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"Altenate ideas to avoid hex-based movement" Topic

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Anton Ryzbak18 Oct 2023 6:16 p.m. PST

I have had a re-think of my Red Stars and Rising Suns Air Combat rules and I am currently considering dumping hexes for octagons. A fuller explanation on the blog link

Stryderg18 Oct 2023 7:25 p.m. PST

Now that's interesting. I've usually seen octagons with the dead spaces.
My first impression, though, is that you've traded 60 degree turns for 45 degree turns. I guess the real question is, "how granular do you want to get?"
And here's another wrench in the works for you:
You may want to consider using different shapes for different planes. Big, lumbering bombers may use 10 or 12 sides forcing wider turns (if you only allow a single shift per new shape). Slow moving fighters that can turn on a dime would use lower sided shapes.

I'm not sure that makes sense…Open a Powerpoint type program and lay out squares. Each time you place a new square adjacent to the previous one, you can shift one side. With a square, you can make a complete circle in 4 squares. With a 12 sided shape, it will take 12 turns.

HMS Exeter18 Oct 2023 9:09 p.m. PST

I've got an old boardgames that dispenses with hexes, while still using the hex format. Instead of demanding the hexes by 6 sides walls, a dot at the center of the hex area stands in. You don't move from 1. Hex to the next, you move from 1 dot to the next.

Mark J Wilson Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2023 2:55 a.m. PST

The problem with your system is that at some point two aircraft will not be an exact number of octagons apart. As long as you are happy measuring weapon range with a ruler this isn't an issue, otherwsie……….

stephen m19 Oct 2023 6:14 a.m. PST

JD Webster's air games use a hex face AND hex vertex movement system. That would give 12 facings with not a lot of issues WRT movement along spines.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Oct 2023 8:29 a.m. PST

Have you considered ditching shapes all together?

I'm writing an Aeronef game based on Mantic's "Armada." In that game each ship has a turn rating. The rating determines the angle you may turn. They provide a handy gauge – you just line up the gauge and pivot the model up to the edge of the allowable angle.

You could do templates in a variety of sizes. Nimble aircraft can turn 45 while lumbering planes only turn 10, or whatever.


Anton Ryzbak19 Oct 2023 12:21 p.m. PST

I have played with the idea of using different shapes of "movement disks", another approach would be to use different sizes. A biplane can turn 45 degrees on a 2" disc while a Messerschmitt Gigant would use a disc 24" across.

My big concern was to limit the number of accessory parts. If different aircraft use different shapes or different sized discs there would be an awful muddle after the first couple of turns just sorting out the pieces. By using the same sized disc to chart movement it doesn't matter if I have one of yours and you have one of mine. The aircraft data book dictates what type of maneuver we can plot and the discs just act as a measuring device.

A sample Aircraft Data Book can be found here link

As a general rule faster planes get more moves, aircraft that lack maneuverability have limited choices for turns/climbs/dives

Dennis19 Oct 2023 2:55 p.m. PST

HMS Exeter wrote:

"I've got an old boardgames that dispenses with hexes, while still using the hex format. Instead of demanding the hexes by 6 sides walls, a dot at the center of the hex area stands in. You don't move from 1. Hex to the next, you move from 1 dot to the next."

IIRC Jeff Knudsen, the War Artisan, does the same sort of thing with naval gaming, and has guides on how to do it on his web site. The "dots" are much less noticeable, and therefore less intrusive, than printed hexes.

BuckeyeBob19 Oct 2023 3:14 p.m. PST

The 1976 Air Power rules by TSR used "C" shaped turning radius templates. Each aircraft was rated for the tightest radius it could use. there were 5 templates. No issue having a muddle of templates since any air combat had only a few plane types and many might use the same radius.
edit: The rules are on ebay (not at a price I'd pay) but the one seller has pictures of the pages so you can see what these templates are. each side of the template is 1 turn rating so 5 templates with 10 ratings total.

Stryderg19 Oct 2023 6:35 p.m. PST

"Canvas Eagles" did something similar, but with hexes. At speed 1, you can do these 3 maneuvers, speed 2 does those, etc. I got those rules from the old Yahoo group. No idea if they are still available, but might be worth a look.

Anton Ryzbak19 Oct 2023 9:40 p.m. PST

I have to admit that I inherited the hex-based movement from Check Your Six without any critical thought. Those rules address the much more powerful fighters of WW2 (and later). I was interested in gaming the 1932-1940 window. CY6 simply doesn't handle the slow, highly-maneuverable aircraft of that period at all well. I also have issues with the mechanics of CY6, I find the rules rather cumbersome and slow.

I tried turning templates when I was first working out my rules but the huge variety of aircraft made that problematic. The Star Wars X-Wing game does something similar but only addresses a very limited number of fighter types. The order discs are brilliant.

I have no objection to hexes on the playing surface and I'm well familiar with the "triangle of dots" alternative (very much less jarring to the eye) but being trapped into describing maneuvers in sixty-degree increments to accommodate a hex-based system seems far too limiting. Frankly, I'm not sure forty-five degree increments are the answer either. Perhaps I should just give up and play War Thunder.

UshCha20 Oct 2023 12:09 a.m. PST

I did ponder turn radii a while back. If you have a 3D printer you can make a "ruler" that has a minimum turn radii. It "locks" up the short straight segments so it cant bend any more. It allows the vehicle to move in more complex ways (if you want like "S" shapes or you can make it only bend one way.
In the end I just lost interest, the game we were playing died a death at the club and it was not that riveting to make it worth pursueing. It might be possible to make such items by hand but it would involve lots of work.

However for the enthusiast you could have one for each plane. Your Camel could indeed be made to turn faster one way (TORQUE TURN) than the other.

Dexter Ward20 Oct 2023 6:01 a.m. PST

Blood Red Skies manages fine without hexes; it doesn't try to model all the detail of air combat but it does a very good job of modelling a multi-plane dogfight with the advantage system.

stephen m20 Oct 2023 9:35 a.m. PST

Just to throw a monkey wrench into your discussion you are playing skating penguins. Flying in 2 dimensions. In addition to how turns would occur on a table you have not considered movement in the third dimension. How you can keep turning while, at that time in your movement, you are climbing or diving. So unless you use your turn radius markers at an angle you are missing a major issue. There is a WWI game In Clouds Of Glory which addresses this but using the turn tracks in 3D can bring in some errors if not VERY careful. Once again JD's games cover this and allow for turning during the expenditure of horizonal or vertical flight points. Elegant, clean and reasonably accurate.

Another thing to consider (and left at the wayside in way too many games/rules) is the fact most planes can actually turn at various rates (Gees) but the differences are actually how much drag is produced turning at that rate based on their wing loading. Also many planes cannot perform hard turns either while loaded, damaged, or at altitude as under these conditions their effective wing loading changes. Things often glossed over except for a few games.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART20 Oct 2023 10:28 a.m. PST

I am intrigued by HMA exeter's take on hexagons. Since facing can be determined by the model/counter, the dots merely present movement points and their locations. As to the third dimension, altitude markers next to the aircraft should suffice. If it gets too complicated, try a good flight combat sim, it does all the dirty work for you.

Anton Ryzbak20 Oct 2023 12:32 p.m. PST

stephen m, My system is a 3=D system, climbing eats up energy, diving adds it, high-G turns consume energy as well, each aircraft has a different set of turns available at each speed

Dexter Ward, I tried to like Blood red Skies but it is like eating vanilla ice-cream, all day every day

Ush Cha, now that is a entirely different approach. One that I will have to consider

BattlerBritain20 Oct 2023 1:15 p.m. PST

Stephen m has it on the nail.

Different planes bleed speed (energy) at different rates due to the shape of their wings. The planes with wings that give less drag when turning can turn tighter and for longer.

Add in whether the planes' engine has enough power to overcome the drag from turning and it gets interesting.

Then there's the effect of the aircraft's stall speed, the minimum speed at which an aircraft's wings produce enough lift to keep the plane in the air. This increases by the square root of the number of gee being pulled. This has the effect that if the aircraft has a high stall speed and the pilot attempts to pull too much gee, well they actually end up stalling the plane. Can come as a nasty shock to poor pilot. Also some planes will do some very nasty things when it happens.

And yep a turn is flight in a curve which can go up and down as well as stay level.

JDs rules have all of this.

I use JDs rules for WW2 flight even though I don't really like the combat rules (I use CY6 combat as it's simpler).

Hope this helps,


PS I'm an ex Avionics Engineer

Oh yeah, forgot, double the speed and turn radius is 4 times that of lower speed.
This means you really need to use 'turn mode' mechanics, as JD does.
Canvas Eagles and CY6 don't use this and it feels just wrong to me.

Wolfhag20 Oct 2023 1:45 p.m. PST

Great discussion!

What about instantaneous and sustained turn G differences?


stephen m20 Oct 2023 2:47 p.m. PST

In my suggestions it doesn't need differentiation. Each "level" of turn costs a fixed drag dependent on altitude and loading, along with wing design. Instantaneous turn rate would be the maximum structural strength. Sustained is where the turn drag equals or is less than the engine thrust. Of course you can "increase" your energy by losing altitude exchanging potential energy for kinetic energy consumed by the turn drag.

Wolfhag20 Oct 2023 3:06 p.m. PST

Thanks, that makes sense.

Are there any simple formulas for this that can be used for a game?


BattlerBritain20 Oct 2023 4:18 p.m. PST

Specific Excess Power, which is basically Thrust minus drag.

The real equations use Watts IIRC (a few years since I used the equations) which aren't much use in game form.

JD uses a simple number for thrust and one for drag. Drag is a number from around 1 for low G to 7 or 8 for high G and draggy wings. Drag is added for each 30degs of turn.

Power is speed and height dependant and aircraft dependant. Values range from 0.25 up to around 1.2. Each whole unit adds 25mph of speed if plus, slows by 25mph if minus.

So fairly rough but has a good effect over time.

stephen m20 Oct 2023 5:54 p.m. PST


No it pretty much has to be a part of the game system/mechanics from day 1. I agree with BB that JD has gotten it good for most gamers. I have a buddy who gave Air Superiority a try but felt the way JD presented drag vs power awkward so not for all. If you can get your head around the basic conceit that doing almost anything adds drag and only engine power and diving provides energy then basic math covers the overall effects. There are limits to how fast and slow you travel and this window narrows with altitude and loading. If you know about the U-2's performance at altitude you understand the mechanics. At it's operational altitude it flies about 10 mph above it's stall speed. So any turns have to be extremely gentle to not load the airframe. It's never exceed speed is like 10 mph above it's normal flight speed so dives, more engine thrust also have to be avoided or the ship will break up. I may be mistaken and the total "safe" range may only be 10 mph from stall to Do Not Exceed and not 20 mph.

BattlerBritain21 Oct 2023 1:31 a.m. PST

JDs Fighting Wings for WW2 works better than his Air Superiority, which was a bit clunky.

There's a free version of the rules somewhere and you can download aircraft data cards from either Wargame Vault for a small amount or some from iogroups for free.

Joe Legan25 Oct 2023 10:31 a.m. PST

JDs flight model is elegant but feels like a math problem when I am playing the game rather than air combat.
To answer the original question I am working on a game that uses area movement. It is working surprisingly well and speeds up the game so it feels like air combat. Stay tuned…


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