A Beginner's Guide to Map-Bashing

by Craig York and Steve Jackson

In the ongoing conflict between Paneurope and the Combine, the real loser seems to be that thirty-kilometer strip of land, located out there . . . somewhere. After you've fought over the Ogre and G.E.V. maps enough times to reduce every square inch to radioactive rubble, you'll no doubt start looking for new worlds (or at least counties) to conquer. Blank hex paper is fine, but an office copier and some highlighters can give you a new map while retaining some of the look of the originals.

The first step is to run off a copy of the original G.E.V. map; it is larger than the Ogre map, and has more interesting terrain. An office copier will do it in two legal-sized sheets; adjust the copy darkness until you have clear, black hexlines and numbers. Most terrain will turn to a featureless gray, except for roads, which stand out boldly. Close examination will let you distinguish between land and sea hexes . . . but you can hide this distinction in the next step if you like.

Now you color the map. The key to this is the use of "highlighters," the transparent felt-tip pens that we all used in high school and college. These tint the map without obscuring the hexlines and numbers, and come in a variety of useful colors. Green gives you fields, green with a little blue makes forest, blue gives ocean, yellow provides desert, yellow plus pink will produce a good orange for craters, regular black felt-tip can then be used, if necessary, to add roads, bridges, etc. To indicate a town, leave the hex uncolored (or partially so) to simulate the black and-white effect of the towns on the original map.

For a specific example, here's how to create the map for "Icepick." Start with the G.E.V. map. After taping the two copied sections together, run a blue line from the edge of the swamp (2306) along the edge of the lake down to the large river bridge in hex 2013. Go around the bridge (i.e., leave it white) to produce the pier of the story, which projects into the ocean. Continue the blue line down the west edge of the river to the point at which it meets the southern stream (1616) and follow the line of the stream to the west edge of the map. Everything south of this blue line is now colored totally blue, becoming the Arctic Ocean. Roads in the ocean, of course, are not usable!

Now re-color the two other streams in their original location, and create "swamp" in the line of hexes south and east of the southern stream (i.e., hexes 0108 to 1013) by stippling these hexes green and blue. Hexes 0913, 1013, 1113, 1114, and 1214 are also swamp. All roads remain the same. All other hexes are colored light green except the town hexes; thus, there is no forest on the new map, and no swamp except that which you just added. If you wish, you can add local names: the large town to the NE is Iestagrad, the two-hex town at the junction is Iestagrad Base, and the three-hex town to the NW is Station Andropov, the laser defense installation that the Ogres in "Icepick" are trying to take out. The small village just south of the swamp is Gorky.

Obviously, this is just one example. Other map-bashing possibilities include turning all but the forest hexes blue to get a group of islands; coloring the clear hexes dark green and treating the forest as clear terrain; cross-hatching the forests to get a large urban area . . . whatever you like.

Thanks go to Rickie Lattie of San Marcos, TX, whose cratered xeroxes led to the original idea for map-bashing.