Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

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Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby josta59 » Wed May 24, 2017 9:33 pm

A general call has been sounded to post more stuff, so here goes.

Ever since I started fooling around with wargame design a few years ago, the question of how to handle hill rules has always been a little thorn in my side.

What I usually do is say that units on a hill can neither see nor be seen by units below unless they're on the "edge" (hull-down, so to speak), which I usually portray as an oval shape of some kind on my virtual table. I always imagine that if I were using a real table, I might use some flat oval objects to make my hills as I've seen many others do.

I'm not sure where I picked up that rule, but I definitely didn't invent it myself. Actually, yes, I got it from Lock 'n Load. I remember it being a crucial part of strategy when I played Nuklear Winter '68 here on the forum.

The problem is that it doesn't seem very realistic. One could potentially get a very good view of the surrounding landscape from the center of a hill. All hills are different, probably, so a one-size-fits-all rule like that doesn't really work all that well.

hills.jpg


Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if I used a real miniatures table, because I could use string or just eyeball it to see if LoS exists in 3D. One of the few real advantages to actual miniatures over virtual tables!

I do like the hill rule in Tank on Tank. In that game, units on hills (which are always on an edge) can always see and be seen, but they do get the advantage of having longer range than units down below. That doesn't seem very realistic either, but it's another way of doing it.

So what are your thoughts? Have you run into this problem? Ever seen a hill rule in a board game that made so much sense that it should be used for all 2D games?
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby Lucky Luke » Wed May 24, 2017 10:52 pm

Nice topic!
In tactical scale games the Los is simulated in many ways more or less complex as the rules are.
IIRC in Avalon Hill's Arab Israeli Wars you can see over lower hexes and you can get 'hull down' defensive DRM when fired by lower enemy units, in Squad Leader there is a 'blind zone' behind lower hexes where the Los is blocked. If you remember the Firepower Los rules all the others are very 'user friendly' in comparison...
In 2d games the hexes of a hills can be draw in different colored hexes with different height levels linked to every color.
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby josta59 » Thu May 25, 2017 6:56 am

That's right, Firepower also has it so only troops on an "edge hex" of a hill level can be seen, and yes, it got way more complex than I'd ever want to. I guess I'm trying to strike a nice balance between realism and simplicity that I haven't quite found yet.
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby Lucky Luke » Thu May 25, 2017 9:14 am

A rather simple but effective LOS ruleset is the one in Gunslinger....maybe you'll find it somewhat clumsy but with few tries it'll works like a charm!
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gunslinger los.pdf
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby josta59 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:06 pm

I just now got around to reading that, Luca. Man, seems complicated! Can't really tell if it's any different than Firepower. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby Whiterook » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:26 pm

Yes, great topic!!! Luca touched on what i would have advised: In the majority of game rules i played, there are two distinct types of hills...ones with a slope, and ones with a ridge. Also, scale of units (squad, platoon, company, etc.) plays a huge roll in how high a hill is theoretically, and how big a shadow it casts...

It's that 'shadow' concept that had always jumped out at me, to help me visualize things.

Either way, slope or ridged hills have 'tops'; with a hex or several hexes representing the top, not inclusive of the slope or ridge side in whole (meaning, of just a portiom of the hex has top terrain, with slope or ridge 'overflow', it is considered top terrain.

So, if you have a one hex 'top' hill, units in it can see 360.

If you have a 2-hex 'top', units in one hex can see down the sides of tgat hex to the surrounding lower terrain...but, the adjacent 'top' hill hex blocks LOS down what is considered the other side FROM that other occupied hill hex.

More top hill hexes follow that LOS theory.

Some gamers think of it in terms of 'shadow cast'

Now all that said, this applies more to smLler unit scale games, such as squad and platoon. That's because the unit counter represents men that basically fill up that hex, real estate-wise. If you think about it, a unit counter (chit) is usually about the same size as the actual game-board hex. Its the most simple example of hill rules...

Where it gets funky is when you're talking 50-100+ men per hex....the gameboard hexes will generally have many more top hexes, and things get muddy to who's on and edge.
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby Whiterook » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:41 pm

Another thing (of many) on this is: Most games denote a hill height..usually in meters; which translates to a shadow cast accross bottom land (ground-level land) territory.

If your units on ground-level are in the shadow (anywhere from the edge of the shadow to the base of the hills), opposing units on the hill cannot see them; including units further back (away from your units) on that hill. The only way the hill units can see enemy units in that 'shadow' is If your units are on the edge (ridge) hex.

I'll stop here to let you digest this for now, and allow other members' take; but intend to contribute much more to this topic :D
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby josta59 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:45 am

Good, thanks, I look forward to more. Since I'm trying to translate board game rules to a hexless 2D area, I'm having trouble seeing how the "shadow" concept might be useful. An illustration might be very helpful.
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby 50th » Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:26 pm

Tide of Iron deals with this with the, so called, Plateau rule. This is where if you are on a hill and there is another hill of the same level between you and the target, two hexes after that hill hex are blind hexes (if you are one level higher than the target). Otherwise, if there are two levels between you and the target, then one hex after the hill is a blind hex. (per TOI Next Wave Rules Web).
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Re: Best rules for hills on a 2D surface

Postby josta59 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:32 pm

Maybe I should ask it this way. If you were designing rules for a simple hexless wargame on a 2D surface, what rule would you make for LoS between a unit on a hill and a nearby unit not on the hill?
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