Inspec-SHAN!! #4 – Kallistra Hexon

This one has been a long time coming, but now I think I’m back into the swing of things (touch wood), I thought I’d finally write a wee review of Kallistra‘s Hexon terrain boards!

Initially pinned as my hope for a decent solution to my modular gaming table problem, I spent many monies on getting enough boards to make a rough 6’x4′ gaming area. Although It’s possibly more like 6’x3’6″… I even went mad and bought a variety of hills and some much flatter and darker green pieces for the all important “wooded areas”.

All in all, what I had was even enough to take to RAFWA for the Team Yankee tournament (the one in which I spectacularly lost; truly, my defeat was embarrassing) and set up a full table for the players.

I was quite proud to set up the table until I actually started to try and set it up. As each hex segment (either a 2×3 or single hex) is loose, there are little clips to connect them together. An easy solution you might think, except they’re a bloody pain in the backside! You’ll fit several segments together easily enough, but as the completed board grows in size so too do the problems. Segments will bend out of position, clips will fail, the unwieldy mass becomes even more unwieldy, and eventually you give up on the clips. Well, just hope that no one knocks the table. But of course, we’re gamers, we’re going to knock tables as we play for hours and hours on end. So the boards shift and gaps start to appear. nobody wants gaps in their table.

The next problem is how dice fall on them. The above problem I foresaw, but not this one. Kallistra use a hard plastic, and dice are hard plastic or even metal these days. A falling, small, hard plastic object that hits another hard plastic object is gunna bounce, and wow does it bounce. More than few times did I see a player duck under the table to retrieve their wayward dice; the dice obviously seeking a more hospitable environment. Also, and this one threw me, the rolling dice can and will get stuck in between the hexagonal groves within each segment, let alone the gaps created by the shifting loose segments. So you would have to re-roll that particular cocked dice because the gaming surface and fate conspired against you. And they seem to conspire quite a lot too. Metal dice would seem a more appropriate tool if it were not for dents they would cause.

You also don’t appreciate a continuous 6′ or 4′ straight edge until you don’t have one. Unless you buy more segments than you need, or purchase Kallistra’s half-hexagons (or trapezoids for the fanciful among you), you have no way of creating that nice straight and continuous edge that most games and, importantly, tournaments rely upon. Sure you could use tokens to demarcate the gaming area, but that doesn’t look good and they’ll end up moving too.

And price. I don’t like to make too much of a comment on price since you are buying ready-made terrain that you can do with and rearrange as you please, flocked as you like or not. But it’s pricey to buy yourself enough pieces for a 6’x4′ gaming area. Each box of 2×3 segments will cover a rough area of 3’x4′, and at £75 per box of flocked board you’ve already forked out plenty without even adding anything fancy. Now you’ll probably want pieces to make that straight edge, that’ll be £10 for a set 20. Then sloped tiles, hills, perhaps rivers and roads?

It’s hard plastic so it is going to cost but it’s quite a lot of money to cough up when it ain’t quick to set up, and the dice want to evacuate the area. But, Kallistra’s products do have redeeming features. It’s ready-made, unless you buy blank tiles for a bit of DIY terrain building. So there’s time you don’t have to spend, nor money on buying materials that may or may not give you the results you want. It’s also pretty decent quality and it does look surprisingly good when it’s all set up and ready to go.

Whilst it can be a bit of bulk to move around, mainly because of its weight, it’s actually quite easy to move to and from storage. Keep the boxes the segments come in and you’re ready to go!

I’ll obviously keep what I have and perhaps get some trapezoids for those straight edges, but I think I’ll still attempt my own modular terrain when I get the space. For the purpose of just giving it a proper go at least.

What I really want Kallistra to do is to develop more sloped single-hex corner options. I started to make a section of river using their products, but quickly hit a dead-end when I realised they didn’t sell the piece I needed to make a river bend. I mentioned this to them several years ago now, and although I got a promising response (“the shape, as well as several others have been designed” or words to that effect) there’s been nothing since. Here’s hoping I can eventually finish what I started!

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