# Deep Battle Design Notes 6 – Musing on Free Form and Area Movement

I recently shared a version Beta 0.5 of my Deep Battle rule set with Andrés Ferrari. He challenged my obsession with hexes and encouraged me to go with free form movement or an area map. Can I? Should I?

## To grid or not to grid, that is the question

4 inch hexes have been firmly embedded in my thinking about Deep Battle rule set. You can tell because of the number of posts that mention 4 inch hexes (with the occasional square grid thrown in for variety):

I have the grids in 4″ hexes, 5″ hexes, 4″ squares and 6″ squares”. And I have plans for making a 6″ hex grid (some interesting maths there).

So grids all the way. Or so it seemed.

But when I shared version Beta 0.5 of my Deep Battle rule set with Andrés Ferrari he said, more or less, that it looks too much like a board game. I guess that isn’t a surprise given various board games were a lot of the inspiration for my thinking on Operational level wargaming rules.

It is time for a rethink. Do I really need a grid for Deep Battle? If I move away from the grid the choices seem to be free form movement or area maps.

## Revisiting the advantages of a grid

When I wrote Deep Battle Design Notes 1 – Musing on Hex/Square Grids, I came up with some advantages of using grids for a Operational level wargame and a couple of commenters suggested others:

• regularise movement
• gloss over the terrain details which is particularly appropriate for the higher level of abstraction of operational rules
• make it obvious when enemy forces are in contact – they are either in the same hex/square or in adjacent ones
• make it obvious when a force has massed to attack – the units are in the same hex/square
• avoids fiddly placement of every battalion by having large spaces holding multiple units; these can act together as a manoeuvre group (Stephen Holmes)
• allow a defending force to spread out and still have a continuous frontage – whether a unit is small or large they still occupy a hex/square
• unambiguous recording of positions of deployment (especially hidden) and reinforcements (Ross)

## Area maps as an alternative to a grid

An area map is divided into irregularly shaped areas to determine adjacency and movement. As an example, I’ll use the map in the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) Board Game:

Does an area map offer similar advantages to a grid? If not can I find a way around the problems?

### Area maps and the advantages of a grid

It seems to me that all of the advantages of a grid also apply to area maps:

• regularise movement
• gloss over the terrain details which is particularly appropriate for the higher level of abstraction of operational rules
• make it obvious when enemy forces are in contact – they are either in the same hex/square or in adjacent ones
• make it obvious when a force has massed to attack – the units are in the same hex/square
• avoids fiddly placement of every battalion by having large spaces holding multiple units; these can act together as a manoeuvre group (Stephen Holmes)
• allow a defending force to spread out and still have a continuous frontage – whether a unit is small or large they still occupy a hex/square
• unambiguous recording of positions of deployment (especially hidden) and reinforcements (Ross)

Like a grid, area movement also regularises movement. Actually it goes even further. With a grid you need a movement allowance and different terrain influences how far the movement allowance will get a unit. A unit will travel more hex/squares in the open and less in rough. In area movement, you can use the size of each area to reflect how difficult movement is. A large open space is as easy to move across as a small rough space.

You gloss over details of terrain because you only include the terrain you’re interested in: Open, Hills, Forest, City, etc. Each area would be one of these. We don’t care about lower level details (exception cities, roads, railway lines)

Contact is no problem in area movement games. Units are either in the same area or not.

Massed attack is also no problem. Friendly units in same area can attack together.

Like a grid, areas can hold multiple units, so you get the chance for large manoeuvre groups without special rules.

Spreading out is simple. Whether a single unit or multiple units occupy an area, it is occupied and inconveniences the enemy.

Deployment placement, including reinforcements, is unambiguous. Just write down the name of the area.

### Area movement on a table

But can you have area movement on a table? Well, yes you can. We do it all the time. If you didn’t know, Crossfire is an area movement game. In Crossfire, most movement is from feature to feature. Dense areas of terrain use smaller features. More open areas of terrain use bigger features.

As an example, this is what the table for Monaldini and Monticelli looks like:

I could do something like that for Deep Battle. I think it is easy for difficult terrain (forest, swamp, and hills), impassable terrain (mountains, sea, and lakes), and cities. Rivers would have to track along the edge of areas, in the same why I’ve had them track along the edge of hexes, which you can see in Operational Terrain 2: Making MDF River Sections for 4 Inch Hexes). Roads and railway lines would pass through regions and aid movement.

So far, so good. What is missing? Open terrain. I’d have to experiment with some maps. An open area bounded by other terrain would be fine. But I’m not sure how I could delineate the boundary between two adjacent open areas. On the map for a board game, I could just draw a line. But what should I do on a table top? Suggestions appreciated.

### Summary of area maps for Deep Battle

Okay, that could work. I think I’ll try it.

## Free form movement as an alternative to a grid

Most table top wargames use free form movement. Some try to be clever, e.g. the whole lining up of elements in the DBx, which applies a temporary and small scale grid to the game. But many don’t try to be quite so clever.

The example free form table is from Leshnov 1941 – A Battle Report for OHW 6 Hit:

### Free form movement and the advantages of a grid

Well, I identified the advantages of a grid by contrasting a grid to a free form movement system. So free form movement is going to struggle with all of these:

• regularise movement
• gloss over the terrain details which is particularly appropriate for the higher level of abstraction of operational rules
• make it obvious when enemy forces are in contact – they are either in the same hex/square or in adjacent ones
• make it obvious when a force has massed to attack – the units are in the same hex/square
• avoids fiddly placement of every battalion by having large spaces holding multiple units; these can act together as a manoeuvre group (Stephen Holmes)
• allow a defending force to spread out and still have a continuous frontage – whether a unit is small or large they still occupy a hex/square
• unambiguous recording of positions of deployment (especially hidden) and reinforcements (Ross)

Lets go through them.

#### Regularise movement

Free form movement is, well, free form. So the complete opposite of regularised. Units would have movement allowance on the table top. Perhaps based on base widths, either the 3cm bases of Crossfire or my 8cm wide big bases. I’d have to have rules for moving through different types of terrain. I’d have to solve the problem of going across different types of terrain in the same move. Lots of table top games do this. It is standard stuff. For example, my own Tilly’s Very Bad Day and Twilight of the Sun King.

#### Gloss over the terrain details which is particularly appropriate for the higher level of abstraction of operational rules

I might have overplayed this as an advantage. All wargames have the terrain appropriate for their scale and period. Crossfire has more terrain than Tilly’s Very Bad Day, because subtle changes in terrain are important.

At the Operational level we need difficult terrain (forest, swamp, and hills), impassable terrain (mountains, sea, and lakes), cities, roads, railway lines, and rivers. I can do that on a table.

#### Make it obvious when enemy forces are in contact – they are either in the same hex/square or in adjacent ones

At the Operational level, in contact means touching. Job done.

#### Make it obvious when a force has massed to attack – the units are in the same hex/square

I struggled with this one for a while. It is probably the main reason I went to a grid. But now I can see a couple of options: Proximity; Manoeuvre Unit stand.

Proximity: Units with a certain distance of each other could be considered part of the same manoeuvre unit. This might be touching, like DBx and other rules, or further apart. What I don’t like about this is every physical unit takes up more space on the table than it should. A nearness rule won’t cope well with incidents from WW2 where a large number of units were trapped in a pocket.

Manoeuvre Group stand: Recently we played Leshnov 1941, a WW2 game of One Hour Wargames (6 Hit) by Martin Rapier. The reason I mention it is it got me thinking about free form movement for Deep Battle. We were using my 8cm wide sabots with my normal Crossfire kit stuck on top. In other words, every unit was 8cm wide big bases. Infantry 4cm deep (with two CF squads on top) and tanks were 6cm deep (with two tanks on top). So my latest thought is to use 8cm x 8cm units for Deep battle. That can fit 4 CF squads on top or a couple of 15mm scale tanks. This size of unit is slightly smaller than a 10cm wide hex, edge to edge, but would fill such a hex comfortably. So why have the hex? Why not just have the unit? And that solves quite a lot of the issues that hexes were going to solve. I got quite excited. I’ll think on it some more.

#### Avoids fiddly placement of every battalion by having large spaces holding multiple units; these can act together as a manoeuvre group (Stephen Holmes)

I was shy of free form movement because using my 3cm bases of Crossfire would lead to fiddly placement of small units. As Stephen cautioned, there is a danger “the game becomes all about managing the traffic jams of advancing troops”. Front commanders do not manage traffic jam. Lower level officers do that. So the Deep Battle cannot demand a player do this traffic management.

Again, this isn’t a problem with 8cm wide big bases. These are containers so can hold a single small unit (e.g. a Division) that is manning a thinly held front, or it can contain a large manoeuvre group with several smaller units.

#### Allow a defending force to spread out and still have a continuous frontage – whether a unit is small or large they still occupy a hex/square

3cm bases of Crossfire would need a big zone of control to give them a wide frontage.

That isn’t a problem with 8cm wide big bases. The same big base could contain a single small unit (e.g. a Division) or several. Either way, quite a big bit of frontage is covered.

#### Unambiguous recording of positions of deployment (especially hidden) and reinforcements (Ross)

I like to think that my maps are pretty clear on deployment and arrival zones. Take for example the map for Leshnov 1941 – A Scenario for Martin Rapier’s One Hour WW2 (6 hit):

### Summary of area maps for Deep Battle

Okay, that could also work. I think I’ll try it.

## Conclusions

Okay, having thought about it a bit more the advantages of a Hex/Square Grid for Deep Battle seem less compelling. Chris – the hex meister of the world – will be ever so disappointed, but I think I’ll experiment with area movement and free form movement.

I might even get radical and use both in the same game. I’m thinking area movement for difficult terrain but free form movement for open terrain. That dodges the problem of having to delineate areas within a large patch of open ground, which is easy on a map but hard on the table.

Because there is an element of free form movement I’m inclined to use 8cm wide big bases. They offer two advantages over 3cm bases of Crossfire: wide frontage for small units and option for large manoeuvre groups.

And this is, of course, exactly what Martin Rapier has done with his One Hour WW2 (6 hit). He started with a hex grid, and still uses it occasionally. But all his units are on small units on large sabots. And more recently he has started playing on with free form movement, without the grid.

I’m onto something.

My thanks to Andrés Ferrari for his encouragement to revisit this area.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on the above. Particularly if you have an idea how to delineate two adjacent open spaces on a table top.

### 23 thoughts on “Deep Battle Design Notes 6 – Musing on Free Form and Area Movement”

1. I think there is another important advantage of a grid or regulated area movement which should be added to your lists. “Operational” level problems are primarily the problems of the staff at Division and Corps level. Staff conduct their planning and decision-making exercises on military maps, which are gridded. That is a huge distinction (to my eyes, anyways) that the problem you are looking at involves battalion level and higher units, and not platoons or squads. Granted you can still make it work on an open table, but I feel like a grid adds that flavor or authenticity that you are solving an operational problem as part of a division or corps staff. I vote grid.

• Steven, a couple of things about that.

Normal maps, including military maps, are not gridded for the same purpose as gridded game maps. Grids on normal/military maps to to find features quickly e.g. C23. They aren’t used for regularised movement etc. That is unique to gridded game maps.

My game is much higher level than division or corp. A division or corp would be a single unit in my game.

2. Hmmm…. “it looks too much like a board game”. I’d argue that’s a pretty poor basis on which to radically redesign a game system…….
That’s about aesthetics, and I’d argue about holding traditional views on what a tabletop toy soldier game should be like.
By that standard, any game which uses a grid is like a boardgame; the fact that it’s operational is irrelevant. I’d also suggest that there are some entrenched concepts at work here , almost certainly that you use toy soldiers and model tanks rather than blocks of wood. Again, that’s an aesthetic choice.
Every wargame entails “suspension of disbelief”; one or two model tanks do not represent a platoon, company, battalion or division other than in the players mind. Likewise, 24 figures bear no relation to an average 5-600 man battalion in the horse and musket era except to our wargamer. It goes on, trees the height of figures, odd shaped “hills”, 3 buildings representing a town.
I’d argue, the higher the level, the more abstract it becomes. However, there are gamers who when been given a model Tiger tank, see it and treat it as if it’s Herr Wittman’s 101, irrespective of whether it nominally represents a company or battalion.

So, one of the goals of an operational game is to make a player act like a general, not a corporal.
The question you need to ask is whether a grid or other system hinders or contributes to that aim? Does it add anything? Or does it detract? Ignore aesthetics, as irrelevant.

FWIW, here’s my view.
I was late to hexes and grids, due in no small part to prejudices around artificial appearance and the “it’s like a boardgame” view. I now see it for what it was, an entrenched traditional viewpoint.
NQM is moving to a grid format……working on squares and looking at hexes:

https://notquitemechanised.wordpress.com/2023/12/14/not-quite-hexagonal

For operational games, I think they HELP rather than hinder; if it makes the player think more at a boardgame level (which tend towards the higher level game) that’s no bad thing.
If aesthetics are a problem, use the solution of dots or rocks to mark the grid; personally I dislike this as I think it looks worse and I have trouble seeing the grid, using rocks seems madness as they will get moved!

For your area movement, while a good idea, is going to create lots of practical problems. You will need templates or markers to delineate each area, which will need to be identifiable. “Is that green felt area a dense or open wood?” I’m also not convinced it helps the player focus upwards , I can see people getting fixated on a wood the size of Kielder as if it’s a copse in which their Tiger can hide….
I also suspect it would take ages to set up; certainly more than a grid which identifies what it is by plonking a tree or house down.

Using the base. A reasonable solution. My draft set (long neglected) called them “Manouvre Units” or MU. It can also be the basis for morale, combat. In basic terms, the base determines how far it can move and fight as well as being the smallest unit and so determining game size.
People still think it’s a single Tiger and it means things like terrain have to be in multiples of MU or base sizes, otherwise it gets messy. In effect, they are carrying their own grid around with them.

A really radical solution is to make movements off road variable; dense terrain move 1 dice increment (whatever you determine the dice score equals be it base size or fractions of a large base), close terrain 2 dice, open 3 dice. To some extent movement is becoming more closely connected to time available with this approach, as well as being random / frictional.

Before ditching hexes, I suggest you think hard about what they give you and what the other systems improve and what the ultimate aim of the rules are.

Neil

• Nearly twenty years ago I played a game designed by Andy Callan with some regular gaming friends. The subject was the Arras counterattack in 1940. The novelty was that units were on big bases and functioned in the same way as Steven’s 8 x 8cm sabots.

I was very taken with the idea and began to develop a Napoleonic version. After a while, it became clear to me that the big bases were a nuisance – and inspiration struck: have the whole tabletop made of big bases (= a grid). The advantages became clearer as development continued…and they are just what you state above and what Steven laid out himself.

Grids work particularly well at operational level – indeed, the slight increase in abstact appearance is actually a benefit, in my view, helping to banish the perception that “one tiger tank model is just one vehicle.”

3. I’m firmly back on grids for operational games, they solve so many more problems than they introduce, particularly force/space ratios. In free form games, (I have played many) players adopt Napoleonic formations which are nothing like real ones and generate Lanchester style force superiorities which bear no relation to actual increments of combat power relative to force concentration. Dupuy goes into this a lot, and Phil Sabin touches on it in “Simulating War”.

Area movement is a good compromise, but I ditched it after I realised I was basically hand drawing maps on huge sheets for every game based on movement point ratings for different terrain types, and a regular grid is close enough. You can proxy it with terrain items of course, but the setup/takedown times were impractical for me at the time.

4. I find the “looks like a board game” argument to be diverting away from the concept that no matter if a board game or a tabletop game there is need for regulation; besides the fact both are games.

Logically the regulation provides a mechanism for consistency and repeatability which in turn makes for better analysis and discussion – including unambiguous quantification of terrain factors on movement and firepower.

Martin Rapier has addressed the physical aspects superbly.

5. The Manoeuvre Group stand is an interesting concept for an ungridded playing area and I think something like that is used in the WW2 version of Bloody Big Battles. But free form movement inevitably leads to all those just in, just out, movement and angle disputes. That’s bad enough in a tactical game but really not welcome in an operational one.

The sabots just fill empty space…with more empty space. The same effect can be achieved by placing different numbers of stands in a hex or square.

I personally think the sabots look clumsy, especially when encountering scenics, and generally unappealing.

As to hexes and squares, the latter are easy to superimpose on a map and easy to improvise on the tabletop. And if square grid maps are used in real world military operations, that’s persuasive in building an operational experience.

At this level our toy soldiers don’t even bear a passing resemblance to realism, but they do make good tokens if we think of the table top as a ‘map room’ and I think that’s the sort of idea that should be pursued even if it does look like a boardgame!

6. Very interesting post. It’s a board game! What else should it be?
Designing a game is a complex thing, especially when “historical simulation” must be balanced with playability. If you want to simulate a headquarters, this specifically had a map of square sectors available (see military maps) and reports from the field.
Everything else (hexagons, free terrain, rules, dice) is fiction for the playability, which is subjective.
Personally for this level I like squares for the reasons above, they simplify everything and simulate sectors for command decisions, while for an operational level I prefer the Crossfire style.
If you want to simulate the sectors on free ground there are either areas of land or the front line created and continuously modified by the troops (at a more fluid level in WW2 than in WW1).

7. “It looks like a board game”

Big deal, so what? More important – how does it play. And I happen to have a 6 X 4 foot mat with 4 inch hexes, so I’m biased in favor of your current scheme. ;^)

• Yup. How it plays is what matters.

I get irritated by players making that statement and having no reply when I, like you, say, “So what?”

They don’t have any more to say which confirms it is a prejudice. The same people seem to have no problem with the artificialities of rulers and protractors.

• Hey V Tsao!

“So what” is a puzzling question. This is all about the “so what”, we — well, Steven — are designing a brand new boardgame.

Do you play Crossfire? If so, do you care about how it looks? Most wargamers care about looks/feel, it’s an integral part of a game, just as much as how it plays 🙂

Let’s get out of the comfort zone. It may very well turn out that grids were the answer all along, but why not explore other options too?

• I say “So what?” because I have played more than a few games with miniatures in a grid. And some without a grid that people thought was like a board game, like Volley & Bayonet. If it has model troops and terrain, then it’s not so much like a board game. And when Barker imported zones of control into miniatures games, it was a step forward, stopped many highly unrealistic moves. “Hey, excuse us while we walk though that small gap and fall on your buddy’s flank.” Just because some don’t like grids is no reason to junk the concept. Give me a better reason.

• > “Just because some don’t like grids is no reason to junk the concept. Give me a better reason.”

I’ve also played plenty of gridded games; it’s the wargamer’s default. I say let’s get out of the comfort zone. Grids are the default for higher level/strategy wargames, let’s try something else. Steven is, after all, trying to make an excellent operational wargame of the sort that doesn’t currently exist.

I think grids give a dry/boring feeling of hex-and-counter, which turns me off. It may very well turn out to be unavoidable for this kind of game, but let’s run out of ideas first. (Counterpoint: Sam Mustafa’s Rommel is very much a boardgame — a criticism leveled against it more than once — yet Little Wars TV used it to great effect for their amazing D-Day game. But I think that’s more their merit than the ruleset’s).

When designing a new game, “so what” is thought-terminating word — let’s avoid it.

• “I say let’s get out of the comfort zone. Grids are the default for higher level/strategy wargames, let’s try something else.”

Actually, I don’t think that’s true. KISS Rommel, Megablitz, BBBWW2, High Command, Lightning War, NQM until recently, Panzer Korps and a lot of Martin Rapier’s operational rules use conventional measuring with a tape measure. Of the rules Steven lists, only Hexblitz and Rommel use grids…..

https://balagan.info/what-wargaming-rules-to-use-for-the-operational-level-of-war

Not all these are operational of course…..

There are two sets in development Frank Chadwick – Breakthrough Decision in Europe and GBB rules by Bruce Weigle neither of which uses grids, squares or hexes.

I think the reason you are opposed to them is:

“I think grids give a dry/boring feeling of hex-and-counter, which turns me off. It may very well turn out to be unavoidable for this kind of game, but let’s run out of ideas first”

So you dislike grids / hexes. That’s an opinion and one based on “feel”. It’s certainly not because they are the norm.
It sounds like we are back to “it’s too much like a boardgame” which is a personal thing, not based on anything other than a prejudice against boardgame mechanics in a tabletop wargame.

Unfortunately, at a higher level, the mechanics are more abstract and either draw on or mimic boardgame mechanics; this is due to the designer being faced with the same problem, that is whether a cardboard counter or base of figures / models it represents a battalion or regiment or brigade or even division. A designer needs to be able to model the functions of that unit in such a way that the player can control several such units in a way that mimics how a commander would in real life.

That determines how much detail to include without overwhelming the player or slowing things down so it’s unplayable. It also needs to encourage play that reflects real life. Units move faster on roads, some units (such as supply) are tied to those roads and can’t just go anywhere.

So the real question is do grids, squares or hexes help or hinder that? Likewise does conventional measurement help or hinder?

I’d argue things like hexes HELP rather than hinder as movement is quicker, you will know if your artillery is in range or not (as you would in real life) so don’t need to measure and you are forced into using common increments of whatever sized hex you use, as oppose to 12 different range bands / movement rates using a ruler (12″ ruler gives 12 possible increments, with 4″ hexes there are just 3 possible).

While it’s an interesting argument, I think you need to make the case for NOT using grids and instead the benefits of conventional measurement. This needs to be more than subjective “feel”.

Neil

• Neil, thanks for your comment. You raise good points (especially there being plenty of high level games without hexes), except two I particularly disagree with:

> “not based on anything other than a prejudice against boardgame mechanics in a tabletop wargame.”

“Prejudice” means “judging before knowing” or “preconceived negative opinions before actual experience”, but I do have plenty of experience with hex and counter games and boardgames, so that’s not it. I think you probably meant “dislike”, but it’s entirely fair to dislike (or like) grids.

It’s true I don’t know how this particular game will play. Do note I’m not *opposed* to grids, I just voiced my concerns about them.

> “This needs to be more than subjective “feel”.”

While I agree “feel” is not the end all be all, it’s the most important part of wargaming for me. Dry mechanics mean nothing to me, feel does. I play Crossfire because it “feels” right. I’m enthusiastic about Deep Battle because I’ve read a bunch of Glantz and watched documentaries about the Eastern Front and Soviet tactics and I want the “feel” of this in a wargame.

The mechanics must be effective, but if the “feel” is wrong, it won’t work for me 🙂

Do note I share Steven’s vision of how wargames must work, so too much detail or bogged down gameplay is a no-go for me (see his review of O Group, which convinced me not to get the game).

Ultimately, this may very well mean grids/hexes are the way to go. If the alternative means bogged down gameplay, this may be enough to convince me!

• Andreas,
My apologies; I took your comments to mean that you did indeed have a prejudice against grids / hexes.
While I understand that the “feel” of a game is important to a player, unfortunately that’s a nebulous and subjective concept. It’s interesting that you mentioned Crossfire, as many players dislike the “feel” of how it plays!
Interestingly, you then follow this with a comment that you are uninterested in “dry mechanics” . I think the two are more closely linked than you think.

Take a game that requires a “to spot” roll, then a ” to hit”, then a “damage” roll, then a “saving roll” v one that resolves the same situation with a pair of opposed dice rolls. These have a different “feel” in a game, especially if you have to do the same sequence ten times in a turn………

Some of these produce reactions; many people when told about Volley & Bayonet using saving rolls were apoplectic! For them it was the “feel” that it was “old fashioned” and that design had moved on and a better mechanism was appropriate. One was a boardgame designer of some note…..

Crossfire’s detractors were concerned with mechanics and the “feel” of how it played.

What I’m struggling with is what the problem is with hexes. Apart from aesthetics, I cannot see the objection. There are two solutions. Either mark just corners of hexes, or Steven provides an alternative set of movement and ranges in 4″ increments. He would then also need to make rules for when units were “in contact” . This would allow both hex and non-hex play.

Neil

8. 6′ x 4′ is a UK standard and ought to be adhered to. Within that limitation I assume the more granularity the better, so a 4″ grid (square or hex) would be better than a 6″ one.

9. Thanks for the shoutout Steven!

To clarify, I have more doubts than firm thoughts on this topic. I’m glad this sparked a conversation, and encouraged Steven to rethink core concepts about his game.

To everyone else who disagreed with me: of course, I’m not even sure I agree with myself! I do know some things:

– When I say “look”, it’s not just actual looks, but the feel of the game. And if the feel doesn’t matter, why play at all? Looks/feel matter to everyone playing Crossfire anyway, so this concept shouldn’t be alien to us. Otherwise we would just be pushing colored wooden blocks.

– With honorable exceptions, hex-based tabletop boardgames tend to bore me. They seem too dry. I want Deep Battle to feel like you’re the front commander truly mobilizing your troops on a map. The hex board doesn’t give me that feel (though on the other hand, there are gridded military maps, so what do I know?).

– I’d love Deep Battle to be the operational game we’ve never had. This means exploring less well trodden paths, I think.

Ultimately, it’s perfectly possible grids are the way to go. I just wanted to spark the conversation!

10. Hi all. I think I’ve done Andres a dis-service. His comment that the grid makes Deep Battle feel too much like a board game wasn’t his only feedback. But it was the comment that caused this blog post. And to be fair to Andres, when he made the comment, I immediately knew what he meant. I’d already been worried about it myself.

Unlike most of the commentators on this post, I don’t use grids for my table top wargaming. I like board games, have a preference for area movement over hexes, but for table top games I’m definitely a free form movement guy. My two published games, Twilight of the Sun King and Tilly’s Very Bad Day, have free form movement. And, in my opinion, this works well.

A number of factors led me to considering a grid for Deep Battle but the main reason was because most existing games with operational aspirations use a grid. That is a pretty weak reason so, as Andres says, this should stop me exploring other options, particularly as my own preference is elsewhere.

I agree with Andres, this has been a good conversation. The support for grids shared here will certainly make me think long and hard about what is best for the new game. But that is why I share my “musing” – to invite that feedback. Thanks everybody for sharing your views.

• Most of my games are on non-gridded surfaces. But not all. I had a home brew grand tactical game on a hex grid and have played Square Bashing on a square grid. Either way is ok, if the game feels right. One thing about a grid, no more fuss about how far a unit moved or if another unit is in range. Speeds play, ends those minor disputes.

11. As a thought experiment, I did a hex version and a free form movement version of Deep Battle. Aside from that they are identical. These are the statistics:

Deep Battle Free Form
30 pages
9291 Words

Deep Battle Hex
26 pages
8151 Words