I understand that TFT is an entry into a recent and established genre of auto-battlers, and so many of the mechanism are inherited from there. I read someone say that the hexes were different from those other games and were a good change. I would agree hexes are good for a grid based game, but I say they should NOT be crammed into a rectangular arena.
Expand the arena out to also be a hex. This means one of two approaches: 1) A 3 row dead-zone between teams. OR 2) A Yin-Yang style board split.
There are a LOT of gameplay impacts with this change, depending on which approach is used. But before that... a fringe benefit of this change:
Extra bonus: You would have the ability to orient the carousel level so that everyone is always starting at the same place in their own view (likely either bottom or top center). I have seen a fair amount of people complaining that they take the wrong champion on accident because they didn't figure out which avatar was their own and walked into the circle at random.
Now.... gameplay impacts of a hex board:
For either approach (DMZ or Yin-Yang):
**Less space in the back row: **This should lead to slightly more interesting choices on how to arrange your ranged units.
**Open Corners: **Currently the lower right corner is adjacent to only 2 other tiles, allowing you to hide a ranged hypercarry from enemy access. The left side requires three units to block for the corner. In a hex map all corners have 3 neighbors.
**Impact of a DMZ approach:**
More interesting unit placement decisions: Currently, if I place my Varus/Ashe/Trist in the back row, they can attack all except the furthest back row of the enemy forces without moving. The shorter ranged non-melee can still hit the enemy front line without having to move. Of course, if I happen to push my units in one corner and the enemy uses the opposite corner, THEN we finally have units moving at the start of battle. In either case, everyone clumps their units in one location and AoE is godly because of it. With a need to cross three rows to engage the enemy melee, you now have to decide if you want your ranged units to engage early (place them on the front line) or stay very safe but have to wait a bit to engage. You also have the option of spreading out your forces so that your powerful single target focused units can avoid being focused down, and so your units in general stay spread out from AoE. Assassins gain a bit more risk from this added distance, since if the enemy keeps their melee back with the ranged units the assassin will be jumping in to be the sole target of the entire enemy team. Yet if the enemy does NOT keep their melee near their ranged, then assassins are far stronger, since fewer units are available to protect the carries.
**Impact of a Yin-Yang territory assignment:**
By splitting the extra three rows between the two players, they continue to have the option to press melee units directly against the enemy territory. But if you put your melee in the center 3 rows and your opponent ALSO does so, your melee are now focusing over to the side instead of the front. This shifts the arrangement of linear attacks like Hydra considerably, and will mean that in the endgame when you are 1v1, arranging your troops between rounds will have SIGNIFICANT impact.