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Ken on Cape

How easy is it to adapt the combat to a battlemat?

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I have always played my RPGs with minis and a battlemat, or someway to show where people are in combat in relation to each other.  looking hthrough the 40K RPGs at my local bookstore, i was surpised to see that a RPG based off a minis wargame did not have rules for battlemat/ mini combat.  This is my main reason for not picking any of the 40K RPGs up.

 

How easy is it to adapt the rules for battlemat/ mini use?

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I have little experience with RPGs designed specifically for battlemats to be used.  Off the top of my head, the only one I've tried was probably D&D 4th edition.  That didn't last long.

I use a battlemat with my games, but not as a strict guide for movement or distance.  We drop down tokens to represent the positions of any combatants and I can quickly add with markers whatever details I need to better illustrate the conditions.  "This X is the crashed speeder, this circle represents the base of the building, etc." 

Others may have tried to turn it into a battlemat game, but I haven't heard of any.  Considering the vastly different speeds/ranges that pop up in combat, I would think it would be somewhat hard to model perfectly.

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It works very well at short ranges.   One square equals one metre.  Good for showing line of sight, how far yopu can charge, who's in melee with who, etc.

(discaimer - that's for DH, but I don't see why DW would be any different)

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Zakalwe said:

It works very well at short ranges.   One square equals one metre.  Good for showing line of sight, how far yopu can charge, who's in melee with who, etc.

(discaimer - that's for DH, but I don't see why DW would be any different)

Yeah, I can see that.  The problems start when you get into a firefight at 300 meters.  Or even more.

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Brand said:

 

Yeah, I can see that.  The problems start when you get into a firefight at 300 meters.  Or even more.

Simple answer.  Change the scale of the battlemat.  Make each square 10 or 20 meters and adjust movement costs accordingly.

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jareddm said:

Brand said:

 

 

Yeah, I can see that.  The problems start when you get into a firefight at 300 meters.  Or even more.

 

 

Simple answer.  Change the scale of the battlemat.  Make each square 10 or 20 meters and adjust movement costs accordingly.

What happens when the team is taking fire from someone a few hundred meters away and trying to fight off the Genestealers/Chaos Marines/other melee enemy who is dancing around trying to hack them to pieces?  In a truly fluid battle where there are numerous combatants or groups at differing ranges, and you've got a combination of tight melee movement mixed with ranged combat, then that's where the battlemap strategy breaks down.  If the fight is restricted to a more simple scenario, a close fight or firefight with a single enemy/unit, then it can work just fine.

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The Problem with a large scale than 1 square = 1 m is that the player`s movement...

if you use 1 square = 10m for example than a charakter with a ag bonus of 4 (means he moves at half move 4m / round) stays at half movemen 2 1/2 rounds

in the same square...not very exact and stuff for getting confused.

I personally are a big fan of battlemaps because you can act a lot more tactical but a haven`t found a system yet that please me

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My group uses a battle mat as we have a lot of nice painted 40K minis.

As previously mentioned, it works better for close range encounters, while longer ranges are left to narrative.

One problem we had was that it made melee clunky and inflexible We ended up using a houserule to allow limited movement in addition to a Swift/Lightning Attacks to compensate.

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Ken on Cape said:

I have always played my RPGs with minis and a battlemat, or someway to show where people are in combat in relation to each other.  looking hthrough the 40K RPGs at my local bookstore, i was surpised to see that a RPG based off a minis wargame did not have rules for battlemat/ mini combat.  This is my main reason for not picking any of the 40K RPGs up.


We do pretty much everything with miniatures. I've got D&D tiles, DOOM tiles, Space Hulk tiles, Warhammer Quest tile, the Star Ship Troopers RPG tiles, Armoured Cartographer maps - the list is endless - all to make up different terrain for the various situations I put people in. We even use standard 40K terrain for a few things here and there.

Most of the time we use 1 square/1 inch = 2 metres. Works well.

BYE

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Ken on Cape said:

I have always played my RPGs with minis and a battlemat, or someway to show where people are in combat in relation to each other. 

Sounds like time for a change, then gran_risa.gif

Seriously. Running without a mat is no less fun and leads to faster resolution. Twice as much killing for your time: What's not to like!

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I would also point out that the use of miniatures/maps can depend greatly upon the players you have in your group.

Take my group for example. All but one of them has come to the 40K RPG line through 40K itself. We have absurdly large collections of 40K miniatures, and oodles of terrain. This makes us very 'visual' RPG players, and I very much doubt that we'd get the same enjoyment out of the game if we did everything in our heads (so to speak). This isn't to say there haven't been times where we've done things without maps and miniatures (often briefings and 'down-time' with NPC's is done without maps), but if it's something that involves moving through an area completing a number of tasks and especially with combat, we break out the maps, terrain and minis. But if your group has been D&D'ing for years and has never touched even a counter, then there's nothing wrong with doing it 'in your head' and, in fact, those sorts of players might not like using a map at all.

The point I'm making isn't that that no single play-style is the right one, but more that your players should dictate how you play. If they want to do everything with maps, then find a way to do it. If they just want to roll dice and imagine what they're doing, then do that. If they don't care, mix it up and see what gets them most excited about the game.

BYE

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 Battlemaps, from the basics of drawing on a piece of paper to using models and terrain works best when abstracted rather than absolute. Trying absolute distances tends to work rather poorly in my experience, in particularly when done in squares, but all form of excact measurment seems to fail or simply be much more work than it's worth. A marker stating 160 meters works way better than measuring up an exact distance. Stating that 6 people can form a tight firing line across a 2 meter corridor works way better than ruling that each person takes 2x2 meter, and so on. Your mileage may vary.

That said , it's a great tool to avoid confusions on what's where, who's alone without protection, what force has what strength and what weaponry, where's there's good cover and well, just about anything. Less confusing for everyone.

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My groups regularly use battle mats but we use them with a fluid scale.

Scale is generally  1 square/hex = 1 meter. But we will, for longer range, move up and down to 1=2 or 1=3, generally staying at the lowest half move in the party. This allows at least one square of movement for a half move a round. This, while not perfect, allows us to get on with things even if a player might lose a meter of movement or so. 

If we need much longer ranges we divide the mat into multiple sections with each section a different scale. Or for very long ranges, snipers and what not, we will just place a mini on the edge of the mat as a directional indicator and say they are x meters away.

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The 40k RPG system (which started with Dark Heresy) was designed with miniatures and battlemaps (I believe DH refers to it as "the Tactical Grid") in mind. The scale invisioned was 1 square = 1 metre. This works fine (mnost of the time) for Dark Heresy as most fire fights are short range gun fights between small numbers of people. Deathwatch is more difficult as long range combats with lots of people is more common (and things like Hordes are not given battlemat rules in the core rulebook. See Mark of the Xenos for those). However, I personally feel that largely narrative combat fails to deal with many of the elements of the rules system, or at least makes it more difficult to  keep track of. In Deathwatch we have usually used a battlemat, with varying scales (traditional 1 = 1m to 1 = 10m) and varying elements of abstraction (battlemat but no solid scale, just "that's roughly 50m").

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Siranui said:

Ken on Cape said:

 

I have always played my RPGs with minis and a battlemat, or someway to show where people are in combat in relation to each other. 

 

 

Sounds like time for a change, then gran_risa.gif

Seriously. Running without a mat is no less fun and leads to faster resolution. Twice as much killing for your time: What's not to like!

 

I joined a group with new people once where I did not find out they did not use a battlemat until the very first combat. It was all narrative. When combat started the GM said to 2 other players that they were in combat range and let them attack.  He did not let any of the other players do anything for the whole combat. He skipped over the rest of use not even letting us act for no reason. 

 

I never went back to that game.

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Ken on Cape said:

Siranui said:

 

Ken on Cape said:

 

I have always played my RPGs with minis and a battlemat, or someway to show where people are in combat in relation to each other. 

 

 

Sounds like time for a change, then gran_risa.gif

Seriously. Running without a mat is no less fun and leads to faster resolution. Twice as much killing for your time: What's not to like!

 

 

 

I joined a group with new people once where I did not find out they did not use a battlemat until the very first combat. It was all narrative. When combat started the GM said to 2 other players that they were in combat range and let them attack.  He did not let any of the other players do anything for the whole combat. He skipped over the rest of use not even letting us act for no reason. 

 

I never went back to that game.

That sounds like a GM problem, not a battlemap problem.  Most of my experience, both as GM and player, has been with narrative combat rather than miniatures, and the experiences have been both good and bad.  I think whether or not the battle, and more importantly the game, works depends a lot on players working together and a GM not trying to "beat" the players or show favoritism.

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Ken on Cape said:

I joined a group with new people once where I did not find out they did not use a battlemat until the very first combat. It was all narrative. When combat started the GM said to 2 other players that they were in combat range and let them attack.  He did not let any of the other players do anything for the whole combat. He skipped over the rest of use not even letting us act for no reason. 

That has nothing to do with narrative combat, and everything to do with a jerk GM.

For those that either stick to narrative combat or always use maps, I'd recommend trying the other method for a few sessions and see how it goes. 

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I usually mix it up. For planned encounters I often use a battle map with hex-grids, but I find it to be too much of hassle to draw up a detailed battlemap on the spot.

One thing I don't like about using batlemaps though, is that it tends to limit the players thoughts about the battlefield to what is marked out on the map. The can have a negative effect on imagination, so I only use them when it's absolutely neccessary to have maximum overview of positions etc.

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 Agreed. Everyone gets so focused on moving their little minis around, takes twice as long to play a turn, and stops bothering to use their imagination. Also: It gets in the way of all the pizza and beer.

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I'm gonna start using general sketches of the battlefield that I can draw up on piece of paper instead so that the players can get a general feel for the battlefield, and fill in the details themselves. For example,  if one of the players asks if there's any cover between their current position and a wrecked rhino 50m ahead, I'll ask for a tactics roll and if they succeed, I'll tell them yes, "there's pieces of a crumbled wall just within sprinting distance. It doesn't look too solid, but it shoud give you 8 ap of cover."

Saves me the time of looking at players counting squares and musing over a piece of paper for hours every session.

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 The biggest problem ive ever had as a GM with battlemaps is genestealers, which on most close quarters scales can run the entire length of the battlemap, there comes a point where I may as well just say "a genestealer charges you" rather then worrying about showing the monsters approaching :P

I game in a University so our most common method is to use the big white boards and have, not a battlemap with squares and minis, but a diagram of the battlefield so that people know what is going . This actually caused me to buy a smaller white board for cases where I am gaming at home

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Siranui said:

 

Ken on Cape said:

 

I joined a group with new people once where I did not find out they did not use a battlemat until the very first combat. It was all narrative. When combat started the GM said to 2 other players that they were in combat range and let them attack.  He did not let any of the other players do anything for the whole combat. He skipped over the rest of use not even letting us act for no reason. 

 

 

That has nothing to do with narrative combat, and everything to do with a jerk GM.

For those that either stick to narrative combat or always use maps, I'd recommend trying the other method for a few sessions and see how it goes. 

 

 

Hmm, yes and no.

Not everybody has the same degree of ease with spacial awareness and description.

I had a GM back in the day who'd answer any question about distance in combat with stuff like 'out of range' or 'too far for you walk up to and hit in 1 turn'.

This became simply maddening in certain situation, has his spacial awareness wasn't all that great, so we ended up with some situation where time and space became fluid and impossible to predict.

i.e. It takes me 1 round of running to cross an entire warehouse and hit somebody on the other side... but it also takes me 1 round of running to cross a living room and hit someone on the other side... in one scenario, I covered over a 100 meter in one round, in another, just above 5... because ultimately distance are meaningless, the GM simply wanted his shooting guys to be hard to reach (so that players needed to make the call of 'Do I try and outshoot them, or get in Close Combat but risk getting shot for 1 round).

It also became pretty hard for our GM to take into account different movement rate (this was in Werewolf too, where we could switch to Wolf and go WAY faster) - the agile fast moving people usually got screwed. And things like having 1 or 2 meters more of movement per turn became totally meaningless. And it's the other way around for players who are range based and use distance to 'protect' themselves.

But the thing is, the GM didn't do this to screw us over... or because he was an *******... he did it because he wasn't really good with spacial awareness and he was afraid that if he actually gave a solid distance, it would not be as big/small as he wanted it to be. He did it because he was too lazy to figure it out (and the narrative method certainly requires a lot less prep work on the GM).

When we were younger (we started rpg at around 9 years old), we didn't use maps... we played mainly fantasy game and melee class and all that really mattered to us was rolling dice, seeing big numbers, and having the GM describe what happened. As we got older things got more complex... we started to understand the magic system and added fights with multiple opponents, ranged opponents, and so forth... once we got out of our fantasy settings, guns became part of most rpg and also added another level of complexity.

At some point when you have a firefight between multiple parties, on a map that has multiple elevation level/floors, with pockets of melee intermixed in it in a cover heavy area... the narrative method start to breakdown big  time - Can I get close to this guy and stay in cover? Can I get in cover and pole vault over it? Where exactly is the cover, you said the room is full of crate... but how high do they stack? How large are the stack? Are they area without crates? Where are the open zone? Etc - trying to convey all this information without at least getting a piece of paper to draw it become confusing for everybody, even more so once everybody starts to move and you know have to remember where they are in relation to each other and the terrain... This is how the use of 'battle map' were born in our group to be honest... we were playing in school and as I was describing a rather complex battleground, I decided to use one of the white board and draw a map. I suppose it was the beginning of the end for the narrative method for us, has after that, my players would always go 'Gah... just draw a map man!' whenever I started to explain the lay of the land in a battle.

There's also the fact that many people (and I would think especially in 40k rpgs, where a lot of player have a wargaming background) enjoy the strategy and tactics of combat. And a huge part of tactic is movement - where and how exactly you move. I personally enjoy battle on a map a lot more and one of the reason I find Hordes so boring to play against is mainly because they simply don't lend themselves well to maps - Hordes are an abstract concept and usually fights against those end up with my players attacking, the horde attacking and me trying to find some kind of elaborate and cool way to describe the damage dealt on both side... but there is no strategic and tactical decision beyond 'I attack' and 'ok, they attack back'. No matter how flowery the speech gets, that is all there is to it... and flowery speech can also be used with a battle mat anyway :P

Now, I suppose it really doesn't matter if all that matters to you is to roll dices and have the DM describe the result to you. If you don't care much for combat and rather focus on the narrative (And there is NOTHING wrong with that, do not take this as an insult). However... one has to wonder why you even bother with combat and choose to play a game that is so combat focused as Deathwatch if that is the case - they are plenty of games out there were combat is an afterthought, and not a main selling point after all. Don't get me wrong here, I love myself some game of Changeling or Call of Cthulu or what not, where combat is so unimportant most people don't even bother remembering the combat rule... but when I play Deathwatch, it's because I want to kick ass - and I find the narrative method wholly unsastisfying.

 

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Tarkand said:

Now, I suppose it really doesn't matter if all that matters to you is to roll dices and have the DM describe the result to you. If you don't care much for combat and rather focus on the narrative (And there is NOTHING wrong with that, do not take this as an insult). However... one has to wonder why you even bother with combat and choose to play a game that is so combat focused as Deathwatch if that is the case - they are plenty of games out there were combat is an afterthought, and not a main selling point after all. Don't get me wrong here, I love myself some game of Changeling or Call of Cthulu or what not, where combat is so unimportant most people don't even bother remembering the combat rule... but when I play Deathwatch, it's because I want to kick ass - and I find the narrative method wholly unsastisfying.

 

Because I don't like battlemaps, I hate combat?

Then why would I be playing Deathwatch.

I wargame. That's where I get my kicks moving little minis around. Deathwatch is an RPG. I don't want to be wargaming during it. Actual combat is not a situation where you can tell if you can reach cover before getting shot, or you can count every foe and gauge their position. You cannot work out nice little fire arcs. I don't like battlemaps because they make combat in games dull. Far from not liking battlemaps because they're about combat, I don't like battlemaps because they are about playing a board game, rahter than visceral combat.

Furthermore, the whole of DW combat is very clearly streamlined and abstracted to the point where it doesn't even work well with minis. A Mag 30 horad isn't a huddle of people; it's more usually something like a group of people spread out shooting out of every window along the street. That doesn't translate well to battlemaps. Why force it. DW is about high action. High action RPGs are not about battlemaps. Pick up Feng Shui sometime and see what they say about maps. Would you call that a non-combat game?

Narrative combat is far my satisfying in my mind. Would you rather move a mini two squares roll some dice and take figures off and let someone else take a turn, or would you rather tell the GM and for hime to say "You step out of cover, autogun bullets whipping parts you, and whining off the ceramite of your armour. Your targeting reticule locks on to the heavy weapon team, scrambling to reload their rocket laucher. One quick burst of bolter fire causes an explosion of flesh, blood and bone, and -that quadrant now clear of hostiles, you drop to one knee, steady your aim and brave the retalitory fire as you sight up on your next target"

My way is much more 'about combat' that yours, I feel. Playing Space Crusade was always pretty dull. After waiting 20 years for this RPG, why would I waste the experience on recreating Space Crusade?

 

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My best answer to the "you like either narrative or combat" is Exalted.  I ran an Exalted campaign for over two years and never used a map.  You really can't.  When you've got badass sorceror-ninjas that can jump dozens of stories at once or hold duels while flipping around in a tree, balancing on thin branches, the battlemap strategy really breaks down fast.  There were extended fights that literally took place over miles of terrain in that campaign.

So, I wouldn't say liking one automatically precludes you from enjoying the other.

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