Second Front also includes an introduction about the Map Editor.
This will familiarize you with the tools and controls that are available to you.
Second Frontmap Editor Overview
Second Front offers a great map editor built in. You can build virtually any map you like using it. This guide will explain the basics and offer some tips on making Second Front maps that work well both for the AI as well as the player.
Clicking on "Create," in the top-left menu, is the first thing you need to do. This will open a dialog that allows you to provide general information about the map.
The information you enter in this dialog is not editable. It is fixed for the map.
A name is needed for the map that you are creating. This name will be displayed in the editor's top bar, and when selecting a map for an event. It must also be unique. Usually, you will want the name of the map to match the scenario. This will make the task easier when it comes to remembering which map belongs to which scenario.
Map size refers the number of hexes in each dimension. The minimum is 12, and the maximum is 50.
If turned on, the Random Woods feature will place woods randomly on a map in clusters with hexes.
The last option allows for you to select the water setting. At off, there will be no water filling any hexes. Level -1 of the hexes will be filled if water is On. Ocean On will make level -1 hexes filled with water. Levels 0 and 0 will have sand.
Click OK to save the map.
The Editor interface
Once the map has generated, you'll see a screen similar.
There are many important areas on this screen. The name you entered to your map's map will be at the top of the screen.
To turn ruins on/off, you will find a toggle in the top-right corner. This will affect the appearance all buildings and other terrain. This shows the current location of your mouse pointer, as well as information about the terrain that you are currently viewing. One corner of the map shows 1,1, and it extends to numbers entered on the Create screen.
The editor menu controls can be found at the top left. You can exit, create or load a new map or save the current one under a new or existing name. We'll be discussing the last item, which will be discussed later. It will currently be red to remind users that you haven't finalized the map.
The various tool menus will be located in the middle column. These are what will be used to edit the map: add terrain, modify the elevation, and add decorations.
In almost all cases using the tools menus, a right click will add an item and, with the same tool selected you can delete an object by right clicking. For example, the forest control can be used to add and remove forest with a single left click.
As an example, we will go through a map. Settings were 15×24 inches in size with random trees added and water on. This is after the creation stage.
The first thing to do when you edit a map is to build the hills, valleys. Everything else goes on top.
The tools in this menu allow you to edit the heights of the ground in hexes.
The land elevation moves from -1 or depression to level 4. When you turn on water or the ocean when creating the map it will fill all level-1 hexes with water. Water hexes are only accessible by floating tanks and boats. Some units can enter and walk in shallow water, which is created by adding shoreline or fords.
Higher level hill haxes require the lower level hexes – in the hex to be raised, and all surrounding. To place a hill hex of level 2, you need 7 hill hexes of level 1 in a circle.
Each elevation control affects an area around the target hexagon in radius equal or greater than the number -1. The size 1 affects only target hex, and the size 3, the target area and those up to 2 hexes from it.
The large depression and large single-level mountains in the above image are from the 3 control. The depression and medium size hills are from the 2, while the single-hex hill and depression belong to the 1.
The multilevel hill you see is the smallest to create a level 3-hill hex.
It is possible to create Cliffs by removing lower-level ground and adding higher-level ground.
After we have adjusted all elevations to create a small stream or some hills, the map is now complete.
Once you have your elevations set up on the map, the next step is to add the terrain – forests and other terrain features.
You can add terrain features to the terrain tool, including clear (the first icon), shallow waters (second icon), various kinds of trees, as well as other items.
The Birch and Pine trees produce 2-level forests, while Birch trees produce a level 1. Both have size selectors, which work on the exact same area as the elevation instruments – size 1, 2 and 3.
The trench hexes are connected to other trenches and can even cross a hill hex side. A trench placed upon a hill-hex can only been accessed by another trench or the same-level ground.
Fields and grain can be oriented in any direction you choose by simply choosing the hexvertex that gives the desired look.
The individual items within most terrain types are placed somewhat randomly. To change the arrangement, click in the Hex again (while you select the matching terrain tool) until you are satisfied with the result.
After adding some terrain features, such as shell holes or birch forests, brush and rocks to our map, we now have:
Roads, Rails and Bridges
The road and rail network are typically the third components that you edit on maps.
To place roads on the map editable by the road tool If they touch, placing a road next to another will connect them automatically. When placing a road, you will first choose the hex and then the hexside it should cross. Point at the hex, and then move towards where the road should cross. The road will appear as you move your mouse. When you left click, it will be placed or removed.
If the preview street is pink, you will not be able to place a route in that spot. If the road runs into an edge-hex from a side opposite a map's edge hexside (or vice versa), the road will also connect with the map edge.
When designing your scenario the type and length of the road (paved or not) should be determined. When placing roads, be sure to avoid having too many intersecting hexsides. These places can be made more attractive by using "square" terrain.
Bridges cannot be created on maps without water. They are laid out in the same way roads are, with the rotation of the hex based on the hex vertex to which you point (or using the R- and T keys).
There are both single and dual tracks options available for rail placement. This applies to both single and dual track rail pieces, as well as rail bridges. Most track segments can only link single track segments together or two track segments together. There are four sections of track that can be used to transition between single and multiple tracks.
When placing pieces, you can change the orientation of the tracks by selecting the vertex giving you the track in your desired orientation or using R and T keys. While roads can be built up or down hills, tracks must always be level. They cannot connect to tracks at different elevations.
Now, we add some roads and a bridge, as well as some paths through trees and a small river.
Buildings are the focal point on maps. Often, the challenge will be to seize control of one. They are also the most difficult element to place on your maps.
Second Front offers many options when it comes to building. Both can be built on stone or wood.
The ones on either side are made of Stone.
The size of buildings varies from single hex structures all the way to multi-hex structures that span 5-6 hexes.
Stone buildings provide more protection than wood buildings. Bunkers provide greater protection.
Placing buildings is as easy as choosing the building that interests you from the list and then pointing to the hex that you want it in. You can also change its facing by pointing closer or using the T and R keys. Multi-hex buildings will have their building rotate around one of the hexes of the structure. This hex stays in whatever hex your mouse is in. The rest of it rotates around the hex.
Some buildings are built in pieces. There are sections that can form larger structures from these buildings. You can see some examples at left at the bottom. The small diagram in white indicates if the part of a building is an inner or an end piece (has only one white wall). Form complete buildings so that there are no black walls at the end of a building.
Factories as well as train stations don’t have black walls. They must be constructed so that all exterior walls can be erected. Some pieces may appear to be open walls because of the vehicle-sized doors.
These are some examples that show how to build a factory and rowhouse.
It is better not to place two (or more) hex buildings next to each other when building placement is being done. This is because players, and the AI, will have difficulty perceiving buildings that are not connected as if they were single hex. Also, avoid making huge clusters. There should still be space between rows. Plan to arrange them in a pattern that looks like building – road – building, or have at least 2 hexes.
Below are some examples of other building types.
After adding a few buildings and rearranging the map 180 degrees, here's our map.
Walls and Hedges
There are 4 types of hex side terrain available.
In the image to left, you will see them from top down as wall, hedges, cliffs, and bocage.
Walls are piles of stone that provide good protection against fire. They are suitable for trackable vehicles, and infantry can scale them. They will block lines of sight that don't start or stop in a nearby hex.
Hedges, which are plants that act like a divider, can be described as plants. They block line-of-sight like walls, but they don't provide the same amount of cover.
Cliffs can't even be crossed, as they don't offer any protection.
Bocage is large hedges that act just like walls, except that vehicles cannot cross them.
Next, we add some hedges and walls onto our map.
The dressing of your map with decorations and Facades is the last step.
The main difference is that Facades can only be used on buildings. Decorations can be used anywhere.
To rotate the items clockwise (R), and counterclockwise(T), you can use the R or T keys when placing them. A left click will move the currently selected item to where you are pointing. A right click will delete all decorations and façades in a Hex.
Facades are a way to make each building stand out from other buildings on your map. You can see in the list that some of the items also have a small white structure in the corner. This means that the facade must be placed on the building's ground, first, second or third floors. So an item that is intended to be placed on a third floor floor will have its foundation set up so that it appears at floor level 3.
All decorations are intended to be placed on the ground (regardless of whether it is due to hills or depressions). All decorations and facades do not affect the appearance. The exceptions are wire (decorations 154-561 -), hedgehogs (153), and hemmbalken (122).
Wire can be used to place 5 or more decorations in a single wire hex. This makes it function as a hex. Infantry units will be pinned when they enter the wire hex. To make a hedgehog impa*sible to vehicles it takes three hedgehogs. A single hemmbalken will block boats from entering the Hex.
We've added some decorations for our final map.
Finishing up Your Map
Only a few simple steps remain to make your map ready to go after you have placed all items on your map.
First, you will need to create a snapshot of your map that you can display in the menus for maps. To take a photograph of the area you are interested in, press "H" and adjust the zoom level and position of map so that it is within the rectangle.
You can save your map by pressing H again.
Your map editor screen should look something similar to this:
Notice that the current "Finalize Map” is currently red. This is to remind users that the map was not finalized. What is finalization exactly? Second Front an*lyzes your map, calculates LOSs for all hexes and saves it to be used in a scenario. This is done to make gaming more enjoyable.
Clicking on Finalize Map will open the calculation process. You will see a progress dialog.
Once this is complete, you can save the map.
Now, your map is ready to be used in creating a situation.
Tips and Tricks to Get Better Maps
It is not difficult to create a mapping. To ensure your map is safe for the player and the AI, it is important to take precautions.
- Avoid creating large, mostly empty, maps with large lines of vision. This is not realistic and can cause problems in the game. It will take a while to generate the LOS. This will result in a large file of 250MB+. This file takes a long time to load and will slow down the playback because of the resource consumed.
Long LOS can also make it difficult to attack your target. This can lead you to frustration. Avoid this!
- Provide terrain for broken units to route towards. Game mechanics need terrain that can be used to route a broken unit. This includes terrain like trees, birches, trenches, buildings, and so on. These can be placed to allow you to route to your destination.
- Design areas to allow reinforcements to enter the map from LOS. Keep reinforcement entries locations out of LOS. Avoid allowing opposing forces to reach reinforcement entry locations. The AI takes some time to prepare for battle. It will frustrate players if their new units are not able to win.
The reinforcement hexes can be hidden behind trees or made larger so that units can safely move around the map. The green circles indicate areas of good coverage. The orange ones are dangerous unless they are very far from where the fighting is.
- Avoid placing buildings (and bridges), too close together. It may look good but it poses problems for mechanics, players, and other users.
For example, players may be left wondering if they can't move up or down from one building hex to another. These situations are where LOS is not working as expected. The roof can't be shot through, either up or downward. The green buildings in the above are a better choice than the red circular.
Ideally, buildings should be designed in the following manner:
Building hex-other or open terrain. – Building hemp. Similar for bridges.
Some terrain that doesn’t look exactly like buildings is treated by the engine and should be treated the exact same as buildings when designing your maps. This includes anything in The Buildings menu, Street Cars and Train Cars.
- Avoid using too many three-level buildings. These buildings can pose a problem when it comes to handling units. On your maps, you should use only two-story or one-story structures.
Although the buildings are spaced evenly on this map, there is a lot of 3 level buildings which makes it difficult to play. Row houses located next to the trains are likely to have problems due to the fact that the train cars must be treated like level 1 buildings.
- You shouldn't make road clusters. There should be no road clusters with a road on each side of every hex. You can use the "squared terrain" in these situations. It looks far better. To represent larger roads, you can also use the square terrain.
The top image shows the worst clusters. You can use square instead (as in the bottom).
- Be aware of Decoration placement. If they are placed in a way that makes it appear like LOS might be blocked or hindered, then they will not provide any. For example, a row stacked of barrels may be placed along a hexside. This could make it look like they are a hinderance or a hindrance to LOS.
These barrels might lead players to believe that LOS was blocked. In reality, LOS is treated as if it were not there.
- It takes 5 different wire decorations to make them work. You can treat one hex as wire terrain if you have 5 or more. It is only decorative and has no effect. The green circle can be considered wire, while the yellows can be considered clear.
- Antitank device are effective with three. Hedgehog-anti-tank devices require three in a hexagon to be effective at keeping vehicles from the hex. The yellow ones won't block vehicles, but the green one will.
- Antiship devices are only effective with one. Hemmbalken just need one in order to prevent ships from entering the watershex.
- Trenches only have limited access. Trenches on hills can only be accessed via a ground hex of the same level as the trench or from adjacent trench hexes at a different level. The green lines indicate the areas where movement can be made, while those marked with red are blocked.
- Plan and design for map reuse. In case you need to make adjustments to terrain such as digging trenches or drilling holes, you might save the map under another name. Create the base map without these elements and save a copy for editing for the specific scenario.
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