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"Straight squares vs staggered/brick patterns squares?" Topic

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Acharnement02 Dec 2014 8:39 p.m. PST

Many gaming maps feature straight (or stacked)squares but orthogonal and diagonal distances are substantially different. While producing hex maps may be more problematic, staggered squares would mean distances would be the same for movement in any direction. So, why not staggered squares?
Your thoughts?

Personal logo Gonsalvo Supporting Member of TMP02 Dec 2014 8:52 p.m. PST

aka "brick lay". No reason, have done it in the past.

OTOH, calling a move on the diagonal 1.5 squares works OK (pretty close – square root of 2, 1.414…..)

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Dec 2014 9:40 p.m. PST

Hex maps are very, very simple if you only mark hex centers. I did a 4x6 mat in maybe 20 minutes.

Desert Fox02 Dec 2014 10:17 p.m. PST

I use a 3 inch brick pattern for WWII Spearhead. The lack of a need to measure movement and fire really speeds up play.

I use a straight or stacked pattern for horse and musket and ancients eras. Very easy to tell front and flank attacks etc.

emckinney02 Dec 2014 10:19 p.m. PST

Staggered squares are identical to hexes for all purposes. Centers of the squares are in the same positions as the hex centers.

Martin Rapier03 Dec 2014 12:06 a.m. PST

I've seen offset squares used in a few places. Personally I use hexes or normal squares and do the maths where it is relevant.

olicana03 Dec 2014 3:25 a.m. PST

I've used them because they are easier to draw than hexes and, when doing maps, to put information in.

E.g. commands and colors on the table:


And Campaign maps:


I really quite like offset squares for a lot of reasons. Square hexes Squexes are great. The only time there has been a problem is when we've done Commands and Colors Napoleonics. The squexes are not as good as hexes for LOS for long range gunnery sometimes you need to check LOS from one hex to another on a hex gridded map.


Visceral Impact Studios03 Dec 2014 6:10 a.m. PST

For pre-20th century gaming we use a regular square grid and don't worry about it. This also means the "grain" of the map is the same in both directions (i.e. north-south and east-west).

For 20th cent. to sci-fi century gaming we've used both regular squares and hexes.

OSchmidt03 Dec 2014 2:14 p.m. PST

They work. Can't deny them. I originally used a straight grid to develop my war game rules and system, then when they were done I could transfer the mechanics to an "open" game. Used the "bricky hexes" as well and they work just as good. I believe a guy called Mueller also makes them the basis of his 6mm 30 years war. Very good.

They work, so you can't really argue with it.

OSchmidt03 Dec 2014 2:15 p.m. PST

Dear List

Oh yeah, when I used a straight grid we didn't bother about the fact that firing on the diagonal was longer in inches than firing orthogonally. However as everything was in squares and nothing was in inches, it didn't matter. Five squares was five squares no matter which direction.

it works.

Zephyr103 Dec 2014 3:48 p.m. PST

See also:

TMP link

Acharnement03 Dec 2014 9:01 p.m. PST

Thanks much for the comments and information. I was wrestling with the terms squexes, brick lay, offset, and staggered to title the thread but it seems there isn't a fixed term.
I am going to do a board for a Saga (Tomahawk Studios) in this pattern just to see how it works out to speed up play.
(Side note: Glad to play a game that isn't know by it's initials!)

(Phil Dutre)04 Dec 2014 5:45 a.m. PST

Staggered squares are identical to hexes for all purposes.

That's not exactly true.

Some games trace Line of Sight from hex-centre to hex-centre. Intervening hexes with blocking terrain might block LOS.

The same straight line drawn between two squares on a staggered square grid might not go through exactly the same corresponding hexes on the equivalent hex grid.

The mathematical reason is that a hex grid and a staggered square grid are transformed into each other by using a non-affine transformation in the 2D plane. That type of transforms do not preserve linearity. A straight line does not remain a straight line. Thus, a straight line between 2 hex centres does not result in a straight line when transforming that hex grid into a staggered square grid and vice-versa, and hence, the lines used to determine line of sight in both systems are not identical positioned w.r.t. the grid.

Whether this matters for the ruleset you're playing is of course another question. Personally, I don't care, since hexes or a staggered grid are arbitrary discretizations of the playing surface anyway. You might as well play on a playing surface divided into Penrose tiles, but that would be much harder to draw :-)

(Phil Dutre)04 Dec 2014 6:23 a.m. PST

When using a straight square grid, and if you're worried about the diagonals during movement, common tricks are:

- count a diagonal move as 1.5 movement points isntead of 1. 1.5 is close enough to the square root of 2, which is the "real" distance.

- count everything as 1 movement point, but only allow 1 diagonal move during the entire movement. This works surprisingly well, especially for smaller movement rates (3,4,5 movement points), and the resulting end squares that can be reached approximate the discretized circle really well.

(Phil Dutre)04 Dec 2014 6:31 a.m. PST

Some other issues for using grid in general:

- facing of troops? If facing/flanking etc. is important in your period/scale, then a grid might not be the best solution. on a hexgrid, do you allow 6 or 12 facing orientations? Same for a square grid (4 or 8). The problem is that using a grid might work well for discretizing the positioning troops (cfr. area movement in board games), it might not work that well for discretizing the orientation. Orientation, especially in combination with ranged fire, usually is aligned with terrain, or oriented towards terrain features. E.g. an infantry unit in line should be oriented towards a hill, village, or whatever, but the discrete steps in orientation do not always allow that.
Hence, for some periods and scales, it might make sense to use the grid only for movement and ranges, but not for orientation.

- Same goes for skirmish games and LOS. We have played skirmish games in grids, but the terrain was at a finer scale compared to the grid. E.g. a single hex or square might contain a tree and a fence, but it would be important whether your figure is positioned behind the tree, in front of the fence etc. So, the grid was used to count movement and ranges, but actual positioning of a figure within the grid cell was still important, since LOS was traced from figure to figure.

Visceral Impact Studios04 Dec 2014 6:48 a.m. PST

As a publisher a significant challenge would be trying to sell miniatures rules based purely on a grid. The moment you add a grid as a requirement you're asking prospective customers to buy/create a new playing surface instead of using their existing stuff or any old surface at the FLGS.

During the design process for "Warfare in the Age of Madness" we played many times on a square grid and it worked great! It's the origins of our "bounds" measurement system in which all distances are measured in bounds of 4"/10cm (e.g. 2 bounds is 8" or 20cm). This makes the game fully compatible with both imperial and metric measurement systems. `

Some of our players have seen this "hidden" connection without any prompting from us and are playing "Age of Madness" on hexes and squares ranging in size from 2" to 4" since a bound is a bound and they count each grid as a bound. But the rules are written and published with the assumption one is using rulers and tape measures.

hagenthedwarf06 Dec 2014 9:44 a.m. PST

They are all good in the right circumstances … and all have their limitations.

Kirk Yaro18 Apr 2021 11:14 a.m. PST

I'm choosing between hexes and squares for my 25mm Napoleonics project. In my rules a battalion in line stretches to two hexes/squares – are hexes the only solution for such a system, what do you think?

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2021 5:32 p.m. PST

This did not work well for me and in the end, I kept my 1" squares and used 1" bases for each batallion in 6mm. The reason I did not like shaking out the line to two squares was that it made movement and orientation more complex. What happens if the line wants to wheel and then advance diagonally in a straight line? I tried assigning movement points for each unit and then assigning a cost to changing formations and maneuvers. But I am not sure a single unit in two hexes works for movement.

Skarper18 Apr 2021 7:39 p.m. PST

The breakthru for me was using hexes but allowing units to be placed on centre dots of hex vertices. It's the equivalent to using much smaller hexes.

When you are mapping from a continuous space to a space with a discontinuous set of members, you will lose data. How much data you lose depends on how big the data set mapped to is.

The sweet spot depends on scale and what kind of game it is.

I always liked area movement for anything from platoon size units upwards. Carnage at Cassino and Storm over Arnhem look like really good games.

pfmodel19 Oct 2021 4:22 p.m. PST

Grids on a playing area have significant playability benefits, but do detract from the bling. Even the dot to represent a hex or square, which is a good idea, does detract somewhat. You can convert a grid based set of rules to a grid-less system, but I must admit the vagueness does rise and competitive play becomes more difficult.

I use old SPI hex based board games for figure gaming, mainly for new players as the systems I use are very simple, and have had them hex less. I am experimenting with markers to allow you to define distances, zones of control, etc more clearly and while not as good as using hexes, it works reasonable well for friendly games. This is a video one on of my games:

UshCha19 Oct 2021 10:41 p.m. PST

Interesting, nobody has mentioned that it is near impossible to map real terrain onto a hex grid unless its very fine. Many times you fined two straight roads departing at shallow angles. This is impossible on a hex grid unless its so fine the road itself is a few hexes wide where the errors would be small. But I guess that defeats the object.

I think it was Geohex did 1" hex terrain, minimal distortion if used for 1/144 models or above but too complex for a hex based game as the hexes are smaller than the models.

We use Hexon II hexagonal terrain for hills which is adequate but a bit wavy. We do not use hex based roads or rivers as they are poor representations of real world terrain.

It really depends on your criteria. Personally we have never had much problem with the tape measure approach.

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