I’m sure you’re all mighty disappointed but the diary shall be shorter than usual this week.

There’s plenty of conventions we’ve all come to expect of wargame counters

I mentioned in an earlier post that unit counters almost design themselves. That’s obviously an oversimplification but what I mean is that you have a prioritized list of information that needs to be on each one. There’s plenty of conventions we’ve all come to expect of wargame counters (most of them actually devised by Redmond and others at SPI) and they’ve endured because they work so I’ve no intention of reinventing the wheel.

I’ve also no intention of going down the minis route for this game. While you might think that having nice little 3D models of tanks and infantry roaming about the semi 3D environment would look cool I knocked it on the head quite early on.

Firstly they look too much like toys. Sorry to say it, miniatures lovers, but there’s no getting away from the fact that they do. We aren’t making a Risk or Axis and Allies clone. There’s a time and place for minis, particularly in tactical level games where there’s a 1 to 1 correlation but this just isn’t the game for them.

Secondly, all a mini can really show is unit type and nationality. Maybe you can use the number of minis to indicate strength or a texture to show its condition but it’s not ideal if you need more detailed info.

Thirdly there’s a real danger they could, visually, get lost on the map. Hardly functional.

And .. well I wasn’t going to add a fourth reason but if you’ve got neat little 3D tanks on the map you’re going to expect them thar trees to be fully 3D and that’s not going to happen.

But what alternate approach to take? As I mentioned in an earlier post I wanted to convey the power and might of the Germans against the comparatively weak forces the Americans start with. I like block games and have a fondness for Napoleons Triumph. There’s really something about the solid blocks that give a feel for the might and power they represent. The advantage we have over the real thing is that we could use different sized blocks to represent different strengths and so have a real visual representation of the unit strengths. Picture big solid German blocks facing small weak looking American.


There were a number of early experiments and though they were less than successful I kept going back to them as I found solutions to other questions and seeing if we could get them to fit. You see there’s two levels that the map can be viewed in. The full zoomed out overview and the zoomed in localised view. Like you might have a separate strategic view in some other games, we’re making use of the zoom to have both in one. But when zoomed out too many units gets confusing .. hence why I kept returning to the more generic block versions and some alternatives.


As you can see from above I looked at using colour to also represent the arm. So a unit would have its main national colour and a secondary arm colour. Easy to distinguish and space-saving. I tried a whole bunch of colour combinations (many of which you might see next week) but could find nothing that worked or that anyone agreed upon. And yes. To me Panzers are pink. It’s a Waffenfarbe thing.

Looking at the possibilities of this approach had been interesting and had answered and posed a lot of questions on a diverse range of topics but it wasn’t a viable solution for the close in, zoomed in view. I’ll talk more about that and other essential considerations in the next post though I’d love to know your thoughts on block type representation in computer games.

 Continued in Part 2.


(Note: Originally Published on the Shenandoah Studio Blog)