t do the aerial recon photo because I only set up the table just before the game.

    • Over time I’ve aligned my maps with my terrain features. For example, I have terrain templates that are standard sizes and I use the same shapes in my maps. I use these for fields, orchards, rough ground and woods. My hedges and walls are also to scale for the table/map.

      I used to do this with buildings – when I only used 3″ x 3″ building sectors. Now I’m a bit softer on this because I use more realistic buildings. However, when I do something on an urban grid then everything is to scale.

    • I always draw the map first as it is part of scenario design. I don’t set up the table until the scenario is more or less complete and I play the game, sometimes years later.

  2. I’ve used a long ‘selfie-stick’ (four footer) to take an overhead photo of the game table. That has worked pretty well.


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