Cards on the table, I should have started with this experiment first. It might be too late, because I’ve been doing a lot of Experimenting on a 4 Inch Hex Grid, but I thought I’d see how my 15mm figures fit into the hex grids (4″ and 5.5″) and square grid (4″) that I’ve already got. The answer … not very well. This is, of course, for my as yet unwritten rules for operational level wargames called Deep Battle.
4 Inch Hex Grid
Not surprisingly – given all the previous experiments – I tried some 15mm tanks and figures on my 4 inch hex grid from Hotz Mats. The 30mm x 30mm infantry stands were fine. At a crunch eight infantry stands can squeeze into a 4 inch hex.
The problem are the 15mm tanks. These are considerably bigger than the infantry stands. I was using medium sized models – Pz IV and T-34/85 – so it could be much, much worse. Really two 15mm tank models pretty much fill a 4 inch hex. One tank and a couple of infantry stands also fill a 4 inch hex.
4 Inch Square Grid
Next up was a 4 inch square grid (also from Hotz Mats). These are roomier than the 4 inch hexes. Up to nine infantry stands (30mm x 30mm) can fit into a single 4 inch square.
There is also more space for armour. A couple of tanks and a half track fit within a 4 inch square. And a single tank plus a couple of infantry stands fit with room to spare.
5.5 Inch Hex Grid
Lastly I tried a bigger hex grid. This, slightly odd, hex grid is from Tiny Wargames UK Battlemats. I asked for a 4 inch grid and got a grid with 5.5 inch hexes from flat edge to flat edge. Sigh. Anyway, despite the fact I don’t have a particular use for a 5.5 inch hex grid, for this experiment it was useful to have a grid that was bigger than 4 inches. So I plonked some troops down. Very roomy.
Nine infantry stands fit easily into a single 5.5 inch hex. If I packed them in I could probably get 12 to 15 in there.
The armour also has a lot of space. Three vehicles fit very easily and I figure that six will fit at a squeeze.
The simple bit: To paraphrase Goldilocks …
- 4 inch hexes are too small.
- 5.5 inch hexes are too big.
- 4 inch squares are just right.
Now the complicated bit. Where do I start … well, it ain’t so simple.
For Deep Battle I’m thinking of allowing enemy to co-locate within a hex/square. So having a few units of each side in a single hex/square is distinctly possible. That potentially makes the situation even worse than suggested by the photos above.
Perhaps bigger is the answer. 5.5 inch is a funny size and I don’t really like the design of the Tiny Wargames mat I’ve got anyway. So I’d get something else and if I went bigger I’d got for 6 inches. Nice round number and all that. 6 inch squares and/or 6 inch hexes. Unfortunately, Hotz Mats don’t do 6 inch hexes and only do a small mat (4′ x 4′) of 6 inch squares. So, for the moment, 6 inch hex/squares are off the agenda.
Can I make 4 inch hex/squares work?
I was keen on hexes. That is why I went to the trouble of designing river templates for 4 inch hexes and then having the MDF rivers made commercially. So I’m definitely invested – in terms of time and money – in 4 inch hexes. The trouble is they are quite cramped with 15mm figures. It is never too late to pivot in another direction, but a bit of a waste.
I’m not sure about squares because of the 90 degree limitations. Actually I’m not sure about hexes either – all those weird 60 degree angles.
But lets assume I stick with hexes and/or squares … can I play with the 4 inch grids that I’ve got? Probably. Certainly the 4 inch squares seem to have just enough space for a typical force concentrations. I can imagine having four tanks in a single 4 inch square. Two German and two Soviet. Squashed but not impossible.
Perhaps, with play testing I might also find that 4 inch hexes also have enough space for typical force concentrations. How often would, for example two Soviet Tank Divisions be facing off against two German Panzer Divisions. It happened, for sure, but not super often. Perhaps I’m worrying about nothing. And if we are talking about infantry, even the 4 inch hexes are big enough.
Should I find that 15mm tanks really are a problem. I could break my cardinal rule (15mm only; the one true way) and collect some forces in 5-6mm. I’ve been experimenting with Monopoly houses (more on this another time) which are about 5-6mm, and also with other 5-6mm terrain. Maybe I just get the forces to match.
Much to think about.