Following up on the post Tiles: Building square boards, let’s dig into the possibilities for building hexagonal boards with the tiles in the Green Box. That’s right: Square tiles can make perfect hex boards!

The hexagon is natures own solution for optimal utilisation of a two-dimensional space, and it is frequently used in game design for the same reasons. The virtue of the hexagonal board is that for all the six directions a piece can move the distance is equal. On square boards you always need to consider whether to allow diagonal movement or not, as this will take a piece further with fewer moves.

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3+4+4 square tiles make a small hexagonal board. From every tile there are 6 possible directions of movement.

As you probably already realise, all you really need to do to build a hexagonal board with square tiles is to move every other row half a tile sideways. If you do this, every tile will intersect with 6 other tiles, and allow for six directions of movement that are equal. If you are playing a game like “Hey, that’s my fish” (see “Hey, that’s my stuff” for the Green Box version) or “Battle Sheep”, where players move from tile to tile, then that’s really all you need to worry about.

However, a lot of games allow players to move, or build, on the intersections or borders between tiles, instead of inside the tiles themselves. The obvious example, of course, is the Settlers of Catan.

A grid built from square tiles might not look like it has the same configuration of intersections and borders as a true hexagonal grid, but the fact is that it does. On a hexagonal grid, each corner is a shared intersection between exactly three tiles, and each border between the corners is shared by exactly two tiles. If you look closely at a hexagonal grid built with square tiles, you will se that each tile is surrounded by exactly 6 intersections of three tiles each. Three along the bottom, and three along the top of the square, including the two actual corners and one point in the middle of the top/bottom side, where the two tiles of the adjacent row meet.

This means that a hexagonal game where you need to play on the corners can be achieved by considering these 6 points around each tile as corners. The distances between the corners will look like they are quite different to the eye, but for game mechanical purposes they are infact the same.

As an illustration we have manipulated this picture and shifted the positions of the dark green spots. As you can see, they do indeed create a perfect hexagonal grid.
As an illustration we have manipulated this picture and shifted the positions of the dark green spots. As you can see, they do indeed create a perfect hexagonal grid.

As a visual aid for playing hexagonal games with the Green Box, we have made the border markings along the top and bottom sides of each tile of a dark colour, whereas the central border point on the left and right sides of the tile are of a light colour. So if you stick to the dark points created by these markings, you have a perfect hexagonal board. Check out our heavily Catan-inspired game The Sutlers of Kansas to see how this works in practice.

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