Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Gridded games

The latest issue of Miniature Wargames with Battlegames (issue 385) has a nice column on gridded miniature games. Various wargamers make extensive use of gridded games. Just one example is the blog Battle Game of the Month. Another is the renowned Wargaming Miscellany. Both have excellent visuals as well.

Now, I have proclaimed my love for gridded miniature wargaming before (on this forums and others), and it remains a mystery to me why not more wargamers are taking up this trend.

AquaZone - our Crisis 2009 game, and a prime example of hex-based rules.
 My thinking on gridded wargaming also has evolved over the years, and I will not delve into an extensive explanation of how and why my thinking evolved (I do a lot of thinking!). But I can state my current opinions about gridded wargaming.
  1. Speed of play. Ranges for both movement and firing are measured in hexes or squares. No fiddling with tape measures. When using a high enough resolution (e.g. Kallistra terrain), spatial resolution on the battlefield is good enough for most types of games. This is the most significant advantage.
  2. Footprint of a unit. Many rulesets have guidelines w.r.t. the basing of troops. When playing on a continuous gaming field, this is understandable, since the base of a unit determines it footprint and its front arc. When using grids, the footprint of a unit is determined by the gridcell, and basing becomes irrelevant. This allows troops based in different manners to be used in the same game without any problems.
  3. Line of sight: A common misconception when using grids is that LOS also has to be aligned with the grid. This stems from boardgames, in which LOS is usually measured hex-centre to hex-centre. But this does not need to be so. E.g. in a skirmish game, LOS can still be influenced by terrain pieces at a finer resolution than an individual hex, and LOS can still be measured figure-to-figure, altough movement and ranges are measured in hexes. It is perfectly acceptable to use sub-gridcell resolution when placing individual figures.
  4. Orientation: In unit-based games (e.g. Horse and Musket period), orientation of units (front, sides, rear) might be of importance. One can imagine that orientation is decoupled from the grid, just as LOS could be, but this poses problems in practice. Best solution is to allow for 8 (squares) or 12 (hexes) degrees of orientation. In case of hexes, this means a unit can face the sides or a corner of a hex, with slightly different definitions of what it means to be in front or in the flank. We have used rules in which half-hexes in the fire-arc can be shot at at half fire-power, to compensate for the fact that fire-arcs might be larger in one orientation scheme or the other.
  5. Terrain alignement. This is something I still struggle with. Human constructions such as buildings, roads etc. tend to be in rectangular grids. When using hexes, a rectangular area such as a field cannot be delineated that easily with walls or hedges. Two solutions: either make all your areas parallellograms, or allow half-hexes to be used. It is more of an esthetic issue than a game-playing issue, but it still irritates me now and then.
    Another terrain alignment problem is the placement of linear obstacles (rivers, obstacles). Do you place them along the grid lines, or across the grid cells? When placed along lines, it makes it easier to place "defending troops" behind the obstacle. When placing inside the cells, actual placement of troops inside the cell matters. In practice, I usually go for what works best with a given ruleset.
Overall, I still like gridded (and in particular hexagons) for playing miniature wargames - although I am less dogmatic as I used to be.


Papierslag - our Crisis 2011 gamae using Kallistra-hexes.

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