Saturday, May 21, 2011

2D Terrain: Sewers

My buddy and I decided to start playing MERCS on our lunch breaks! We both work within two blocks of each other, and after some scouting around the city we found a board game cafe we could play at during lunch (we're allowed to play there as long as we buy a drink).

It's definitely not feasible to bring my battleground to work, so we had to develop a 2D Terrain map.
After a few sketches I wasn't really happy with and a few ideas that fizzled out in my head, I came up with the concept of an encounter fought in a city's underground sewer channels. It may have been from growing up watching TMNT, but this concept quickly flourished into a scenario, and the battleground basically drew itself. Here are some photos to help with the imagery:

The battleground I came up with has plenty of pillars which go to roof (hence completely blocking LOS), low-walls for half-cover, and elevation changes to add cover and make movement a bit more interesting. It's only a 16"x24" board (due to printable paper sizes at my work) but that's fine since we want fast games to fit in our 1 hour lunch break.
So here is the symmetrical battleground I came up with - I've always thought symmetrical designs to be the fairest, as both teams have to negotiate the same terrain, but obviously this isn't as realistic.


Click the picture for a close up

The different colors represent different elevation changes:
  • Ground - the actual sewer channels, this is lowest ground (light green)
  • ER1 -  elevated above running sewerage, the concrete walkways of the sewer (light brown)
  • ER2 - low-walls for half-cover on the walkway (dark brown)
  • ER4 - pillars extending to the roof of the sewers, hence completely blocking LOS (black)
  • The orange marks on either side represent the ladders of the manhole entrances, which mark the deployment point for each MERCS. MERCS don't deploy in the standard way in this scenario - all MERCS start off the board, and on turn 1 when they are activated, they begin their turn from that point. This represents each MERCS dropping down the manhole as they come into play.

On the city streets above the sewers, the CCC and USCR have come to a deadlock. Neither can gain ground on the other, as each side has secured their area giving no opportunity for strategic penetration.
The CCC decide to send a team into the sewers, in an attempt to get behind enemy lines and out-flank the USCR with a surprise assault.
This does not go unnoticed by the USCR, who send a small contingent of MERCS into the sewers to stop the flank and, if successful, penetrate the CCC lines for a surprise assault of their own.


MERCS is really portable - all I bought to work were my models, faction cards, dice, Sync-circle, white-board markers and our folded 2D Terrain Map - which all fit in a small bag!

It was really evident that MERCS was developed for 2D Terrain, with the use of ERs (elevation ratings) for terrain representation, and the card system used for movement. Playing on 2D terrain was fast, as movement was much easier with the cards, but LOS issues required a bit more discussion. We always maintained rule number one - err on the side of carnage!

I'll probably tweak the battleground a bit - there was a bit too much cover, and firing lanes were non-existant forcing us to the center of the board. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing, but I'll have a few more games on the board before deciding.

Also, playing a scenario and having a concept really helped the 2D Terrain come alive, and made the game play much more engaging - I'm looking forward to many more games in the sewers!

Sync out.

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