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Subject: Vassel or Cyberboard? rss

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Brian Morris
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Every once in a while someone asks me if I am interested in playing a PBEM game and are shocked to learn I've never played Vassel or Cyberboard. Ok, I've decided it's high time to put that to an end. I've actually fiddled around with Vassel in the past but not much. It bugged on me and then messed up when I tried to uninstall the thing. As reminder of our dysfunctional relationship Vassel is still listed in my add/remove programs despite the fact it's actually gone.

So anyway I've decided to give it another go of sorts but I'm not interested in trying to learn both at the same time. Mostly I'm thinking I'd use it for e-mail rather than live so I'm leaning towards cyberboard.

So my question to you is which should I go for? Cyberboard or Vassel and what's the best way to learn the program?
 
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M@tthijs
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Did you visit my www.kobudovenlo.nl? It has game info
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My personal history:

Wanted to play Paths of Glory
Downloaded Cyberboard
Got stuck in the manual
Made a Warhorse ACTS account and started playing using Cyberboard as a virtual board and using ACTS for PbeM.

Interest in Squad Leader, downloaden VSQL.
Also hard, but due to the fact that you can play vFtF and there's a number of people who're willing to give you a hand, I mastered it pretty painlessy. At least without ploughing through unreadable manuals.
The experience gained made it a minor step tp switch to VASSAL and use the other zillion modules there, most notably A Victory Lost

From what I've read so far anyway:
Cyberboard is said to be great for PbeM
VASSAL is great for vFtF and what's highly praised is that you can switch between PbeM and vFtF and back all the time during a game.

So take your pick.
After that we can discuss the "how to learn"
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Wolfgang Kunz
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Brian,

I use Vassal for PbeM also due to the fact that I am a Mac-user but sometimes use a Windows notebook. So I can live in both worlds.

Vassal is not so difficult as it looks - just start with a simple game that you know, load it and check all the buttons - mostly it is self-explainable. Use right-click on the counter and you will get another menu - depending on the programmer - that will flip counter, mark as used aso.

De-installing: Well, can't say much about it - for a Mac-user deinstalling is mostly dragging the folder in the can
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Bill Lawson
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I would recommend vassal. I use both but I will only use cyberboard if there is no vassal mod available. Vassal is more user friendly and very easy to learn ( I would be glad to play a game with you and show you the ropes). I have taught a few folks how to play vassel it only takes a few minutes. The graphics are much better on vassel and most things (moving a stack of units) are done much faster on vassel. Its a no brainer IMHO. I always have at least one or two games going on vassel.
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Michael
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I use Vassel a ton for playing live. It was pretty easy to learn. I'm just starting to learn Cyberboard.

If you want, I'd be happy to muddle through a game of something on Cyberboard with you.

If you do install Vassel, install the latest beta version. You can get it here:http://www.vassalengine.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1527. The installer makes it easy to get up and running.
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Paul Glenn
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I do almost all of my wargaming via email these days, and like both of these programs. I prefer Vassal, though. I find it easier to use--especially because many of the mods have built in individual features (e.g. hit CTRL+G to send a piece directly to the graveyard, rather than having to drag it there). Some of the Vassal mods (especially A Victory Lost) are *very* well done, too.

Also, Vassal allows the option of live play, if you want--and you can save the game and resume it as PBEM if you want.
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Kevin Bernatz
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As others have mentioned, Vassal has the advantage of allowing for both live play and PBEM. It is also multiplatform, unlike Cyberboard which is Windows only.

That being said, I prefer Cyberboard :-). The main reason is that Vassal is a memory hog and also requires permissions to install that I don't wish/want/have access to grant on all the computers I would consider gaming on. Vassal can run via the web, but it seems that a large number of people program with the beta versions of Vassal...so newer modules often can't be run with the on-line Vassal program. If your computer is fairly modern (unlike my main gaming computer) then Vassal should run fine. If your computer is 5+ years old, some of the bigger modules (Ardennes '44, World in Flames, etc) will slow to a crawl on your machine.

-K

Edit once to correct a typo
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Goo
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Not to hijack your thread or anything, but I really, really want to start playing PBEM on VASSAL (if I could find the time to play live, I'd sit down with someone and play it f2f). I, too, fiddled with it a few months ago and actually got pretty excited about it, but none of my friends wanted to mess with it.

I would be happy to try and muddle through a game as we both learn it, but it would probably be better for us if we each find experienced players who would take us in.

If anyone would play a game PBEM on VASSAL with me, hit me up. If we don't get any takers, maybe we can try something, Brian.

I know and could play:
1960: The Making of the President
Memoir '44
Pandemic
Twilight Struggle

It seems it would be better to learn the interface with a game I already know.
 
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Goo
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I just found this:

http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/23350

It looks like a helpful way to find VASSAL opponents.
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Joel K
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mrbeankc wrote:
So my question to you is which should I go for? Cyberboard or Vassel and what's the best way to learn the program?


As long as Tool Tips are enabled (they should be by default), hovering over all the buttons will tell you what they do. Here's a brief Cyberboard walk-through...

When you download a Cyberboard gamebox, hopefully it will come with one or more .GSN files (scenarios). Fire up the CBPlay application, choose File->New and select Game. It'll prompt you to select the Scenario file upon which to base the game. You'll get a .GAM file out of this, which you email to your opponent so you're both starting from the same base.

The Game Project window will tell you what boards the game uses. As you open them, they appear in a horizontal strip right above the Message Window. For example, the Here I Stand gamebox has windows for the game board, the Power Cards, the Religious Struggle card, and a couple reference sheets.

Next, you'll want to peruse what's in Tray A, Tray B, and the Markers Palette. Think of these as holding areas for the various chits and game pieces. Dock these trays within the application (e.g., along the right-hand side) or drag them out to be floating windows of their own. They may have dropdown menus that further categorize game pieces (or cards). You'll find yourself dragging bits out of these and onto the game boards.

For manipulating pieces on the board, you can select individual items or draw boxes to select a bunch at once. CTRL-A for auto-stacking a pile of chits is handy. CTRL-F to bring something to the top is helpful (e.g., place a leader on top of a stack of troops). The context menu available by right-clicking will do virtually anything you need along these lines--rotation, flipping, stacking, bring-to-front, send-to-back, etc.

When pieces obscure the game map, F9 is great for quickly hiding all pieces to show you just the board. VASSAL has this as well (possibly a different button, I can't recall).

Any time you move a piece, Cyberboard immediately starts recording what you are doing. Do all of the things you would do on your turn in real life--play a card out of your hand into the discards, add pieces to the map, remove casualties, move armies around, whatever. While you make your moves you can periodically enter messages if you wish to explain or comment on things (the opponent will see these in the Message Window as he plays back the move file). Finally, just hit the Send Recording to File button. Optionally enter a description of the file you are saving (e.g. "Henry VIII captures Metz"). You'll be prompted to save a .GMV file somewhere. This is what you attach in the email to your opponent.

When someone sends you a .GMV file, open your game and hit the Load Recorded Move file. Step through it one move at a time, or hit the fast forward to skip to the end. If everything looks OK, hit the little button with the green checkmark to Accept Current Move Playback. That adds the moves to the Game History. You're now ready to make your move.

I haven't needed to use Compound Moves or Plotted Moves, so I can't comment on those features.

billyboy wrote:
The graphics are much better on vassel


There is nothing about VASSAL that makes its graphics inherently better than Cyberboard, as far as I can tell. This is purely a function of the quality of the graphics the module designer uses.

VASSAL plus Skype makes a great combo for live play. I haven't used this for PBEM so I can't comment on the functionality of trading game logs back and forth and loading them up.

The trickiest part of getting some live VASSAL going might be the installation and syncing with your opponent. Players are strongly urged to download the 3.1 beta instead of the old 3.0 release, yet bizarrely you have to go into the forums to find it--it's not available on their Download page. Getting a module loaded, connecting to the server, creating a game room, and remembering to Synchronize with your opponent is a slightly cumbersome routine.

Generally, you might find yourself having to use both tools, depending on what games you'd like to play...there aren't too many that have both VASSAL modules and Cyberboard gameboxes available.
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VASSAL is superior.
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László K.
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mrbeankc: Here is a tutorial for playing Friedrich via CyberBoard. Naturally this tutorial is geared towards individuals trying to learn using CyberBoard to play Friedrich, but it does include some general information about CyberBoard that is applicable to any game implemented in CyberBoard.

I have used both applications and each has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. While others may disagree, I am not sure if there is a best application. Personally, I would recommend that you use both based on the needs of the game you want to play and how you want to play it. That said, I primarily use CyberBoard at this time because most (if not all) games played in the BaM and BaBR ladder tournaments (as well as friendly games) use it.

Just my 2 cents. Good gaming!
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Skip Franklin
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Rindu wrote:
VASSAL is superior.


I disagree as VASSAL is still in beta and has new problems to solve with each iteration.

VASSAL is an awesome tool for some games that require both players to be handy. For example Combat Commander: Europe plays very well as both players have actions to perform nearly simultaneously. Another example are the Avalon Hill/MMP Great Campaigns of the American Civil War like Here Come the Rebels. Again, your opponent needs to be in your cyber-face to play this game well.

I've been using CyberBoard from way back in the initial version. CyberBoard is now in the 3rd version and a fourth version is in programming stage and should not be platform (i.e. PC only) dependent. Cyberboard (or VASSAL in PBEM mode) is best for games with lots of downtime between player-turns. Some games are even better played PBEM than FTF in my opinion. For instance in Luftwaffe the American player has to plan his raid on Germany. This may take an hour. Who wants to sit online waiting for an hour? Or wait for an hour at the table? Currently I am playing as the Allied player in Battles for the Ardennes with two German players that are located more than 1500 miles apart. It is just slightly harder to play multiplayer in CyberBoard but I've been in a six-player game of June 6 and it all worked out fine.

My suggestion is become familiar with both as they both have their own strengths, VASSAL with it programmability and online presence and CyberBoard with a simplier interface and small memory footprint.
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Nick Avtges
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I use both, with a slight preference for Cyberboard. That's mainly because that's what I started with and I mostly play pbem games. Both work very well once you are comfortable with them. VASSAL has improved more quickly over the past few years and offers nice extensibility to module designers. Which means for us, the game players, that the modules we use can have some automation, which can be very nice. Someone mentioned A Victory Lost, which is a good simple example of what can be done with VASSAL. The Combat Commander modules are a more complex example, where a good deal of things are taken care of for you. Cyberboard, in its current version, doesn't have this kind of extensibility, although I prefer it's email move system to VASSAL's logfiles.

Both are very good tools. Both take about the same amount of effort to grok. I'd say the deciding factor should be the game which offers the best module for the game you want to play.
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