I probably spend more time thinking about, and modelling, terrain than I do the actual model soldiers. This is because I believe that poorly painted figures on great terrain looks better than beautifully painted figures on crap terrain.
There is a constant battle between specific representations and more abstract models that offer greater chances for modularity and reuse. The first case looks the best, but in reality who can afford to build endless specific pieces that only ever get used once? The answer seems to be modular pieces that are as attractive as possible but still offer the flexibility.
Hexes typically give you a better chance of putting together a board made of many pieces in many different ways. Apparently, or so I had always believed.
Trouble is, hexes are a swine to cut out if you don’t have access to some good tools, or at least access to a flat surface and the ability to create accurate angles. And this is a shame because the Battleboards described in the very old Avalon Hill game, Titan, give a really good practical sized playing surface. Depending on the size of the hex you can play quite a range of skirmish style games. For example, a hex size of 4″ side-to-side would allow you to have up to around 10 28mm models per hex. With 27 hexes, or manoeuvre areas, you have more than enough space to have a good tactical game, on a playing surface the size of a coffee table.
How could this be done without hexes? By making them square, and then offsetting them. Now each square can communicate with six neighbours, just like a hex. And a square is so much easier to make.