Friday, January 23, 2009


I'm hard at work still on last Sunday's session report, which I hope to publish by Saturday. Here're a couple of quick stories in the meantime.

It's official!
Since its 2007 launch, UK Games Expo has established itself as the biggest modern adventure gaming convention in Britain. This year's UK Expo'09 takes place at The Clarendon Suites June 5th, 6th and 7th.

I can now confirm that I will be GM'ing a Combat Commander tournament at UK Expo on the Friday night and the Saturday. All other details are to be confirmed, but you can expect to hear more, here at RD/KA!, and on UK Expo@facebook, and CC@CSW plus CC@BGG, as you'd expect. ;)

It's a first!
Recent facebooking prompted by the wish for a network to support my 2009 tournament intentions led, last Tuesday, to a long-awaited premiere: my first ever game of Combat Commander using the VASSAL engine. I played a game or two of M44@VASSAL a couple of years ago. All I've done with CC@VASSAL is take the pictures I use for my CC maps here at RD/KA! Anything more than that, anything which involved using VASSAL actually to play CC, I just couldn't figure out a damn thing about it! And I was being slack about asking someone to teach me.

An American by the name of Charles Cabell who'd become a facebook friend because of our shared gaming interests sent me an invite to play using VASSAL. Knowing that the new version of the CC VASSAL engine had just been released, I decided that this was too timely an invitation to ignore. We were able to find a suitable timeslot, and off we went.

I'd assumed that Charles knew both VASSAL and CC@VASSAL. It turned out that he knew none of the latter, and some of the former through M44@VASSAL. Fortunately we had the assistance of Tim McCarron - the program's designer; and another experienced player. Being able to talk live through Yahoo was a real help too. It took me a while to get the mike and headphones connected to the proper sockets. For a time I could hear my own words played back at me, a delayed echo. It was almost impossible to speak over this, so that Charles thought the connection was breaking up!

The CC@VASSAL engine is pretty good, although it does make great demands of your RAM. It'll never be as smooth as playing the game across the tabletop. I mean, it took us some 3 hours to play into the 2nd time period shown. That's time enough for even beginners to have finished the entire game FTF. The mechanics of the implementation look logical and intuitive though, so I imagine Charles and I will return to our firefight once we've both read all the relevant instruction manuals! ;)


gnome said...

Well, congrats I guess! Star GMing sounds like great fun indeed. And a bit tiring too, I guess.

Anonymous said...

John, dont be discouraged with how long it took you to get to the 2nd turn with CC Vassal. When the mod first came out and everyone was learning its intricacies, it would take us an avg of 6-8 hours to finish a live game.
As time progressed and got more experienced using it that time went down.
Most of the very experienced users like Barry and myself and others can now play a live game online in about 3 hours - almost as good as the live thing. Its just a matter of getting used to the nuances of the interface :)

"A bit political on yer ass!" said...

Hello Tim.
Thanks for your remarks. And yes, I expect I will master the VASSAL interface soon enough. There's nothing unusually complicated about it. But playing it essentially blind while teaching CC to a novice player proved to be a real test of the capabilities of ICT communications.
John ;)