Although the rules of Hex are very simple, its strategy is quite rich and has many layers. The good news is that there are many clever and satisfying strategy concepts that can be learned by players of all levels.
This Wiki contains a lot of information, and it can be overwhelming for players to decide what to read first and what skills to work on. This page attempts to give an organized roadmap of Hex strategy, by listing various skills in the approximate order in which players should learn them.
The skills are organized by approximate Elo level. The Elo ratings follow the system of Board Game Arena, and are calibrated so that beginners are at level 0-100, and the strongest players are in the 900 range. The following list is based on an analysis of actual games played by players of different levels, and reflects the strategies that are commonly used at each level.
Strategy concepts by level
To reach level 100, you should learn about templates, especially the bridge and the ziggurat. You should also learn basic blocking. You might try a few dozen of Matthew Seymour's Hex puzzles.
To reach level 200, you should learn about ladder handling, especially ladder escapes. You should learn more templates. You should solve more Hex puzzles.
To reach level 300, you should learn about pivoting and climbing. You should use template intrusions to steal territory and help you connect. You should recognize what is connected and what is not, to avoid defending the indefensible or attacking what is solid. You should also learn when to swap.
To reach level 400, you should learn some advanced ways of connecting, such as switchbacks, foldbacks, and Tom's move. You should learn to foil, and especially, how to counter fishing moves. You should start to use minimaxing, such as building walls. You should play corner moves in the opening.
To reach level 500, you should consistently use minimaxing, choosing from among several possible moves to gain small advantages. You should play tidily. You should know when to respond locally and when to play elsewhere. You should learn more theory, such as the mustplay region and ladder creation templates. You should play josekis.
Experts and beyond
To reach level 600, you should study different openings and the best responses to them. You should know how to use flanks and pivoting templates. You should learn about capture and domination to play locally optimal moves.
To go beyond level 600, you no longer need this roadmap. Read this Wiki. Learn from players who are better than you. Learn from computers. Play a lot and watch a lot of games. Develop your own tactics.
- Matthew Seymour's online book Hex: A Strategy Guide. A good starting point for learning Hex strategy.
- Matthew Seymour's Hex puzzles. Fun and very addictive! You will become a better player.
- This HexWiki. Too much information for beginners, as it is difficult to know what to read first. It is better to start with Seymour's book. However, the Wiki is a great resource once you've mastered the basics.