Saturday, February 27, 2016

Another Virtual Experiment

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.

 The battle broke down into 2 distinct combats.

  • 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 Imperials held the hill on the right but the Redgravians broke through on the left.

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.

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