Satellite image as virtual table

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Satellite image as virtual table

Postby josta59 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:59 pm

The boards have been quiet for a couple of days, so I thought I'd talk about the "gear" I'm currently using for my games. You might have seen the satellite images from Google Earth I've been using in my recent AARs. With each new "table" I make, I've been figuring out how to increase the resolution and make big pictures for sharing. The increased resolution also helps when I want to play around buildings, as I often do. The clearer a building looks, the easier it is to tell whether a unit is in cover.

Here's my latest table, created in PowerPoint as always. This is for a series of games I plan to play based on the scenarios from Lock 'N Load's Heroes of the Gap (looks kind of like Eisenbach!), but using the Able Archer rules for miniatures. You can see my virtual ruler near the center and my units that will be entering the table at the bottom, including a few helicopters.

HotG scen01_setup_Page_1.png
HotG table

And now for the exciting part. Here's a closeup of some infantry units "inside" some buildings in the village. Most of the table doesn't have this level of resolution. I spent much extra time on the village, since this is the area where clarity is immensely helpful. I placed high-resolution images over the low-resolution one and matched them up best I could. For some reason they never quite match up exactly, so there's still room for improvement.

HotG table_zoom.jpg
Village closeup

If you've seen any of my AARs in the last few months, you'll notice that this picture is far larger than any infantry pictures I've been posting (click it to see it at full size). I finally figured it out, and now my AARs are going to be much easier to follow. And this image is only 106 KB, so I could easily show even more than that if I want to. You may also notice areas of lower resolution, particularly outside of the village. I didn't feel a need to do so much work for the entire table, since there's not much cover out there and you can see the terrain features clearly enough (woods, fields, river, road).

One drawback of using a "map" like this (similar to board games) is the loss of the third dimension that's available with real miniatures tables. On Google Earth it's impossible to tell where any hills are. Even mountains are sometimes barely visible. However, if a scenario calls for one or more hills, it's easy enough to just draw one on the map and create clear rules for line of sight and cover. Air units will have markers telling me how high they are relative to the ground. So these things are easily manageable.
"...military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye that charms to destroy..." --Abraham Lincoln, 1848

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Re: Satellite image as virtual table

Postby Whiterook » Thu Dec 17, 2015 7:19 pm

That's some very cool stuff!!!! Love the virtual ruler, as it makes a nice reference in the 'Big Picture' of what is representative of the battlefield. I really like this whole concept.

I agree about the 3D statement, and wonder how long it will be before technology evolves to make a 3D rendering of maps like these, with actual image likenesses, rather than current tech of blocks.
If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

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