Friday, January 16, 2009

The Spooky Churchyard

Most Heroclix maps just aren't spooky enough.

Oh, they're fine if you're fond of the glitterati heroes, with their zappy powers and flaming hairdos. But I'm a fan of the scitterati set, with their smoke bombs and skulking capes. And face it, these are not characters who fling hot dog carts at you in the middle of a sunlit park.

I want an appropriate place where Batman and Dr. Mid-Nite can throw smoke bombs at the Scarecrow; where the Blue and Red Devils can confront Etrigan about his breath; where Deadman and the Phantom Stranger can chase the Gentleman Ghost and the Shade; where the Spectre can teach Ragman to sew.

And, so, I created

The Spooky Churchyard

The abandoned church and its adjacent graveyard make for lots of changing terrain, where walls and hindering abound. The windows in the church and the closed back-gate of the graveyard could be treated as clear terrain entrances or as walls that need to be destroyed; I leave that up to those who play the map!

Too many maps are big open affairs, where all the figures just charge up the middle, as if in a big football game. I like maps that force you to make choices, and finding the right place to confront your opponents on this map will be challenging. Of course, any ghostly figures with phasing are going to have a distinct advantage here, as they'll be able to ignore all those pesky walls.

As for layout, this map was about orienting the "rooms" (the church and graveyard) the "wrong way". Because there's not one obvious way to approach the enemy, it encourages different theaters of action, increasingly the repeat playability of the map. Too many Heroclix maps are almost perfectly symmetrical, which, although fair, is rather boring; I mean, it's not chess, people!

The design was all about trying to create a spooky atmosphere without having the map be too dull. I had fun playing with lighting/shadowing, and using gradient on the grid so that it was visible in both light and shadow. The fog was the hardest thing. Tried a million different things, then I simply cheated. If you can figure out how I cheated, I will be mightily impressed...

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You should throw in a hoax-headstone. Is Batman REALLY dead?!
I think that would be the perfect place for someone to use my Heroclix.

But then, you don't even *own* my Heroclix, do you Scipio...
Um...I ...

I used to...
That's a great map, Scipio. And with the pipe organ in place, can a conversion order to Dale for Doctor Phibes be far away?

Is this map available commercially? I know you've done several previous custom maps for HeroClix, and I have the vague impression that at least some of them are available for purchase.

I also liked the temple map, by the way.
Heh, I'm more of "Theater of Blood" man, myself.

I'm always happy if people steal or ask me for a map file so they can print it out themselves! When I have them made, I get them from Xion Games.

I'll upload these files to them today. They may not make them available right away, so you should write them that you want to order these maps from them, which will motivate them to get them up for purchase.

Glad you like them; this is what happens when I'm sick in bed! I'm currently working on a "Museum of Ancient Culture & History" map. Something for Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Blue Beetle, the Marvel Family, Felix Faust, Dr. Fate, et al.

Any other suggestions?
This is a great map. Definitely not a common map setting, and a little variety is always nice.

Map ideas: The Flash museum, Fortress of Solitude, maybe one of the Lazarus Pits. Or an Old West town?
Thanks, PJ. You know, I have thought of those first two. What's held me back is finding enough visual "props" (e.g., overhead views of the Flash that could be used as statues). The Fortress might be doable, but I'm stymied by the whole crystal/ice look; haven't found a way of doing that to my satisfaction yet.

A Western town would be doable, I think. Who would you play on it? Jonah, Vigilante, Booster Gold...?
Xion Games; yes, I saw some of your earlier maps there a while back, but then forgot the site name. They only have five of your maps in stock currently, so I'll pulse them about adding Apex City, the temple, the church, etc.

I'd like to see a "Spooky New England Town" map, to emulate Rutland, VT, for my special Halloween parades; or Starksboro, MA, for a battle against the spawn of Sligguth; or even (gasp!) Arkham or Dunwich or Innsmouth for some CthulhuClix fun.

Hmm, and in a similar vein: how about the interior of Doctor Fate's tower in Salem, with a multi-level approach like you used in one of your ocean maps?
Rutland? THAT made me laugh!!!

Dr. Fate's tower? Hmmm. Now, that's a challenge....
With the Flash museum, I guess you could supplement w/ the rouges exhibits, maybe using the previous rouge sculpts, JSA museum style.

W/ the old west town, there's Chronos, vandal savage or Ras al ghul. There really aren't a whole lot of clix that fit the theme, are there?
Kang the Conqueror, Thor, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Two-Gun Kid, Wonder Man, and Iron Man, . . .or perhaps you don't remember those epic Avengers journeys to the Old West?
So jealous.

This map is incredible, Scipio. If I had anybody to play Heroclix with, I'd print it out right now.

Seriously, I don't know how you do it. All the detail, the lighting... It's staggering.

"Too many Heroclix maps are almost perfectly symmetrical, which, although fair, is rather boring; I mean, it's not chess, people!"

You know, I just ran into this problem with the maps I've been working on. I think I'm going to strive for symmetry on one, but the other? Screw it, I just want to make it look cool.

"The fog was the hardest thing. Tried a million different things, then I simply cheated. If you can figure out how I cheated, I will be mightily impressed..."

I'll give it a shot. Hmm... Color Burn -> Lighten?
Why, thank you, Derek.

As for the fog, I simply gave up on using conventional Photoshop tools to create it; nothing looked right.

So, right above the ground levels, I superimposed a semi-transparent image of the poster from John Carpenter's "The Fog"...
Actually, a while back I had an opportunity to buy several $5 horror clix starters. Not only do those come with a really nice double-sided map, the 3D tombstones allowed me to do a really nice layout.

I played a friend Batman Family vs. Arkham Escapees in a Halloween game on this Gotham graveyard map. Plus, I got a whole bunch of Bane Wolf clix for my horror teams.

I highly recommend picking up three or so of the horror clix starter if you ever find them on clearance. Three heavy tombstones, three light tombstones and some evil trees for scenery.
Interested in seeing it in 3d? The church lent itself really well. I used my own pre existing graveyard though....
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