Intro    Online game    Strategy    Templates    Links


Hex is a board game played on hexagonal cells; it was invented by Piet Hein from Denmark, and has been played on bathroom tiles amongst other places.

There are two players, one with a large supply of white counters and one with black. Players take alternate turns to place a counter on one of the hexagonal cells. They can choose any cell, as long as it isn't already occupied.

The object of the game is to make a path of your counters across the board (from white to white side, if you're playing white, or from black to black if you play black). The diagram above shows a win for black.

It's quite an engrossing and skilful game, although it can be shown that the first player has a win. No-one has yet found that winning strategy, however. It is common to play a variant, where one player moves, and the second player then chooses if he wishes to make his own move in reply, or swap with the first player and take over the first move.

Online game:

You can quickly try the game ***here***

In 2007 I wrote a Java version which is still available ***here*** if you have access to Java.

Some hints about strategy:

* An opponent cannot prevent you joining two counters which are in a diamond formation, two cells apart; ie if he plays one of the connecting cells you play the other.

* Learn to recognise 'templates' of counters which cannot be prevented from connecting to a side. Here are some examples:

See my catalogue of around 85 templates for further details.

* Learn how 'ladders' work, where you and your opponent 'step' counter by counter down one side. You can suddenly find your winning position overturned, as the ladder goes round a corner. Learn to see a ladder as one complete move.

Example: black tries to connect to the bottom edge, and white forces him to ladder along to the right (white's prospective moves are shown in the lighter shade, black's in the darker shade). Now black finds he has to prevent white from connecting to the right edge - so black forces the ladder to turn the corner and run up the board.

* Place counters so they may be useful more than once.

* Place counters with the long term in view - very often a strategically placed counter will come in handy once the game has laddered all round the board. For instance, in the ladder example above, if either player has a piece in the upper right part of the board, it may well terminate the upward moving ladder to that player's advantage.

* Think about defence all the time; if you defend successfully for all of the game then you will win, because the game cannot end in a draw. Attack is useful when you can see a clear way to finish your opponent off, or when you want to harrass him, or when you can force him down a certain direction.

* Often it is not worth filling in the empty cells in a 'template' (eg the diamond template above, where it isn't possible to stop two cells from being joined). But sometimes filling in the template will give you a piece in an advantageous postion.

* If you think that your opponent has a natural win, try opening up the play in a different part of the board, which you expect to be in play later on in the game. The analysis is harder looking at the longer term, and he might blunder.

* If you are interested in studying game openings, I've zipped up about 400 actual games, and run a utility program to try to figure out and tabulate similar openings. To get it click *****here***** (about 200kB)


Templates are a quick way to know for sure that you have linked counters to a side, or linked counters together, or handled a ladder correctly. I have catalogued around 85 templates, which should be a useful reference. Click here to see the catalogue.


Google 'hex game' or 'hex board game' for copious links.
As ever Wikipedia is useful
Hexwiki is a dedicated site
TRMPH offers online board game analysis tools
Old, but still going, is Richard's PBeM server, if you want to play hex against an opponent.
Kevin O'Gorman has a huge database of Hex games.

page date: 27Dec18.      I enjoy correspondence stimulated by this site. You can contact me here.