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Combat Spaces: Squares, Hexes, or Zones?

Aldarc

Legend
This is a spin-off of the tactical combat RPG thread.

It's combat time, and we're playing a tactical roleplaying game where spaces and miniatures are mapped onto a combat floor. What is your general preference Squares, Hexes, or Zones?

Squares
SquareMovement.png


Square Map
Wildmount_Swamp_Battlemap_Spider.jpg

Hexes
HexMovement.png


hexesAndFacing.png


Zones
FATEBoardingAction.jpg
 

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ninjayeti

Adventurer
Overall squares work best with most games IMHO. The only real drawback is diagonal movement - you either need to do the moderately fiddley 1.5 move (Pathfinder) or just ignore geometry and treat movement in any direction the same (5E). Neither approach is ideal, but both work fine.

Hexes handle diagonal movement better but don't work well with the right angles that are common in dungeons and building interiors. Its easy to lay a grid over most dungeon maps, but with a hex overlay you get a lot of half spaces. For a game that is mostly about fighting in open spaces (e.g. Battletech) hexes are the way to go, but for a D&D/Pathfinder type game squares work better.

Zones are fine if you don't have or want maps, but you obviously only get the most basic details. I tend to play on a VTT where maps are easy, and I can't see a situation where I would use zones over a grid/hex map.
 


Overall squares work best with most games IMHO. The only real drawback is diagonal movement - you either need to do the moderately fiddley 1.5 move (Pathfinder) or just ignore geometry and treat movement in any direction the same (5E). Neither approach is ideal, but both work fine.

Hexes handle diagonal movement better but don't work well with the right angles that are common in dungeons and building interiors. Its easy to lay a grid over most dungeon maps, but with a hex overlay you get a lot of half spaces. For a game that is mostly about fighting in open spaces (e.g. Battletech) hexes are the way to go, but for a D&D/Pathfinder type game squares work better.

Zones are fine if you don't have or want maps, but you obviously only get the most basic details. I tend to play on a VTT where maps are easy, and I can't see a situation where I would use zones over a grid/hex map.

Hexes tend to work a little better with outside terrain in a lot of cases too, IMO, and are bit better at handling facing issues. You're dead right about the problems with buildings and other situations with right angles though; in particular you can get some artifacts with hallways and such (an infamous one we saw years ago what going around two sides of a square in a building where, because of the hex grid, one side was longer than the other even though they were avowedly the same and appeared so visually).
 

payn

Legend
I'm mostly here, though I don't think zones work all that well for anything with any real detail.

There are issues that can come up with both hexes and squares; sometimes I wish staggered squares had caught on more than they did.
Right tool for the right job. I like zones for ToTM, squares for indoors and dungeons, and hexes for outdoor and expansive spaces.
 

Right tool for the right job. I like zones for ToTM, squares for indoors and dungeons, and hexes for outdoor and expansive spaces.

Definitely an argument; I don't do TotM for anything with any tactical detail because I can neither keep the spatial relationships in my head very well nor describe them particularly well, but as I've noted, other people obviously don't have my limitations here.

I usually find systems are really not set up to handle both hexes and squares well within the same system.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Despite the aforementioned problems with interiors, it does seem that hexes have a fair number of interesting perks to them, especially involving diagonal movement. Have people come up with work around solutions for indoor hexes?
 

I prefer hexes, but games I play in seem to always be stuck on squares.

The idea that squares are better for buildings really only works if you're willing to suspend disbelief and think that right angles are some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon. If real simulation is the goal, you should have to regularly rotate the squares to account for angular shifts. And if you're going to be rotating the base grid, you can do so just as easily with hexes.
 


Staggered squares - aren't those functionally the same as hexes?

They avoid most of the issues with right angles discussed above; they cut through the middle of half the squares, but since the transitions are still along the flats, you don't get the artifacts, and the diagonal issues that can come up with squares are, effectively, nonstarters.

They don't eliminate every possible issue with either, but they do seriously reduce them. Unfortunately, they never caught on.
 

Despite the aforementioned problems with interiors, it does seem that hexes have a fair number of interesting perks to them, especially involving diagonal movement. Have people come up with work around solutions for indoor hexes?

They absolutely do; there's a reason games like RQ, Hero and GURPS have traditionally used them. There's no obvious fix for the indoor problems, though.
 

I prefer hexes, but games I play in seem to always be stuck on squares.

The idea that squares are better for buildings really only works if you're willing to suspend disbelief and think that right angles are some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon. If real simulation is the goal, you should have to regularly rotate the squares to account for angular shifts. And if you're going to be rotating the base grid, you can do so just as easily with hexes.

Most people aren't going to draw maps with other than 45 degree angles at worst, though, and though that can be an issue with squares to some degree, it still comes up with most map designs far less than the regular problem with hexes.
 

They avoid most of the issues with right angles discussed above; they cut through the middle of half the squares, but since the transitions are still along the flats, you don't get the artifacts, and the diagonal issues that can come up with squares are, effectively, nonstarters.

They don't eliminate every possible issue with either, but they do seriously reduce them. Unfortunately, they never caught on.
looks at a Google Image Search

So they are the same as hexes.
 

After playing GURPS for a while, I came to prefer hexes, even for buildings and dungeons. But I also prefer creating my maps without a grid and applying a grid later—the layouts feel more natural. In the past four years of playing DFRPG, we haven't encountered any serious complications, whether using a hex battlemat or a VTT. A nice thing on a VTT is that you can rotate and adjust the grid layer for different areas of a dungeon level if you want a particular orientation. Normally we treat partial hexes as full hexes (unless it's just a sliver).
 


After playing GURPS for a while, I came to prefer hexes, even for buildings and dungeons. But I also prefer creating my maps without a grid and applying a grid later—the layouts feel more natural. In the past four years of playing DFRPG, we haven't encountered any serious complications, whether using a hex battlemat or a VTT. A nice thing on a VTT is that you can rotate and adjust the grid layer for different areas of a dungeon level if you want a particular orientation. Normally we treat partial hexes as full hexes (unless it's just a sliver).

You'd notice some of the issues less with GURPS because movement is relatively slow in terms of hexes-per-action; it becomes much more obvious with games that use hexes but have faster movement. As I said, its an artifact of the fact that if you have corridors, some of them will be going down the flat and some down the sides; if you're actually counting the movement lines in the latter they take longer even though the distance is avowedly the same.

(And I'll note not all VTTs allow for easy rotation, though all the ones I know of allow shifting scale relatively easily).
 

As I said, its an artifact of the fact that if you have corridors, some of them will be going down the flat and some down the sides; if you're actually counting the movement lines in the latter they take longer even though the distance is avowedly the same.

This is only an artifact if you assume that the map was drawn for a square grid and then converted to hex. If you assume that a map is drawn for a hex grid and overlay a square on top of it, you'll get similar issues. It's only the fact that players are taught to draw maps on a 5' grid that leads to these conversion artifacts.

If you draw an arbitrary map without any grid and then overlay a pattern on it, you will generally have less errors with hexes than with squares. The key word here is "arbitrary", in terms of lengths, angles, and rotations. The real world does not actually align itself to 5' increments or right angles.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Hexes outside, squares inside is my preference. I have used zones, they are fine, ranges, and even just theater of the mind, is esp useful in the situation is just going to be a couple of rounds. I like maps, make a bunch, love using them; that said, grids should be light, to almost non existent.
 

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