Sunday, 10 May 2015

Facing or no facing on hexgrids?

In our 6mm Napoleonic rules, we use a 3" hexgrid to regulate the movement of troops. See e.g. the Bataille of Mont St-Liselle, which shows the grid in action

The hexgrid in our 6mm Napoleonic games.
One of the aspects in the rules is that all units need to choose a facing after movement. 12 different orientations are possible: a unit must either face an edge, or a vertex of an hex. The main reason are the firing arcs. Each unit has a 120 degree fire arc, hence facing is important. It sometimes caused a bit of a headache, because in the heat of the wargaming battle, facing is less than accurate, and sometimes a small discussion ensues. However, being gentlemen wargamers and all that, the matter was usually resolved quickly, but it nevertheless forms a little clunky mechanism in the rules.

The diagram below shows the fire arc for both types of orientation, with a reduction in fire power in some hexes which are only "half-covered".

However, after reading the following post on the Battlefields and Warriors blog, and reading the house rules written by feloow wargamer Norm Smith, I realized that this can be resolved in another manner as wel:
  • Whenever a unit is shooting, it can distribute its fire only within a 120 degree fire arc. So effectively, it is choosing its orientation at that point, but it is not necessary to orient the figures as such. Just don't shoot at different targets more than 120 degrees apart.
  •  When judging flank attacks, there is a flank attack if the unit is attacked from 2 different non-adjacent hexes. Again, actual orientation of the unit is unimportant.
Since in our rules, we do not make a difference between close combat and firing, the 2nd point is moot, but the first point is useful. It does away with worrying about facing, as long as you do not distribute fire in a larger than 120 degree arc. Of course, this also assumes that "changing orientation" is a free action, which in our rules, it is.


  1. Hi Phil, thanks for the blog link.

    Unit facing is not used and units can fire in ANY direction (not limited by 120 degree - is that what you meant?). I felt that due to the length of time a turn represents, units could really orientate themselves as required and so there was not a need to show facing. Once I had decided that, then using the 'two (or more) non-adjacent hex sides' rule for flank attacks makes it possible and easy to still get flanks into the game system.

    It can matter which unit fires first, as it is the second firing unit that gets the flank bonus attack dice. I like to think that the first unit is engaging the defender normally - in effect pinning it place and the second unit is working into the flank. Also the flank bonus dice themselves will not generate harm to the attackers.

    Interestingly, just by nature, I do find myself physically facing the unit into the direction of attack - but of course it is just a visual thing, the facing is totally irrelevant.

    I like the look of your table - both the hexed and non hexed mats look nice.

  2. Norm,

    Yes, that's what I meant. ;-)