Map Packs, and why we won’t make them

Map packs rear their head a little bit, with people asking the RC to create a set of approved tables with the right balance of terrain or fully endorsing map packs made by others. I’m against us doing this.

We added suggested terrain heights to the FAQ – key word being “suggested”. These weren’t meant as anything other than rough guidelines on what terrain to use. The rulebook still takes priority – about 1 height per 1” of actual height – but people now stick adamantly to what’s suggested in the FAQ. Playing around with terrain heights and using non-standard heights makes for an interesting game.

At my tournaments, I have a dwarf themed board with large pillars (impassable), one of which has collapsed. The base of the collapsed pillar is still impassable terrain but the collapsed rubble is height 2. This means that it blocks LOS between two height 2 units, but a height 3 unit can see and be seen over the top. This creates really interesting situations, especially if people have a mixture of say cavalry and large cavalry like in my Abyssal Dwarfs.

Unfortunately, I see many people sticking rigidly to what is stated in the FAQ and refusing to budge even if they disagree with the guidelines. There was a (small) uproar when we suggested making hills height 1 rather than 2. Some people much preferred using height 2 hills! Why did we enforce that they must only use height 1 hills!!!!!!!!!

If you prefer height 2 hills, use height 2. The guidelines for terrain in the FAQ are only guidelines, they’re not hard rules saying that all hills must be height 1, all forests must be height 4 etc. If we’d meant for terrain to be so rigid then we’d have written the rules in the rulebook, and just added a section about maybe thinking about having different heights for truly unique pieces of terrain. The terrain rules were designed to be flexible.

So why bring this up in an article about map packs?

I think if the RC made map packs, even stating flat out that they were examples only, then unfortunately we’d see the same rigidity that we’ve seen with terrain. People may refuse to play on anything that doesn’t stick to the exact examples that the RC provide.

This is why the article on board layouts in the Clash of Kings book was more discussion the thought process in placing terrain (e.g. no hills in setup areas, block LOS between setup areas where possible) rather than hard and fast rules.

Even endorsing other people’s map packs, unfortunately, may have the same result. People may refuse to play anything that doesn’t conform to the layouts in the map pack or may refuse to use terrain that isn’t the right size.

The Epic Dwarf map pack is a really good set of maps. They are well balanced and fun to play on and are examples of good layouts. The RC definitely approves of them. However, they are examples of maps and are not rules. At no point should anyone look at a board and refuse to play on it because it doesn’t match one of the Epic Dwarf maps. You shouldn’t play every single game on a map from the Epic Dwarf maps. Experiment, go wild, play around with terrain heights. The system is flexible and designed to be played around with.