(Note: This was first published on Shenandoah Studios Website)

As much as I love my shiny new iPad, I like block games. It’s the deception and physical chunkiness of the blocks. The ability to pick it up and slam it on the table with a resounding crack knowing your 4 point Panzers are going to annihilate the 1 point infantry he has in that hex. Providing that STILL IS that 1 point infantry ..

So I’ve been slowly amassing them .. slowly as in I have 3. EastFront 2, Quebec 1759 and Rommel in the Desert. Not much of a collection but they stand proud and look like they mean business when they’re on the table. Well, EastFront does and Quebec looks interesting. But Rommel in the Desert is battered (it was a Geek trade for .. and don’t let Eric and John know, .. Ambush).

Rommel-in-the-Desert the original

A previous owner of the game had pinned the map to the wall, folded it in all the wrong ways and covered it in coffee and blu-tack stains .. in real life it looked rather shabby. So I was going to order a new one from Columbia but then thought you lazy so and so .. you want to do this for a living .. make your own map!

So I did and it was a good chance to iron out some workflow questions. I didn’t want to put a printable version up without permission so I mailed Tom and he said yes, as long as I don’t charge.

So now it is up on the Geek for anyone to download. Its not fantastic. Needs beige and grey blocks instead of the more European Theatre feeling black and red, hasn’t been thoroughly tested and is a victim of my dislike of bold hexes but it does the job and doesn’t blind you when you’re playing.

Rommel in the Desert Redux can be downloaded here

And a little taster.

Rommel in the Desert Redux small

The process was simple enough. I took a photo of the real map that I used to layout the correct positions of the towns and the hexes. That was done in Illustrator along with the charts and roads. The painting was all photoshop from a lot of reference. It doesn’t conform to real life that much. I’ve exaggerated the salt flats, used the same coloring for the two marshes in the lower left and the general color of the desert is probably more idealistic than real. I wanted something that would be easier on the eye but still functional.

The fertile mountainous region extends about twice as far south as it does in real life and a number of the impassable ridges and passes are in the wrong place but they’re all like that for game play reasons and often because the use of hexes simply forces the issue.

Talking of which, I have a real dislike of prominent hexes on maps. Yes they’re often a functional necessity but I don’t like them to be over powering. This map gave me a chance to subdue them a little so the road network became more prominent and you got more of a feel for the movement possibilities rather than plotting hex moves.

I’d just like to point out that this is something I did on my own, independent of Shenandoah, for my own amusement and personal development. By putting it here, in the company blog, I’m simply showing off.