After my enjoyable experiences with virtual skirmishes and a dungeon crawl, I decided to try my hand at a large-scale battle (and in my terms, large scale is using One Hour Wargame scenarios and army lists).
My first mission was to build the virtual board. Once again, I did it in PowerPoint and created a 6 x 8 grid. Initially, I was going to use Google Earth images for the terrain. I planned to use Junior General top-down paper minis so I thought that realistic terrain would clash with drawn miniatures. I opted instead for more of a toy soldier terrain with images of items that I currently use for my games. The ground is a picture of olive green felt. I made woods from a picture of a Scott's scrub brush. Using Paint, I cut out an irregular shape. Similarly, I cut out a shape from a picture of greenish cork board for the hills. Finally, a picture of blue acetate became a river. Here is the set up for my test battle.
As mentioned, my initial plan was to use Junior General top-down miniatures. However, I had issues scaling them down to a size that fit my squares. They turned out looking like black blob, and I could not distinguish colors to tell one side from the other. Eventually, I opted for basic geometric shapes from PowerPoint.
Below are the 2 armies on the board, ready for a battle in medieval Francesia. (Note that this is not a particular scenario. I just plopped some terrain and troops on the board then went at it.) The Redgravian army (yellow and red) consists of 4 units of heavy infantry, a warband, and a cavalry unit. The Imperials (gray and blue) muster 4 heavy infantry and 2 archers.
The units are functional but not as attractive as I'd like. I saw some pictures online where someone created a virtual battle using photos of actual figures. I may do that with my troops.
As the battle progressed, I used virtual tokens to indicate the action. Blood spatters indicated hits, crossed swords showed units in melee, and white dotted arrows represented archery volleys.
- On the right, 2 Imperial units held the hill against an onslaught of Redgravians
- On the left, the Redgravians advanced between 2 woods towards a lone hill
The victorious Imperial infantry advanced to the left to aid its beleaguered comrades
But ultimately they were whittled down by the combined attacks of 2 Redgravian units.
I reached 15 turns at this point so I called the battle in favor of the Redgravians.
- The virtual tabletop has a definite advantage in set up. It is far less effort than setting up actual miniatures.
- Additionally, I can leave the battle set up over multiple days. This allows me to play a turn here and there as time permits.
- Moving the pieces is actually more difficult in my virtual tabletop. Actually, moving is not a problem but it is a paint to rotate the units. Because I used shapes, I have to go to the image menu and select rotate to change directions. I think it may not be a problem if I use pictures.
- I love the look of the battlefield but the units are lacking. I'm thinking of photographing actual miniatures.
- I am slightly dissatisfied with my grid. A 6 x 8 grid works great for my skirmishes, but I much prefer my portable wargame's 6 x 9 grid for larger battles. I break it into 3 sectors of 3 squares each then randomly allocate units to a sector.
- Nevertheless, the experiment has promise and will continue.