Battletech Tactics: Hex Map vs. No Hex Map

Is “classic” Battletech a board game or a miniature wargame?

How it started vs. how it has evolved?

Hex map vs. no hex map?

Your thoughts?

While I in no way speak for the entire BT community, from what I see on the forum and playing locally is that most players use miniatures and a more traditional wargaming setup vs. the hex maps.

Personally I seldom use the hex maps, but they do have a place in select situations.

Coming from a full wargaming background of Warhammer 40K, X-Wing Miniatures, and Warhammer 40K I’m used to a fully 3D and immersive battlefield of trees, hills, ruins, and blasted no-man’s land.

Playing Battletech with miniatures, it feels natural to play that way, but there are a few challenges with line-of-sight, facings, and rules once and a while. BUT since we aren’t playing in a tournament setting this is easy enough to work out.

Of course with full tabletop terrain one has to build it and transport it, plus set-up time.

Hex maps are more portable and there is no question about facing, range, etc.

Hex maps also take up less space, if compact playing in a store or club means no full sized wargaming table.

The “hex” solves it.

I use hex maps as a “training” mission scenario when introducing new players to the game- a quick scenario about movement, range, facing, etc. before  moving to a full table.

Hex or no hex?

10 Replies to “Battletech Tactics: Hex Map vs. No Hex Map”

  1. I learned the hex map system and I’ve almost always used it, for the reasons you mention above. It’s more transportable and easier to set up. I’m teaching my son to play and it is so much easier to explain movement points and hexes than the non-hex maps. Non-hex setups look TONS cooler, though, and I might be able to move to that when we get more advanced in the game. KEEP TALKING BATTLETECH FRITZ! 🙂

  2. I have been running a Battletech RPG with two people for over two years now. We recently got two new players added to the group but they are just learning role playing and the tabletop BT game for the first time. Like you said in your article, I chose the hex maps to ‘teach the game’ and some tactics to the newbies, but now I’m afraid to make the transition over to the landscapes! I thought about including them on some terrain building to ramp up excitement for the shift…. Any thoughts or advice?

    1. Right now I’m working on kind of a hybrid system of hex map vs. table. On small poker chips and tokens I’m modeling some terrain- rubble, light woods, heavy woods, elevation,etc. that matches the hex maps- placing the tokens on the hex spaces and when a mech enters the hex the token gets removed but still counts for terrain.

      This way we get the 3D effect and dealing with getting used to a traditional wargaming table, yet I still get the portability of a hex map.

      Jumping to a full table, I’d just use elements of cover and not elevation for a few games- this way the tactics are on one level so to speak.

  3. Coming from other hexless miniature wargames, you will only take my hexmats from my cold, dead hands. I love how movement and facing is streamlined in hex-based battletech. No measuring tape, no charges failed by an eight of an inch, no moving miniatures sightly further inadvertedly, and no argument possible.

    And I happen to be very happy with my home made maps and terrain, I don’t feel any lack of immersion when playing with hexes, since I also use 3d terrain. This is my old gaming setup. I’m revamping it into a set of seamless modular hexmats plus 50+ unique buildings, but I’m not making them out of cardboard this time xD

    So I love how hexes improve the flow of gameplay and, while mapscale and mechscale being so far apart IS a problem, I do believe a compromise can be reach without sacrificing immersion. I’m a die hard hexer

    1. WOW! It awesome to put a name to the images- I’ve seen those setups on Dakka and lusted after them. Battletech would be awesome on them. Thanks for sharing- very inspirational!

      1. You are one of my inspiration sources regarding Battletech, and one of the reasons I’m going to diversify and go towards combined arms forces. I just received models for my first vehicle company, to round up my first ever batletech batallion.

        And I 3d modelled some infantry I hope to 3d print some day
        (since my mercs are closer to Wilson’s Wimps than to Wolf’s Dragoons, I modelled them as stereotypical 80’s punk gang members, with mohawks and skateboards. I’m in love with the idea of a huge tide of skaters in leather jackets and machineguns surounding my 12m tall humanoid metal beasts) I hope they will synergize well with the transport bays of my new lance of Goblins and two Maxims.

        I eagerly await your battle reports. I’m sorry to hear your next game was suspended!

        1. Thanks for the kind words- just posted a few ideas on where to start with vehicles and combined arms- stuff that one will always have a use for regardless of play style.

  4. I’ve also a full a wargaming background and also have a full board gaming background, so I like both ways of playing: with and without hexs.
    Playing battletech with hexs to me is the same as “board wargaming”.
    If you want a more immersive hex battlemap you can always use 3d hexs, 3d hex forests, 3d hex buildings and so on.

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