Issue 5 is my favorite of the zine so far. If I had to pick, B/X would probably be my game of choice, and the bulk of this issue is dedicated to basic D&D hexcrawl content! It also has the best cover of all the Loviatars. I hope that Hex 001 is the start of a series of hex articles.
Hex 001 also introduced a new rule (to me at least) that I am considering adopting in general. There are four main encounter locations within Hex 001, and if the PCs investigate at least 3 of them, they get a “hex reward” (in this case, the reward is the companionship of a flying cat). I really like this. If I had to define D&D, I would not cite treasure, or fighting, or monsters, or even magic; I would point to the concept of exploration. I know that is not true for all players. In fact, most of my players seem to be most enthused by killing enemies and accumulating treasure. (Maybe that’s the difference between players who are at heart referees and players who are at heart adventurers?)
I’ve thought about giving XP for exploration in addition to treasure and defeating monsters, but I’ve never gotten around to actually trying it. I have given XP for completing particular journeys, but I’ve never generalized the rule. Giving XP for specific journeys is really too story-based for me now, so I don’t think I would do that again. Using hex rewards outside of the XP system is another interesting way of approaching rewarding exploration. The only question left is: how much metagame information about the incentive should be communicated to the players? On the one hand, saying that “there are four encounter zones to find here” seems to break immersion. But I do want players to know what they are being rewarded for. So I would probably compromise and explain the the general concept of hex rewards to players without going into detail.