How to bring digital battlemaps to the table
If you are thinking about using digital battlemaps the first question is: how do I do it? There are two possibilities, either with a TV that you lay flat on the table or with a projector that you hang under the ceiling. We’ve put together the pros and cons of both solutions for you here.
Recently, we showed in a Youtube Video how we built a TV case for displaying battle maps. Previously, we played with a ceiling-mounted projector for years - why make the switch now? And is it final or are we going back to the projector solution?
Let’s start with the obvious solution: Almost everyone has a TV and in some basement, attic or guest room there might still be a barely used device lying dormant. Without much effort, you can usually unscrew the feet and lay the device flat on the table. Make sure that the ventilation slots are not covered, otherwise the fun can be over quickly. As a quick and dirty solution, you could simply place a few wooden blocks or beer coasters underneath and this also compensate for a possibly uneven underside of the TV. A more stable solution would be to build a TV case from a few boards, or with a little more effort a whole gaming table!
The TV has a few advantages: It is cheap to buy, usually quite easy to set up and has a good picture quality - strong brightness and bright colors! The disadvantages are that a TV takes up a lot of space on the table. So you should make sure that there is still enough room for dice, character sheets, snacks and drinks. The third point is the display itself - unprotected it can easily get scratches or liquids. Therefore, it may be advisable to put a thin plexiglass sheet or foil on it!
Let’s move on to the projector: Most people won’t have one lying around, and with a passable brightness, resolution and size, it doesn’t come cheap. We had two quite small projectors in use - first a low-cost model, which unfortunately left something to be desired in terms of resolution and brightness. Later we supported the Philips PicoPic Max on IndieGogo and used this device since then. It was much brighter and could deliver 1080p resolution.
What was also important with that device was that it had a 1/4" thread on the bottom. This allows us to mount it securely with an inexpensive ceiling mount and align it precisely with the ball head.
Let’s get to the advantages: The projector takes up absolutely no space on the table! In addition, it is not within reach of drinks and snacks and therefore does not run the risk of being damaged! Unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages as well: even bright devices often have pale colors in daylight. If you want the full experience, you’ll probably have to darken the room a bit.
Ceiling height also plays a role - it needs to be high enough so that the map being displayed is large enough, but not too large either. A projector with adjustable image size is helpful when in doubt - in our case it works very well without. Speaking of image size - depending on the suspension, the image may still have to be adjusted via the keystone function - which can cost quite a bit of space.
Also, a plain white tablecloth is recommended to maximize light output. You can find out which surface is best for the projector solution in our YouTube video. Write one or two paragraphs describing your product or services. To be successful your content needs to be useful to your readers.The last point is that everything possible has the property to go on the Battlemap. Pencils, character sheets, dice, snacks… there’s just no noticeable limit!
What is our conclusion? It depends! We were quite happy with the projector for a long time, but once you get used to the TV’s color display, you probably won’t want to go back. Also, the usable playing area is very predictable.
A projector, of course, has the potential to project massive maps! On a high ceiling directly on the floor - without a table - you could already play a massive Warhammer 40k battle! To do that with a really big TV would probably be really expensive and impractical as hell.
So, like so many things, it’s a matter of taste and a question of the space available and your own budget. Both solutions are certainly fun to play!
- by Nina