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Squares vs. Hexs (and a dice/chance question)

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Geikamir
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Hello all, this is my first post.

I am working on my first tangible board game, and it's coming together pretty well, though still in a pretty early stage. Currently I am using a game board with squares as movement spaces. I had not considered using hex spaces until recently. I was wondering what are the main pros and cons of hex vs square game boards? It seems mainly like a freedom of direction type of thing. When is one more needed/preferred?

Some background info about the current movement mechanics: It's determined by dice rolling (D6). Some of the pieces can move up to 7 spaces if they roll a high enough number on a chance die. The gameboard in it's most recent state (still toying with the perfect size) is 13X15 spaces across. The target is for the game is to be on the shorter side, around maybe 30 minutes with two players and 45 for 3/4. Players will be moving around the board quite a bit with detours sending them back to the starting point and also interacting with each other.

As a side question: Do players typically prefer to move by rolling dice, or is it too much chance to be enjoyable? I know I typically like having chance elements interlocked with strategy. It keeps it exciting and adds some drama to gameplay. It seems like a lot of times the more hardcore a boardgamer is, the more likely they hate chance. This seems detrimental to the genre, as it creates a tough hurdle for new board game players to overcome.

Thanks ahead of time for your help!

Relexx
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Off set Squares

Depending if the board is modular, but you could use offset squares instead of hexes. It just makes cutting easier (almost a definite for prototyping)

truekid games
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Geikamir wrote:As a side

Geikamir wrote:
As a side question: Do players typically prefer to move by rolling dice, or is it too much chance to be enjoyable? I know I typically like having chance elements interlocked with strategy. It keeps it exciting and adds some drama to gameplay. It seems like a lot of times the more hardcore a boardgamer is, the more likely they hate chance. This seems detrimental to the genre, as it creates a tough hurdle for new board game players to overcome.

Chance has its place in the majority of games. However, roll-and-move is usually a very bad starting place, mechanics-wise. Not because it -can't- be used well, but because it very, VERY rarely is. Instead, it is most frequently used in mainstream "designs", not because it provides interesting or variable play, but for the reason you stated- people are used to hideously dumbed-down games targeted at children, so they pop out another "roll, move, flip a card and see what happens" for every major license, and hope that people's familiarity with the mechanic and license sells the game, rather than whether that mechanic is right for the game or provides a good experience. That's not game design, that's product design. It sure does sell more units, but I definitely wouldn't say it's beneficial to the genre.

Geikamir
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Yeah

That makes sense. So would having a set amount of moves work out better?

Horatio252
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If You Want Chance Movement

Like truekid said, movement that is entirely chance, like a single D6 roll, will not be well received in the hobby gamer community. Your suggestion of a set number of movement points to use each round is a simple solution. If you want a bit of chance in movement you might add a die roll to a base number of movements. For example movement might be 4 spaces + D4. It is probably better to modify a D6 to have two blank sides, two 1 sides, a 2 and a 3 and add your roll from that to a movement of 4 (or 5, or whatever you choose as the minimum).

I am having trouble picturing your game board. The square vs hex question seems like a valid question if you have a map players are moving across and choosing their direction (like chess or most wargames). Your description though, "...detours sending them back to the starting point..." sounds more like "Snakes and Ladders" or "Life" where players are moving along a path. If that is the case then it doesn't matter if you choose squares or hexes, and you might as well stick with squares as they are more familiar to that genre of games.

Back to movement die rolls, if your game really is more like Snakes and Ladders and the dice just tells them how far to go along the track, then your single D6 roll makes more sense. People are use to it in that kind of game. To make it more strategic though you could let them divide their movement across pawns (i.e. if you roll a 5 then one pawn could move two spaces and another three spaces). Even with that modification, don't expect much enthusiasm from hobby board gamers for a track following game. You might though make it big among popular or kids board gamers.

Geikamir
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Sorry, I was too vague is my

Sorry, I was too vague is my description.

So, the number of spaces is still being balanced. Very early stage right now. But the way it is now, imagine a 15x13 grid. Players start on opposing sides (positioned across the corners of the board except in a few circumstances). They will be battle on this playing field, and by losing they detour back to their respective spawn points. There are also a few secondary objectives too.

Maaartin
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Geikamir wrote:I was

Geikamir wrote:
I was wondering what are the main pros and cons of hex vs square game boards? It seems mainly like a freedom of direction type of thing. When is one more needed/preferred?

The set of all achievable places in a given turn on a hex board are more round: On a rectangular board, when you move by N in any direction including diagonally you may get to any field lying in a rectangle. Without diagonal moves it's another rectangle, just rotated by 45 degrees. On a hex board you get a hexagon, which feels much better.

On a rectangular board with the rule that you need 2 points for a normal move and 3 points for a diagonal move, you end up with an octagon. This could work nicely with the standard die: Having a base movement of 1 to 8 according to the unit type and rolling 1 to 6 sums up to 2 to 14, thus allowing you to move by 1 to 7 fields horizontally or vertically. For me, it's still way too random, but somebody else may like it.

Question for all: Is there a game using 2 points for a normal move and 3 points for a diagonal move?

Horatio252
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Diagonal is Further

That makes sense now. Like an MMOFPS where when you die you respawn.

Maaartin gave a good answer to your square vs hex question, but I will say it again in different words, in case you didn't catch why he proposed increasing the cost of a diagonal relative to sidways/up-and-down movement. Think about the raw distance you travel on a diagonal vs a sideways movement. Imagine I have a ruler and I measure from the center of a box your pawn starts in to where it stops. And imagine the boxes are 1 inch square. If you move one space left your pawn will have traveled 1 inches. If you move one space up, your pawn will have moved 1 inch. if you move one space diagonal, your pawn will have moved 1.41 inches. If your playing board represents real terrain, then you have a problem with diagonal movement taking you farther than sideways or up-down movement. To ban diagonals would be unthematic and it would then take 2 moves to travel 1.41 inches. Thus Maaartin's suggestion of different movement cost for diagonals (I presume). A hex board solves this by balancing the distance traveled of all possible movement directions. If you game is an abstract, like chess, then diagonal movement on a squared board is not a theme problem, but a rules decision.

Geikamir
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Ooooh.

Ah! I see. Thanks Maaartin and Horatio. I never even thought of that. I still have a lot to learn.

So, could I trouble to guys for some board game examples of RPGs that have player vs player battling. Id like to read up on some movement rules that have been implemented successfully in the past. Or even games that have poor implementation.

Secondly, from a production standpoint: How much would the final cost change by using dice of varying sides, rather than exclusively 6 sided dice?

Thanks again!

Yamahako
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Die of varying sizes,

Die of varying sizes, assuming they are standard numbered dice - aren't considerably more expensive - though they do raise the price. But how much is a function of order volume.

D&D has a grid system with combat - and you could do it PVP if you wanted. That's a good place to start I think.

Dice in this kind of game could be fine, I would recommend using a strategic element to the rolls. For example, each turn a player gets 2 rolls. They can roll twice, or they can bank movement rolls up to a certain number. This allows them to spend these banked movements to make a sprint or a long run. I would also make sure that in the combat, you have some range feature - so that it doesn't denigrate into a chasing game where someone can just out roll someone to escape ad infinitum.

pelle
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Note that there is some

Note that there is some distortion of distances even with hexes. Here is some image I created when discussing this a long time ago on bgg: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/744117/pelni

As for games with squares that have increased cost when moving diagonally, the only one I can remember is The Big Push (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/13979/the-big-push), but I'm sure there are more.

There have also been wargames using dice for movement. I can't remember one using "roll-to-move" in a traditional sense (like described above) but Joe Miranda designed a number of games that use some variation of forcing the player to roll before moving each unit (or group of units) and look up on a table what happens, so you can have somewhat historic effects like units being forced to move towards closest enemy, run away, or stay still. Here are some example games:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/3230/wars-of-the-imperial-a...

What bothers me often about squares are the somewhat odd effects from moving along diagonals, in particular when used to move between enemy units. I know that is not always allowed. Something to consider. It can look odd if the enemy front is along a diagonal and you can simply cross it by moving diagonally between units. Same problem as area maps that have areas meeting at a corner (which is generally avoided by map designers and gamers).

On the other hand with hexes and wargames there is a well-known problem that it is easier to defend along the "hex grain" than other ways, since that allows the enemy to attack each defending unit from 2 hexes, while the other direction each can be attacked from 3. With squares there are similar effects, and they can be even worse, but it depends on if attacks can be diagonal or not. How important this is depends on the combat system and perhaps terrain.

Recommend you have a look around on different map and movement systems. Many game rulebooks are available online, and so are many good reviews. Have a look on bgg and web-grognard (www.grognard.com). No point reinventing wheels when you can borrow from existing systems.

Geikamir
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Awesome, thanks for all the

Awesome, thanks for all the help and info.

I think I have decided to use a circular hex map with predetermined movement spaces, instead of roll to move.

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My next questions are different altogether, not sure if I should just start a new thread or not. I'll just ask here and see.

Let me explain it a bit first. The game has 4 different classes. Each class has a collection of skills cards. There are also cards that any class can use, but are a bit weaker (I'm calling them "Hero Cards" currently for the sake of this explanation). I was thinking something like 1 or 2 class cards from a pool of about 4 or 5 options. And 2 or 3 'Hero Cards' from a much larger pool (not sure yet, but will be around 15+ probably). Ok for the questions:

Which do you guys think would work out better: Randomly drawing class roles or each player choosing (RPS if multiple people want a certain one)?

When classes are decided, should the cards that each player gets be drawn at random, or should they get to choose them somehow? (For consideration: I plan to have some trap style cards to be kept secret and some cards throughout the game that may let you swap skill cards.)

It's currently set up where players choose their class and then draw other cards at random (each player can only draw class cards from their class, of course). This seems to make the most sense to me, but might be a bit too random and chance-y for others. What do you guys think?

Horatio252
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Draft or Draw Many, Keep Some

Not sure if either of these ideas will work, but you could consider a draft or a "draw many, keep some" system. A draft would look something like everyone draws four cards, keeps one and passes the rest to their left, then picks one and passes the rest to the left, then picks one and discards the last card. Everyone gets two "hero" cards, with this example ( if you want more in the end, just start with more). This gives everyone some choice about their traits. Everyone knows something about what cards are in play which perhaps you don't want (i.e. If I see the "psychic" card, but pass it on, I know someone else might have taken that card).

Another approach to give more choice is having players draw two cards more than you want them to keep and then they must discarding two cards of their choice before the game starts.

Those are my two quick thoughts.

Geikamir
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I like both of those ideas.

I like both of those ideas. They both could work great. The second idea I had actually thought of something similar in another game idea I had, but completely forgot about it.

That helps a lot, thanks!

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Also, on the class selection. Do you think that having them drawn randomly or chosen by the players would work out better for the average player? With each there is the concern with preference. If randomly drawn, a player may never get to play a particular class that they want to play and get frustrated. With choosing, certain players may never try out the other classes (which may not necessarily be a bad thing).

SLiV
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Familiarise and expand.

Picking your cards might be more suitable for beginning players, since they can first familiarise themselves with that class and the game in general, before expanding to different classes and techniques.

But you should be careful not to throw them into the deep end. It might be frustrating, having to choose from 15 different classes when you haven't a clue what either of them does or how to properly use them.

Maaartin
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Different rules for beginners

Geikamir wrote:
My next questions are different altogether, not sure if I should just start a new thread or not. I'll just ask here and see.

Given the name of this thread, I'd have started another one. But you didn't and nobody's died because of it. :D

Geikamir wrote:
Which do you guys think would work out better: Randomly drawing class roles or each player choosing (RPS if multiple people want a certain one)?

It depends. For beginners, randomly drawing is better as they have no clue what's all about. Moreover, some roles should be marked as beginner-friendly, so beginners can learn them first before advancing. More strategically oriented players will surely want to choose. People like me would probably resolve a conflict by bidding or something similar.

Geikamir wrote:
It's currently set up where players choose their class and then draw other cards at random (each player can only draw class cards from their class, of course). This seems to make the most sense to me, but might be a bit too random and chance-y for others. What do you guys think?

There are no rules satisfying everybody. I'd formulate the rules for beginners, so you don't scare new players. Then add the more advanced (and less random) rules for advanced players. This is by far not double work, think out the advanced rules and use chance for beginners.

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