Game Design Thoughts #4 - Arts & Crafts Night (aka 2D Terrain)

One of the biggest decisions Brendan and I had to make with Omicron Protocol was whether we should have a hex-based board or not. “Traditional/hard-core” minis games usually is just on a mat/board/table where the boundaries are defined and that’s it. You throw whatever terrain you can find or buy, and use all sorts of cool rulers to measure and move your armies/teams across the board. Going hex-based was a tough decision, but brought lots of rewards, including but not limited to:

  • Much fewer measuring tools needed (thus much less daunting for non-minis gamers)

  • Easier to learn and play for casual players

  • No arguments about “You’re out of range by 1/32 of an inch, sorry, you can’t shoot me!”

  • A more streamlined game experience without losing too much of the positional tactics that we love in minis games.

Even with these advantages, one of the final barriers to us fully embracing a hex-based board is that of terrain. In a regular minis game, you can grab any terrain and put it on the table, whether it’s super nice ones from Warhammer 40K, or just a stack of books. With hex-based, each hex either is a '“terrain hex” or is not. There’s no in-between. Because of that, we had to figure out a way to do 2 things:

  1. Keep the game visually appealing with 3D terrain, but

  2. Make the logistics of moving on top of or over terrain easier, via 2D terrain.

For #1, we found some ready-made terrain from various sources, and mapped them onto hexes so it’s very clear to players which hexes contained terrain or not.

 Gluing some 3D terrain onto hex bases

Gluing some 3D terrain onto hex bases

 3D terrain looks great! But not so easy to maneuver around.

3D terrain looks great! But not so easy to maneuver around.

So these look great! But unfortunately when there are a ton of models on the board, and some of them have to stand on top of the terrain, it gets very confusing. Is that model on the terrain or off of it? Did you just tip over my carefully painted model again??? So many logistical nightmares trying to play many games using 3D terrain.

Thus, with the help of our our awesome graphics designer, Tania Gomes, we got some terrain art created, and did an “arts & crafts” night to put them all together into our own set of 2D terrain!

 Trimming around hexes is NOT easy!

Trimming around hexes is NOT easy!

 Starting to look right.

Starting to look right.

 Lots of flat hexes to glue together as the base of these 2D printouts

Lots of flat hexes to glue together as the base of these 2D printouts

 Voila! Done!

Voila! Done!

After playing our first game with the 2D terrain, we realized this was the right decision. Everything was SO much easier to move and place, and it didn’t detract too much from how immersed we are with the game world. Is it a compromise? Yes. But in our opinion, a worthwhile one! Of course, people who want to can still make 3D terrain to play, and we’ll be putting these 2D art online with some instructions so people can make their own 3D terrain with hex bases in the near future!

 Our new scenario, “The Antidote”.

Our new scenario, “The Antidote”.

What do you think of our 2D terrain? Would you play with them or are you a die-hard 3D terrain person? Let us know!