FATE & Abstract Combat Mapping

FATE uses an interesting system regarding positioning in combat and the like, grouping areas into zones and adding borders to specify difficulties in mobility.  It’s a pretty simple system, but still one that can benefit from a physical representation on the tabletop when a large number of parties are involved.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of miniature use in role-playing games, but for our Manaburst game I wanted to try something different.  I was worried that if the players – who were new to FATE – saw the miniatures on the table it might distract from the looser, narrative way FATE designates location in a scene.  So I decided to try something new:

A sample combat zone setup for a boarding action.

Whenever a map is necessary, I sketch one out on a pad of paper and thumbtack it down to a couple cork tiles.  We then use straight pins to mark locations and move them around as necessary.  The pack of small push pins I purchased contained three different colored pins, which helps keep from confusing groups on the map.

For the PCs or  important  NPCs I use larger pins, with the PCs’ getting extra attention.  I had asked the players for pictures of their characters before the campaigns started so I could surprise them with their pins at the first game.  I cropped and resized these pics before printing them out as two .75″ x .75″ squares side by side which  were wrapped around pins and taped into place.  It makes it easier for each player to quickly see their own pin given the smaller size of the maps we use.

So far the only complaint has been that the maps can be a little small, but that could be easily resolved with some larger cork tiles.  Other than that, though, the process has been quick and abstract, allowing more room for narration.  Seems like a success to me.

Sleeving & Storing WM/H Stat Cards

Stat cards are a tremendous benefit to the game of warmachine and hordes, allowing quick reference to the entire suite of your models’ rules and abilities, as well as providing a place to track damage done to multi-wound models. They’re definitely an invaluable resource to the game, but as expansion books are published, each faction gets access to more and more models and units. For the player that means more and more cards in their collection to keep track of.

When I first started playing, most locals sleeved their cards individucally and kept them in a deck box. I quickly adopted this method and found a couple products that I really liked – Dragon Shield card sleeves and Ultra Pro deck boxes.  I’ve used this set up for years – it’s quick and dirty but it works.  I never had any problems at all in actual play, but as my army collections started getting bigger, keeping the cards sorted became harder – I started chucking whatever I had played back in the box after each game.  Searching for cards when building armies on the fly started taking longer and longer, so I started looking at alternatives.

Alternatively the Dragon Shield Box will double as a cheap (but less durable) deck box.

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Everyone’s Favorite WM/H Mini-game




Legion of Everblight Hex Hunters

The studio picture of the Legion of Everblight Hex Hunters unit has just been released, showing the full unit of these sorcerous elves, minus UA whose existence was spoiled earlier last month. I’m not a vest man myself, but the biker mages aren’t bad overall.

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MkII Hordes Cards’ Improved Aesthetics

The Hordes MkII cards were previewed a while back but now that I have mine in hand I’m noticing something I glossed over before.  The Warmachine MkII cards seemed to  receive  a negative reaction on the forums, but it looks like PP took some of the feedback and made a change that I much prefer.

Spirals aside, I definitely think that the Hordes cards came out looking better than their Warmachine counterparts. The contributor is the card backgrounds themselves. Where the Warmachine card backgrounds are gear-filled and busy, the Hordes cards have more organic and subtle designs without light-effects. They encourage the eye to look past them instead of jarring the eye to stare at them like the Warmachine cards do. The cards just feel less busy overall, and as a result also feel more spacious and less cluttered.

The spiral issues is just a personal gripe of mine that isn’t going to change one way or the other. Spirals aren’t going to change (unfortunately) so it’s just something I have to accept. Although I will say the MkII Spirals are definitely better than their MkI counterparts. The spirals are larger and each aspect has a different colored background, making it easier to follow them around the spiral.

So overall the MkII Hordes cards are definitely a step in the right direction. There are a few areas of design that could be improved but overall it will definitely service for the next couple years.

Wall of Fire, MkII Style

When MkII was released Privateer Press resized the “wall template” used by some spells, making the fold-up cards that came with models like Feora and Gorten obsolete.  Although I liked the fold-up wall for ease of handling, I decided to make a new flat  set so models could be placed directly on them if necessary.

Buh-bye now

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Better Smoke Templates

Any Warmachine player that has encountered a trencher-loaded Cygnar army knows the necessity of having a dozen or so smoke templates.   One of the most common solutions I’ve seen is the 3″ cardstock template.   Those works great if there is space for the template on the table but sometimes you need to drop smoke on other models.

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