I'm sure a "grid" can throw away some people, but there are certain ways to do it without it looking odd.
In this very forum there are people that have covered an entire table with 1" cardboard squares!
And others that have carved cobblestones on styrofoam, or... well, you get the idea.
I believe that if well done, the board will look amazing and not like a "chess" board.
AND the "grid" idea is more in this form:
http://www.barrule.com/workshop/scratch%20builders%20paradise/sheet%20materials.htmlFBS706 Stone Sets 7mm O Gauge
although the squares will of course be 1", not 7mm.
Yes, the tabletop is marked in 1.5" hexes, but irregular enough as to look "natural" cobblestones. I really like it.
About "guessing" ranges, if yuo have been playing for a while, just as Myntokk
says, you become pretty good calculating ranges.
Worst still, if you have a pal that works as carpenter, or any other job that needs constant measurements, they have an unfair advantage over the rest of the gamers.
And to think that a marksman don't know the effective range of his weapon, even when he has trained so hard to master it, mmmm...
Or that a warrior will run wildly towards his enemy, but when he ALMOST reach him he suddenly lose all impetus and recoils half the distance, C'MON, GIVE ME A BREAK.
The "your shot (or charge move) is 1/16" short, so you miss completely" is, to say the least, irritating.
Moreover, A grid will make things soooo much easier for newbies.
But then, this was only an idea to make things simple.
I may buy a cheap fabric and make the grid just for fun and see how it feels in an actual game, before trying something else.