Isometric miniatures apparatus
Kind Code:

In accordance with one preferred embodiment, a miniatures playing surface is provided which includes an isometric grid ruling for positioning miniatures.

Wittig, Michael B. (Santa Clara, CA, US)
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International Classes:
A63F3/02; A63F3/00; A63F9/00; A63F9/06; A63F11/00; (IPC1-7): A63H3/06
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
1. A playing surface, and miniatures on the playing surface, whereby the playing surface is ruled with an isometric grid and the miniatures are placed in alignment with the grid.



This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/509,218, filed on Sep. 18, 2003, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.


1) Field of Invention

This invention relates to miniatures games

2) Discussion of Related Art

Two types of miniatures playing surfaces have been employed in the past. Each of these technologies has certain disadvantages.

A common miniatures playing surface is a large piece of graph paper. It is ruled with a standard grid of vertical and horizontal lines. Disadvantageously, the three-dimensions of the real world are not well-represented using a two-dimensional map.


It is an objective of the present invention to overcome some or all of the above limitations. In accordance with one preferred embodiment, a miniatures playing surface is provided which includes an isometric grid ruling for positioning miniatures.


Having thus summarized the general nature of the invention and its essential features and advantages, certain preferred embodiments and modifications thereof will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the detailed description herein having reference to the figures that follow, of which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of the preferred embodiment of the invention with miniature 1 and colored piece 5 shown in isometric view for purposes of illustrating the function of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of colored ring 4

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of colored ring 4 attached to miniature 1.

FIG. 5 is an isometric diagram view of another embodiment of the invention

FIG. 6 is a flow chart of the control circuit controlling the motor in the embodiment shown in FIG. 5

FIG. 7 is a series of graphs showing how power to the motor of the embodiment in FIG. 5 is supplied to cancel out friction and detent effects.


FIG. 1 of the accompanying drawings illustrates an isometric miniatures playing surface. Miniature 1 is comprised of figurine 2 attached to base 3. Colored ring 4 attaches to base 3. Colored piece 5 matches colored ring 4 in color, indicated by their matching cross-hatch shading in FIG. 1. Both miniature 1 and colored piece 5 rest physically on playing surface 12, which is a poster-like sheet with a printed surface. Terrain representation 9 is printed on playing surface 12, giving the players the sense of three-dimensional terrain even though the playing surface is two-dimensional. Playing surface 12 is ruled with a pattern 6 which is comprised of x-lines 7a and y-lines 8a. x-lines 7a and y-lines 8a each make angle 11 with the horizontal of 30 degrees.

Colored piece 5 serves an important purpose. It marks the location of the vertical projection of the miniature to the ‘ground’. For example, miniature 1, sitting on isometric square 14, could either be on a square behind the terrain representation 9, or on top of terrain representation 9. It is unclear which case is correct because three-dimensions are being represented on a two-dimensional surface, creating a loss of information. However, if it is assumed that any isometric square is on the ‘ground’ if it has no terrain representation around it, then we can use colored piece 5 to give us a reference to the ground surface. If colored piece 5 is always considered on the ground surface and also directly underneath miniature 1, then when miniature 1 and colored piece 5 don't rest on the same isometric square, it can be reasoned that miniature 1 is on a higher plane than the ground surface, and that the number of squares from colored piece 5 to miniature 1 indicate the height of miniature 1 from the ground. In FIG. 1, miniature 1 is on the 3rd square from colored piece 5, indicating that miniature 1 is 3 units of height above the ground. The colored piece 5 introduces additional information about the location of miniature 1 in space—it is now clear that miniature 1 is on top of terrain representation 9, not behind it on the ground. If colored piece 5 and miniature 1 both rested on isometric square 14, it would indicate that miniature 1 was behind terrain representation 9, 3 spaces along the direction of 8a toward the top of the sheet and 3 spaces along the direction of 7a to the right of the sheet.

The base assembly 13 of miniature 1 as it appears in a true plan view is illustrated in FIG. 2. Base assembly 13 is approximately 25 mm in diameter. Edges 8c and 7b of isometric square 14 are each approximately 30 mm in length. Numbering 15a and lettering 15b along the edge of playing surface 12 allow the identification of specific isometric squares. For example, miniature 1 is on h8.

FIG. 3 shows an isometric view of colored ring 4. Colored ring 4 in the preferred embodiment has grabber fingers 102 and bottom surface 104 to aid in attaching colored ring 4 to miniature 1. Slit 106 allows colored ring 4 to expand to encompass the base 3 of miniature 1. Colored ring 4 is preferrably made out of a flexible plastic like polypropylene. In the preferred embodiment, colored sticker 108 is applied to the outside of colored ring 4.

In FIG. 4, colored ring 4 is shown attached to miniature 1. It can be seen that grabber finger 102 and bottom surface 104 support the top and bottom surfaces of base 3 of miniature 1.

In the preferred embodiment, terrain representation 9 of FIG. 1 is printed with an ink that is invisible initially. When a revealing marker is scribbled across the surface of playing surface 12, the invisible ink becomes visible. This allows players to game master themselves. A player can begin at one end of the map with miniature 1, scribble a revealing marker across playing surface 12 where the miniature 1 approximately begins, and then advance the character across the map, according to the rules of the game, scribbling a revealing marker to show more and more of the map. Advantageously, the map is kept secret from the player, so that there are opportunities to surprise the player as he or she works through the map. It involves a method of:

    • 1) setting out playing surface 12 with a terrain representation printed in invisible ink on a surface
    • 2) setting miniature 1 at a prescribed location on the map based on the story and rules of the game
    • 3) scribbling with a revealing marker according to the story and rules of the game, generally near miniature I's location.
    • 4) playing the game and reading the story further
    • 5) deciding on a course of action, then consulting the game material to determine a specific area on the playing surface 12 to reveal
    • 6) scribbling with a revealing marker in accordance with the directions
    • 7) repeating the process of reading game material, following directions, and scribbling to reveal more map as directed.

Changes could be made to the above embodiment. For example, x-lines 7a and y-lines 8a could use a different value for angle 11 instead of 30 degrees. The angle x-line 7a makes to the horizontal could differ from the angle y-line 8a makes to the horizontal. The grid could be in perspective, so that each line of the series 8a or 7a have slightly different angles to the horizontal. Miniature 1 could be a single-piece miniature consisting only of figurine 2 and base 3. Playing surface 14 could be made out of vinyl instead of paper, and terrain representation 9 could be drawn on the vinyl with an erasable ink.

Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 5. Motor 1002 drives universal joint 1004 (shown in schematic form for easier understanding) which in turn drives cable-wrapped drum 1006. Cable-wrapped drum 1006 is wrapped with cable 1008, with multiple turns. Each end of cable 1008 attaches to large drum 1010 which is rigidly attached to arm 1012. Large drum 1010 rotates about axis 1024 which passes through bearing 1022. Bearing 1022 is attached to right-angle frame 1018. Right-angle frame 1018 has bearings 1020a and 1020b, which axis 1030 passes through. Axis 1030 passes directly through the axes of rotation 1026 and 1028 of universal joint 1004. Right-angle frame 1018 can rotate about axis 1030 to the extent allowed by universal joint 1004 without binding (typically about 45 degrees in either direction for about 90 degrees total travel).

Motor 1002 is driven by control circuit 1014, which is controls power from power source 1016. Motor 1002 in the preferred embodiment is a common appliance-style motor which includes electromagnets for generating the magnetic field that the coils use to push against, instead of a permanent magnet style motor. The electromagnets can be switched on and off by the control circuit. FIG. 6 shows part of the logic of the control circuit. If zero-force is required, meaning that movement of arm 1012 should not be impeded by magnetic detents in motor 1002 caused by the aligning of steel in motor 1002 with permanent magnets, or in this case the energized electromagnets, the electromagnets are switched off, thereby eliminating the field that the steel in motor 1002 is seeking to align with.

FIG. 7 shows a more complex method of preventing magnetic detents as well as friction effects from motor 1002. (in the embodiment of FIG. 5, the method used in the previous paragraph is preferred). Graph (a) shows the torque (T) as a function of the angle of the motor shaft of motor 1002. Graph (b) is the countering torque applied by control circuit 1014 based on the known angle of motor shaft angle sensor 1032 of FIG. 5. When the effects represented by graph (a) and graph (b) are added together, the result is graph (c)—the original effects of graph (a) have been cancelled out by the superpositioning of the effects of graph (b).

FIG. 8 shows another embodiment of the invention. Flexible tube 2000 has a plurality of cables (1 is shown for clarity) running through it. Cable 2002 slides inside of flexible tube 2000. Cable 2002 attaches to force-sensing element 2004, which is comprised in the preferred embodiment of elastic member 2006 and position sensor 2008 (shown schematically for clarity). Cable 2002 actuates grabber finger 2010 through force-sensing element 2004. Position sensor 2008 sends a signal along signal carrier 2012 to control circuit 2014, which controls motor 2016. Motor 2016 drives cable 2002 through cable transmission 2018, which pushes and pulls on cable 2002. Rack 2020 moves back and forth along direction 2026 by the rotation of drum 2022 by motor 2016, which in turn pulls on either end of pretensioned cable 2024 (which is wrapped around drum 2022). Force control of grabber finger 2010 is established by control circuit 2014 as follows: desired force input 2028 is read in from a source (typically a master force-feedback device controlled by a user), which is compared against the reading of force-sensing element 2004 through signal carrier 2012. Motor 2016 is powered to exert on cable 2002 by control circuit 2014 to match the actual force to the desired force. Control circuit 2014 also feeds back feedback signal 2030 to the source to allow the source to know what the force at force sensing element 2004 currently is. This embodiment has the advantage that since the force sensing is done after all of the friction, stiction, and other negatives of flexible tube 2000, force control is much more accurate and controllable.