Combat Spaces: Squares, Hexes, or Zones?

Thomas Shey

Hero
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.

Uh, no. I've done maps that were done without a grid at all initially and they still had the problem. Its an artifact any time you have two corridors at right angles that have the same measurable length and are of any length at all.

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.

It not infrequently absolutely does use similar lengths when measured in real measurement, though, and that's where this problem comes in. Its an artifact of the way any right angle set of corridors work with a hex grid. It doesn't matter how you originally positioned it as long as you're using an actual scale at all. You might be able to disguise it a bit if you twist the map so it doesn't line up with the hexes at all, but that's all.

Sir Brennen

Hero
One place hexes beat squares for interior maps is for circular structures, like a wizard's tower. But generally, squares more easily "fade into the background" for buildings, which do use right angles most often, regardless of scale.

uzirath

Hero
Yeah, I've seen that issue with hexes. In our normal usage, it doesn't matter much because any spatial warping is applying to everyone equally (PCs and their foes). I could see it having an impact if it were a set of interconnecting hallways and chambers with people racing around in various directions. In that case, some passages would be inexplicable short-cuts.

If I were faced with that situation, I would whip out the tape measure that we keep at the table and gain more precision with that. (Normally we only use it for long-range situations where we don't want to keep counting hexes. It's easier to just measure 150 inches for the bow's range.)

Thomas Shey

Hero
One place hexes beat squares for interior maps is for circular structures, like a wizard's tower. But generally, squares more easily "fade into the background" for buildings, which do use right angles most often, regardless of scale.

I suspect its as much visual impact as usage there, as hexes more approximate a circle themselves, though there's some usage elements too.

TheSword

Legend
Squares all the way.

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Generally I prefer zones. (Though grids- esp hexes- are really helpful for defining those zones on the fly, or even for "attaching" them to a character, especially on a VTT.)
Often I'll use squares for more complex tactical encounters, and for rule sets that support a lot of richness in comombat. Also will reference a square grid (eg, on VTT) to help sketching of indoor & urban encounters .
Hexes I reserve for outdoor or large scale maps, and usually not for tactical (except maybe vehicles).
And for all my cyclopean madness & non-euclidean needs...
I might use something like this.

Thomas Shey

Hero
Yeah, I've seen that issue with hexes. In our normal usage, it doesn't matter much because any spatial warping is applying to everyone equally (PCs and their foes). I could see it having an impact if it were a set of interconnecting hallways and chambers with people racing around in various directions. In that case, some passages would be inexplicable short-cuts.

That was exactly where I saw it years ago, when people were trying to get to a location down to sets of corridors.

If I were faced with that situation, I would whip out the tape measure that we keep at the table and gain more precision with that. (Normally we only use it for long-range situations where we don't want to keep counting hexes. It's easier to just measure 150 inches for the bow's range.)

That'd probably be best, but at some point if it comes up all often, it brings into question why to use a grid at all (this is why its more noticeable with systems with bigger movement-per-action numbers).

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Complex zone setup I'm guessing?
I've used soemthing like that as one layer of a multi-layer grid where each grid is for a different tracking mode, if that makes sense. For example, magical rays might follow a path from center to center of those cells, whereas regular walking and line-of-sight would still be along straight lines. Or vice versa. The wonky grid is just a way to keep that wonkiness somewhat consistent for the player's sake.
It's not a thing to do often, but it can make for a bizarre encounter now and then.

dbm

These days I would vote “none of the above”. Savage Worlds just uses distance, measured with a tape in any direction you like. Total freedom of movement

Ganging up is just done based on numbers and being in combat range, rather than precise position. It gives enough tactical nuance without bogging down counting squares or hexes and dealing with moving in non-cardinal directions.

Ruin Explorer

Legend
There's what my heart says, which is hexes, and then there's what my brain and common sense say, which is "To hell with hexes, squares or zones all the way".

Malmuria

Hero
Zones! The Black Hack does a good job at abstracting things for totm. You can still have a grid on graph paper, but the purpose is mapping out the dungeon, not determining exact positioning.

Ryuutama has a combat sheet with zones for something visual:

Tun Kai Poh

Hero
Then there's LANCER: Battlegroup, in which players and NPCs control dozens of capital ships and hundreds of fighters and mechs. Positioning is abstracted into six range bands on the gyre map, because when fleets are tens or hundreds of thousands of kilometers apart, and a single round of fighter and bomber attacks represents half a day of travel time, there is no point is using a grid or hex map!

I go over the gyre map in more detail here:

DrunkonDuty

Hero
Put me down for hexes. They're easier than squares.

Areas can be easier still. The old Marvel FASERIP game kept things light and easy with areas. There are definitely times I feel areas would be a good way to go.

But at heart I'm a bit of an old wargamer and I want a bit more precision, so I go with hexes.

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I like range bands pretty much the best, but I would rather the interesting tactical bits be less about positioning and area effect templates. My favorite games from a tactical perspective are Conan 2d20, Legend of the Five Rings Fifth Edition, and Exalted Third Edition that are much more about individual fights and timing.

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
One thing I have noticed is that there is a big difference in combats and ranges between guns and swords (ranged and melee) where with guns all combat is usually short inside, and outside as long as possible. Melee weapons don't mix as well, and esp on outside maps, where they almost never get close enough to be used.

Hussar

Legend
It matters a lot on what scale of combat we're referencing.

For D&D combat, sure, you're losing a bit of accuracy using squares. But, the system is so loosey goosey anyway (no, medium creatures aren't really 5 foot cube meeples) that any loss of accuracy doesn't really matter.

Sure, if I move diagonally 30 feet (6 squares), I've gained, what, 12 feet (ish)? But, again, it doesn't actually come up all that often. How often, in your games, does someone actually do that? Most of the time, movement is not diagonal, or at least not all diagonal. So, meh, who cares? 12 feet is not exactly going to break the game or really matter except to potentially trigger someone's OCD.

OTOH, in a game where combat ranges are measured in hundreds of feet, squares don't work anywhere near as well. The inaccuracy starts getting very noticeable.

So, as I said, it depends on what we're playing.

aramis erak

Hero
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

Hexes

Zones
None of the above.
I honestly prefer ruler on ungridded maps.
I like zones and hexes about equally well, squares a bit below that.

aramis erak

Hero
Staggered squares - aren't those functionally the same as hexes?
Not quite, if there's an underlying topography to be referenced.. Staggered rectangles can be. Actual squares result in a vertical compression; you need rectangles. (IIRC, 1.16:1 T:W)

Aldarc

Legend
Sure, if I move diagonally 30 feet (6 squares), I've gained, what, 12 feet (ish)? But, again, it doesn't actually come up all that often. How often, in your games, does someone actually do that? Most of the time, movement is not diagonal, or at least not all diagonal. So, meh, who cares? 12 feet is not exactly going to break the game or really matter except to potentially trigger someone's OCD.
Sure but people generally don't run only in terms of a cardinal direction, but straight outwards from a point of origin.

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