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Custom Battletech Gaming Mat


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#1 2500kgm3

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 06:15 AM

I have been working on some gaming mats for a local wargaming club. I started working on cloth playing surfaces because I was sick of watching them play flames of war in a lush green field while forces more suited to the Russian steppes were clashing. I noticed there were not many stores selling mats beyond 1:28 and volunteered to work on something that worked in 1/100 scale. I dusted off my little knowledge of photoshop and came up with these two images: a muddy, war-torn area and a frozen battlefield, for someone whose soviet troops had snow as a main element in their basing. To be printed in 100dpi, 120*180cm.

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Then, people from the club started asking me for other mats, such as a sea map for Sails of Glory and several city maps for games in the 28mm range. There are some out there, but I guess they liked having mats tailor-made to their specifications for free instead of buying commercially available ones. No, I'm not shocked either xD

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One of the 28mm mats was themed in near-future zombie dystopia, so I went for the standard city planning style you find in modern european areas or american cities. The second one was intended for a World War Two ruleset, so I went for an old european city style of planning, no roadmarks, and included paved areas easily turned into ruins by adding just one or two broken wall fragments, in addition to extending the sidewalks for intact buildings as usual. I pushed to 150dpi in these, 120*180 cm as well.

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And now, someone asked me to create a map for Battletech. I've never played myself (I have always been deeply tempted by the universe and the genre, but I find the quality of the plastics really lacking. Turn the Mechwarrior Online models into plastic battletech miniatures and you will have my money, game company!) but since I've been playing Mechwarrior Online since open beta started, I was dying for such a commission. The catch was the person who asked plays in a weird scale, so his hexes are twice as big as those in the usual mapsheets. 30*30 or so hexes are the most a table can fit in that scale

Since I know most people in the gaming club use standard size hexagons, however, and I'd hate to design something only one person would find any use to instead to providing for the whole club, I decided to design a map 60*60 hexes in size anyway, at 300dpi and cut it in four, so the club can use it while the person playing at twice the scale can print it whole at 150dpi and either have a huge map 300*360cm in size or choose any of the four quadrants to print, getting four differen mats instead of the single one he asked for. That meant going the extra mile with detail so the scaled-up 150dpi 30*30 hex mats don't feel lacking, while avoiding things so small that would be lost when printing at standard size.

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As usual, only ground level features are... featured. Any mountains or buildings are to be added by the players in the form of 3d scenery as they see fit. This is only a canvas to make the table pop with as little effort as possible (and incorporating the hex grid into the playing field)

I was given little direction by the club member who asked for the mat regarding the lore of the planet he intended to fight for, so I went for a small colony, an agricultural one with little value and limited infrastructure. Mainly farming grounds with some very small industrial areas and population centres.

I decided I wanted at least two groups of buildings connected by a road system. I thought one of them could be an industrial area taking advantage of a river to dump waste and distribute cargo. Or maybe the water in this world has some component the industries extract and export.

The second one could have originated organically around a small spaceport. Not a big spaceport, barely enoug for a Leopard to land, but capable to receive and launch cargo to orbit. This spaceport is be the main hub where technology, luxury goods and spare pieces for machinery would come in in exchange for foodstuffs and whatever the industry extracts from the water. The planet has low population, but the hypothetical thing that makes it worth fighting for provides money for good infrastructures.

The industrial river area, the spaceport area and whatever other important places scattered over the planet surface would need to be connected by a motorway, while the rest of the zones would have a much more humble road network, shrinking progresively up to a single lane for farmland.

Said farmland would also need a network of irrigation conducts bringing water from the river. That's something I had not thougt about until I started writing this summary, but it feelt mandatory. I went for an open-topped look, in the style of the irrigation networks built in Spain during the muslim occupation. They were a ground breaking innovation back in the day and are still in use, nearly one thousand years later.

I intended to design the two populaton centres in ways that encourage different playstyles. The spaceport lanes, in the south, will be an open area surounded by buildings, while the industrial area, in the north, will be smaller and tighter, with buildings located in the centre of its quadrant, surounded by open space.

The other two quadrants will be much simpler. Farmland for the first, with no features past some roads, hoping the players will add mountains to the open spaces. The last quadrant will be similar, but a river will be splitting it in two, hopefully encouraging players to aproach it in a different way.

I am by no means a photoshop wizard. I barely used it during my education beyond the most elementary photo manipulation. Anything I do is new for me. (I had no clue of how to create a water surface for the river, for instance) so I was learning on the fly following any online tutorials I deemed suitable for this proyect. In addition, working with files this big (180*150 cm at 300dpi) is not something my computer can easily handle, and the "2gig max psd file size" limitation prevented me from working in a single psd file, forcing me to split several layers as individual files.

In the end, here it is: Full gaming surface:

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Some closer shots:

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And finally, some detail shots:

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I am pretty proud of it :-)

#2 Metus regem

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:32 PM

View Post2500kgm3, on 21 March 2017 - 06:15 AM, said:


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That one reminds me of a WH40k board that my club has, we build up one side to be a hill and have acrylic lakes and in 28mm scale trees that we put fake snow on...

#3 Brenden

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:58 PM

Holy Jesus.

#4 SnagaDance

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 02:41 AM

Really nice! As someone who often works with maps for his daily work I really appreciate the effort that went into creating this. You included some absolutely fantastic detail (irrigation, underpass, the park, pedestrian crossings etc. etc.) while still keeping the map easy to read.

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#5 2500kgm3

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 09:02 AM

After getting the gaming mat, I started building scenery to play on it. Polystyrene rocks in two levels, and cardboard buildings. I went through several huge sheets of cardboard creating buildings in different shapes until I felt I had enough. This week I finished the last one.

So, here it is: all the scenery I built, on a quarter of the whole gaming surface I designed.

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It is ovious I did not build enough scenery for the whole gaming surface. Buildings and mountains barely fill the big city. They make this portion of the full mat pretty playable (It's equivalente to 4 standard battletech maps), but I won't have enough scenery to play with 2 to 4 times the ammount of gaming mats, the full gaming surface.

I'd like to add some forests but these hexes are already tight to fit a miniature base. I don't really know if it would be feasible due to the lack of space to get something built that was sturdy and durable as hell (thats my priority when it comes to scenery) If you have any ideas, I am all ears.

In the end, unless I build more and more scenery, I am quite confident that I won't be able to play with the full mat, but I feel a single quarter of the mat is a pretty good surface to play, and that gives me four different surfaces to play on. If I ever try to build more buildings, I might make a tutorial out of it, but I am pretty tired of building scenery by now and would like to let it go for some time, specially as I have enough to play comfortably.

#6 ocular tb

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 02:37 PM

Nice work!

#7 Darrious Quinn

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 08:46 AM

That is the type of TT Gaming I always wanted to be a part of, but either it was always one reason or another I couldn't, be it people, space or cash. Very, very well done sir. I'm quite jealous I am no fortunate enough o ha such a gaming club in my area, let alone one with their own custom map maker. I hop your club mates appreciate how fortunate hey are to have your imagination an skill.

#8 Storyteller

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 07:10 AM

I am really loving your mats!

#9 2500kgm3

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 09:10 AM

Thanks. Encouragement is extremely appreciated!





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