Hexes versus Inches

Playtesters and others interested in Domains at War -
I have recently been playtesting a revised battle system that uses 6-sided hexes on a battlemap instead of inches to ajdudicate movement and combat.


  1. Most gamers already own a hex-based battle mas.
  2. Using hexes for the battles aesthetically correlates to using hexes for armies (6 mile hexes) and domains (24 mile hexes).
  3. Hex-based games are supported by most online tabletops, while analog rulers are not.
  4. Hex-based games work better with counters, avoiding the need for a large minis collection.


  1. It is more difficult to simulate a battle line when using hexes.
  2. The game feels more abstract than an analog, inches-and-rulers game.

Overall, it seems like the pros outweigh the cons, but I’d like to get some feedback from you. Are you more likely to use Domains at War if it’s a miniatures game like Warhammer, or a hex grid based game like, e.g., Battletech, Heroscape, and so on.

I’m all for hexes. I played Demonwars, Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Battleforge and i liked the hex-games better. Mesuring with a tape was sometimes a hassle as the minis and terrain got in the way of the tape and if you just eyeballed it your opponent sometimes would object as to whether one of his troops was in range or could be shot at…Hexes eleminates this…

definitely go with hexes please!

Write it using a hex-based system, where the movement can easily be converted to inches, for anyone who wants to play it on their warhammer battlefield (like me). I do that for regular games too.

Hexes work great for simple, slightly abstract games, like Battle Cry or Tide of Iron. And I mention that because I would like the Domains at War game to be a lot simpler than the rules in the D&D RC (and especially Battlesystem, ye gods what an overcomplicated mess). If that is the case, then by all means, use hexes. I love those hex based wargames.

RPG mass battles should not, however, be more complex than the RPG themselves, IMO. Personally, if you could create a rules set that is slightly more detailed than ‘Hordes of the Things,’ to account for the RPG aspects of PCs in the battles, that would be my ideal level of complexity for such a game, but Warhammer for ACKS would be too much.

That’s my 2 cents worth…

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It sounds like there’s a clear preference for hexes. Anyone out there want to make the case for inches??

At present, the battle system for ACKS is mid-way between the complexity of DBA and Warhammer. Part of the complexity arises from my desire to have battles using DAW lead to results that are likely for ACKS. One of my complaints with the Rules Compendium’s War Machine is that the results had no bearing on what would have happened had the battle been fought out on 1:1 scale. The other part of the complexity arises from a desire to model the realities of mass combat - flanking, morale loss, etc. Right now I have a working system that plays very well, but the learning curve is steep…

I’d argue that ‘most gamers own a hex battlemap’ isn’t true. In my experience of tabletop gaming I don’t think I know anyone who owns a hex based battlemap. Plenty of squared ones, and lots of gamers who use inches and a table, but I don’t know of anyone that has a hex map.

That could be a UK-US thing, because Games Workshop is such a geek culture behemoth over here, but it strikes me as a very strange assumption to make.

Also - requiring hexes puts a bigger requirement on playing the game than inches. You can’t just pick up a ruler, pop your figs on the table and go.

I can see the argument for hexes - I agree with it to a large extent, but my feeling is that you’re coming at hexes from a US cultural standpoint, or perhaps it’s a generational thing… or maybe both!

James - That’s why I’m asking, to double-check my assumptions!

Part of why I assume gamers have access to a hex map is because of the widespread popularity of games like, e.g. Battle Lore, Battles of Westeros, and Battle Cry, all of which use hex grids, too. But perhaps my regional gaming group is odd for being heavily into boardgames.

But your point is a good one that hexes requires a hex map, while inches-and-ruler games do not. If we include a printable hexmap with the rules, does that help change things?

Follow-up Questions: Would you prefer a square grid or a hex grid?

Without seeing the rules, I would say I prefer hexes over squares… I still feel that as long as the movement scale is easily converted to inches, it doesn’t matter.

I would also say that if the rules are hex-based, then providing some sort of hex grid is mandatory to be a “complete rule set”.

I prefer inches/centimetres. I also do not own a hex battlemap.

Whilst a printable hex map would be Okay, I think it’s only really Okay. I’m going to make an assumption of my own here and say that if you’re already a wargamer then you’ve got terrain, hills and the like, and you’ll want to use them with Domains at War. You might even have a green tablecloth.

When I was young, 15 years or so ago… I remember my dad had a hex map printed on a sheet of A3 acetate (he was on the collectable Airfix soldiers fringe of gaming). Now I’m not suggesting you include one of those with every copy of Domains at War, but if you could find a reliable supplier of sheets of hex acetate, that might be worthwhile.

If it’s workable though, I think my recommendation would be to try for mechanics that work equally well (or dual list X inches, Y Hexes) no matter which units are used. Hexes just seem to throw up such a barrier to entry that even printable sheets of hex map doesn’t overcome it. If players have got a workable hex-based battlemap already, fantastic, and you can promote that sort of thing to your players if they don’t, but it’s a luxury upgrade rather than a requirement in my world. The Rolls Royce solution when we want a nice reliable Volvo as our safe car… (I knew where that analogy was going when I started it…)