If you follow Redmond’s directives the first and most important visual game element are the units. However I can’t help but think that traditional counters almost design themselves. (Bare in mind that the map, units and interface have all been worked on at almost the same time so many decisions were based on how they worked as a whole and not made in isolation.)

Maybe that’s too simplistic but from a purely functional point of view and assuming a traditional counter layout they require X bits of information to be displayed in ABC order of importance. You could say the same about the map but for this particular battle I think the environment played such a pivotal role that it needs to be given special emphasis and to an extent dictate the overall graphical direction of the game. And lets not forget expectations.

This is one of Redmond’s designs from the 70’s, Panzer Blitz.

Panzer Blitz map

When I got back into war games this was one of the first games I bought off ebay. The plan being to work my way through the older games so I got enough understanding of the mechanics to move onto bigger and more complicated fare.

That was the plan. But Panzer Blitz was looked at once and then left on the shelf.

There’s no doubt that the map and counters were perfectly functional and I loved the mounted, long but thin boards, but did it leave me in awe of these powerful German and Russian armies rolling across the endless lush Russian farmlands, forests and steppes to engage in an epic battle?

Sorry. But no.

In its day Panzer Blitz had a large and loyal following and is still talked of fondly but by this time I’d been playing PC and console games for many years and this just left me cold. To eyes used to looking at high quality computer graphics it looked awful and generated no desire to even try. I expected much, much more. I might of been a noob but its was still a valid, if very shallow, reaction.

(What Panzer Blitz and and its follow up, Panzer Leader, did have are the most iconic and awe-inspiring covers ever. Just look at them! Almost Neville Brody like)

Panzer Blitz box cover 1

Panzer Blitz – Redmond Simonsen, Panzer Leader – W. Scott Moores, Randall C. Reed

Don’t get me wrong here. While I’m not a fan of his 1980’s style artwork (I can see my wages getting docked for that one!), his design principals and systematic approach, particularly with regards wargames, are still very relevant and will certainly influence how I approach our work in general.

So. The first step.

Johns playtest map was divided into terrain features, the road network, rivers, towns and major objectives. With some playthroughs it was enough to work out were I could draw the line between functionality and what is essentially decoration and how to represent each.

Bulge interface testing on our dining table

Now I’m not reinventing the wheel. Plenty of people have done this before me so more research was the order of the day. I wanted to find out what had gone before and the solutions other people had found to these same questions.

In the next post I’ll show some examples and whether I thought they were relevant.


And I’d like to thank the following BGG people for making this post possible ..

Leo Zappa (desertfox2004), Karen Messenger (cmessenger) and Pony Casts fire (Orph).


All the original posts can be found here ..

The Map – Beginnings
The Map – Finding a direction
The Map – The Visual Feel
The Map – The First Brush Strokes
The Map – Decisions Part 1
The Map – Decisions Part 2