When setting up an ancient game I want to use a rule mechanism for determining the setup of the tabletop. Part of my reasoning for doing this is I will be setting up a quick 2nd Punic War campaign in the next couple of months and will need a mechanism for campaign games. This post covers the procedure for setting up terrain on the tabletop.
|A tabletop setup using terrain cards|
For the tabletop setup I am using terrain cards as they proved successful with my English Civil War campaign (see here). The ECW approach uses a deck of hand drawn terrain cards which are shuffled and six are drawn for my 6 x 4 foot tabletop, one for each 2 x 2 foot square area. This is fine for ECW terrain, but with ancient battles fought in more arid regions with few terrain features, a slightly different approach is required.
|Making of terrain cards - 12 cards in all are required.|
The approach I decided upon was to have four blank cards (representing open terrain) which are set aside. Then each player selects two terrain cards a piece from the remaining eight cards. The player's selected cards are added to the blank cards and shuffled. This allows players to select terrain to hopefully suit their army.
|The Carthaginians (top) selected a river and town features. While the Romans (bottom) have selected a large hill and rocky broken terrain features.|
Having shuffled the cards they are laid out in two rows of three to represent my 6 x 4 tabletop. In most cases this will work fine, but there are some additional rules for rivers. Rivers when placed will run North-to-South or East-to-West, depending how they are placed down (no peeking when you are placing them down). When a river's flow is blocked due to hills (they can flow through all other terrain features) they have to be rotated towards another square to avoid the hill. If there are two options, then use the dice to determine direction or allow the player who selected a river to choose the direction.
|Terrain cards are laid out. The flow of the river will need to change due a blocking hill.|
|A river card's direction is adjusted to avoid a hill.|
At the moment I have chosen to go with:
- 4 x open terrain
- 1 x river which is fordable
- 1 x large hill
- 1 x small hill
- 2 x woods
- 2 x broken terrain (fields and rocky terrain)
The approach will on occasion throw up four pieces of terrain, but will for the most part will deliver two or three terrain features. Additional blank cards could be added to the card deck for more arid regions when running a campaign, or reduced for more fertile regions.
|A tabletop with terrain setup to reflect the cards.|
|Terrain setup with armies deployed.|
Next up will be deciding the armies and their deployment.