Friday, May 29, 2009

Battle Chronicler

Every now and again a little application comes along on the wargaming front that makes you wonder how you ever used to be able to manage before the age of the PC and the "interweb"... such it is with "Battle Chronicler" [click here].

I got the nod on this application from the very useful Miniature Wargaming blog [click here] (all of us should have this one on the list to visit as it comes up with good ideas on a regular basis!) so hot footed it the web page immediately..

First of all, Battle Chronicler is free... always important to us wargamers looking to save money so that we can spend it on more little metal men! It is marketed as a wargame 'recorder' - it allows you to define a table top battlefield using the components available in the tool, create your units, and then by moving the turn sequence forward to reflect what is happening on your table top (units moving, firing etc.) ending up with a permanent reminder/report of how your battle went...

The components, support, look and feel, are all top notch and by way of a taster here is a screen shot of DG & I's first foray into using the tool... the following is the virtual table top for the next battle in the AWI campaign he and I are playing. Battle Chronicler has a zoom facility so this is maximum zoom - the major scale grid is defined as 1' to match the grid I am using in my Berthier Campaign... (click on this or any of the other pictures for a much bigger, clearer, view of the screen).


Same map - but zoomed in to show you the level of granularity you can achieve - I have set the secondary grid as 1", so that's the grid you can see....


Setting up the terrain is simplicity itself, basically you click on the terrain item and then place it. If you need a piece of terrain that isn't available then I've found that the forum is a very good place to check as people are already doing their own custom items. In this game I defined my own river pieces, earthworks, and a bridge but the hills came from the forum, and I've just downloaded some better river sections than I did, which I may still swap!

Once you've done the terrain, you can then define and deploy your units - these can be any size, any colour with a number of other fields to help define the number of figures etc. Using the same example, here are the units for the upcoming battle defined and set down on the map.. note the slider has been moved forward and now shows "Deployment" phase.


You can then move the slider another slot to the right to proceed with "Move 1" and off you go... moving the units to reflect the action in the table top game, etc etc

"So what" you're thinking - it's pretty, but is this any better than taking photo's of the action as you go along, and reporting the battle as I typically do??

Weeeellll.... it doesn't take much effort (it can't do as it quickly came to me!) to make the jump that you could use this tool as the vehicle for playing intricate games across the web.... instead of using it to record a game, use it to actually play the game....

1/. The minor scale allows minor movement to be done easily

2/. The application comes with a number of counters you can use to indicate units that have fired (I added some additional one's to reflect smoke created by units firing in our period), explosions etc. It even comes with a ruler you can use for measuring distances!

3/. If the application is used to play the game then the actual tabletop size is not critical so the size of virtual table can be increased exponentially - far greater than any table I can fit in my loft, and covering more of my campaign map than I can usually represent.... this "table" is 10' x 6' - four square feet bigger than my physical table in it's largest configuration....

4/. The ability to customise colours, units, terrain items etc also means it's possible to set up any type of game - Sudan (or WWII) desert scenario's, even the frozen wastes for Eastern Front WWII games are possible..

When using the tool to play a game in this way, each player does his move, records the changes on the map, saves it (DG and I have agreed to increment the file name by one each time we do a move so that we always know we are using the latest version of the file), and then sends it by email it to his opponent who then do his move...

Cracking!

Steve the Wargamer is giving this product a 'starting' 9 out of 10 - that's based on my experience to date. I'll let you know if I we change this rating once we've finished playing the actual game...

It doesn't replace the table top game even slightly, and I will still set up some of the engagements on the table top to be able to reflect the action in miniature, but for two gamers who want to play a game remotely/virtually this has the capacity to be an absolute blinder!

I've added a link to the left in the "resources" section....

11 comments:

  1. It looks very nice! I'll try it but I am afraid from the Windows Vista behaviour
    Regards
    Rafa

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  2. ¡Bienvenido/a lector/a! Esta aventura por recorrer el Mundo de la mano del Emperador Napoleón Bonaparte (1769-1821) nació el 30 de Abril 2009, día en el que además, Napoleón vendió Luisiana a los Estados Unidos por 80 millones de francos.

    Vive l'Empereur!
    http://vivelempereur.blogspot.com/

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  3. Very interesting - looks like a great way to have an initial play-test of a scenario, just to see how the terrain plays out prior to setting up a table.

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  4. I have two problems with this . . . first it is for Windows (I have a Linux operating system), so I cannot use it.

    Second, while I can certainly see uses for it (especially for maps), I like to see photos of actual games. For me a lot of the joy of our hobby comes from our little painted soldiers and the creativity of our terrain. I want to see those, not just a cool graphic of the battle.

    All of that being said, it does look like a "must check out" program for those who have a Windows computer.

    Thanks for the information, Steve.


    -- Jeff

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  5. Alas, not really compatible for Macs. But thanks for flagging it up: it was just what I had been looking for.

    Cheers, Keith.

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  6. Thanks for introducing me to this utility Steve, I started a thread about it on TMP but oddly got no response.
    Any chance you could upload your own components to the site? I've tried designing my own and failed so far. I'd particularly like to be able to use the fences.

    Cheers, Noel.

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  7. Noel - no worries, it's a cracking little tool...

    You can download a zip file that contains all the components DG and I are using here...

    http://www.box.net/shared/ucr38cldv5

    Just unzip them into your Battle Chronicler "Component" directory...

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  8. Steve, these components, did you design hem your self?

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  9. Hi Murdock - yes, some of them... this was a fair while ago when BC had just come out, and we wanted some items they didn't provide.. think we did snake rail fencing, rails (??), and perhaps a hill... much better package of terrain comes ready made these days....

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  10. Was that a separate program that you used to get the elements made?

    I could see doing some different terrain approaches as the 'hills' they have are simply not workable for the kinds of games and terrain that I use.

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    1. Hi Murdock - from memory I don't think so, all you need is a suitable graphic, and then you can size the piece of terrain through BC...

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