Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Bloody Big Battles! - Converting scenario maps to Hexon

Hexon grid for a 4' x 6' table.
I thought I'd write again and in a bit more detail about converting Bloody Big Battles! scenario maps to Hexon II hexes.

I use the maximum number of hexes that can be fitted on a physical 6' x 4' table using the given orientation of the hexes. The equivalent diagram on the Kallistra website is only approximately 6' x 4' and requires an area larger than that to avoid overlapping the table edges.

The grid I use measures 13 x 18 hexes. It uses 36 6-hex tiles and a column of 18 single-hex tiles. When laying out the tiles I use a non-slip mat rather than the Hexon clips, and bury the single column in the middle. I do clip the single column for stability.

Hexon grid for a 4' x 4' table used for
some introductory 'training' scenarios.
As I have a drawing program (CorelDRAW X7) I simply superimpose the hex grid over a copy of the map and print it out. I then use highlighter or marker pens on the printout to decide which hexes become hills. When you look at the printout it's fairly obvious where the hills (and everything else) should appear.

While the exact position and shape of the contours is compromised by being forced into a hex grid, the overall position of features is quite accurate.

Spicheren with superimposed grid.
If you don't have a drawing program you could print one of these grids onto a transparent sheet and place it on top of a map printout.

Some hexes are all or predominantly hill so these become hill hexes. The others don't. Sometimes you have to be a little creative with your interpretation so as to preserve certain features. Then you put in the built-up areas and roads. If a town clips a hill hex but was originally on the flat (or vice, versa), you will need to displace it a little. The same goes for roads that run along valleys or ridges. In my experience, very little adjustment is needed.

Obviously I try to keep to the hex pattern but this is not a hex game. Level 2 and other small hills are often best represented by displaced hexes or non-hex scenery items. I haven't developed a system for that. Failing other alternatives, felt is always a good standby.

Spicheren with the L1 hill level as I
might choose to represent it.
I don't normally bother to go back into the drawing program to mark in the hills as my hand-annotated maps are perfectly adequate for my purposes. However, because of the interest that has been shown I've generated a map with the Level 1 hill hexes marked in as I would have them. This is an art rather than a science and I don't always arrive at precisely the same solution.

The isolated hills in the north-west corner use hexes but do not follow the hex grid. I would use the same solution for the Level 2 hills, but these are not shown. Forbach has become a bit of a pinch-point so you could leave out one of the hill hexes that flank it. Otherwise this paticular map requires very little adjustment.

I will also be posting maps for Langensalza as well as Borny/Colombey as other players have found the latter terrain particularly difficult to reproduce.


  1. Great post, thanks. I wonder if it will also work with my GHQ terrain maker hexes. Probably would be OK, but they do tend to move about more than Hexon, so a felt cloth underneath would be essential.

    1. Smaller hexes should work even better (i.e. with more accuracy). Although greater granularity isn't needed for the L1 hills IMO, it would help with fitting in the smaller L2 hills.

  2. Nice conversion. the Hexon slopes look to add extra functionality, but you do need quite a lot of the A, B C sets to get all the combinations you would need for complicated topograpghy.

    I am looking to get a simple set to show a long ridge line for Hastings.

    From memory I think Kallistra doe some downloadable hex fields.

    You can put a map on a patio door or window, the paper template over it and then trace as the light coming through the glass illuminates everything ...... A bit low tech, but it works.

  3. Hi Norm

    The Hexon A/B/C slopes work really well but it's a minor puzzle to pick the right one! I usually lay down any old hex to trace the edges and then fiddle about with finding the appropriate ones.

    I began with collecting two-tile-high slopes but have now switched to single-height slopes which are adequate and cheaper.

    The A/B/C slopes don't cover every contingency. I'm planning a post on that, but need to do some comprehensive experimenting.

    It's good to have a pile of single-hex hills to fill in with when the slope tiles don't work.

    I like you're improvised 'light-box'!