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Area Movement Question: Grid, Hex, or Something Else?

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In games where movement of pieces in a zone on a map is a main feature, there are several big options: the vertical/horizontal/diagonal possiblilities of a grid; the six directions of a hex map; and the various options presented in games where the spaces are irregularly shaped or have a variety of shapes.

My question is, which type of area movement setup is the most fun to actually play? I'm working on a board game map with area movement in which terrain is not a factor from space to space. The spaces will not be a factor in combat either, since they represent large areas and not tactical distances.

I'm trying to create an adventure/exploration type game in which players will have to move from point to point across a zone, seeking some spaces and avoiding others. Which of the major movement paradigms is the most fun to navigate if you're in a vehicle, as opposed to on foot?

Area Movement Question: Grid, Hex, or Something Else?

the most natural for humans is a grid.

Johan's picture
Joined: 10/05/2008
Area Movement Question: Grid, Hex, or Something Else?


Here are some options for you:

Triangles: Build the movement around triangles. It works but the gameboard tends to be very abstract.
Squares in a matrix. This is the chess style.
Moved squares: Move every second line half a square. You get a hex grid style with squares (I used this a lot, when I made maps by hand and the style works. It like a poor mans hex grid but has a positive effect).
Hex grids: This is the most common one but its nothing new. They work best in with tactical war games.
Spider web: Go around in a circle and advance to the center.
Real world: Each country or part has there own borders (Diplomacy or risk style).
Square tiles: Tile lying with squares.
Hex tiles: Tile laying with hex.
Octagon tiles: Get an interesting effect with every tile has more options and each tile have more output options (It can also be combined 3-4 different sides per tile).

If grids are not required, I would go for something different.

// Johan

Joined: 07/31/2008
Area Movement Question: Grid, Hex, or Something Else?

Personally, I like the real world-type maps (e.g. Vinci, Hostory of the World, Risk, Diplomacy), where the focus in on irregular 'squares' of different shapes and sizes. This also allows for mixing in terrain concepts (e.g. smaller squares in mountains, representing slower travel).

Mind you, I have an idea for a game that will use this but the idea of putting such a map together seems quite intimidating (particularly as it we be on a smaller scale, so I probably won't be relying on convenient polititcal borders ...)

Area Movement Question: Grid, Hex, or Something Else?

I think the answer to your question depends mainly on the type of game being played. For instance, in wargames I almost always prefer hexes, as I find area movement restricts my tactical choices too much. However, games such as Adv Civ and HotW work well with area movement, and Merchant of Venice is a fine example of "pip" movement (can you see an AH influence here?). I have never been a fan of grid movement, as I see that as far too artificial (unless in an abstract game such as chess), although I have used the offset-grid mentioned earlier (frequently in Excel-based protos and testbeds).

So, the question is, do you want your players to have a wide freedom of movement options, or do you want to be more restrictive and channel them towards (or away) from certain areas? If the former, I'd go with hexes or an offset grid (essentially the same thing), or area movement with lots of small-ish areas. If the latter, then area-movement is probably sufficient. That's my opinion, use it for what it's worth (if anything).

Area Movement Question: Grid, Hex, or Something Else?

Thanks to everyone who commented on my question!
I really appreciate it.

--J.M. Green

I don't like hexes...

Personally I'd rather see the "real world" maps becuase I dislike hexes. Don't get me wrong, they are functional, but when I see hex map I think old Avalon Hill, and personally that's not my thing (meanwhile others like it for that same reason).

You mention on foot and other movements being in the game, and I think that looking at a hex map where the hex itself is a different color and is the road itself it looks silly, edges of roads aren't cornered off, so again I'd go with real world maps, same goes with boat travel. Yes I have a bias against hexes, but if the game calls for them, and they work when the others don't, use them because you said "most fun" is the main issue.

Not sure what you mean by "movement paradigmns". Do you mean like slow/sturdy, fast/weak when balancing units? Or do you mean rolling dice or flipping tiles to move? Or the difference in movement from being in a tank compared with walking?

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