Yesterday I got my GMT mounted map versions of the game boards for their games PATHS OF GLORY, SWORD OF ROME
, and HERE I STAND
. They are gorgeous. I can only hope more of these are offered for those who are willing to purchase them. It will be interesting to see how the gaming consumer responds--will enough orders come in to make these economically viable for GMT? Time will tell.
The original mapsheet for GMT's PATHS OF GLORY, replaced by a cardstock "Deluxe" version and now a no kidding mounted mapboard.
It was with mixed feelings that I watched as a stalwart game system involving mounted geomorphic mapboards, ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER
, moved over to the stiff cardstock styles begun with ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER STARTER KIT
. Certainly the cardstock mapboards were easier to store and transport, working just as well (if not better) under player-made plexiglass playing surfaces. But I felt it was the end of an era, personally.
Certainly, some game companies seemed able to buck the trend. I was always amazed at Simmons Games--both BONAPARTE AT MARENGO
(2005) and particularly NAPOLEON'S TRIUMPH
(2007) provided mounted maps in such a relatively inexpensive package. How did they do it?
Then we witnessed a series of games come out with mounted mapboards, seemingly reversing a trend towards paper and cardstock maps. Valley Games reissued the 1996 Avalon Hill Game Company classic, HANNIBAL: ROME VERSUS CARTHAGE
, with "puzzle-piece" mounted maps and euro-style components. Academy Games's CONFLICT OF HEROES: AWAKENING THE BEAR
(2008) had mounted geomorphic maps as well. But what got GMT to start these mounted map versions was the favorable reaction to the mounted map in their 3rd Edition SUCCESSORS
(2008). Up to this time, GMT was offering folding cardstock versions of game mapsheets (termed "Deluxe" maps) for a few of their titles that could be ordered separately. Instead of cardstock "Deluxe" versions, the company has gone over to mounted mapboards. For some of us, we can only hope this trend continues. GMT has a number of mounted mapboard versions available now and in pre-order as part of their P500 program on their website
What is the attraction of mounted maps THESE days? In days of yore, it was more understandable why both game companies and customers wanted them. The producers and distributors liked the game box "heft" that mounted maps and the thicker boxes needed to hold them gave to titles on the retail store shelves. Game players liked the flatter playing surface that mounted maps gave them compared to the mapsheets obtained in wargame magazine games and from SPI, GDW, Conflict, and other smaller game company offerings. But the quality titles offered by SPI and those other "third world" publishing concerns were good enough to overcome the perceived packaging limitations. We learned to tape down our maps on the corners or get plexiglass to put over the maps.
Once that was done and once game sales online began to eclipse those made available in stores, it only made sense to cut down production and shipping costs to make internet purchases more attractive. By the 1990s, it was rare to see mounted maps for games.
So it's interesting to see them make a comeback. There's a certain aesthetic value to mounted maps, even if they are a bit less practical than the mapsheets in many respects. The question is whether this is just a very small niche product demand for those who want them and can afford them or whether we're going to see a resurgence of this once-upon-a-time "staple" feature of board wargaming.