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Subject: Areas vs Hexagons rss

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Jim Wickson
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I don't think the difference between area based maps and hexagonal ones is all that significant. The typical area on a Risk or Axis & Allies mapboard will most often have 6 neighbors and therefore shares the topology of a hexagon.

 
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whats a hexagon??
Gamers actually refer to them by there geometric form?

All I ever heard was hexes... or in my wifes case honeycombs shake
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The topological difference is that areas form an irregular grid whereas hexs do not. This does effect play althoughI like both and probably slightly prefer areas.
 
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Harald Torvatn
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General Snafu wrote:
I don't think the difference between area based maps and hexagonal ones is all that significant. The typical area on a Risk or Axis & Allies mapboard will most often have 6 neighbors and therefore shares the topology of a hexagon.

Hexes are best if counting range is important. Also, hexes makes it easy to get the movement costs right. Otherwise there are no great benefits to hexes, and defensibility of terrain may well be better represented by areas.
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Ray
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Mathematically, hexes allow the greatest location density on a 2d area. This in turn allows the greatest level of visual detail about where a unit is located. Then not only does this great level of detail about the location allow for very precises systems of range & distance angle to be designed (if desired), but it allows a visual view of the game to be the most spacially realistic it can be without needing some measurement device every time movement and distance is needed.

That said I love areas too. If done right they can abstract out attack distance, command radius, movement allowance range, range of supply, and much more.
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Styrbjörn Gren
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Areas can be used by creative game designers to reduce the complexity of the rules. One can see this in Avalon Hill's Kingmaker which is an area game. As I recall, movement cost is the same regardless of the area one enters but parts of the map is divided into much smaller areas making progress much slower. This simulates marsh and other difficult terrain. The rule for movement costs is just one area moved costs one movement point. There is no need for a special terrain movement cost chart.

Another clever use of areas can be found in Thunder at Cassino. This is a war game where enemy machine guns in adjacent areas reduce your movement capability. In real life, one part of the hill, Castle Hill, affected the actual fighting. In the game the areas are drawn so that almost the entire town is adjacent to the Castle Hill area and thus subject to the movement restrictions. Of course the same effect could have been achieved on a hex map but it would probably have required lengthy special rules.

And clever construction of the areas can also put focus on important parts of the geography as in Breakout: Normandy. In this game, area borders often follow rivers and control of bridges become essential to allow movement across those borders. The chosen locations of the airborne drops become much more logical in this game compared to many other D-Day games I have played.

I still prefer hexes though.
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It's not just about topology though. Areas give you more liberty to interpret the terrain. It also depends entirely on the scale of the game.

For instance, Hellenes: Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War and Athens & Sparta are both about the Peleponnesian War, but the area map of the former game appears to serve the game better than the hex one, given the asymmetrical nature of the conflict.



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Sam Carroll
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I have to disagree with the original contention. On the classic Risk board, there were somewhere around 40 areas. Of those only a few had six neighbors: Ukraine, China, and Ontario. Depending on your edition, Middle East and East Africa might also qualify. The typical number of neighbors is probably four.


As for A&A, neighbors are even fewer because of the lack of over-water connections. The typical numbers are four or five for inland areas, two to four for coastal areas.


If you want to consider a more recent, more typical wargame using areas, Europe Engulfed probably has a median number of four neighbors per area, though it varies widely; in Africa, each area has two neighbors, but in Russia, you'll frequently find six neighbors.


But regardless of the number of neighbors, areas and hexes play quite differently. Hexes are usually only large enough to accommodate one block, mini, or stack of counters; thus in a typical hex-and-counter wargame, the stacking limit is three units per hex. Areas are much larger. In Europe Engulfed, you'll routinely find a dozen blocks in a single area.
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I would suggest the difference between hexes and areas is significant, but neither option is necessarily a "better" choice. It all depends on the scale and what aspects of the game that designers want to emphasize.

As a curiosity, how come you didn't include point-to-point maps in this discussion as well? They seem similar to area maps but provide even more abstraction.
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Jason Fritz
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Hexes also allow for facing. It seems that hexes favor a more tactical level, whereas areas are better suited for larger, strategic games.
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Darrell Hanning
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Due to the hexagon having the maximum ability for granularity, maps using hexes are pretty much always going to be the superior choice, save for the following:

1) Unit density/size is too high/large for hexagons to support
2) The designer wishes to empiricize movement allowances and restrictions.
3) Aesthetic considerations rule out a hexagonal grid.

At certain scales, with certain movement systems, hexes become superfluous, it's true. But nothing else gives you a regulated grid with more adjacent locations.

Point-to-point and area movement are identical, functionally speaking and topgraphically speaking. The chief difference between the two is that an area can hold more pieces. without there being confusion as to the location of units (or the hindrance of an off-board set of holding boxes or such).

And a hexagonal map is a point-to-point map, too, but each point always has six adjacent locations (save for the map edge). Conversely, any "point-to-point" map that has six adjacent locations for every point is simply a hexagonal grid, no matter what shape you use for the "points".
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Hexagons are roughly similar to longitude and latitude - they are 'points' designed to provide a regularized means of defining space on a surface (maps).

Hexagons serve as pretty good points - it is the most sided regular polygon that roughly approximates a circle.

Because we expand them to be the Unit Container Hexagons are AREAS, as we do not use them as points.


..which makes me wonder - has any game ever used Hexagon Vertices as the center point of a unit's placement? Or is that what a ZOC essentially is?
 
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DarrellKH wrote:
Point-to-point and area movement are identical, functionally speaking and topgraphically speaking. The chief difference between the two is that an area can hold more pieces. without there being confusion as to the location of units (or the hindrance of an off-board set of holding boxes or such).


Very true. But I think that the visual differences are significant when talking about how a game is designed and played.

Point-to-point maps allow designers to easily limit connections between nearby areas, without additional rules or graphical considerations. You can also take a real map and easily those points, without having to worry about gaps or empty areas.

I can't imagine playing Paths of Glory on an area-based map, for example. It is possible and the actual graph wouldn't change, but appearance and functionality certainly would.
 
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DarrellKH wrote:
Due to the hexagon having the maximum ability for granularity, maps using hexes are pretty much always going to be the superior choice, save for the following:

1) Unit density/size is too high/large for hexagons to support
...


Quite, but it is not necessarily so that area systems are more suitable for high counter density games. DeLuxe ASL game Streets of Fire: ASL Deluxe Module 1 is an example.



Unfortunately only two deLuxe modules were released. They seem to have been specifically designed to handle high counter (not necessarily high unit) density situations.
 
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Wilhammer wrote:
Hexagons are roughly similar to longitude and latitude - they are 'points' designed to provide a regularized means of defining space on a surface (maps).

Hexagons serve as pretty good points - it is the most sided regular polygon that roughly approximates a circle.

Because we expand them to be the Unit Container Hexagons are AREAS, as we do not use them as points.


..which makes me wonder - has any game ever used Hexagon Vertices as the center point of a unit's placement? Or is that what a ZOC essentially is?


Kreta and Australia.
 
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I know all of the reasons why hexes are considered by many to be the better choice, and logically agree with some of them, but as a geographer/artist/designer find the notion of every piece of useful terrain (roads, hedges, woods, hills, et al) forming perfect little 60 degree runs both ugly and terribly non-representative of real life.

Even hex-fans have to admit that moving left 60 degrees then right 60 degrees to move straight forward is a highly artificial constraint, no?

I mentioned in a previous thread that I still don't know how to overcome the supposed "issues" with areas and tactical level wargames, but maybe that's why I went and bought CrossFire: Rules & Organizations for Company Level WW2 Gaming, to get out of the area vs. hex debate all-together.

PS. As well as the I-go, you-go systems as well, perhaps.
 
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sgren wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Due to the hexagon having the maximum ability for granularity, maps using hexes are pretty much always going to be the superior choice, save for the following:

1) Unit density/size is too high/large for hexagons to support
...


Quite, but it is not necessarily so that area systems are more suitable for high counter density games. DeLuxe ASL game Streets of Fire: ASL Deluxe Module 1 is an example.



Unfortunately only two deLuxe modules were released. They seem to have been specifically designed to handle high counter (not necessarily high unit) density situations.


Actually, Deluxe ASL was designed for use with GHQ Micro Armor miniatures.
 
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ftarzanin wrote:
Wilhammer wrote:

..which makes me wonder - has any game ever used Hexagon Vertices as the center point of a unit's placement? Or is that what a ZOC essentially is?


BAR series supports this.


I thought it just used hex borders - the spines, to depict multi hex units -

I am referring to the 3 forks vertici.
 
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J.L.Robert wrote:
...
Actually, Deluxe ASL was designed for use with GHQ Micro Armor miniatures.


My mistake, you are quite correct!

Still, the big hexes make it possible to handle what would be huge stacks of cardboard counters in normal ASL hexes.

 
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Nebelwerfer41 wrote:
Hexes also allow for facing. It seems that hexes favor a more tactical level, whereas areas are better suited for larger, strategic games.
True in general, though Bonaparte at Marengo is an example of a area game with facing.
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Downtown uses the spines. It's easier to represent the planes flying straight.

 
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Spines? Avalon Hill's 1776 used spines or hexsides for naval movement.
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Michael Lucey
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Outside the tactical level I think its huge. One thing I have grown to hate about games with hexes are ZOC's and the associated gameyness possibility when you screw up your spacing and or interior lines because your eyes get bugged out from the map grid and your opponent exploits your map game mistake where the larger areas really eliminate ZOC's and the gamey aspect of front lines based on the hex grid. Area's tend to do a better job of alligning borders along geography which at least I find more appleaing as related to movement and strategy employment. Also, at least to me, reduces some of those gamey (as opposed to genuine) strategic mistakes that can hurt you or cost you the game.

 
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Harald Torvatn
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Scoobysnacks wrote:
Outside the tactical level I think its huge. One thing I have grown to hate about games with hexes are ZOC's and the associated gameyness possibility when you screw up your spacing and or interior lines because your eyes get bugged out from the map grid and your opponent exploits your map game mistake where the larger areas really eliminate ZOC's and the gamey aspect of front lines based on the hex grid. Area's tend to do a better job of alligning borders along geography which at least I find more appleaing as related to movement and strategy employment. Also, at least to me, reduces some of those gamey (as opposed to genuine) strategic mistakes that can hurt you or cost you the game.



But hexes does add a lot of interesting maneuver possibilities to the game, which tend to dissapear when you do areas.

Sometimes you simly screw up, other times the opponent is simply better than you at this sort of thing.
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Check out Lock n Load's "Day of Heroes" for a tactical squad-level game, with squares instead of hexes. Given the nature of the city block, it was always a stretch to me to see hexagonal city grids. Really weird and gamey. I think for tactical city boards, squares should be used. In the case of DoH, it really works well, and appears to capture the tactics of block-busting and street fighting far better than any other game in the genre.

I am beginning to be a huge fan of area/ point-to-point maps (the two are entirely equivalent). To be clear, hexagons are also areas, they just tend to be smaller, and are arranged in that strange, regular way. So if you want facing to be important in a game, then a "regular" grid (or tesselation) is the way to go. Otherwise I'd go areas. Most area games though seem to have very large areas, and so have a small number of available spaces. If you make your areas smaller, you increase the tactical options as well as make for a more visually appealing map. But smaller areas increases the likelihood of the "chess" factor - the misplacement of a unit by a small amount relatively, having a catastrophically huge effect on the game.

For what it's worth, I don't believe squares are given fair consideration in gaming. Almost all tactical maps have a grid marked on them already, and for novices it is more like something they have already seen since childhood. Hexes take a very long time to become hardwired into your tactical vision IMHO.
 
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