Friday, November 11, 2011

How to Create Hex Tiles

When I first started getting into Board Game Design, I started on this idea that used Hex Tiles.  Little did know at the time that Hex Tiles are some of the hardest game pieces to create.

There are two main problems with Hexes:
1) Printing and Gluing
Printing the Hexes isn't hard, its the gluing them on a heavy card stock without wrecking the printed paper.  Best way to do that is to use an adhesive spray.  Dont use Elmer's glue as this tends to cause warping and bubbling of the paper.  Dont use glue sticks since they tend to get brittle and the paper will fall off after a while.

2) Cutting
This isnt hard so much as tedious.  Being a slow tedious thing, you are always looking for shortcuts.  DONT DO IT!  Just be patient.  Shortcuts lead to bad cuts and misaligned edges.

The Wrong Way
This is the wrong way to print and cut Hexes:  Note the hard angles you would have to get siors or a blade to cut.  It would be vey difficult to cut this well unless you had very steady hands.
The Right Way
Here is the correct way to print and cut Hex tiles.  Note the Red Lines represent your cut lines.  Long straight cuts are much easier to get the correct result.  Use a Paper Cutter or a Line Cutter.
3) Balance
Now for the real challenge. How do you balance your hexes?  There is no good answer here but its important that you have enough connectors for each edge type you have the game.   I did it by counting edge types and edges that have that type is a good start.  Again slow and tedious, but important.

Here is an example of the game I started working that used tiles.  Just a quick set up so give a sense of the types of tiles I had.  
Rivers, Paths, Mountains, and Jungle.  Jungle was the most prevalent, so I didn't bother counting those.  I started with River and Paths.  Then I realized that it was important to now how many of each type I had...straight, 1 edge turn, 2 edge turn, 3 edges touched, dead ends.  Each extra edge and edge type multiplied the amount of work I needed to do.  

It quickly became apparent that I was out of my depth here.  I haven't touched this game in over a year but I really want to come back to it at some point.  Maybe when I am done with my current game, but honestly, I doubt it, I suspect that until there is an easy way to do Hex Tiles, maybe through a print service like Came Crafter, I will leave Hex Tiles to the pros.


  1. I think each hex would have to represent a terrain type such as mountain, hill, grassland, water, etc. Sort of generic like Settlers of Cataan, so that way you don't have to worry about how things line up. Things like rivers would have to be overlaid somehow, or otherwise you'd have too many combinations of tiles.

  2. That is a good way to simplify it, but when I designed the game I had Carcassonne in mind, so the edges lining up was important. If I were to redesign it I might what you suggested...but I think I have a different idea for what that game is so I doubt I will ever get back to this version of the game.

  3. Neat way to layout hexes for cutting, I'll remember it.