So, I'm working on several projects at once, which is difficult because if I get a half an hour free, I'm a lucky guy. Anyway, one of the things I have been doing is making a hex mat to play various air combat games...or, I was until about an hour ago.
I am philosophically opposed to miniature games that require hexes. Don't get me wrong, board games are great things. I started wargaming with Avalon Hill and SPI years before I found miniatures. One of the immediate things that attracted me to gaming with miniatures is that movement and ranges were no longer restricted and seemed a little less abstract. Also, it meant that you have to have one, and that also felt somehow restricting. You can't just set a game up on any table, you have to have The Mat present to play the game. However, there seems like there are a number of air combat games that require hexes for movement of aircraft and weapon ranges. As I said in a previous post, I really like Air War: C21, which is hexless, but I found that with the newest addition, the turn radius is "fiddly" as they say in the UK. So, I broke down and decided to make my own hex mat. Yes, I could spend the money on a pre-made one, but that's just not me. If I were to have a coat-of-arms, the motto under it would read: Why Do Things the Easy Way, When You Can Do Them the Hard and Complicated Way? I guess I am sort of like Papa Bear from the many Berenstain Bears stories. I just have to do things the hard way.
So, I go to Lowe's and buy at set of foam interlocking floor mats. A 4' x 4' one cost me $18. There are cheaper ones at Walmart, but they were 1' x 1' tiles and they looked thinner and perhaps might be too flexible. I also bought a 1.5 " hex stencil from a company that shall remain nameless for about $25. I'm not going to blame the stencil totally for my woes, but when I got it, I was a tad dubious. The stencil is a 12" x 12", thin, clear, plastic sheet. The hexes are made of small holes. Now, I bought this thing several months ago so I am a little fuzzy here, but the recall that the company recommended using spray paint to put the hexes onto the board surface. I didn't think this was a good idea because once you sprayed it, it might be hard to line things up for the next set of hexes. There are at the edges of the stencil some rather finely etched lines that are supposed to be alignment marks. They are not very easy to see, and if you were to get any paint on them, they would be rendered useless. So, I decided to use a Sharpie marker and poke it into each hole. Its far slower, but at least I could see the where the dots were and weren't. Things went very well for the first 2' x 2' section, and things were seemingly going well for the second section. However, as I worked on it tonight, I suddenly found that the hexes were going out of alignment. I thought I was lining up the alignment marks properly, but somewhere, I must have misaligned things just enough to mess the whole thing up. A tiny misalignment in the beginning will greatly magnify itself over time. It might have been off by maybe 1 or 2 degrees, but by the time I got 2/3rds through this second board, lines were missing each other by about 3 to 4 millimeters. As I said, doing it with a marker is a slow process. I've been picking away at it for almost two weeks now. When I realized how bad it was, I sat there staring it all for about an hour hoping that maybe time would reverse itself back just before I made the alignment error and I could get it right. But that didn't happen. So now I have a less than half finished hex board/mat. I guess I could spray it over with some color to cover the hexes and start again. I originally painted the mats with craft paints, but there is no way that paint will cover over the hexes. I could try spray painting the hexes on, but who knows if I will get the alignment right this time.
No, I'm going to do like Papa Bear did in The Big Honey Hunt. After chasing a bee all over the countryside trying to get honey the natural way, he ends up being all battered and bruised but with no honey. So, at the end of the story, he stops by the nearby honey store and buys it. I think I'm going to order a pre-made hex mat.
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