As I have stated various times on this blog before, I am a fan of using hexes for miniature wargaming. Some might say this is not proper wargaming, since you do not use a ruler, but let's not start that discussion here.
When I read a new ruleset, I often wonder whether it can be hexified without losing the flavour and finesse of the original ruleset. The latest ruleset which caught my attention is Lion Rampant, and hence, this post is about how we use hexes in our Lion Rampant games.
The easy and somewhat naïve way of hexifying a ruleset is dividing all distances by 3 or 4. The assumption is that a hex equals 3 or 4 inches, and so, by transforming all measurements in inches to measurements in hex-units, the job is done. However, this is rather simplistic, since distances in wargame rules might mean different things in different situations. E.g. a movement distance usually signifies the total distance moved by figures, while a shooting or charging distance typically indicates the distance between units. The difference is the physical footprint of the unit, as illustrated in the diagram below:
The reason is that distances are counted slightly differently on a gridded surface. Typically, a unit occupies a single grid-cell (in our case, a grid cell is a hex, but the same applies to square grid cells). Movement distances expressed as a number of hexes are typically counted as the total number of hexes travelled, including the hex the unit occupies in the end. But shooting distances are counted on a grid in the same manner as well. We do not count the distance between the units (as we would do in a continuous system), but we do include the hex the target unit occupies. This subtle difference should be accounted for when hexifying a ruleset - at least when you want to maintain relative ratios between movement and shooting distances.
Now, does all this matter?
I think it does. Movement distances in a set of wargaming rules are always in relation to shooting distances. I usually make the following exercise: if an attacking unit wants to charge a defending unit equipped with ranged weapons, and if the chargers start just outside the firing range, how many turns would it take for them to reach the target? Or in other words, how many times can the defenders fire before they are engaged in melee?
The most simple example in Lion Rampant is a foot unit that moves 6". Suppose it wants to charge a unit armed with javelins (range 6"), and melee happens is when both units make contact. If you measure correctly, the defending unit should always be able to get a shot before contact is made. It is therefore not possible for the attackers to start outside range, and charge without getting javelins thrown at them. The same applies to larger distances. In Lion Rampant, archers shoot 18". So, a charging unit that moves 6" each turn, will be shot at 3 times before contact is made.
When converting measurements to hexes, the same ratio should apply. Suppose we simply divide all distances by 3, to get our ranges in hexes. A unit moving 6" would be able to move 2 hexes, and the range of a javelin unit would also be 2 hexes. Can the javelins be thrown before contact is made? Two cases are now possible:
- Melee is fought when two units are occupying the same hex.
In this case, both movement and javelin range can be kept at 2 hexes. The defenders can throw their javelins one time before contact is made.
- Melee is fought when units occupy adjacent hexes.
Now, the distances do not add up. If the attackers start 3 hexes away, the defenders cannot hit them. The attackers only need to move two hexes to be adjacent, and thus, melee is possible before the defenders had a chance to fire. The solution is to increase firing ranges by 1 hex. Thus, the firing range for javelins should be 3 hexes - not 2.
12 25mm figures, or 6 25mm cavalry do not neatly in a hex, especially not when you want to maintain the feel of a spread-out formation. Another rule stipulation in Lion Rampant comes to our rescue. There should always be a distance of 3" between units, except for close combat.
This means we let units occupy a single hex and declare the adjacent hexes as a no-go zone for other units (3" distance between units). Thus, figures can spill over the hex boundaries, as long as it is clear what hex they are occupying. There will never be an adjacent unit, unless in melee. This corresponds nicely with our decision to resolve melee between adjacent units.
The only thing we still haven't talked about is the footprint of a unit. Lion Rampant says figures should be within 3"of a central figure. This means a unit can occupy a circle 6"in diameter at most. When translating this to 10cm (4") hexes, this would imply units can occupy multiple hexes. However, I decided against implementing this. Multi-hex units are just too cumbersome. So, a single unit occupies a single hex (4"diameter), and the distance between units is also a single hex (3"in the rules). The combination of both is a nice compromise.
All this suggests we should divide distances by 3 or 4. Movement distances in Lion Rampant are 6, 8, 10 and 12". Dividing by 3 would give us 2, 3 (lumping 8"and 10" together), and 4 hexes. I think these are good distances for a typical table. The alternative would either be reducing infantry to a movement of 1 hex (not enough flexibility), or increasing distances to e.g. 3, 4, 5 and 6 hexes, which is also possible. In the end, it depends on the size your table ...
Summary, Lion Rampant hexified:
- A single unit occupies a single hex.
- Movement 6", 8", 10", 12" => 2, 3, 3, 4 hexes.
- Firing ranges 6", 12", 18" => 3, 5, 7 hexes (note the +1 in hex distance!). Shooting at 6 or 7 hexes is at -1.
- Units must maintain 1 hex between at all times, except for melee (and some rare situations during retreats).
- Melee happens when units are adjacent.
- Leaders give +1 to courage when within 4 hexes of unit.