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I've always felt that hexes were easier for laying things out on the gaming table in terms of movement and areas of effect because you can do more angles without doing counting tricks. Squares however are easier for laying out structures and buildings since human society seems to have settled on rectangles for most of our floor plans. I always end up making a mistake translating a map that uses squares in published material over to a battle mat that uses hexes.

Is there anyone that prints a battle mat that has hexes and squares on the same side?

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+1 because I think this is a great idea. Don't forget that it will subtly alter game balance in small ways. You'll need to work out clear definitions of how to change areas of effect, flanking, etc. 4e uses squares to imitate circles, while the rules for diagonal movement in 3/3.5 basically turned circular AoEs into octagons with points at the eight compass headings. You'd have a nice compromise with hexagonal "circles" for AoEs, I think. –  jprete Apr 19 '11 at 15:37
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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Maybe a transparent overlay? Cavalier Games is currently selling 2" hex grids on transparent material.

The table-makers at Geek Chic sell transparent Lexan hex grids as part of their Sultan table. They're a small outfit -- I wouldn't be at all surprised if they'd sell you just the grid without the table if you asked. They might even be able to do the double etching you want.

(Historical note: once upon a time, Chessex sold Crystal Mats, which were transparent vinyl -- you could overlay the hex version over a square battlemat, or even overlay it on top of a printed map. They're pretty rare, though. I can't find any for sale on either EBay or Noble Knight, which are my two usual go-to sources for out of print gaming material. That's the line of thought which led me to the above two sources, though.)

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What I do is use a hex mat, but then use square-based WotC Dungeon Tiles placed atop it for constructed elements. We also have wireframe area of effect templates we can put down for spell effects. Works pretty well.

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You may want to use a staggered square grid. It works like a hexgrid, but is all squares.

Here's a poor ASCII art version...

+---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
    +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
+---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
    +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
+---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
    +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
+---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
    +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
+---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
    +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
+---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
    +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+   +---+
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+1 for rendering it in ASCII! –  GPierce May 23 '11 at 14:30
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I know this is tangential to your exact question, but considering my answer to it would be "probably nobody":

Have you considered just getting a decent ruler for laying out dungeons and buildings? The minis you're using are probably scaled to a 1" grid, and a ruler marked out in inches will make it really easy to translate game materials that use squares into a layout on your battlemat. As a nice bonus, you'll get good straight lines.

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The only product I know of that combines squares and hexes is SJ Games Cardboard Dungeon Floors.

Have you considered buying or using templates for area of effects?

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