Thursday, May 7, 2015

How to Create Striker Battle Maps

Op orders will be distributed from Company HQ at 1730 hours.
 I have really enjoyed digging into Striker. The hard part about Striker, though, is all of the prep work that has to be done - there's no example map, or troop sheets and only a handful of example vehicles. However, if you're willing to sink the effort into creating units, vehicles, and maps, Striker is ginormous fun.

I hope that these suggestions take some of the labor out of the mapping part.



 The first thing you have to do is find some topographic maps, those big sheets with brown, green, blue, black and red lines on them that the Army uses for land navigation, produced by the USGS.

I found a big collection of topographic maps here at the PASDA site in a giant FTP Directory: There is a subfolder labeled Other_States that covers the East Coast – that's plenty of territory for me to pick from.

The print version of the maps are huge, fitting on 17x22 or larger sheets. Since most folk, like me, don't have access to a printer capable of these sizes, we are left with using the digitized images.

Any good image manipulation software can display them with the ability to scroll around. I use Paint.net for this so my explanation will refer to the specific tools & tool names of that program.

I've downloaded several maps of areas I've visited or traveled through and use the interesting features I have seen. Once I find the right topo map sheet, it is very easy to mark out a standard Striker map square. 

Understanding Striker Scale

The standard scale in Striker is 1mm on the table = 1meter on the ground. A Striker map should be at least 500 m on a side, but the map surface can be expanded to fill the space you have available on your game table. My game table in the basement is about 1 ½ standard maps.

Every map has its own scale, depending on how much area the map shows. USGS Topographic maps range from 1:12,000 to 1:150,000. This means you have to figure out how much map area is the equivalent of the 50cm square that goes on your table.

From Map to Battle Map

If you have a printed paper map it is simplicity itself to scribe a square on the paper. It is just a little bit more complicated with a digitized map. FYI, on the larger-scale maps, your 1/2 kilometer square is going to be small. You are in effect zooming in to look only at the area where the battle is happening. Here's an example map, taken from USGS map 37079-E3-TF-024, Big Island VA. (photorevised 1985)
 
Actually it's the main power station on a frontier world.

Here's what I do:
  1. Find the printed map scale at the bottom of the map sheet.
  2. Use the drawing function of your image processor to create a square overlaying the kilometer scale bar, measuring half a klick on a side. See the illustration. I suggest increasing the thickness of the line to make grabbing/moving it easier.
  3. Once you've got one side of the box to the right length, use a manipulator tool to rotate the square, then adjust the side now closest to the scale bar, to make your square truly 500 meters on a side.
  4. Grab and drag your 500m square to the part of the map sheet that has the terrain you want as the center of your battle.
    The road and draw where the creek runs into the river.
  5. Use the drag-selection tool to select the 500m square, and crop the image to just the part inside your box.
  6. Save that cropped area with a new name. Blow it up to the largest size that will fit on the paper in your printer, while remaining a square. Don't let the printer settings distort the image's dimensions.
  7. Print it (in color is better) and the proportions should remain true. Use the printed copy as the template to draw terrain features onto  your actual map board. 
  8. Don't worry about small variations of the lines and positions. Do note the contour interval noted on the map, below the scale bars. 
Now, what's the battle setup here?  The frontier militia is set up on the southern slope, in defensive posture to resist the movement of mercenary forces coming down the road with the intent to capture the town & it's power station.

We've got slopes, some open ground, some obstacles in woods (green) houses (black) and water (blue). The militia may try for a static defense, or they may have a mobile unit attempting to enfilade the mercs once the main body fixes them in place. Does either side have air support or artillery?

Leave a comment with your TO&E choices. What tech level does this frontier world have? What tech do the mercs have? 

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