Terms for battle maps?
January 3, 2008 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Official terminology to describe battle movement maps? (more inside)

Please help me find what the proper term is to describe the large physical maps used by generals etc to plan attacks and troop movements. Think the big tables where they shuffle little objects around with long sticks, like in some old war films. Is there one definitive term for this?
posted by wowbobwow to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ordnance Survey maps?
posted by cameradv at 8:16 AM on January 3, 2008

'Sand box' comes to mind but I think you're referring to something else.
posted by sandpine at 8:18 AM on January 3, 2008

Searching for the one I always remember from films, the control room used during the Battle of Britain, it seems there it was called a plotting table. Doesn't sound like the sort of term they'd use in earlier conflicts, but I'm no expert.
posted by Abiezer at 8:27 AM on January 3, 2008

I think it depends on the historical period that they are being used, and what scope the map is being used for. You can have troop movement maps, campaign maps, situation maps, battle planning maps, etc...

I think if there's a proper name out there, it's pretty obscure and limited in scope as you've probably found. Plus, when in battle..when you say "map" it's easily understood. Now the other hand, there might be an official term for the form of strategic planning itself, much like "After-action reports" and similar terms.
posted by samsara at 8:33 AM on January 3, 2008

Sand table
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:34 AM on January 3, 2008

Best answer: I've heard "plotting table" or just "map table" as well. "Sand table," "sandbox" or (more formally) "terrain model" are terms usually reserved for 3-D maps that show ground contours, and are more of a tactical tool than a strategic one.

The Risk-style colored strategic maps, with little units you can push around with a stick, are a fairly new invention in the history of warfare. They were principally developed (in their modern, recognizable form) by a Prussian guy named Reisswitz in 1811 or so. They were first used in the later Napoleonic wars. There's a lot of information if you google "history of wargaming".
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:35 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's Sand Table. See it mentioned here and here. But that's not quite the same thing as what you mean I think (see also sand box above)

There's also Campaign maps and Situation maps... here's some from WWI. And a situation map from WWII
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:54 AM on January 3, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all very much. A most satisfactory askmefi transaction.
posted by wowbobwow at 8:59 AM on January 3, 2008

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