Top 10 Hex Kit Tile Packs
Using Hex Kit for your next hexcrawl adventure
In a tabletop hexcrawl, the players explore a large open-world map on a hexagonal grid.
Each hex is keyed (e.g. by color or icon) to a terrain type or specific feature. A good hex map will have obstacles, natural routes, and is itself a source of meaningful choices as the players explore the world.
What is Hex Kit?
Hex Kit is a desktop application that can be used to make hex maps.
Here’s what the creator, Cone of Negative Energy, has to say:
Hex Kit is a multi-platform desktop application for building hex maps to be used with table top role playing games. Rather than being bogged down by features and complications, Hex Kit is built to be intuitive and quick to use with an emphasis on art.
It’s bare-bones software, without an installer or much built-in help. This spartan design has a certain elegance to it, however, and after a short amount of time you’ll be making beautiful maps!
Drawing a map works much like a painting application. You select your tile/brush and click to draw or erase.
There’s also a very useful feature that if you select multiple tiles, it will randomize their placement. This allows you to select a set of green shaded tiles, and draw a grassy area with some variation.
Hex Kit comes with basic black and white tiles. While Cone of Negative Energy has well-designed alternate tiles available, they may not be used in commercial products.
Additional third-party tiles may be easily imported from any folder.
5 tips for using Hex Kit
Some things I’ve learned while using Hex Kit:
Choose pointy top hexes: Although Hex Kit supports both “flat top” and “pointy top” hexes, my experience has been that there are more tiles available for pointy tops. I’ve also found that most tile packs are either pointy or flat, and not both.
Use layers: Just like Affinity Publisher, layers are your friend. Learning to use ordered layers will make it easier to make maps, and to fix mistakes. It can also make printer-friendly versions as easy as clicking off some layers.
Mix tiles: There’s no reason to choose tiles from just one set. Mix and match, creating your own unique look.
Save early and often: More than once, I’ve accidentally closed Hex Kit without saving, and lost some work. Although warnings are there (sometimes) before closing, there is no auto-save like most modern software.
Check the tile pack license: There are many tile packs to choose from, but not all of them may be used in commercial products. If you plan to use someone’s tiles in your project, be sure to read and follow all of the restrictions in the license.
Like all software, there is a learning curve. The more you use it, the better you will get at it. Just playing with tiles and methods has been the best way to learn.
Top 10 tile packs for Hex Kit
Here are my favorite tile packs, in no particular order:
1. HPS Cartography Kit
HPS Cartography Kit by Highland Paranormal Society might be tied for my number one on this list. Over 600 images make up this amazing set, including terrain, structures, water/ships, and icons. A wide variety of high quality tiles all in a very consistent hand drawn art style make this one well worth the purchase price. ($10)
2. Strange Tiles Pack
Strange Tiles Pack by Thomas Novosel is my other top pick from this list. This hand drawn set includes color tiles, but the drawings are all black and white. This allows the color layer to be turned off, leaving a printer-friendly version of the map. If you combine this with Thomas’ stock art, your project can have a unified look. Includes a wide variety of buildings, features, and icons that are indeed very strange. ($10)
3. World Champ Hex Pack
World Champ Hex Pack by World Champ Game Co. is more abstract than the previous two sets. Blotches of ochre, burnt umber, green, scarlet, and indigo make up the tile colors. An odd and varied set of icons is included. Used carefully, this can be the perfect accent to other tile sets. ($4.99)
4. Perplexing Ruins Hex Kit Tiles
Perplexing Ruins Hex Kit Tiles by Perplexing Ruins is a comprehensive set of tiles including both colors, terrain, encounters, and strange objects. Hand drawn in Perplexing Ruins’ distinctive art style, these are perfect for a dark fantasy setting. Combine with Perplexing Ruins stock art for a project with consistent art. ($0)
5. Isle of Lore 2
Isle of Lore 2 by Steven Colling is a beautifully designed, muted-color set of tiles. It includes a wide variety of location tags and overlays, which could potentially be used with other sets. Unlike most tile packs, it also includes all the source files for the images. ($9.99)
6. Duvelman’s Hex Map Tileset
Duvelman’s Hex Map Tileset by Andrew Duvall includes tiles for both Hex Kit and Worldographer. Tired of pointy tops? This set is one of the few that is built using flat top hexes! Standard grassy hills, forested mountains, and other standard terrain types and biomes are included. A few shading options are available to make select hexes really pop. ($10)
7. SF Planetside Hexmap
SF Planetside Hexmap by Caffeinated Otter is a free set of 204 sci-fi hex map tiles using simple symbols. Roads, water, terrain, and various symbols are included. I like this one because of its simplified design, and yet unique approach. ($0)
8. Heightened Sensory Input Hex Tiles
Heightened Sensory Input Hex Tiles by vickyradcliffe has 150 brightly colored and fully saturated tiles. It also includes 300+ “eclectic icons of dubious use.” While the color scheme is inspired by Ultraviolet Grasslands, I think these would work in many settings. ($0)
9. Lil Classic Tiles Pack
Lil Classic Tiles Pack is the second tile pack on this list by Thomas Novosel. Just like the other set, colored versions and black and white versions are included. Drawn in a classic style reminiscent of old school hex maps. ($5)
10. Dungeonwave Hex Assets
Dungeonwave Hex Assets by Deus Ex Minima is unlike any other tile pack on this list. Neon colors, geometric symbols, circles, lines and other shapes. This could be used to create the art for a game as much as the maps. Includes glitchy scan lines, so I personally look forward to using this one! ($9)
Some things to think about:
Hexcrawls can be a great way to organize a large map for your players. Even the largest map can be broken into a few terrain types. This allows you to provide a sense of large scale travel, and yet keep the random encounter tables under control.
Hex Kit is just one way of making hexcrawl maps. You might consider assets like Penflower Ink’s beautiful Modular Hexmap Pack (plus Sci-Fi / City & Ruins expansions) or Steven Colling’s Isle of Lore Hex Tiles. There are also mapping tools like Hextml and Hexographer.
A hex map doesn’t need to be fancy to be functional. The Exclusion Zone Botanist map is nothing but hexes and numbers. Some games like MIRU have you generate and draw your own map. While beautiful maps are almost always appreciated, don’t lock yourself into thinking you absolutely must have one.
Have you used Hex Kit before? What are your favorite hex mapping tools or tile packs?
See you next week!
— E.P. 💀
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