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"Hexes and Squares for Miniature Gaming" Topic


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MajerBlundor21 Jan 2009 8:07 a.m. PST

Has anyone else tried hexes or squares for miniature gaming?

If yes, what did you like or not like about?

If no and you've already decided that you would NOT enjoy it, what are your assumptions that led you to that conclusion?

I ask because I had always assumed that hexes and squares were not workable with miniatures. My reasons were that it would be too hard to get existing terrain to fit, angles and directions would be too limited, diagonal distances using squares would be too distorted, etc.

But after playing BattleLore, Command & Colors, and PBI I tried using 4" squares for different periods and scales and found it much more enjoyable compared to rulers, tape measures, and templates. I've now played microarmor, 15mm moderns and even 30mm sci-fi using 4" squares. And I've used my existing terrain and figure collections without modification in anyway.

Even with multiple players new to the rules the games went very quickly and, most importantly, we were completely free to focus on tactics and the "story" or narrative of the game. Like other gamers I've used rulers for years without significant difficulty outside of the occasional opponent with a rubber ruler. So it's not that rulers and templates are "bad" (but they can be a "fiddly" based on who's doing the measuring!).

But it's just so darn easy to plop a stand or figure in a space, be it square or hex, and be done with it. All measurement, angles, and area effects are done at that point and perfectly clear. No arguments, no ambiguity, no close calls, no interruptions as you try to carefully measure that wheel maneuver or determine whether or not a charge would clip another unit.

For me BattleLore and Command & Colors got me started on this approach while PBI clinched the deal. I also played Otto Schmidt's excellent and very enjoyable Renaissance-Fantasy games at HMGS conventions which used 12" hexes (those were GREAT games!). Maybe it's one of those things that sound terrible in theory but that's enjoyable once you try it?

MB

The Nigerian Lead Minister21 Jan 2009 8:15 a.m. PST

I use GHQs Terrain Maker system of 4" hexes for a lot of my WWII gaming. While we still technically measure out as if the hexes were not there, once everyone gets the hang of the 4" hex grid the ranges, moves, and positioning gets much easier to take in at a glance. The games go smoother, I think. Takes a bit of time to set up (30 min or so for a table, but that's not much more than some people take for a non-hex grid table), but I like the effects.

Grape Ape21 Jan 2009 8:16 a.m. PST

I really think that most distinctions between miniatures gaming and board gaming are pretty artificial. In the end, a miniature is just a really, really nice looking counter in 3d. Yes, you'd have to make some changes to use your terrain on a square or hex grid, but heroscape gets by with it just fine. Why not other games as well?

Grizwald21 Jan 2009 8:20 a.m. PST

I find that I am using hexes more and more these days. I use the Hexon II terrain system available from kallistra.co.uk

There is an active Yahoo group discussing the use of gridded terrain here:
link

Bob Cordery has done a lot of work on gridded wargames. See his blog here:
link

Martin Rapier21 Jan 2009 8:25 a.m. PST

Yes, I've used squares, offset squares, hexes and even variable sized zones to reflect the terrain density (small zones for difficult, big zones for easy). Everything from low level tactical (like PBI) right up to Army level operational games, and spanning all periods from 400 BC up to ultra modern.

Too many advantages to mention in detail but a few are:

i) speeding things up
ii) avoidance of millilmetric unit and terrain placement
iii) makes hidden setup and movement vastly easier to regulate
iv) makes are fire resolution a lot less fiddly
v) it is particularly suitable for high intensity comflict with tight unit boundaries like most of WW1 and WW2…
vi) units take up the right amount of space without requiring vast bases

Only real disadvantages are:

i) stacking limits and all the boardgamey type stuff
ii) terrain will be something of a abstraction might be OK with this, might not
iii) it is possible to make the whole thing too fiddly. I prefer a few large zones to lots of little ones.

Palafox21 Jan 2009 8:36 a.m. PST

I have used hexes but I do not like it. I'm also a boardgame player and if I want to use hexes I just play a boardgame. To me the beauty of the miniatures is the visual impact and always found you lose a lot of it using hexes.

The argument in favour I've always been told is that you do not have to discuss about the range being 1" short or not, but I still think that kind of discussions are easily solved depending on the players you game with. A rules lawyer or a very competitive player will be the same with or without hexes.

CorpCommander21 Jan 2009 8:38 a.m. PST

I've considered hexes for a computer moderated game where the players were all on the same side vs. the computer. Hexes (or squares) leave little to the imagination and make resolution. This is also a benefit at convention games!

Samurai Elb21 Jan 2009 9:00 a.m. PST

In our club we play an older German WWII System called Planspiel which uses squares

You can see something about on my webpage here:

link

Using squares has the result that we are playing much more using tactics then discussions about measuring.

Martin Rapier21 Jan 2009 9:13 a.m. PST

Planspiel looks very interesting, are the rules available anywhere? (I'll have to dig out my rusty German to translate them).

I usually find military wargames have a very different perspective to hobby rules.

Bob in Edmonton21 Jan 2009 9:37 a.m. PST

I agree with Martin Rapier--many, many advantages and these are particularly evident when running a game at club night or a convention where the players may not know the rules.

Strategic decisions are more easily disentangled from questions of mechanics (i.e., "how do I move here?" becomes "do I want to move here?"). So newbie players don't get overwhelmed by the mechanics.

This also tends to restrict decision making to the level of abstraction consistent with the player's nominal rank in the game. Thus Napoleon isn't wondering when to move into Battalion 123 from column to line--he lets his subordinates sweat that and instead orders his brigades around.

If you don't like hexes, games like Crossfire (horizon movement, no fixed turn structure) also push the mechanics of the game into the background and force you to think tactics (or, more commonly, question why you didn't think about tactics after your squad gets mowed down).

Ditto Tango 2 121 Jan 2009 10:59 a.m. PST

But it's just so darn easy to plop a stand or figure in a space,

Not an answer to your question, but I would eagerly recommend you try the game Bob mentions, Crossfire. Not hex based, but free unmeasured movement and the approach certainly does get you thinking "I've got to try to get to the cover of that woods, are there any enemy I can see that are able to fire at me along the route I want to take?" instead of "I've got to try to get to the cover of that woods, how many inches do I get to move?". And I've actually used it as a training exercise (for battle procedure, mainly) for officers and NCOs of a local reserve unit. They had no trouble dealing with it.
--
Tim

Samurai Elb21 Jan 2009 11:32 a.m. PST

Hello Martin,

unfortunately the old original rules of Planspiel from 1960 are not more availiable. The last I bought were from Ebay but I have not seen them the last years.

These are not rules of the today kind but more a rough description how to game miniatures. You must full the holes in the rules with your own decisions.

But as you say, these rules have some very special perspectives specially a logistic system.

MajerBlundor21 Jan 2009 11:41 a.m. PST

I've also enjoyed playing Crossfire for many of the same reasons that I've enjoyed using squares. Less fiddly and quicker playing! And I've enjoyed your website and that of Lloyd, another Crossfire gamer. (Great stuff!)

Unfortunately our group usually plays larger, multi-player games. While Crossfire can certainly be "played by multiple players" (I was introduced to Crossfire in just such a game at Historicon) that's not quite the same thing as being a "multi-player game" if that makes sense. Given our game sizes and number of players it's usually helpful if lots of players can move troops at the same time, etc.

But by eliminating rulers and templates Crossfire is certainly more immersive than most other games. It's sort of the opposite of games such as FoG/DBM which often become exercises in high school geometry. Again, that's not to say that rulers and templates can't work (I've used them since 1988!). And as Palafox points out if you game with nice guys you are less likely to run into "milimetrics" issues.

But even with the nicest, most generous gamers in the world when using rulers/templates there's a process/flow overhead that must be paid every time one measures a distance, checks an angle, or determines an area for arty attack. That's just a simple fact. Squares and hexes eliminate that process flow overhead or "drag" but at some cost in level of granularity (angles and distances come in discreet, "digital-like" increments while rulers/templates are more "analog-like".)

However, regarding that last point, I've recently started toying with ancient/medieval/renaissance gaming and squares. We've been playing around with DBx-based troops and 2-inch squares.

At first I was reluctant but then I googled images of DBx and FoG games. The vast, vast majority feature opposing blocks of troops approaching one another head-on. There are instances of cavalry sometimes approaching a flank at an angle but nearly every game system then "conforms" these troops at a perfectly flat angle anyway! (Conforming is one of those topics which require such detailed rules in ancients gaming…and which causes so many "discussions").

So far these experiments with 2" squares and DBx based troops have gone really well. Like Martin I generally prefer larger areas/squares/hexes but these 2" squares fit the DBx stands perfectly and the battlefield formations look good. I've tried 4" squares and they look good too, but the 2" squares provide more flexibility while still doing their square job. :-) (Essentially our 4" squares are treated as having four smaller 2" x 2" squares so I can use my existing square-gridded cloth…for infantry we put two 40x15 or 40x20 stands in a square and treat as one "stand" or "unit").

MB

KaneBlaireau21 Jan 2009 12:23 p.m. PST

Looked up Crossfire and must say I'm intrigued.

On point, I am becoming more and more interested in hex-based gaming. HeroScape was my first foray and it just plays so much smoother when you don't have to measure for every little thing you do. Have yet to play a unit based game with large hexes, however, but would love to play something along the lines of WHFB on a hex field. (probably a 5" so that each face was the same as a typical units facing)

normsmith21 Jan 2009 1:00 p.m. PST

I am a fan of hex based games, some main points for me are

1/ measuring is done by eye and command raduis etc is easily assessed.
2/ fronts and flanks are instantly definable, especially for anti tank shots etc.
3/ reduces the problem of backache as one is not leaning over a table measuring
4/ an area of ground is clearly defined as a hex, so everything in the hex is hit by artillery or that hex and every adjacent hex etc or the hex is hard cover or blocks line of sight etc.

Allen5721 Jan 2009 3:41 p.m. PST

Baccus has a squares based game project on their website for the battle of Leipzig.

The project narrative is here:

link

the rules are here:

PDF link

David Gray21 Jan 2009 3:59 p.m. PST

Song of Blades and Heroes can be played on a hex grid as well. Best way to play it in my opinion…

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2009 4:04 p.m. PST

A friend once claimed that offset squares were easier to make than hexes and gave same result. Side of one row is in middle of previous and next row.

I like big hexes for area movement games, like Skull Island
Here is close up
picture

Whole article
link

gweirda21 Jan 2009 4:33 p.m. PST

as the above in favor, as well as (for myself) a benefit lies in the reduction in precise control given to the player/general-on-the-hill. that may sound counterintuitve (with hexes/squares you know right where your troops are), but from a movement/positioning standpoint the gradation allowed is broader: you can't put a unit "just so"…it has to be HERE or HERE…or its movement takes it THERE or THERE…and no place inbetween. big, combat-zone areas (rather than baby-step spaces) are required to have this effect, of course --but it's a nice way to inject some frustration into the command tent/bunker.

Boone Doggle21 Jan 2009 6:11 p.m. PST

I prefer hexes and squares.

By far the biggest problem in my mind is the difficulty of doing nice terrain with square/hexes.

bcminiatures221 Jan 2009 7:20 p.m. PST

Major Blundor:
I'm enjoying this thread. Thanks for starting it.
As I age in the hobby, I've found myself heading towards hexes as well. Though I got there in an odd way. Palofax mentioned that rules lawyers and competitive types will find a way to screw up orderly hex games. Ordinarily, I would have agreed wholeheartedy; you'd think that would be true. Interestingly, my old gaming group had a heavy contingent of "rules lawyers" – arguers – and "fudgers." I dropped away from gaming with them because it was hard on the nerves sometimes, and I had young children. But they're a great group and I loved them anyway. At some point, one of the guys got sick of the debating club that was supposed to be a wargame night. He just started to host board games: Memoir 44, Axis and Allies, ATTACK, whatever. A funny thing happened. No more arguing, no more fudging – just fun gaming. Sadly, the guy who started this trend passed away last year. But now, one of the guys has rebuilt his wargaming table, hexed it out, and is playing games on that -- he's just doing it in 3D. He uses his Napoleonics and ACW troops with rules based on Memoir 44. The group is a joy to play with. They play games; the games are harmonious; the games finish (most times) with a clear winner.
I was intrigued by this huge change. I hexed out my game table, and soon enough was playing Memoir 44 with my son or with another friend using beautiful 15mm figs. The board looks spectacular. I find the terrain easy to set up as I just have to place trees and towns in hexes. The borders are clear. I'm moving well painted minis – we're playing a game – we're having fun – and we finish in time to hang around and chat. We've played Vive L'empereur with my 15mm Nappies and it's worked great.
I guess this is a round about way of saying that the hex based gaming can deliver on a lot of what we want as gamers (not all of course, but a lot). I think my argumentative colleagues were never "looking" for a fight when they played regular miniatures games. It's just that normal games offer so many decision points and possible points of advantage that they could not make themselves pass up the chance. With the hexed games – there is virtually never a situation that presents a conflict. And when you hit a snag, they are easily resolved. The fact that my friends can play a game for 3 solid hours without one word of disagreement is amazing – and gratifying.
I'm sold. I'm anxiously awaiting the Memoir 44 Campaign book so I can have the group refight the fall of France. I just purchased, painted and mounted some French artillery batteries for the upcoming "campaign." I'm also painting up 10mm ACW figs (a new period for me); I'll try Battle Cry or some other game that will work on hexes. I think the grail that many are waiting for are Richard Borg's Napoleonic command and colors game – whenever they arrive. That may drive me to do 10mm Napoleonics.

Brian

BravoX21 Jan 2009 9:10 p.m. PST

At my local club we have been playing C&C Ancients using miniatures for several years.

We have a gaming cloth with a 4" hex patten overlaid, most of us in the club bought these from Melkart miniaturesgames.com a while back with a club order. The cloth size is pretty close to the board size in the Borg games, one guy has a huge double sized cloth for really big games.

We play with 15mm or 25mm with out own variant rules link

The games are fun, the rules are easy, you can rememeber most of them in your head, and very few arguments, if any about the rules.

I am planning on a LotR game using BattleLore rules and GW figures, and BattleCry using Perry ACW figures.

We have played Memoir quite a few times using 6mm armour, personally I didn't like it so much as I think Memoir lacks the WW2 armour "feel", I have also thought about 6mm gaming using 1 or 1.5" hexes with one unit per hex.

What is nice about these particular cloths, apart from the great graphics printed on them is that the hex overlay is very subtle and you can use them for both hex and non-hex based games. One of the guys has a "winter" hex cloth which looks superb, which I am thinking of buying as well to do a Battle of the Bulge skirmish scenario in 28mm .

For Terrain we have actually bought some of the hex terrian from Kallistra that is supposed to be for there HexonII system but works well on a cloth.

MajerBlundor22 Jan 2009 8:09 a.m. PST

bcminiatures2,

Age is a consideration for me too, at both ends of the spectrum! :-)

Our group includes older gamers with some dexterity limitations due to health/age/eye sight issues and squares make it easier to participate. This is especially true when using very small models such as microarmor or individually based 25mm figures.

We also have children who play (mine are age 7 and 8). While they've all used rulers and templates playing games such as 40K even they prefer squares. In fact about 3 months ago I pondered a return to rulers/templates and my boys would have none of it! My 7-year old has been especially enthusiastic about medieval and renaissance gaming with 2" squares and conducts his own battles in that manner.

And like you I've also found that with age I've less patience for rules lawyering, rubber rulers, and fiddly measurements. Maybe it's the realization of our own mortality and limited time that comes with age? I'd just rather focus on the entertaining story of a good game instead of spending my valuable and limited time measuring distances, angles, and determining areas of effect. If I want to spend my time measuring stuff I can always do home improvement projects instead! :-)

To others who have provided links, thanks! I've joined the grid-based yahoo group. And I've found the images of others using square and hex grids especially encouraging.

I know that many (including myself) have felt that "if I'm going to use hexes I might as well play a board game" and that grids make a nice presentation difficult. I can't speak for hexes but I can confirm that after many experiments 4" squares pose no significant problem for terrain or putting on a nice looking game.

My terrain collection has been a work in progress since 1988 (!) and I've done no modifications to make it work with my squares. This is true for my microarmor, 15mm WWII/moderns, and even my 30mm sci-fi stuff (40K and AT-43). So don't be afraid to give this a try.

A simple green 4' x 6' felt cloth is only a few dollars and a 4" grid can be drawn in just 15 minutes or so. For my primary cloth I bought a dark tan piece of cloth and used spray paint to create areas of darker dirt and areas of lighter and darker greens (not a camo pattern but what looks like an aerial view of fields, etc.) I then used a tan/light brown sharpie to create a subtle 4" grid pattern. Cheap, fast, it looks really nice, and it works with all my terrain (both home-made and store bought).

MB

gweirda22 Jan 2009 8:31 a.m. PST

the visual impact of grids can be significantly reduced by marking in only the corners --say 1/4" spokes (or less if using squares/hexes that are smaller than 2" or so?).

start small (pencil-line width or so) and light (using, as MB suggested, a complimentary color) --you can alway "upgrade" if necessary. you'd be surprised at how the pattern will jump out when you're looking for it, but standing back from the table it disappears (especially when viewed at a smaller angle instead of top-down).

here's a high-angle view that makes the grid obvious…
picture

but at game height, they don't intrude as much…
picture

Martin Rapier22 Jan 2009 1:04 p.m. PST

For Strategos I mark the corners of the squares with bits of terrain (rocks, trees etc). This also has the advantage that you can make the squares bigger if you stuff loads of units into them;-)

blackscribe22 Jan 2009 10:48 p.m. PST

Yes, it was called Battletech. Eventually they came out with a rulebook detailing how you could chuck the hex maps. The hex maps were stored.

MajerBlundor23 Jan 2009 8:45 a.m. PST

Mike Snorbens…your link to the yahoo grid group has been a real shot in the arm for them. Thanks for that lead!

I'm also encouraged by the number of positive comments by others in this thread. As I mentioned above, I was a "grid skeptic" and so I thought there wouldn't be that many people who also enjoy using squares and hexes.

I think the usual comment "if I wanted to use hexes I'd play a board game" is no longer valid. Games such as Command & Colors, Memoir '44, BattleLore, Axis & Allies miniatures and games from companies such as FFG are bridging the gap between miniatures and boardgames. People even paint the figures and models included in those games!

While board games adopt miniature figures for their visual attraction maybe more miniature gamers will adopt grids for their speed, clarity, and ease of use. If board game grognards can evolve surely we can too! :-)

As someone once noted on the Peter Pig/RFCM yahoo group players are typically reluctant to adopt squares/hexes (I was like that). But once you do adopt a grid few want to go back!

MB

UshCha23 Jan 2009 12:53 p.m. PST

I first started using Hex terrain based on the pictures in Featherstones "War games" (im old ish). My terrain was full hex with hex roads and rivers. In those days in 6mm. It took too long to build and could look unrealistic as strait roads are only possible in 6 orientataions. Also the number of "redundant" hexes is high. You need to have enough hex for an un-roaded board + hexes for the most road/river/stream/stream river lemgth/junction/ bend etc. This is an impractical requirement for me (go look at real maps).

In 1/72 scale the height makes it impractical to make portable terrain like hills in hex. Hills need to range from 30mm to 120mm tall. on a 6' by 4' board and including the base layer I considered it impractical.

We how usae the commercial Hexon stuff for hills in 1:144 scale where the "ragged edge" is perfectly acceptable. To keep assembly time down, we only use it for the hills not for the base layer (so you could not play hex based games easily) but it does help in accurate mapping. of the terrain.

We did toy with the idea of a hex cloth but they don't make one with the right size hex for the hex hills and accuracy could be a worry! As for hex ranges, maybe but when you are travelling down complex (look at typical European road systems) this could amd would lead to glaring errors. given the hex size/ground scale we are using.

Crossfire as far as it goes is good but never coped well with AFV's, but maybe at its ranges (sub 300m) it should not need to. Its scope was to narrow for my taste (this is a comment not a criticism of the rules which are clever and inavative encouraging tactics not dice throwing). Hence we use Manouver Group which is a diffrent system but has the same tactics driven games (again not to everyone taste you can get a headache working out where in a village you want to set up a defence even if range is not a major parameter).

It may be possible to play "simulations" on hex. Advanced Squad leader does it quite well but is potentially more complex a than the old ways so we did not go there.

AdAstraGames29 Jan 2009 7:49 p.m. PST

I publish space combat games that use a hex grid, and space combat is one of the few areas I know where there are people who absolutely refuse to use them.

Hex grids are the best way to handle this sort of gaming, bar none.

Weasel29 Jan 2009 8:37 p.m. PST

We've had fun with hex or square maps, but I do prefer marking the squares out a bit loosely, to avoid detracting from the visuals.

But its not a big preference for me, either way. I must say, Crossfire with its lack of measurements is a big winner for me.

thehawk11 Feb 2009 5:41 a.m. PST

In a hex game it can be easy to get unrealistic 2:1 or 3:1 odds on a straight defensive line depending on which way the map grain runs.
In a normal square grid game, the maths are stuffed.
An offset square grid is the same as a hex game.
So on the surface, it can appear that the grids have no impact but in fact they do and add an unrealistic impact on the game.
There is a game programming web site on isometric games that explains this in detail with miniature tank models on various grids. But I haven't seen it for years.

MajerBlundor11 Feb 2009 6:59 a.m. PST

Quick! Alert the board game industry, they're doomed!

:-)

Hawk is absolutely correct, the "grain" of a hex board can effect relative positional strength (which is why I use squares) and squares are off with respect to distance on the diagonal (but imo there are bigger things in life to be worried about: jobs, family, the economy, health, etc.). Anyone who played Avalon Hill games can remember "soak off attacks" resulting from these issues and related rules.

It's a trade off. In recent post on a FoG forum a gamer described some grand plan which would work great as long as he deployed x.0" from a table corner/edge.

Someone else corrected him and he replied yes, that it should be x.1".

8-0


MB

UshCha11 Feb 2009 12:41 p.m. PST

The grain of the hex as the man said kills hex as a real feature driver. Go look at a 1/50000 scale map even better 1/25000 scale. The roads cannot be sensibly fitted to a hex map and give the same fields of fire. You cant get a strait road in other than 6 orientations.

MajerBlundor11 Feb 2009 2:27 p.m. PST

That's a very good example.

I suppose one can look at it this way:

Rulers/Templates = analog…infinite possibilities with respect to position, angle, etc. which is both a curse (people start measuring tiny little yet crucial distances which could be changed with a bump of the table or stand slipping down a slope) and a blessing (you could achieve near perfection in terrain presentation but even then most ground scales make a mockery of terrain representation anyway.)

Hexes/Squares = digital…(very!) limited possibilities with respect to position, engle, etc. which is also a curse (your terrain must conform to the grid and units can't face one another at any angle) and a blessing (absolute 100% precision with respect to relative position, distance, angle, etc.)

MB

UshCha12 Feb 2009 12:26 a.m. PST

The third way is to do your best to minimise the Wargamers obsession with range. In our games we have only 1 range effective. At least anecdotally wargamers seem far more obsessed with range than the real world. On the games we play you do not want a grunt to be seen 300m away to be shot at and less than that does not effect the shot hit rate for small arms. Big guns on a 1/72 game can't get past about 1000 yds. With proper terrain design you should rarely get any shots beyond 1500 yds in Northern Europe. Mostly grunts want to shoot at 200m or less except for MG's which are in effect using fixed line or area fire type effects.

There is a reason the US M240 notes that the range at which the bullet remains within 3 ft of level ground is 600m. Ergo rangees undet 600m may not always be critical. As a wargamer are you really goind to do a parametric analsis of the ground to acertain the real ZP of the rounds for all possible ground configurations? The wise answer is no so the range obsession will be a s wrong as not having much range effect and it gets rid of lots of paranoia, and speeds the game. This itself adds to realism as time pressure is easier to put on the player, a pale facimily of the real world stress but it is the best that can be done).

So the question is in modelling the real world have you got your parameters wrong. Terrain is normally the key. If you are compromising that more than is neccessary then you need to look at the parameter weighting of the model. A model like a chain is only as good as its weakest link. "Super accurate" modelling (even if its more accurate and not just badly designed ill weighted parametrics (see m240 above) of one section of the model compared to all the rest in the end has minimal effect on overall accuracy.

UshCha12 Feb 2009 12:32 a.m. PST

The third way is to do your best to minimise the Wargamers obsession with range. In our games we have only 1 range effective. At least anecdotally wargamers seem far more obsessed with range than the real world. On the games we play you do not want a grunt to be seen 300m away to be shot at and less than that does not effect the shot hit rate for small arms. Big guns on a 1/72 game can't get past about 1000 yds. With proper terrain design you should rarely get any shots beyond 1500 yds in Northern Europe. Mostly grunts want to shoot at 200m or less except for MG's which are in effect using fixed line or area fire type effects.

There is a reason the US M240 notes that the range at which the bullet remains within 3 ft of level ground is 600m. Ergo rangees undet 600m may not always be critical. As a wargamer are you really goind to do a parametric analsis of the ground to acertain the real ZP of the rounds for all possible ground configurations? The wise answer is no so the range obsession will be a s wrong as not having much range effect and it gets rid of lots of paranoia, and speeds the game. This itself adds to realism as time pressure is easier to put on the player, a pale facimily of the real world stress but it is the best that can be done).

So the question is in modelling the real world have you got your parameters wrong. Terrain is normally the key. If you are compromising that more than is neccessary then you need to look at the parameter weighting of the model. A model like a chain is only as good as its weakest link. "Super accurate" modelling (even if its more accurate and not just badly designed ill weighted parametrics (see m240 above) of one section of the model compared to all the rest in the end has minimal effect on overall accuracy.

So as before hex makes excelent modular hills but should not drive everything.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2009 9:23 p.m. PST

Hmmmmmm….

Martin Rapier18 Feb 2009 3:03 a.m. PST

"Terrain is normally the key"

Yes, but with zones you can abstract the terrain density and LOS blocking stuff to a degree. The map for Victory Games 'Hells Highway' is a reduction of WW2 1:50,000 scale maps and it has all the little sideroads, villages etc as well as (from memory) about ten different hex terrain types with varying effects on different types of unit.

Makes it much quicker to set the table up if you just designate a hex as 'mixed polder' or whatever.

Erik M18 Feb 2009 3:27 a.m. PST

Please give a pointer on where to find this Crossfire!
I just can't seem to find it.

Found it, lotz easier than imagined.
link

Fred Cartwright18 Feb 2009 6:13 a.m. PST

In a normal square grid game, the maths are stuffed.

If you use the one diagonal the rest orthogonal rule when counting squares that doesn't apply. You get almost the same result if you had measured direct. It is used in PBI and you can take the one diagonal at any point in the counting process.

Martin Rapier18 Feb 2009 9:49 a.m. PST

Yes, that one diagonal in the count is a brilliant idea and one I have shamelessly borrowed for all my square based games.

It has the neat side effect that a unit with a range of 1 can cover both the orthogonals and the diagonals.

Fred Cartwright18 Feb 2009 10:14 a.m. PST

The grain of the hex as the man said kills hex as a real feature driver. Go look at a 1/50000 scale map even better 1/25000 scale. The roads cannot be sensibly fitted to a hex map and give the same fields of fire. You cant get a strait road in other than 6 orientations.

Considering the other compromises that you have to make with terrain, unless you are playing a game like "Final Combat" which uses a ground scale the same as the minis scale, the fact that your roads aren't dead straight is usually a minor problem. Also in a lot of parts of the world roads aren't very straight. Around here I can't think of many roads that give you more than a couple of hundred meters straight and many a lot less. Even the straight ones, old Roman roads, Have dips in that limit uninterupted vision.

donlowry18 Feb 2009 2:50 p.m. PST

I found Wally Simon's review of Crossfire, via Erik M's link, to be very interesting. I'm not into skirmishing, but it sounds like a brilliant system (though it wouldn't work for solo gaming). I'll have to have a look at the same designer's Spearhead rules.

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick18 Feb 2009 3:13 p.m. PST

John Holly and I tried and tried to come up with some hex-based or area based rules for Ren / Horse & Musket, and we just couldn't get it to work. The problem was always Facing and placement within the hex. Were units just "in" hexes, or were they on hex-Sides…? And thus when you entered a hex, did you always have to choose a hex-side? It got really tricky and complex when we began to play out all the ways in which you'd have to specify who is facing which way, and who is behind whom, and what that means if one unit is flanked but another isn't, and so on. It was easier just using inches and a green rug!

But when we got to more modern stuff, like WW2, it worked great. I think the problem was the close-order era armies, where the relative position and depth of units is so important.

CooperSteveOnTheLaptop18 Feb 2009 3:43 p.m. PST

Jim Clark & I feel the love for 10cm hexs. He has a big Hexxon set up, I have a Hotz mat!
So far we use them for 10mm Great War & Great War aerial

MajerBlundor18 Feb 2009 5:35 p.m. PST

"John Holly and I tried and tried to come up with some hex-based or area based rules for Ren / Horse & Musket, and we just couldn't get it to work."

Have you tried Battle Cry, Command & Colors, or BattleLore? They're ancient/medieval/H&M games that use miniatures and hexes (sort of hybrid miniature-board games…some people actually use regular 15mm DBx-based troops to play these.) Not quite as detailed as traditional miniatures but they work well. There's also the Great Battles series of board games which uses hexes.

That being said, your experience is precisely why I've been using squares. Google "Field of Glory" or DBM images and you'll notice something immediately: 80-90% of the troops are deployed in blocks at right angles to one another. Sometimes there's the odd light cav unit angling around the side but that's the exception to the rule.

With squares you can represent 90% of the unit relationships without the headache of measuring 15mm distances as in DBX.

In fact our group recently played the card-based "miniatures" game called Battleground Fantasy Warfare. It's like a traditional miniatures game but instead of stands of miniature troops it uses cards. I really enjoyed the system but kept thinking how fiddly everything was and how much easier it would be using squares! :-)

MB

Dantes Cellar18 Feb 2009 8:58 p.m. PST

MajerBlundor--great topic!

I know this is going to sound really superficial, but, I don't like the way hexes or grids look on a 3d tabletop.

Over the years I've played several wargames and historical periods, and I've run a fantasy RPG on a fully-detailed table for years.

With the work I put in detailing the scenery, I find the grids distracting. I've also found that there's usually a 50/50 chance that the players will feel constricted with hexes or somewhat lost without them (can't win, eh?).

While it can be true what some of the posters here have mentioned about the "cost" of using tape measures and rulers (players micro-measuring things to optimize their chances to hit, etc. etc. etc.), I like the feel of an "open" table top. Helps me become more immersed in the story and game unfolding in front of me.

I don't mind grids on boardgames (like Memoir 44' et al), just don't prefer them on my miniatures games.

UshCha19 Feb 2009 12:43 a.m. PST

He has a big Hexxon set up, I have a Hotz mat!
Are they the same sacle hexes and could you put the hex on the mat and they line up/ Most hex mats are 4" and after 20 odd hexes this would show up!

MajerBlundor19 Feb 2009 9:00 a.m. PST

Hey Dantes!

I know what you mean by the grid being a visual distraction. At first I had the same reaction since I put so much time into my other terrain bits. Since I use squares I have more flexibility when it comes to defining them. In fact I once made a mat marking only the corners in a subtle green "blotch" that looked like a shrub…and some gamers couldn't see them at first! :-) The key is to make the lines as subtle as possible.

Regarding immersion now that I use squares I have the opposite experience. With squares measuring and template stuff fades into the background and we have 100% focus on the narrative. Instead of the user experience being "movement decision – find ruler – place ruler – measure distance – move stand" it's simply "movement decision – move stand". You're correct, one is certainly more restricted as to placement (analog vs digital again). In some cases that can feel artificial but in other cases it's liberating since you can place a stand anywhere in a square so it looks nice.

As you say, it's a no win situation in some ways. But having gone back and forth between rulers and squares over the last several months I'm more convinced that ever that on balance any disadvantages associated with squares are overwhelmed by their advantages in speed and precision.

MB

Condottiere19 Feb 2009 9:28 a.m. PST

Have you tried Battle Cry, Command & Colors, or BattleLore?

Played Command & Colors ad nauseum. My recollection is that one still ran into the old problems with facing ("Is that unit facing this vertice or that one?") and unit alignments in the hex--seemed as if there were about as many arguments over angles and alignments, etc., as when we played DBx games. But, then again, I guess one runs into sloppy players no matter which game is being played.

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