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Maps - best practices for balka-building?


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Maybe George or some of the other top mappers can tell us here how best to use RT's editor to create that most Russian of topography types, the "balka" or big gully.

I'm sure it's not hard at all, but I always like to ask others and maybe pick up a tip or two to get things looking right.

Of course a well done elevation layer to the map will make the basic contours of balkas and other features automatically. But what I'm wondering more about is the variety of terrain tiles to use and the types and use of the right foliage, etc., to get the look.

I guess the Ukraine/Poland don't have them much and it's really something found on the steppe. But since I'll be making steppe maps I'd like to know. I kmow I'll be able to discover this for myself soon. But for the moment I'd like to hear from those who have played around with it.

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  • 2 years later...

I am looking looking through the forum for the same thing. They can be made to look nice but using the direct elevation tool but with so many clicks it is very tedious. Any short cuts?

It would be nice to have a "dirt" shallow ford tile that followed the terrain elevation it was placed on while yielding nice erosion banks. 

Kevin

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27 minutes ago, TheVulture said:

Any example pictures of what a real life balka looks like? Never heard the term before.

They come in all shapes and sizes. Balka is a term for a water cut feature. Balkas can be as large as valleys and as small as an eroded dry stream bed. Sometimes they have side bank erosion channels. How they look depends on the area and soil, so balkas in the south look more like wadis/dry creek beds whilst further north they can be wider and less eroded. Maps usually show what the "balka" feature looks like.

If you want narrow and steep then ditch lock with some sections not locked works well. Trial and error will get the result desired.

2.jpg

Shallow balka

More+Panzers.jpg

Shallow balka

sturmgeschutz.jpg

Eroded balka

catastrophe-stalingrad-tanks-advance.jpg

Behind commander head deeply eroded balka

Edited by George MC
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Thanks George. The balkas make the otherwise flat, open, boring, steepe country anything but. They must have influenced small unit actions tremendously. Actually beyond what we read about in operational level histories. They are tedious to make on the map and tax the the eyes more than most map design activities.

I have been playing with dropping a temporary outline for the balka with trees, then using the direct tool to finish it off. Still requires a lot of in and out of 3D mode to get them right. I would not spend the time on them for aesthetic purposes only.  

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11 minutes ago, kevinkin said:

Thanks George. The balkas make the otherwise flat, open, boring, steepe country anything but. They must have influenced small unit actions tremendously. Actually beyond what we read about in operational level histories. They are tedious to make on the map and tax the the eyes more than most map design activities.

I read a comment by a German commander recently - I think it was in "Kursk: The German View" (by Steven Newton) something to the effects that it was noticeable that Russian troops liked to position themselves in the low ground - the valleys and gulleys, aiming for concealment and infiltration, while the German troops tended instinctively to occupy the high ground with good visibility. Possibly something to be aware of for anyone who enjoys trying to play the different nations according to their historical behaviours.

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On 2016-06-24 at 7:15 AM, TheVulture said:

I read a comment by a German commander recently - I think it was in "Kursk: The German View" (by Steven Newton) something to the effects that it was noticeable that Russian troops liked to position themselves in the low ground - the valleys and gulleys, aiming for concealment and infiltration, while the German troops tended instinctively to occupy the high ground with good visibility. Possibly something to be aware of for anyone who enjoys trying to play the different nations according to their historical behaviours.

Plenty of examples of the German's using wadi's /balkas /defiles in all three of the Panzer Ace's books on all fronts.  Lots of other ref's out there as well...

Edited by Blazing 88's
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