Boxes and the court of public opinion


I’ve had a thought… doesn’t happen often, but when it does it bugs me.

Recently someone posted a play report of a game he played of Kandahar, and he said he was having trouble visualizing what was going on, and part of this was the “box of four boxes” layout within the areas – said it reminded him of arranging and rearranging items on a Costco shelf (don’t know why he specified Costco, but never mind).
So when conducting missions he laid out the counters on a map from another, tactical game (Avalon Hill’s Arab-Israeli Wars) to help his imagination about what was going on.
This made me think, WRT the other games using this system (Shining Path, Algeria, Andartes) – what if, instead of that schematic-looking box of four boxes, we had four distinct spaces inside each map area:
  • UG – Underground, in the shape of a triangle, to suggest a mountain or a hiding place
  • PTL – Patrol, in the shape of a circle, to suggest binoculars or all-around observation
  • OPS – Operations, in the shape of a hexagon, to suggest tactical ops (like the player visualized it)
  • OC – Operations Completed, in the shape of a square, to suggest the box that the pieces go back into (and I’m running out of distinct shapes)

And these spaces would be separated within the map areas, so as to give the players of some feeling of sending their counters to do jobs (and not stocking shelves). The spaces would be in the same relative positions to each other wherever possible, for conformity. I thought this would also make slightly better use of the space within each map area, as each space would be a bit bigger and counters could overlap its boundaries without confusion – as overcrowding is an occasional problem with the “box of boxes” layout.

But on the other hand, of the hundreds of copies of games using this system that are out there, almost no one has made a point of complaining strenuously about this layout – is this a good sign? I mean if no one notices the graphic layout, then it’s doing its job, right? Or at least not getting in the way.

So here is an example of what it would look like. Yes, you are getting a sneak peek at the map for the next BTR Games release: EOKA (Cyprus 1955-59). This is definitely not the final version, though.

Does it work better? Is it too chaotic and jumbled?

I haven’t had time to sit and actually play anything with this new arrangement, and I am probably not the best person to judge this after all…

Dear Readers, please let me know your thoughts on this.

(wish I’d put a polling widget in here to make it easier for you, but you need some kind of account with the pollster to do that)