Knights Of The Hexagonal Table

The hardest part of my new role as president of the International Hexagonal Society? Trying to persuade the motor industry to adopt six-sided wheels. The easiest part? Disseminating news of new hex strategy like Conquest! Medieval Realms. A swift tappity-tap on the old word-piano and suddenly every RPS reader knows that two-man UK outfit Illustrious Software have recently finished a friendly Hundred Years War game that hides chess-like depth behind unassuming Noggin The Nog visuals. A bit more tappity-tap and you’re aware the lazy varlets haven’t released a demo yet.

Judging by the feature list and screenshots Conquest has a fair bit in common with Sean O’Connor’s olden but golden Slay. Both games offer luck-free combat underpinned by simple economics. Both provide mountains of maps. If Conquest turns out to be as hypnotic as its inspiration (?) then Illustrious are onto a winner. Slay, along with another O’Connor creation, are two of the first games I install on any new laptop.

And no talk of Medieval hexery would be complete without a mention of Cry Havoc: Test Of Faith. This free digital interpretation of a classic tactical boardgame simulates what happens when gangs of armoured toffs and sack-clad peasants gather in clearings and villages for violence. The visuals are a little blurry and the turn structure rather elaborate (offensive missile fire – movement – close combat – defensive missile fire) but overlook that and you’ve got yourself the perfect tool for conducting Robin Hoody ambushes and Combat of the Thirty-style bloodbaths.


  1. bansama says:

    A bit more tappity-tap and you’re aware the lazy varlets haven’t released a demo yet.

    Bah! You had me interest and then whisked it away from me. I may very well check out the others though if they have demos. Fantasy Wars and it’s ilk have me craving some hex based type strategy games.

  2. MrBejeebus says:

    looks interesting, ‘tho im a shallow gamer atm who only likes things that go boom…

  3. Al3xand3r says:

    Slay is awesome because it’s so simple. It’s like, nu-chess or something. I love it.

  4. Heliocentric says:

    Build the properly indented roads and the wheels will follow. Kings bounty is hex, and pretty, just saying.

  5. LactoseTheIntolerant says:

    No demo, no interest.

    Slay looks fairly interesting, but even if I liked the demo $20 is a bit steep. Might try out Cry Havoc, though.

  6. Cypher says:

    ooh firefight demo kept me busy for an hour, I like.
    Shame it’s so expensive.
    Might look at Slay for the iphone.

  7. Ginger Yellow says:

    Oh, man. I’d totally forgotten about Slay. I used to love that game. Cheers, Tim.

  8. Indiana Jones says:

    “Slay looks fairly interesting, but even if I liked the demo $20 is a bit steep.”

    I’d buy Slay for 20 bucks if there was a boxed version available. It’s the perfect example of a game that can be enjoyed by “hardcore” gamers and casual gamers. It is actually one of the few games my 58-year-old father has ever played on PC.

  9. killarmy says:

    “Slay looks fairly interesting, but even if I liked the demo $20 is a bit steep.”
    Battle for wesnoth anyone? Free is a pretty hard price to argue with. If all you hex loving gamers have never heard of it, it is definetly worth checking out. Cheaper and a lot prettier( they actually tried to keep the map from looking like a board game) while maintaining a focus on simplistic graphics, community, regular AI updates, and overall great play. don’t take my word for it try it out link to

  10. BooleanBob says:

    Slay is great! Although I had to turn the difficulty right down to score a win. Luck-free combat it may well sport, but you still need a bit of fortune to keep the AIs from ganging up on you. I imagine good planning and strategy will mollify the danger a bit, but still. I have perceived a ‘flaw’ and now I’m gonna tell people about it.


  11. Hypocee says:

    FYI, you can get all of Sean O’Connor’s games as a package for USD30, which is astoundingly less steep than the individual prices. Slay is good fun; Footballosaurus is good fun that would be an instant classic if he ever patched the AI to never EVER fucking stop marking the man in the end zone when the player is already going to catch the carrier. Firefight’s awesome,pulling off Close Combat-esque believability with about 1/1000th of the algorithmic complexity, and Critical Mass is so superlatively enjoyable that I’ve cheerfully paid for it twice over the years rather than dig for my old license key.

  12. ryan says:

    the greatest hex-based strategy game of all time is and remains Dicewars, which isn’t hex based and is just a ripoff of risk anyway. or battle isle.

    probably battle isle, by merit of actually being hex based. And i seem to rememebr enjoying a battletech one at some point before it all got too confusing.

    But the problem with these hex strategy games is their impenetrability. For example, Panzer General always appealed to my desire to be a german tank commander, but my efforts to play it were hampered by SSI’s insistence on using the UI as an intelligence filter to keep morons like me out of their game.

    I for one would welcome our new hex-based overlords, if only i could figure out how to genuflect, and where in the turn order i should be doing it.

  13. Hypocee says:

    DiceWars isn’t really that close to Risk…but anyway, Slay plays a fair bit like DiceWars – there’s a similar conjoined-territory production algorithm, leading to similar salients and positional evaluation.

    BTW, multiplayer DiceWars exists; it’s called KDice. link to

    • dontnormally says:

      And it is an amazing game which has been updated quite thoroughly since this 2009 post I am replying to.

  14. Legandir says:

    The name “Slay” doesnt ring any bells, but that screenshot does. I poured hours into that game. I havent played any hex games since but i might start getting back into them. Any suggestions? (other than Slay which i’ll probably play for nostalgia kicks more than anything else)

  15. Frank says:

    Slay is some truly great stuff! Well worth the $20. It’s updated every so often too.