Thursday, March 28, 2013

Play On-Line with Ars Victor VASSAL Module

The big print run is still a couple of months away, but you can now play Ars Victor on your computer with VASSAL!

VASSAL is a "virtual boardgame" program that lets you play any kind of board or card game.  It doesn't actually enforce the rules, but it provides all the components that you need to move around on the table.  For example, in the Ars Victor module, there's an unlimited bin of units, and you drag them on to your reserve to build your army.  It calculates how many points it costs you, but it doesn't stop you from taking more than the seventy-point limit.  You still have to know how to play the game.

You can play solo, or online against a friend; you can save games and load them later.  You can also save game logs, and then load them up later and replay them.  That's how I generated this little video:

It's a ton of fun!  Games go really, really fast, when you don't have to fuss around with physical pieces.  And while VASSAL really doesn't run the game, I was able to hack in a couple of helpful features:
  • When you're building your army, each player's reserve area has a "total points" counter that only they can see.  As you add and remove units from that area, it keeps a running total of your army's strength.  When you reveal your forces, it automatically sets your starting Glory based on the troops in your reserve.
  • When you right-click and play a card, it sets your available Command Points.  By clicking on a unit and hitting Control-C (or using the right-mouse-button menu), you spend a Command Point.  It tracks this throughout your turn.  When your opponent plays a card, it automatically clears all the tokens and resets the counter.
  • When you target a unit to attack it (Ctrl-T), it gets a big red crosshair.  If the unit has Bug Out, it plays a tiny beep and prompts the other player to use it.

Known Bug

There is still one minor issue that I haven't been able to fix:
  • "Unrecruit" doesn't properly recalculate your reserve points.  If you add a unit to your reserve, it will increase your reserve counter by the cost of the unit.  When you then "Unrecruit" that unit, the reserve counter does not update.  If you do anything else that triggers an update -- add a new unit, or even just move a unit around in the reserve -- it will recalculate correctly.

I've created a BoardGameGeek thread to talk about the module.  Comments?  Questions?  Find any other bugs?  Come on by and let me know!  Thanks!

Read the BoardGameGeek Thread...

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