Hex VS Squares - The Serious Debate Thread for Serious Debators (Math encouraged)

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So I have been hearing a lot from my players arguing about how they want to switch to hex-based movement during encounters and in dungeons. I flat out refused, and one of the players left my group 'forever' in a huff. I tried to explain to him in a calm way why hex is not a good idea using obvious mathematical formulas, but he was very adamant. Suffice to say, he's always been a problem player and we're all a little glad he left (we already have a replacement! :D) BUT, drama aside, I think it's a very interesting debate. I wanted to see what some other DMs think about this.

My stance is that Wizards has carefully run many tests on the numbers. One of the biggest flaws with hex is that a hex is surrounded by only six squares, decreasing the effectiveness of close burst 1 powers by 1/4. Another problem is that facing, flanking and blast powers are altered. Finally, in terms of taking cover, more points to calculate from a point on your own hex means it's LESS likely a PC taking cover can hit any given hex unless you say you only need 5/6 points visible from a point on the hex, but this is a bad option because you're rewriting rules that are already balanced to work perfectly.

Finally, close blast 5 hex threatens more squares than close blast 5 squares, multiplying the damage potential by a lot!

hexes v squares

Losing so much damage potential and being less vulnerable to attacks is a detriment to the balance of D&D 4th ed. I know this as a long time JRPG player who has juggled percentages and numbers his entire life, but not from actual playtesting.

Does anyone have a rebuttal? Have you gotten hex to work reasonably well without having to fudge numbers for your players or worry about accidentally making things too easy/tough?

Edit: I've found an alternative to Heroscape that uses 1' squares, but it needs funding: www.indiegogo.com/Terrablox


And there's the map angle: square rooms are much more common and easier to draw than hexagonal rooms. For an over-land map where shapes are more organic, hex is fine (and I'd say more pleasing to the eye). But in a dungeon? Headache.
I'm not going to say one is better but I've played both before.  I feel that hexes make a more fluid movement system but I could see your arguement on the limited spaces, however I don't feel that anyone should quit a game because of the movement style used.  To me that is small potatoes, there will always be difference at the table, how we as players deal with this determines the type of player we are.
And there's the map angle: square rooms are much more common and easier to draw than hexagonal rooms. For an over-land map where shapes are more organic, hex is fine (and I'd say more pleasing to the eye). But in a dungeon? Headache.



Yeah. The guy who left bought Heroscape and wanted to use the hex-tiles to make dungeons, but one of the reasons I said no was because you can't make square buildings that sit on top of them. A hallway 2 'hexes' wide will necessarily be at an angle and cut half the hexes in half after the corner is turned.
And there's the map angle: square rooms are much more common and easier to draw than hexagonal rooms. For an over-land map where shapes are more organic, hex is fine (and I'd say more pleasing to the eye). But in a dungeon? Headache.



This! BattleTech uses hexes and it makes buildings and streets look absolutely wrong.
I thought about calling this thread 'For Master Debators' but I didn't want to get in trouble D:

I am hoping someone who prefers hex has attempted it in 4th ed and can illuminate me on how they got around all the problems I posted, since it seems totally broken to me from here.
I used to use Hex when I played 4th edition. The issue of spell areas increasing I largely ignored, because that can always be remedied by carefully designing your encounter rooms and spacing out the monsters (going light on minions also helps). Most fights I ran were in areas that were either so large that enemies can easily come at the party from any angle, or in a series of small interconected rooms that prevent a power's full area of effect to be taken advantage of. I designed buildings, roads, and other man-made constructs realistically, and allow free movement through any hex that walls and other solid barries pass through so long as at least half of the hex is unobstructed.

My preferrence for hexes in 4th edition is entirely based off of their use of an abstract measurement scale. When you measure in squares it strains my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point that any movement towards the cardinal directions is somehow less effecient than diagonal movement. Arrows firing further diagonally than they do when fired straight ahead is a far more grievous oversight in my books than occasionally having to deal with wonkey room dimensions.
I used to use Hex when I played 4th edition. The issue of spell areas increasing I largely ignored, because that can always be remedied by carefully designing your encounter rooms and spacing out the monsters (going light on minions also helps). Most fights I ran were in areas that were either so large that enemies can easily come at the party from any angle, or in a series of small interconected rooms that prevent a power's full area of effect to be taken advantage of. I designed buildings, roads, and other man-made constructs realistically, and allow free movement through any hex that walls and other solid barries pass through so long as at least half of the hex is unobstructed.

My preferrence for hexes in 4th edition is entirely based off of their use of an abstract measurement scale. When you measure in squares it strains my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point that any movement towards the cardinal directions is somehow less effecient than diagonal movement. Arrows firing further diagonally than they do when fired straight ahead is a far more grievous oversight in my books than occasionally having to deal with wonkey room dimensions.

I see what you mean about it looking like the arrow is flying farther, but really it's not flying farther it's just that in the abstract space of squares it appears so. A character 10 squares away from an archer is just as close to the archer at any angle, for example, even diagonally, and so the arrow is actually NOT flying farther (it only appears so).

Right? Am I saying that right? I'm not honestly even sure.
Right? Am I saying that right? I'm not honestly even sure.


Well, it would require the battlespace to be non-euclidean, so if you're running a campaign out in the Far Realm or on an oddly-shaped asteroid (so that every angle of an equilateral triangle can be 90-degrees), sure.

Hexes do have the advantage of a more realistic mechanism for area-of-effect. However, it can be replicated with a square grid if you're willing to do some math or cut out some templates. 4e, however, went for ease of use, which means no math or templates required for AoE, and also no attempting to squeeze your mini on half a space.


What CrowScape said.

If I were to go back to 4th edition, I would just get rid of abstract measurment systems and translate any mention of 'square' to 'inch' and play it like a miniature game.
Squares are simpler to handle for distance and layout of corridors etc. If you really dislike the abstraction (I prefer to call it that than declare all of the space is magically non-euclidean), you could always bring back the 3.5E rules for diagonal distances.

I'd prefer hexes if the system converted well to them, but they skew value of powers and game mechanics like flanking, and are a real pain for dealing with Large creatures. They also only work in 2D, and to extend to 3D you need to break them (you end up having hexes flat, and "squares" up/down, so it's still non-euclidean, things that should be spherical are mapped to a rough "cylinders")

Having said that, I have seen at least one conversion to hexes on these forums which looked reasonable to me. I don't use it in practice because on balance I saw no massive gain and prefer to play RAW. But it was workable . . .

How do you determine if an enemy unit can get between two defenders and reach your squishy striker? I just don't see using rulers as a very good option. Mostly because it would fudge things like flanking, facing and shots taken from cover.

Back to hex: Threatening 61 squares with close blast 5 hex is MUCH MUCH MORE damaging than threatening 25 with close blast 5 in squares.



What about using the blue-shaded hexes instead for a close blast 5? 
Squares are simpler to handle for distance and layout of corridors etc. If you really dislike the abstraction (I prefer to call it that than declare all of the space is magically non-euclidean), you could always bring back the 3.5E rules for diagonal distances.

I'd prefer hexes if the system converted well to them, but they skew value of powers and game mechanics like flanking, and are a real pain for dealing with Large creatures. They also only work in 2D, and to extend to 3D you need to break them (you end up having hexes flat, and "squares" up/down, so it's still non-euclidean, things that should be spherical are mapped to a rough "cylinders")


I hadn't even considered 3D space. Thanks.

Having said that, I have seen at least one conversion to hexes on these forums which looked reasonable to me. I don't use it in practice because on balance I saw no massive gain and prefer to play RAW. But it was workable . . .


If you could link me to that, I'd appreciate it. I'll look for it myself as well and post a link to it if I find it.

I found an alternative to Heroscape that uses 1" squares, but apparently it's just an idea. They would be cheap and very modular and really perfect for my games, however.

Terrablox

I also found a blog where a guy says to use Jenga blocks because they fit inside 1" squares well and make good, low-height walls and you could also saw some of them into halves to make shorter walls. I typically use packs of cards and pennies and things for terrain because I'm poor. Hence the fight with my former player.



What about using the blue-shaded hexes instead for a close blast 5? 



But then, how do I determine how it must be oriented? You can turn it any way you want and still threaten a larger number of squares than you should be able to with the power.

 Hex v.2
This was the thread I was thinking of, but the attachments are gone :-(  community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

But then, how do I determine how it must be oriented? You can turn it any way you want and still threaten a larger number of squares than you should be able to with the power.

The answer is that you can't turn it exactly how you want.  The farthest hex in a close blast can never be more than 5 hexes away.  In your example, only the blue blast is valid. 

But I would solve it with a 3-radius (5 diameter) hex pattern rather than oblong (shave off the 3 hexes on both "corners"), then you would not encounter the above issue.



Personally, I would love to see hex rules in the game, as this would allow the DM to choose whichever solution is best for his encounter.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.



What about using the blue-shaded hexes instead for a close blast 5? 



But then, how do I determine how it must be oriented? You can turn it any way you want and still threaten a larger number of squares than you should be able to with the power.

 Hex v.2



It is true that you would have a wider area of possible effect - at least in some ways.

It is the same number of spaces, however, and therefore the same number of potential targets... so it is at least balanced.

When switching to hex based it is the number of spaces affected by a power that should be kept as close to original values as possible (Close bursts suffering in theory, though I rarely see more than 6 creatures adjacent to any one creature in practice) to maintain the power balance of each different attack power.

Personally, I stick to squares for 4E D&D and use hexes for just about everything else.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

So I have been hearing a lot from my players arguing about how they want to switch to hex-based movement during encounters and in dungeons. I flat out refused, and one of the players left my group 'forever' in a huff. I tried to explain to him in a calm way why hex is not a good idea using obvious mathematical formulas, but he was very adamant. Suffice to say, he's always been a problem player and we're all a little glad he left (we already have a replacement! :D) BUT, drama aside, I think it's a very interesting debate. I wanted to see what some other DMs think about this.


If a player can't manage to have fun despite square circles and the longer diagonal, good riddance. It's really not worth getting upset over.

That said, square circles and longer diagonal distances do bug me, so I use a hex map when I DM.

My stance is that Wizards has carefully run many tests on the numbers. One of the biggest flaws with hex is that a hex is surrounded by only six squares, decreasing the effectiveness of close burst 1 powers by 1/4. Another problem is that facing, flanking and blast powers are altered. Finally, in terms of taking cover, more points to calculate from a point on your own hex means it's LESS likely a PC taking cover can hit any given hex unless you say you only need 5/6 points visible from a point on the hex, but this is a bad option because you're rewriting rules that are already balanced to work perfectly.


I don't know your players, but if they're anything like me, their eyes glazed over halfway through your arguments. Sorry man, but math for most people is about as interesting as reading MacBeth in its original Shakespearian dialect.

I will comment on your first sentence, though. "Wizards has carefully run many tests" is a huge assumption. I mean, have you ever met a WotC dev and talked shop with him? As far as I know, the dev team doesn't share specifics with anyone. I suspect WotC doesn't test anything nearly as much as we'd like them to. Further, I suspect that 4e uses squares because of tradition more than anything. Because if they switched to hexes, a whole lot of fans would be mightily p!ssed off that all their minis are now "useless".

Does anyone have a rebuttal? Have you gotten hex to work reasonably well without having to fudge numbers for your players or worry about accidentally making things too easy/tough?


I have no mathematical rebuttal. All I can say is "I use hexes, and it's a blast." (Pun intended!) I have made a few tweaks to make things smoother, which I'm happy to share:

1. I've made four "blast" templates. (Two for blast 3 and two for blast 5.) I airquote "blast" because they're actually triangular templates. Triangles create a cone shape, as I imagine blast powers actually looking like in the game world, and triangles allow me to more closely estimate the number of spaces that a square blast covers. (Triangular blast 3 covers 10 hexes, while triangular blast 5 covers 28 or 31 hexes.)

2. Flanking doesn't require you to be exactly opposite your ally. If you're flanking a Small/Medium enemy, you only need one hex between yourself and your ally to flank. This means that flanking is possible even in a 1-hex wide corridor. It also means that three allies can flank the same enemy, which is much more realistic than the RAW "Two is better than one, but a third gets the cold shoulder" situation. (I usually avoid using the R word in any D&D discussion, but this situation is a pet peeve of mine.)

3. I never draw walls through the middle of a hex. A hex is either mostly inside the line, or mostly outside of it. Either way, it's clear to everyone whether that hex is a real space or a non-space. It may sound like a headache, but it's like riding a bike. You do it a few times, and you're good for life.

I used to use Hex when I played 4th edition. The issue of spell areas increasing I largely ignored, because that can always be remedied by carefully designing your encounter rooms and spacing out the monsters (going light on minions also helps). Most fights I ran were in areas that were either so large that enemies can easily come at the party from any angle, or in a series of small interconected rooms that prevent a power's full area of effect to be taken advantage of. I designed buildings, roads, and other man-made constructs realistically, and allow free movement through any hex that walls and other solid barries pass through so long as at least half of the hex is unobstructed.

My preferrence for hexes in 4th edition is entirely based off of their use of an abstract measurement scale. When you measure in squares it strains my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point that any movement towards the cardinal directions is somehow less effecient than diagonal movement. Arrows firing further diagonally than they do when fired straight ahead is a far more grievous oversight in my books than occasionally having to deal with wonkey room dimensions.



My Player Advocate cynicism kicks in.  I fully accept it was not intentional malice or otherwise you being a mean ol' DM.

If by using hexes you're purposely setting up encounters so that PC abilities aren't so effective or they can be attacked more easily, that's "punishing" the players for the audacity of having their abilities because you want to use hexes.  Setting up a particularly challenging encounter once in a while where the party isn't at optimal is fine, but if you need to design almost every encounter like it to accomodate hexes, then it's unfair to the players and you shouldn't use hexes.  The PCs' abilities are supposed to be efficiently effective.




Support Cedric Diggory, the real Hogwarts Champion!
If by using hexes you're purposely setting up encounters so that PC abilities aren't so effective or they can be attacked more easily, that's "punishing" the players for the audacity of having their abilities because you want to use hexes.  Setting up a particularly challenging encounter once in a while where the party isn't at optimal is fine, but if you need to design almost every encounter like it to accomodate hexes, then it's unfair to the players and you shouldn't use hexes.  The PCs' abilities are supposed to be efficiently effective.



Remember that configuring rooms like this can have a negative impact on any area of effect using combatant, not just the PCs. Clever groups quickly figure out that these battlefields can be used just as much to their advantage as the enemy's. Small interconnected rooms can be used by the players to create chokepoints (which can effectively negate the disadvantage of not being able to use your power's full area of effect), or to distract a group while a Thief sneaks around the flank and gains unrestricted acces to the enemy's squishy back-row units like mages and archers. In very large rooms control of the high ground becomes key to an expedient victory, allowing area of effect attackers to take full advantage of the three dimensional aspect of their powers.

I should probably note that I was still rather dissatisfied with this solution, just not as much as the default abstraction of distances. My preferred method of dungeon creation is to realistically design a security system given the resources and specialities of the monsters inhabiting the place, and then letting the PCs figure out holes in the system to exploit on their own. None of the shortsights in security are intentional on my part unless I deem the inhabitants to be incredibly dull. 4th Edition in general tends to clash with this design philosophy because there are pretty much no rules relating to the gathering and processing of raw materials (both mundane and magical). This (along with other factors) eventually lead to my transition back to 2nd Edition.
I terms of AoEs, the problem can be solved by making blasts into cones, as displayed in this image (on this page.)
5-foot radius would equate to Close burst 1.
10-foot radius would equate to Close burst 2.
20-foot radius would equate to Close burst 4.
30-foot cone would equate to Close blast 6.
60-foot cone would equate to Close blast 12.

The numbers break down like this.


Burst numbers include the origin square.










































Burst



Squares



Hexes



Change



1



9



7



-22%



2



25



19



-24%



3



49



37



-24%



4



81



61



-25%



5



121



91



-25%



Blast numbers do not include the origin square.










































Blast



Squares



Hexes



Change



3



9



9



0%



5



25



20



-20%



7



49



35



-29%



9



81



54



-33%



11



121



77



-36%



Or if you don't want blasts to lose power, you can increment them in 3s, like this.










































Blast



Squares



Hexes



Change



3



9



9



0%



6 (5 for square)



25



27



+8%



9 (7 for square)



49



54



+10%



12 (9 for square)



81



90



+11%



15 (11 for square)



121



135



+12%



 Using this method, yes the actual area in spaces of bursts and blasts does end up changing, but you can keep blasts logical and uniform and keep the range of threat uniform as well. I do acknowledge that hexes do not play well with 3 dimensional combats, but 4E doesn't really deal with 3 dimensional combat very well anyway. Anyway, if blast and burst areas are the primary obstacle to using hexes, I would hope that this demonstrates that they can be made to work without having bizarre shapes for your blasts.

Nothing.

That is all.

My stance is that Wizards has carefully run many tests on the numbers.~~~~~ but this is a bad option because you're rewriting rules that are already balanced to work perfectly.



HaHaHaha!

Sorry, you're either abit late or ALOT early for Aprils Fools....
Opinion with no supporting evidence is going to be ignored as trolling, CCS. My supporting evidence is the press releases Wizards made on 4th ed prior to its release. I'd look them up but I'm convinced after lots of playtesting that they weren't lying to me, so.

ANYway, thanks for the breakdown Fedosu! It's more of ALL the problems with hexes as a conglomerated whole that I'm concerned with. I suppose I might be willing to switch to hexes but I'd want someone to do all that work for me so I could just read it off a PDF :D



What about using the blue-shaded hexes instead for a close blast 5? 



But then, how do I determine how it must be oriented? You can turn it any way you want and still threaten a larger number of squares than you should be able to with the power.

 Hex v.2



It is true that you would have a wider area of possible effect - at least in some ways.

It is the same number of spaces, however, and therefore the same number of potential targets... so it is at least balanced.

When switching to hex based it is the number of spaces affected by a power that should be kept as close to original values as possible (Close bursts suffering in theory, though I rarely see more than 6 creatures adjacent to any one creature in practice) to maintain the power balance of each different attack power.

Personally, I stick to squares for 4E D&D and use hexes for just about everything else.




Not quite. A random placement of enemies inside the red circle is more likely to have a higher targeted number of 'hits' by a power if the power has a greater reach. Therefore increasing the POTENTIAL area of a power increases its effectiveness. Quite a lot, actually.



What about using the blue-shaded hexes instead for a close blast 5? 



But then, how do I determine how it must be oriented? You can turn it any way you want and still threaten a larger number of squares than you should be able to with the power.

 Hex v.2



It is true that you would have a wider area of possible effect - at least in some ways.

It is the same number of spaces, however, and therefore the same number of potential targets... so it is at least balanced.

When switching to hex based it is the number of spaces affected by a power that should be kept as close to original values as possible (Close bursts suffering in theory, though I rarely see more than 6 creatures adjacent to any one creature in practice) to maintain the power balance of each different attack power.

Personally, I stick to squares for 4E D&D and use hexes for just about everything else.




Not quite. A random placement of enemies inside the red circle is more likely to have a higher targeted number of 'hits' by a power if the power has a greater reach. Therefore increasing the POTENTIAL area of a power increases its effectiveness. Quite a lot, actually.


What you are getting at is what I meant by "wider area of possible effect - at least in some ways"
In the end though, the absolute maximum number of attack rolls possible for the power would be equal (25).
The advantage is simply that the diamond shaped blasts would have a greater potential for maximizing the targets (getting as close to that 25 as possible).

I expect that it would be the number of enemies in the encounter - not the shape of the blast - that would be the largest deciding factor on how many targets (and thereby how much "oomph") the area effect powers would have.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

Opinion with no supporting evidence is going to be ignored as trolling, CCS. My supporting evidence is the press releases Wizards made on 4th ed prior to its release. I'd look them up but I'm convinced after lots of playtesting that they weren't lying to me, so.


You tell CCS you're going to ignore him, and then you go ahead and reply to him. I'll just let that thought hang.

In any case, let's say your assumption is right. WotC has done extensive play testing. (I'm sure they do play test, btw, I just don't think they have the time to do so extensively.) We have no evidence to suggest that hexes were ever compared to squares beyond:

Dev A: "So, are we using squares or hexes this edition?"

Dev B: "Well, hexes would make all of my mini bases look funny, so let's use squares."

Dev A: "Okay, works for me!"

Obviously the square grid is what the devs use to play test, but there's no evidence to suggest that WotC ever did a comparative play test with both map types or did any kind of mathematical comparison. There's no evidence to suggest that WotC rejected hexes as a result of any kind of deep mathematical flaw. Like I said, it was probably just mental inertia. 



What about using the blue-shaded hexes instead for a close blast 5? 



But then, how do I determine how it must be oriented? You can turn it any way you want and still threaten a larger number of squares than you should be able to with the power.

 Hex v.2



It is true that you would have a wider area of possible effect - at least in some ways.

It is the same number of spaces, however, and therefore the same number of potential targets... so it is at least balanced.

When switching to hex based it is the number of spaces affected by a power that should be kept as close to original values as possible (Close bursts suffering in theory, though I rarely see more than 6 creatures adjacent to any one creature in practice) to maintain the power balance of each different attack power.

Personally, I stick to squares for 4E D&D and use hexes for just about everything else.




Not quite. A random placement of enemies inside the red circle is more likely to have a higher targeted number of 'hits' by a power if the power has a greater reach. Therefore increasing the POTENTIAL area of a power increases its effectiveness. Quite a lot, actually.


What you are getting at is what I meant by "wider area of possible effect - at least in some ways"
In the end though, the absolute maximum number of attack rolls possible for the power would be equal (25).
The advantage is simply that the diamond shaped blasts would have a greater potential for maximizing the targets (getting as close to that 25 as possible).

I expect that it would be the number of enemies in the encounter - not the shape of the blast - that would be the largest deciding factor on how many targets (and thereby how much "oomph") the area effect powers would have.



Right. I am talking about straight up damage potential. This power's damage potential is magnified quite a lot by the increase in range and placement options. QUITE a lot, given a completely random placement and number of enemies. ANY random set of parameters is thus effected, netting a gain that is unacceptable for balance purposes.

Tequila_Sunrise: Reading between the lines, what I meant was for him to back his words with evidence or be ignored in the future. Is that clearer?
Opinion with no supporting evidence is going to be ignored as trolling, CCS. My supporting evidence is the press releases Wizards made on 4th ed prior to its release. I'd look them up but I'm convinced after lots of playtesting that they weren't lying to me, so.


You tell CCS you're going to ignore him, and then you go ahead and reply to him. I'll just let that thought hang.

In any case, let's say your assumption is right. WotC has done extensive play testing. (I'm sure they do play test, btw, I just don't think they have the time to do so extensively.) We have no evidence to suggest that hexes were ever compared to squares beyond:

Dev A: "So, are we using squares or hexes this edition?"

Dev B: "Well, hexes would make all of my mini bases look funny, so let's use squares."

Dev A: "Okay, works for me!"

Obviously the square grid is what the devs use to play test, but there's no evidence to suggest that WotC ever did a comparative play test with both map types or did any kind of mathematical comparison. There's no evidence to suggest that WotC rejected hexes as a result of any kind of deep mathematical flaw. Like I said, it was probably just mental inertia. 



Regardless of if they tested both, they only developed balanced rules for one. Your argument boils down to a strawman if we are assuming they did extensive playtesting of the current model.
hex blast and burst calculations

Special thanks to a friend of mine for showing me the preferred method of using hexes as areas of effect.

I still think that the five major areas in which hex-based combat change the mechanics of D&D 4th edition total to imbalance combat to an unacceptable degree.

In hex:

1) Flanking. Six units can flank one instead of eight.
2) Movement. Moving along arbitrary 'south by southeast' requires two hexes of movement in a zig-zag.
3) Damage potential of AOEs and blasts and bursts. Damage potential is wonked to strange percentage drops and gains.
4) Buildings are squares, not hexagons.
5) A creature or PC can only threaten six squares instead of eight.
Opinion with no supporting evidence is going to be ignored as trolling, CCS. My supporting evidence is the press releases Wizards made on 4th ed prior to its release. I'd look them up but I'm convinced after lots of playtesting that they weren't lying to me, so.


You tell CCS you're going to ignore him, and then you go ahead and reply to him. I'll just let that thought hang.

In any case, let's say your assumption is right. WotC has done extensive play testing. (I'm sure they do play test, btw, I just don't think they have the time to do so extensively.) We have no evidence to suggest that hexes were ever compared to squares beyond:

Dev A: "So, are we using squares or hexes this edition?"

Dev B: "Well, hexes would make all of my mini bases look funny, so let's use squares."

Dev A: "Okay, works for me!"

Obviously the square grid is what the devs use to play test, but there's no evidence to suggest that WotC ever did a comparative play test with both map types or did any kind of mathematical comparison. There's no evidence to suggest that WotC rejected hexes as a result of any kind of deep mathematical flaw. Like I said, it was probably just mental inertia. 



Regardless of if they tested both, they only developed balanced rules for one. Your argument boils down to a strawman if we are assuming they did extensive playtesting of the current model.


A strawman would be an unvoiced argument that I invent in order to rip it apart. I'm just pointing out the huge assumption you're making. 

You're assuming an incredible degree of mathematical fine-tuning on the dev team's part that I find unbelievable. To demonstrate, I'll respond to your five points:

1. Did the devs balance flanking rules around precisely eight potential flankers? Did they calculate damage averages and potentials for eight flankers vs. six flankers? Maybe, but more likely the number eight resulted from the square grid, and it didn't specifically unbalance anything so they left it. I mean, how often is one combatant completely surrounded anyway? I don't even need one hand to count the times I've seen it happen; and not once would it have made a difference if the map being used was different.

The only thing a hex map noticeably changes about flanking is that you can't escape a linear flank just by shifting diagonally one square, like you can on a square map if your flankers are arranged diagonally. Personally I consider this a feature of the hex map, because I don't like this flanking oddity of the square map.

Hex maps also have the feature of allowing 'third wheel' meleers to flank too.

2. Yeah, zig-zagging looks funny. But it doesn't create any problems.

3. Again, I'm doubtful that the devs did in-depth calculations based on numbers of squares, probability of monsters occupying those squares, percentages and whatnot. If you listened to the recent templar podcast, the guys explain how powers -- particularly area powers -- involve a lot of eyeballing and "Eh, that looks about right for this power." Writing powers is clearly not a wholly mathematical process.

If you're honestly interested in trying hexes for your players, I'll be happy to post the templates I use. (They preserve the original number of spaces fairly closely.) If you need hex templates to cover the exact same number of spaces as square templates, I don't know what to tell you. It can be done, but I don't think it's worth the bother, myself.

4. I've already explained that square buildings are a non-issue, unless you just can't stand the sight of square-on-hexes. In which case, why are we having this discussion? Use the map you like.

5. Again, I highly doubt that eight is a significant number. It just happens to be how many minis can surround an enemy mini on a square map. Despite losing two potential threats, nothing is dramatically changed in hex combat.

In summation, you can 1) sit here agonizing over math and theoretical balance, 2) take the advice of those of us who've actually played with hexes and give it a try, or 3) keep using squares. You're the DM!
I agree with Guildnstern here on some of the imbalancing issues, though I think some of them are less important.


1) Flanking. Six units can flank one instead of eight.
In the games my group plays, often times youll end up nearly surrounding a particulr enemy, especially elites. This makes the game go slightly faster as the to hit ration increases.

2) Movement. Moving along arbitrary 'south by southeast' requires two hexes of movement in a zig-zag.
This is one I don't entirely agree on. In generaly, when treating a hex as a measure of distance, taking that SxSE route actually moves you roughly a hex and 3/4, so rounding makes that into a 2. I just don't see that as that big of an issue. I'll admit, it can make positioning a bit strange - those cases where youd want to be standing along a line instead of in the hex - but I think for most players who prefer hex grids in thier games, its not an issue.


3) Damage potential of AOEs and blasts and bursts. Damage potential is wonked to strange percentage drops and gains.
Totally agree here. As evidenced by some of the discussion in this thread, blast mechanics cause some major headaches in terms of determining how they are supposed to be shaped and where they emanate from, and burst mechanics vastly, vastly increase the number of possible spaces that can be afftected. Definitely the number 1 villain IMO when it comes to translating Hexes into 4E.

4) Buildings are squares, not hexagons.
I'm uh... not sure where this is coming from. Unless you're talking about modules. First off. . . not all buildings are square. Ever been to rome and seen the Collesium? The Pantheon? Not all buildings are square. Now, obviously, MOST humanity-designed buildings have rectangular dimensions of course, and that should be taken into account. But why cant you just draw square buildings over a hex grid? Its not like you HAVE to confine your maps to the same grid. Think of it this way - if you draw a square building over a hex grid, you'll end up with bits and pieces of hexes. Simply use the rule that if a hex has at least half of its space available, you can stand there. And if a Hazard takes up at least half a space, then that hazard counts as being in that space. My main group has done this for years and years, as has every other group I've played in. And it goes for Square maps as well - having terrain that is always square is boring, imo.

5) A creature or PC can only threaten six squares instead of eight.
This is true, though I'm not sure offhand exactly how much of an issue it is. Because all creatures threaten the same amount of space, and because they can always enter/leave through the same methods, I'm not actually sure this is a big problem. I suppose one could make an arguement on how it does affect Defenders, but I dont see a lot of cases where those 2 extra spaces would make a huge difference - if you really need all those different spaces, your DM is probably using a ton of minions and it wont matter anyway. Or, even if you do need them, you probably cant mark them all at the same time anyway for any length of time.

Edit: Oh, and I definitely agree with the poster above me that the devs don't really test thier stuff rigorously, and just sort of eyeball things. The sheer volume of errata and broken combos that they put out tell me this. I mean seriously, they put things out that day one I can look at and say 'How could they do this? X + Y clearly mean Broken Z!'

Also, Apparently I don't agree with GuildnStern on most of those points after all, now that I've thought it through and looked at what ive written. I'd definitely want to see some sort of way to rebalance #3 though in any group that really wanted hexes.
If you are going to use a hexagonal shape mechanic, I'd say have standard cut out pieces like Guildnstern showed. Allow the player to arrange the cut out piece in the best way they wish and play on!
My previous discussion on the topic, with less math: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Nightwalker450 has a link in his sig to their house rules, including hex grid stuff:
skitzinc.wikispaces.com/DnD4+-+Rules+-+H...

Note the example for how square rooms work: it's intuitive both visually and gameplay-wise.
My previous discussion on the topic, with less math: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Nightwalker450 has a link in his sig to their house rules, including hex grid stuff:
skitzinc.wikispaces.com/DnD4+-+Rules+-+H...

Note the example for how square rooms work: it's intuitive both visually and gameplay-wise.



Heh, I was just going to jump in here, but looks like I've already been linked.  So I'll jump from the rules to the reasoning for my group.  My home group as used hex grid exclusively since 4th edition started.  I do dm (play when possible) wednesday encounters, and play an online when I get a chance which is on square grid.

* It's really not all that difficult.  Like alot of things, it's best if you just go with it and don't over-analyze it.  We looked over the rules, saw that hex would have negligible impact, but would make things more aesthetically pleasing.

* Cover, just eyeball it.  Really cover in 4e is in three grades: Clear Shot, Something's in the Way, and I'm going to shoot your toe since it's all I can see.

* Bursts area, you cover the same amount of usable area, ie everyone within 5 squares of me.  Sure it might be a few cells less, but where would the creatures be if you were on square?  Chances are still out of your burst area, if you can't hit it on hex grid.

* Blasts, again look at the link, you'll see we went with cones.  (Because Cones are Awesome! It also makes blasts more different from bursts, when I do play on square what most stands out is the lack of imagination on blasts.) They work perfectly, and I have thought about putting out the option similar to the blue diamond in the image above.  But those cases seem so few and far between where it would be more useful, that there's no sense in cluttering our rules with it. 

* Flanking.  I'll admit when I think about it my group does seem to do alot of outdoors encounters, but we do our share of temples/dungeons/castles as well.  In the last (4 years now?) I've only had a flanking issue come up once, where an enemy was on the wall and they could only get into the three squares in front of him.  So in that case I ruled that he could still be flanked even though they weren't exactly opposite.  So again not a huge issue.

* 3D. Yeah these are stacked straight up.  But that's for ease of comprehension, all we're really interested in is how many squares up a creature is (actually it's more how much damage will it take when it falls).  And really 3d combat has enough other problems (how about the fact that many medium creatures are actually 2 squares tall?) that most of it ends up abstracted anyways.

* Movement along non-hex direction... Really?  You can't go North-Northwest on square either you realize?  Unless you go pure miniatures (inches) this will be an issue regardless of grid type.

So really there aren't any numbers for doing hex vs. square is really all about preference.  I find a battlefield of bubbles of effects more appealing then blocks of effects.  For those that are interested, the best way to convert to hex, is to abandon the square.  Don't compare them, just do it, after the first couple sessions nobody's going to notice anymore.  Unless of course you have a player like the original poster's (the player that rage-quit.. not the poster himself), but they will never be happy unless they get their way regardless of any comparisons etc.
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4) Buildings are squares, not hexagons.
I'm uh... not sure where this is coming from. Unless you're talking about modules. First off. . . not all buildings are square. Ever been to rome and seen the Collesium? The Pantheon? Not all buildings are square. Now, obviously, MOST humanity-designed buildings have rectangular dimensions of course, and that should be taken into account. But why cant you just draw square buildings over a hex grid? Its not like you HAVE to confine your maps to the same grid. Think of it this way - if you draw a square building over a hex grid, you'll end up with bits and pieces of hexes. Simply use the rule that if a hex has at least half of its space available, you can stand there. And if a Hazard takes up at least half a space, then that hazard counts as being in that space. My main group has done this for years and years, as has every other group I've played in. And it goes for Square maps as well - having terrain that is always square is boring, imo.


I ran a game recently where the half-hex rule wouldn't work. Consider if you had a room with a trench running through the middle. Creatures can be on the upper level, or in the trench. With the half-hex rule, if that trench runs through half a hex, I would need a marker to indicate what level the creature was on, as well as a way to neatly fit two minis in the hex if one stood on the upper level and one on the lower. If I have built a model of this out of 3-dimentional tiles, I'd have miniatures falling over as their bases were no longer on level ground, or they'd be crowding into neighboring hexes and causing confusion as to where they really are.

I'm not saying that these situations cannot be overcome, or that they never occur on a square grid. They do. I'm just saying that A) overcoming them is a pain and B) I'm less likely to run into them with a square grid than a hex.
Or just don't make the trench exactly halfway through a hex, offset it so that most of any given hex is on a single level. Consult the second image on the above linked wikispaces page, note how the midway line of the hexes doesn't line up with the wall; the wall is offset so that either most of the hex is inside or almost none is.

Nothing.

That is all.

Facing and Flanking - http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/hexGrid.htm
Movement - You can move in strait lines in any direction on a hex grid, the grid is always 1 inch, the issue is when the character stops. At this point if the character stops on the lind of double grid, the character must choose which space he actually stops in, left or right. Problem solved.
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I don't have a perfect memory, thus I don't always recall the rules and mechanics perfectly. I also don't usually peruse the book before opening my "mouth", so cut me some slack if I'm little off every now and again. When logic fails to be present, the rational must inject logic into the situation.
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Groveborn: Mesinock, I have been complimented on my ability to convey a message, but I think you are my superior. I haven't noticed you posting much, except when things get very convoluted, but when you do post, it's worth reading.

I ran a game recently where the half-hex rule wouldn't work. Consider if you had a room with a trench running through the middle. Creatures can be on the upper level, or in the trench. With the half-hex rule, if that trench runs through half a hex, I would need a marker to indicate what level the creature was on, as well as a way to neatly fit two minis in the hex if one stood on the upper level and one on the lower. If I have built a model of this out of 3-dimentional tiles, I'd have miniatures falling over as their bases were no longer on level ground, or they'd be crowding into neighboring hexes and causing confusion as to where they really are.



Im sorry, but this example is a strawman argument. It applies the same to both hex grid and square grid alike, because square or hex grid without a half-hex rule wouldnt work either. In normal rules, an obstacle either fills its space or it doesnt, unless its got special rules.

Not to mention that if its a trench, with people actually standing IN it and fighting, they would need to have a 5-ft trench or be squeezing, in which case the trench should fill a whole space anyway.
Im sorry, but this example is a strawman argument.

That's interesting. Whose arguement have I mischaracterized?
It applies the same to both hex grid and square grid alike, because square or hex grid without a half-hex rule wouldnt work either.

Now, implying that someone has stated that the problem does not exist with square grids when he explicitly stated the opposite is a strawman.
Not to mention that if its a trench, with people actually standing IN it and fighting, they would need to have a 5-ft trench or be squeezing, in which case the trench should fill a whole space anyway.


Which isn't a problem with squares: a 5' trench can fit nicely on a square grid. A 5' trench would have more issues on a hex grid. Fedosu's method somewhat compensates, but it won't have the same bottlenecks (you have to allow for areas where two people can stand next to each other across the width of the trench, which means you can have 4 v. 1 melee battles) and it still runs into problems of crowding with 3d tile sets.
When this thread first started I thought it was more about how the player was the issue and hex vs. grids wasn't the real issue.  

Now I realize that this arguement seems to be the more important one.  

My only question is, what does it matter.  Those who think the only way to play is on a grid that's fine that you feel that way, but others like using hexes.  Does it really matter which one people prefer, those who use hexes have offered their reasons why, instead of just flat out shooting them down why not just let it go.

Hexes can work, grids can work, instead of assuming one's way is the superior way lets just agree that D&D can be played anyway you want as long as all the players agree.