Image Credit: http://www.vassalengine.org
I’m going to try something out, starting this week. On every other Wednesday (I think) I’m going to do a feature called “Wargame Wednesdays”. I’ve talked about my love for wargames in the past, and how wargames are pretty much responsible to getting me into board gaming at large. So I’ll stick with what I know.
I have an addiction, which is monster wargames. I don’t think there’s a set definition other than you know it when you see it, but I consider a monster wargame a game that takes up a lot of space (so multiple maps) and a lot of counters. The scale doesn’t matter, as I have heard or own some that look at the grand strategic scale (so, country to country and dealing with armies) to much smaller levels, such as examining the first 10 days of D-Day (so a very zoomed in look at the Cotentin peninsula).
The two main obstacles to playing monster games is size and time. I know that I own a few games that are considered monsters, and the time it would take to play them and the space it would take to leave them set up in between turns means I will never likely get them played.
Or will I?
I’d like to introduce you all to a program called VASSAL. VASSAL is an open source, free program that can be downloaded at www.vassalengine.org. VASSAL allows you to download modules (all types of board games, but I’ve mainly used it for wargames) that can be played live with another player (usually using a voice chat program like Skype or Discord) or that can be played via email by transferring a log file that keeps track of your turns/moves, then the other player loads that log file and continues the game.
There are a few caveats to using VASSAL, though.
- In most cases, the module won’t enforce the rules for you. This isn’t a wholly automated computer game implementation of the game. Some modules do contain automated features but that depends on who designed it.
- Speaking of who designed it, some modules are fully supported by the game publisher and some aren’t. Some will omit vital information (such as combat charts or other things of that nature) so that you must own the game to play it.
- On game ownership: The rule of thumb is that one of the two players should own the game in order to play it. Some publishers only make the modules available on their websites, others are available from the website itself. Either way, please please please stick to this rule. Support the publishers who keep this hobby alive.
I haven’t used VASSAL much, but my main wargaming friend and I are planning on starting up a game of Day of Days, which is the last game I need to play to complete my 5 x 1 challenge for the year. I’m looking forward to exploring VASSAL more if this is successful, as well as maybe sharing session reports and screenshots from our games.
Have any of you tried VASSAL before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!