Forging Worlds

OverviewWhile each Feudums' game map will be unique, the terrain you will see throughout games will be the same.  You'll have your usual grasslands, hills, mountains, and even swamps.  Feudums will allow sandbox play, so you'll even be able to design your own gameboards.  All of this points out that you need a quick lesson about map-related settings, basic terrain types, rivers, and their most important in-game effects.

But first, we need to spend a minute on map types. Our Map Editor will make it available for you to create geographical maps - it is for MMO worldsmiths to create MMO maps. For single- and multiplayer scenarios in private games, there will be many more options, such as placing improvements and creating political layouts (ie. distributing lands between players or AIs, for example), but for now, we’ll focus on the main game mode.

Map Settings

A map itself has a few basic characteristics.

  • Size: a game map may consist of X*Y tiles, from the tiny single-player maps of 10x10 (a humble 100 tiles total) up to 1000x1000 (that’s one million tiles to discover!). MMO maps will typically span between 100x100 and 1000x1000 - and may be able to dynamically expand according to the player count using 1000x1000 map schemes.
  • Traversability: the map can be set to be either traversal on their axes (if you go “past the top tiles”, you’ll arrive at the bottom, and if you move “past the right edge”, you’ll arrive to the left and vice versa) or on none. By default, for MMO maps, it is set to be traversable in both directions to reduce maximum distances between players and to give them equal chances as everyone is surrounded by the same amount of rivals.

Tiles

Tiles are the smallest distinct terrain elements on our maps both from the perspective of building and troop movements. Tiles are hexagonal, but in contrast to most games, our hexagons are vertical (flat topped) instead of horizontal (pointy topped) - you’ll see why in a minute. :) Each tile may have a terrain type that, in most cases, cannot be changed, and might have rivers or shores on their edges.

(They can also host terrain improvements, armies and various other tokens, and can be organized into feudums, but that’s for another topic and article.)

Tiles

Why Flat Topped?

User Experience & Design Reasons Strategic Reasons

Having vertical hexagons has a few - slight - UX and technical advantages. One is that for cultures with a horizontal natural flow - reading left to right or right to left -, it is easier to de-emphasize the straight lines of a grid - thus, a grid of vertical hexagons give a more natural look & feel (it doesn’t work for cultures with a vertical flow). Another reason is that vertical tiles are wider than they are tall, which makes them more suitable for birds’ view with good-looking overlapping elements that gives depth to the scene (it’s much harder to create Y-axis overlapping with horizontal tiles).

A real armchair general knows that in most games it’s best to go "with the grain". it’s easier to hold defensive lines with the grain and likewise, it is also easier to break through with the grain of hexagons. Grain is the direction in which the straight rows of hexagons appear to run parallel to one another 

(Going with the grain: on defense, you can halt their front with a slightly smaller line and they can focus less units on a single point of the line. On offense, they need slightly more units to halt you, and you'll be able to focus more units on certain points, making it easier to break through).

Trivia: There are hardcore tabletop strategy games, such as some WWII Monster Wargame scenarios, where it is a deliberate design decision to mimic easier and harder fronts and dictate targets by using the horizontal or vertical layout appropriately. For example, in a game that uses a horizontal grain Germans will have the easier marching routes towards west and east, and will face with difficulties once they start swinging to north or south, which should happen deep in Soviet territory (as the SU had a much bigger vertical size than Germany, or even Europe). In another, post-‘42 Monster Wargame scenario, a vertical grain is used so Soviets and Germans would have a bloody fight for every hexes as the grain favours defensive lines all over the vertical frontlines.

Terrain Types

Terrain types have a couple effects: they define the tile improvements that can be built on a specific tile and can alter the movement speed and strength of military units that are guarding or moving through the area. Terrain types may also give base yields for a feudum, and there are a few tasks for your population that also require specific terrains within the borders (such as wood-cutting). Each terrain type may have a couple visual variations and have seasonal appearances.

The game uses the following main terrain types:

  Economic Importance Wartime Importance

Grassland
Grassland

It is ideal for farmlands, and you can build most of the improvement types without extra effort. Military companies - especially their mounted units - receive a slight offensive bonus against hostiles defending on open fields.
Plains
Plains
Plains are less fertile than grassland, but it’s easy to settle or build improvements and also to use it as (moderately yielding) farmlands. Military companies - especially their mounted units - receive a slight offensive bonus against hostiles defending on open fields.
Forest
Forest
Villages can use the forest to gather additional food, get fuel for the winter and materials to maintain their houses. A lord can use their forest for building and military equipment, such as siege machines, or to increase their prestige by organizing Hunts. You can’t build anything in a forest Military companies move slower, but receive a defensive bonus and have decreased attrition on hostile lands.
Wetlands or Swamps
Swamp or Wetland
Such regions offer a bit more food and some additional coins for nearby villages, but, swamps and wetlands can’t be built upon or improved. Military companies move much slower on these tiles and suffer additional attrition due to the harsh and deadly environment
Hills
Hills
Hills are great as both ecclesiastical fiefs and a lord may also try to build a quarry or open a mine in the area. Military companies move slower on hills, but receive a defensive bonus. Castles or Cities built on hills also grant additional defensive bonuses for their garrison.
Mountains
Mountains
Lords may find iron, or even silver or gold in the depths of a mine that they build on mountains. Mountains can also host small ecclesiastical fiefs. Mountains are natural barriers of the landscape, as they are completely impassable for most units.
Sea or Lake
Sea or Lake
Lakes and sea tiles offer a small boost on incomes for cities and some extra food for the population. Military companies cannot fight on water but can move through by hiring ships in coastal cities and castles, even though, embarked units have a greatly increased upkeep. On Sea, additional attrition may happen randomly due to the wrath of the elements. Traveling on hostile waters also boosts your attrition.

Terrain types can’t be changed, with the exception of forest, which can be turned into grassland if all trees are chopped (it can only happen slowly, by explicit user interaction). This is a persistent change though, which can’t be undone.


Rivers

Map Creator

Rivers have their effect for both economy and war strategies.

For military companies, rivers provide an additional defensive bonus if they’re defending against a hostile company that is crossing the river to reach them; also, any company moving through a river is slowed down.

From economic perspectives, rivers are also important as they enhance the yield of farmlands, cities and castles that are placed next to them. Farmlands benefit from a better yield of food, cities get a population growth bonus and better commercial incomes, while castles gain extra coins for guarding and assuming toll duty on the river transit.