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Gale Force 9 HexTech Review Waves 1 + 2

Time for my much delayed HexTech review!

Gale Force 9 Sent me Waves 1, 2 and 3 for their HexTech Battlefield in a Box products and while Wave 3 only arrived after AdeptiCon I’ve been sitting on the Wave 1 and 2 product for a bit longer than I’d have liked, fortunately after clearing out some bigger projects I can tackle more loose ends like this one!

First a little bit to set the stage, I've been a fan of HexTech almost since the beginning, in fact, if you’ve ever used the 2 and 4 lane road corners, you're welcome! It was in part due to my nagging that Thunderhead made those parts. I've been trying to get him to design some billboards that fit business cards but no dice yet…

Given the duality of HexTech as it is in 2024 I will also be doing this review in two broad parts, first about HexTech as a whole, and second about Gale Force 9's Battlefield in a Box HexTech offerings for Wave 1 and 2. I also have Wave 3 I need to write a review for and I will aim to be more timely with future reviews!

HexTech the Terrain System

The most important part of the HexTech system is its overall playability. A lot of terrain sometimes lacks an awareness of how it is used within games. While it can be difficult to account for everything, HexTech leverages its hex-based foundation and actively designs around both its benefits and its limitations.

HexTech goes above and beyond to design around the hex layout and to make almost all surfaces “playable”, with upper surfaces having subtle or distinct markings for the underlying hexes, making it easy to know exactly where a given unit actually is on the hex grid. This is fantastic for game systems that like to leverage the verticality in their rules because a unit that can fly or climb up a building or hill can actually be placed up there and it will still be accurate to the larger hex grid. This keeps the board state easy to parse and just looks great.

HexTech is also highly adaptable and modular, with a unifying aesthetic that lets you easily mix and match items from different sets and themes without having to worry about them looking out of place next to each other. You can easily reposition the assorted buildings, roads and more to completely change the battlefield without needing to have completely different terrain sets.

If you've gotten someone else to run off some prints for you or done the printing yourself, it's also easy to paint up, with even basic dry brushing giving amazing results, to say nothing of what can be accomplished with more time and effort, as can be seen in Vergotterung's HexTech boards that I had the pleasure to play on at AdeptiCon 2024 as seen below!

Battlefield in a Box HexTech Wave 1

The best part about Gale Force 9's Battlefield in a Box HexTech offerings is that they've maintained everything that made HexTech great and built on top of that, offering the same great look and playability with the added bonus of being pre-painted and ready to play right out of the box!

Wave 1 brings us six of the Trinity City buildings, all but the Justice Tower coming as a pair with one of each of the paint schemes. Between the Estate, Condo, Corporate Office, University, TCPD Precinct and Justice Tower give a good range of small and medium sized buildings from Trinity City which are a great way to start building up a city. Plenty of verticality to work with and some nice wide buildings useful for blocking off a lot of line of sight leaves the city with meaning tactical choices to make.

Cast in a solid resin the buildings have a great heft to them, something 3D prints can be lacking in without extra effort. Gale Force 9 has also gone the extra mile to make the hex bases for all the buildings separate, allowing you to use them interchangeably with games that don't use Hexes and games that do.

Part of being playable out of the box is them coming pre-painted. The Schemes are basic but the inclusion of two different but complementary schemes across most of their buildings gives some nice variety, allowing you to either mix them up as one big cityscape or split them up into unique districts.

All the playability features remain intact of course, so they're just as playable and readable as the 3D printed HexTech and completely compatible with them as well, making them a great way to either start a terrain collection or quickly expand an existing HexTech terrain collection.

Battlefield in a Box HexTech Wave 2

In addition to the buildings in Wave 1, Gale Force 9's HexTech Wave 2 offerings include the HexTech Road system and the first set of Atlean Steppes. Starting with the 4 lane highways(with the 2 lane roads coming soon!) These give a great way to initially “plot out” a city board. The roads are cast in a dense but still slightly pliable resin, they are slightly thicker than their 3D printed counterparts but they have a good weight to them that helps keep them from sliding around too easily.

One aspect of the Highways and HexTech Roads in general is the way they have been scaled to make them the perfect size for other 6mm(1/285) vehicles, as seen below with my Isakano Haulers and Tradesman Trucks.

The highways having both the straights and the intersections in separate packs is both a pro and a con, depending on what kind of city you’re looking to build. On one hand you’re likely to need more straight segments than you do corners/intersections in the long run but it does mean you need a large buy-in upfront to get the most out of the highways.

Wave 2 also includes the Atlean Steppes pack, a set of 4 hills of assorted sizes, though compared to the full range of HexTech hills, the Atlean Steppes hills are on the smaller size. Just like with the buildings the Hills have a good heft to them. They’ll be harder to accidentally knock around compared to basic 3D printed hills. While not as subtle as seen on the buildings the hills also have the hexes marked out to easily keep track of where a unit is on the hex grid.

Overview - Pros and Cons

The Pros are mostly covered by the preceding review, but to summarize;

  • Highly playable, something that can be quite lacking in other terrain.
  • Highly cohesive visual aesthetic, allowing for easy mixing and matching between sets without things looking off or weird.
  • The heft of the offerings makes them well suited to tabletop play, the weight makes them less vulnerable to being tipped over from accidental bumps or grazes.
  • Pre-Painted means it can go right to the tabletop as soon as you pull it out of the box.
  • Removable Hex Bases for the buildings means they can just as easily be used for games that don’t use any kind of hex grid.

Honestly it was difficult to come up with meaningful cons to the Battlefield in a Box HexTech line, mostly it's a few little nitpicks more than anything. So let's just run through them real quick;

  • As mentioned above, the way the highways are split up means you tend to have a bigger buy-in up front to get the most out of them, but in the long run you get more flexibility for larger set-ups.
  • Some of the paint applications can be a bit rough, in particular the windows can have minor mistakes to them. Though having painted plenty of HexTech windows myself it's something I can empathize with and it’s never really that bad either.
  • As mentioned earlier the buildings have removable hex bases, but sometimes the inlay on the bases is a bit “bubbled up”, resulting in the buildings potentially wobbling a bit when placed in the base. This is overall minor, the visual design of HexTech means you can just put them straight on a hex grid even without the hex base and it’ll still play just fine.

All in all, HexTech has always been great, but thanks to Gale Force 9 we have a whole new way to get HexTech and all of its incredible playability to the Tabletop!

Grab your Battlefield in a Box HexTech products direct from Gale Force 9, Aries, Fortress, or any number of Friendly Local Game Shops all over the place!