My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Battling with Battle Chronicler

I tried, for the second time, a battle report drawing program called Battle Chronicler. I am getting better results with this version than I did with the earlier beta version. This version, like most free software of this sort, suffers from a severe lack of documentation. But, it is usable (so far) and it does produce pretty pictures.

I am pretty handy with Macromedia Fireworks (now owned by Adobe and called something else), but it lacks a few things that Battle Chronicler has:

  • You can use inches for the ground scale, but millimeters for the base sizes. This is good for documenting DBA games. You don't have to convert inches to millimeters or vice versa, then convert again to pixels like with most drawing programs.
  • You can specify the movement distances (typically in 1/2" increments) by clicking buttons and keys, whereas with typical drawing programs you have to convert to pixels and change the X and Y coordinates.
  • You can make notes regarding the progress of the game, on a turn-by-turn basis.
Of course, all is not perfect, as you would expect from free software being developed by a single person. Here are the challenges that I have found so far (some of which may have undocumented or poorly documented solutions):

  • You cannot use the arrow keys to nudge an element (typically a unit) a pixel at a time.
  • There is not snap to grid, or snap to align, with any of the elements. This, combined with the lack above, means lining up a group of elements is a pain.
  • You cannot turn off the forward-facing arrow, which causes some elements to be partially obscured when multiple units are grouped together.
  • You cannot change the stacking order of elements. The last placed element is the topmost one, so it may cast a shadow on elements close by. It looks strange.
  • Some of the elements are drawn in XAML and I haven't found a good XAML editor yet.
If this continues to gain in capability and usefulness for me, I may invest more time in it. To start I should join the Google group so I can ask whether all of the above is true, and if not, how to access those features I am not aware of. Also, like everything of this nature, you get out of it what you put in. It obviously needs some symbols more representative of ancient warfare (e.g. a bow symbol for Bows unit, a sword symbol for a Blades unit, a spear symbol for a Spears unit, etc.) to make everything look better. Once you've built it, of course, everything in the future goes faster. Your first reports just have a large effort required to start, as you have to define armies, units, and so on.

I still haven't finished my last DBA battle report (on my DBA blog) using Battle Chronicler, but I do have the write-up done. Once I have it complete, I'll post an entry here pointing to it, should you wish to see what the results look like.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog and Forum Pages

Popular Posts

Followers

About Me

My photo
Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").