Saturday, July 9, 2016

Vassal for Guildball - Getting Started

  Vassal comes up a lot when people talk about a Tabletop simulator, which boils down to what Vassal is essentially; A tabletop simulator with an internet connection.  Modules exist for Vassal for most games, and if you've played any of the other games, you understand the frustration that comes with trying to navigate Vassal.  But you really want to get that game in without driving an hour, or buying a plane ticket to the UK to play that one guy.

  So you're googling Vassal for Guildball.

  Here's the really nice thing though.  The Guildball Vassal module is produced by Steamforged and updated/maintained by them and they even have a place for it in their forums.  This is very different than any Vassal module you've seen before, and if you come from Warmachine specifically, Vassal is a hodgepodge rumination updated by a rotating group of people that do it as long as they can with out being so frustrated with it that they drop it entirely.  That's gone with the Guildball Module.

  The GBVM (Guildball Vassal Module; I'm tired of typing it out) is a streamlined program with all the shortcuts, widgets, art, plot cards, tokens and terrain created already by Steamforged.  It's amazing.  It takes a minute to get into, but not anything like the learning curve that the Warmachine module takes.

  My major complaint about the WMH Vassal module was how swingy the dice were, and that may or may not be true with GBVM too.  I haven't decided yet.  My first game definitely had me miss a 5D6 Supershot pass from Mash to Hemlock, but then when we rolled out the theoretical un-bonus timed snapshot kick through an intervening model, she got a 5,6,6 screamer.  So the computer generated dice are still interesting, at best. On the plus side, he never ever hit Slippery DEF6 Hemlock, even at TAC11.

 Anyways, I can't preach how great this program is enough.  I hope that if nothing else, you'll give it a shot.  The Guildball community is taking off like nuts, but most of the warmachine players coming off the presses will not have great memories of the WMH Vassal module.  I'm here to change that and tell you it's not the same.  Right now, we might see two or three guys on vassal a night.  It'd be nice to really raise that number up.

  So, let's look at it.  What are the major things that you need, or should have?

  Before we look at the actual Vassal program, the things you should consider having are:

1.  Skype/Mic.  Trying to communicate with the other player about what you're doing without using Skype is very much hamstringing yourself and doubling the time involved in the game.  If you're going to play Vassal, get Skype, get a Mic.  It's pretty imperative with Guildball.  You could get away with it a little bit in Warmachine because of simpler activations, but in Guildball, you absolutely need it.  

2.  Your cards, obviously, but the best thing I think is the App, Guildball Manager.  It's a free app with all of the guilds, their cards, a fight feature, you name it.  It's everything War Room 1 should have been with none of the downsides.  Get it.  It's free.  There's no downsides to this program.  Even if you have your cards sitting in front of you for playing Vassal, the app is great for checking your opponent's cards, and etc.  Even better, it doesn't require you to have your cards with you wherever you have your laptop.  Work trip?  Good to go.  Downtime on vacation somewhere? Good to go.

3.  Time.  A vassal game is still longer than a tabletop game, simply because you can't pick up a model and set it down.  It's a bit more finite in Vassal than that.  Everything else I think is actually streamlined and possibly faster, but physically moving models saves sooo much time.  Don't go into a Vassal game with an hour of free time.

4.  Vassal Ball Facebook group.  Want to coordinate with some people for a game?  Join the Facebook group.  The forum's a good place too but the Vassal Ball FB group provides some instant updates on people's availability.

Actual Vassal links needed:

1.  The Vassal program.  The base program is at the root of all of this, and you'll need it.  It's at: and is currently version 3.2.16.  Download it.  Install it.

2.  The Guildball module, located in the resources section of the website.

Install the program, then the module.  Start it up and double click the Guild Ball module.  This will take a minute to start up, so when you start browsing the forums, or this great blog, keep in mind that the wizard pops up on the desktop, and you can't see it, and it doesn't create selectable on the windows bar.  You'll have to minimize your window periodically (not show desktop) to check if the wizard is up.

  Once it's up, if you just want to play around, or for some reason your opponent is sitting next to you, do offline game.  Otherwise, look online.  This is what it will look like.

  The main window is the chat screen.  The middle right window is the rooms in existence (Main, Scrub vs. Byron, and the one I created for this, Test).  The far right is the players in the room.  If you right click a room it gives you the option to join it, or if it's your own room, you can lock it because you hate people and socialization but you play a social game.  If you right click a player, you can PM them.  Above those two right windows are a series of statuses to indicate what you're doing.  The X is afk, the exclamation point means you're looking for a game.

  In order to create a room, in the middle window where it says "New Game", just type a name and hit enter and it will generate the room.  Your other player will join, whatever.  Someone creates the game.  Ideally, get someone else to do it for the first time, but since this is a walkthrough, we're going to do it.  Go to File, and hit "New game".  It will ask you if you want to be a visitor, or home team, or visiting team.  Generally the host picks home team, but either way, make you both know who is who.  This will generate a normal green pitch, but if you hit the "Maps" button in the upper left, you can change your pitch.

  If you click Roster, up left next to Maps, it'll pull up a few more windows.

  There's several tabs that we'll talk about in a moment, but the Terrain one is the important one here.  In the dropdown menu, there's your types of terrain, and then the selection menu to the right has the different sprites available.  Drag them onto the pitch in a legal way.


  Start over.  This is the simplest way.  If you've followed my instructions to this point, go to File, and close game.  Now hit file, and choose one of the setups available.  This will ask you all of the same questions, but will generate a pitch with terrain already placed.  If you're just getting going in Vassal and Guildball, this is the way to do it.

   The other player, when he joins the room, will select Visiting, probably, (whatever option is left).  Then you guys can drag your stuff out. So, back to our Rosters button.

    There's a lot of options here.  All of which, you click and drag to the pitch.  From top left to right:

  Templates: Your AOEs are here.  They're all 3'' AOEs, but with various art for various spells.  It should be noted that the AOEs are selectable at their centerpoint, not the whole circle.  This reduces some mouse confusion on the pitch.

  New Ball: There's a ball in the center of the pitch by default, but if you delete it by accident, or it goes buggy (which happens), there's a new one here you can drag out.

  Tokens: These are just little colored indicators for things if they aren't built into the engine.  Haven't needed them yet, but like, when Tater comes out, you might use them since he may not be in the system yet.

  Token Sets: These are faction specific.  Select it, select your faction from the dropdown box and drag what you want out.  Some of them will be missing, like Tapper's Commanding Aura, but that's because the aura effects are selectable options on the model itself.  It's pretty sweet.  These are indicators for spells and such, so Tooled up, Dirty Knives, etc.  Football Legend, Commanding Aura, all that will be attached to the model.

  Individual Dice: Haven't used them yet.  Let me know if you do.

  Plots: This is the wrong way to select plots for the game, but we'll talk about that shortly.  These are specifically for league play since they have every faction, season one, season two and the campaign plots.  How cool is it for a company to build their leagues into the module for you?

  Home/Visiting Team: These tabs are identical except that the base colors are different so that all the various Avarisse and Greedes are identifiable from eachother.  Same thing as the plots.  Dropdown box select your team, drag them to the pitch.

  Terrain: We talked about this already.

  So, now that your stuff is on the pitch, let's talk about the right side of the board.

  This is a great feature guys, I can't praise these dudes enough.  This is the scoreboard and what amounts to your trays.  The pretty artwork sections are where you can sit your tokens, templates, plot cards and dead players and keep the pitch clean.

  Then there's the Scoreboard.  If you look at the top and bottom of the board, it says "VP".  Right click this to select if you got a TO, scored a goal, extra point, or if you need to reset them all.  The three little divots to the right are for goals specifically. Selecting "Goal Scored" from the menu will automatically fill in one of those, and serves as a reminder for your extra influence.

  Then there's your MP with the arrows on either side.  Self explanatory for the most part.  Click left or right to adjust MP.  Keep it up to date because when you both are done, you'll hit "New Turn" and the game will factor in your MP for who wins initiative.

  Then there's the dice.  That long column from 1-22 is your dice.  After you've added up your dice pool number, select the box next to that number and it will roll that many dice.  

  Now, instead of browsing those dice and trying to figure out how many times you hit that sweet 5+, instead of counting them out, that colored chart in the middle summarizes it all up for you.  You got 5 hits at 5+ not counting any armor.  If you're whacking on Stave, you did considerably, and unsurprisingly, better, at 12 hits needing 2+.  Very intuitive, very simple.  I really like it.

  Brief note.  Do you remember the tape measures from WMH vassal?  Well, they're still here, in the upper right corner.  And they still suck.  They can be accomplished by many other things but if for some reason you need one, they're here.

  One more thing before we play ball.  The Plot Cards.  Select "Plots" from the bar at the top.  Not home plots or visitor plots.  That's where you drag your league cards from your roster.  Just select Plots, which is a deck you and your opponent will both use.  Drag 5 cards from the deck to the table, select which ones you want, right click "Claim", where they turn blue, and then return the other two to the deck.  The cards remain hidden from your opponent until you right click "Flip" to play them.

  Now we're going to drag a player onto the pitch.

  On top of the player, you see his name, Tapper.

  Below that is his Health.  Health is adjusted by Ctrl - or +, depending on how his day is going.

  The arrow means I have him selected and if I hit the arrow keys, which direction he will move.  I rarely use the arrow keys in this game though.  

  The little yellow dots on the bottom left is his current allocated influence.  These are adjusted with the - and + keys as well, but without the Ctrl.  

  Then there's statuses.  

  From left to right, there's Poison (Ctrl P), Burning (Ctrl B), Lacerate or Bleed (Ctrl L), Snared (Ctrl S), Knocked Down (Ctrl K) and then Taken Out, which would remove all statuses and give you a skull but most of us just drag the player off the pitch.

  Most of what you're going to do is holding down that Ctrl key.  Ctrl X deletes the model, for example, while Ctrl C clones it (important here in a minute).  It also creates our auras, the easiest part of playing this game.  Ctrl 1 - 0 are auras from 1'' to 10''.  Ctrl + Alt gives us the next ten inches, 11 - 20 by using Ctrl Alt 1 - 0.  You can have as many auras as you want out there, and they can all be cleared with Ctrl period (.).  

  So, let's say that Tapper is sprinting to the ball, then over to the forest to engage Avarisse, but I want cover too, and I want to stay out of Avarisse's melee.  I also want to be in Spigot's Football Aura so when I kick the ball at some point in Tapper's activation, I have 1/1 kick bonus.

  I'll start by selecting the ball and pressing Ctrl 1.  All of this can be done with the right click menu, but the keyboard is far easier.  

  So now, Tapper can move an inch, snap the ball, and use the remaining movement to get to the woods.  I'm going to create a 1'' aura on Tapper, and Ctrl C to clone him.  I'll drag the clone to where I want him to be in that Aura for that 1'' move, and then use Ctrl 6 to show how much movement he has left.  I'll use the original sprite now, clear his auras with Ctrl . and then turn on the 2'' aura with Ctrl 2 for my melee range.  I'm also going to turn on Spigot's Aura, which I can do with a Ctrl 4 since that's the range of it, or I can right click, scroll to "Special Auras" and select "Football Legend".

  This picture looks pretty complicated, but the TL:DR is Tapper moved south an inch, snapped the ball, sprinted with most of his remaining movement to engage Avarisse without being engaged by him, while toeing into the forest, and is still within 4'' of Spigot for his Football Legend.

  This took maybe 5 seconds to do.  It's very intuitive very quickly. I'm going to drag an invisible box over the whole group, hit Ctrl . and clear the auras and Ctrl X to delete the clones I don't need.  This is way better than using the arrow keys to nudge players around and back and turn and etc.  This is almost faster than a regular game of Guildball.

  Fantastic.  let's look at Kicking.  Tapper makes this kick to Spigot, and even at 4d6 kick, I miss.  If you select Spigot, hit Ctrl A to generate the Kick Scatter.  Or again, the right click menu.  If you ever have any doubts on the shortcut, use the Right Click menu.

  Now, with the Kick Scatter created, and the ball selected (it snapped to spigot when you created the Kick Scatter), tap End on your keyboard and grab the half circle piece (not the path) and drag it to align your kick.  Now hit Ctrl S for Single Scatter, or right click menu.  If this is scatter kick you hit with and you can reroll direction, use the undo button in the upper left corner to step back and single scatter again.


  Now resolve the scatter.  It didn't go far enough to run into cover.  I may have passed Spigot's path though, allowing him to snap the ball.  Press End again and align the path.  

  It just caught him, so I will snap the ball to him.  The path can be removed or created with Ctrl E, which is travel paths in general.  Use Ctrl E for charge lanes and kick lanes, etc.  Great tool.  Again, if you're having issues rotating the path with End, make sure what is traveling is selected, in this case, the ball.

  At the end of the turn, select "New Turn" at the top where your MP and your opponent's MP is calculated, rolled against and reset.  It will tell you in the chat bar whether Home or Visiting won initiative and you'll go from there.

  That's pretty much it.  There's really not a lot more to show with it outside of you getting in there and trying it.  Steamforged has a complete list of Keyboard Shortcuts available, but the ones you're going to use the most are the ones I've mentioned above, and summarized below.  Everything that can be turn on can be turned off with the same set of hotkeys.

Health: Ctrl - / +
Influence : - / +
Poison : Ctrl P
Burning : Ctrl B
Bleed : Ctrl L
Snared : Ctrl S
Knocked Down : Ctrl K
Auras 1'' - 10'' : Ctrl 1 - 0
Auras 11'' - 20'' : Ctrl 11 - 20
Clear Auras : Ctrl .
Travel Path : Ctrl E
Kick Scatter : Ctrl A
Standard Scatter : Ctrl B
Path/Scatter Rotate : End
Single Scatter : Ctrl S
Delete model : Ctrl X

 And that's pretty much it.  Hopefully this has given you a decent insight to playing Guildball on Vassal.  The Steamforged Forum for it specifically is located here:

And the Vassal Guildball group is here:

  If you have any corrections, suggestions, ideas for further improving this guide, shoot me a message on twitter @diceotfirstdegree or comment here.  Thanks for checking this out and I hope to see you on the pitch.


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