Over the past few weeks we’ve gotten a few e-mails from players unfamiliar with the Vassal system. So, in order to remedy this, here’s all you need to know.
Dowloading the Program
Vassal is a game engine. It is basically a canvas on which you can paint a picture. The picture you paint depends on the module that you’re using. For us, obviously, that will be the Monsterpocalypse module. So, the first step is to download both the engine and the module.
Download Vassal Engine here.
Download Module here (might have to Right Click -> Save File As).
Now that you have both things downloaded, open the Vassal Engine. Go to File -> Open Module and find the Monpoc module (ending in .vmod). Click Open. You will now be prompted to enter your name and other info. Do so.
A screen should appear now which gives you three options:
1. Start new game offline
2. Look for a game online
3. Load saved game
Click “Look for a game online” and click “Finish”
You will now see a window with a little chat box, and a list of rooms on the right. You will find yourself in the Main Room.
Creating a Room
Click on the blank text box to the right of “New Game” in the “Active Games” box on the right. Type in anything you want – “test” will do for our purposes. Press “Enter”.
You are now in the room labelled “test”. Anytime you want to play a game, either you or your opponent will need to create a room. Each room can host one game, with any number of spectators.
Starting a Game
So since we’ve created a room, it’s time to set up a game. Go to File -> Maps and choose any map. I will choose Boardwalk Brawl.
You will be prompted to choose a side – either Observer, Red, or Blue. Let’s choose Blue.
A beautiful map is now laid out in front of you, complete with all A-Die, P-Die, and 4 B-Die.
Choosing Your Force
It’s time to layout your monster, army, and buildings, just as you would in a typical game. At the top of the screen, above the chat area, click “Models”.
Three drop-downs will appear. Everything is sorted first by Agenda, then by Faction, and then by Monsters/Units. Choose any monster you’d like by selecting the appropriate Agenda and Faction. I’ll be choosing Xaxor, and so will select Destroyers -> Planet Eaters -> Monsters. When you have the monster that you want displayed, simply drag the model and drop it into your “Monster Reserves”. Do the same thing for units, which you can find by changing the third drop-down from “Monsters” to “Units”. The process will be complete when you have two monster forms and 15 units on the board.
Choosing Your Structures
Having chosen our monster and units, the next step is to choose 12 buildings. Just like a real game, you will need to lay out your building choices so that your opponent can see them. I suggest the black area to the right of the game board. We’re going to do the same thing that we did with monsters and units, but this time instead of clicking “Models”, we’re going to click “Structures”, which is just to the left of “Models”.
From here you can separate the structures by block, and there is a special section for Installations. Choose up to 12 buildings and lay them out in the empty space as shown here.
Let the Games Begin!
Congrats! We’re almost there. The last thing to do is to set your Health Tracker. You can do this by right clicking and choosing +/- Alpha/Hyper health. On macs, you can also use CMD + Click. So now you’re ready!
Basics of Play
Right now, you do not have an opponent, so we’re just going to run through a few things solo. The first thing is how to manipulate your dice. It is perfectly fine to drag them around the board anywhere you want them during your turn, but the best way to spend them is by pressing CTRL + M or CTRL + U. CTRL + M will send them to your monster pool and, you guessed it, CTRL + U will send them to your unit pool. This works for Action Die, Power Die, and the 4 Boost Die that you begin the game with. Practice moving the dice back and forth by using CTRL + M and CTRL + U.
Next we need to know how to roll the dice. Select 4 A-Dice (either by dragging a box around them or Shift-clicking them). Drag them out to the middle of the map. Now, right click and select “roll”. You’ll see that the dice are rolled and a certain number of strikes are rolled. Also notice that the results are reported in the chat box above the map. Roll the dice a few times, and then use CTRL + U to move them back to your unit pool. Do the same thing with P-Die, B-Die, and any combination of the three.
Since we know how to roll attacks, now we need to know what to do when things are destroyed. Take one of your structures and place it in any foundation. Let’s assume that this structure has just been destroyed. Right click it and select “Destroy”. Voila! The appropriate tile appears. Now right click that tile and click “Flip”. Boom! Extinguish and Stomps can Flip those babies right over.
For units, destruction is easy. Place a unit on the board. Let’s assume the unit is destroyed. Simply drag the unit back into your Unit Reserves. Just like real life, no?
Finally, let’s get into some of the finer details. Right click a unit. You’ll see a list of options.
1. Properties – will display a text box of the figure’s stats and abilities.
2. Delete – will remove the mini from the map completely.
3. Change Facing – really fun to make your units and monster dance. Generally used to show defeat.
4. Show Mini? – some figures have parts that hang over the base, blocking stat symbols (look at Steelshell Crab). If you want to see those icons, select this to hide the model.
5. Change Player Color – if both players are playing the same Agenda, things can get confusing. Select this to put Blue or Red bases around your
6. Show Blast Range – If your figure has a blast rating, this option will highlight every square of the map that is in range.
7. Toggle Radar Range – If you have Radar, Toggle this on. Show Blast Range will now extend out two squares.
Watching a Game
The best way to get the feel for Vassal is to watch a game. In order to do this, we need to learn how to synch. The synchronize option allows you to access the data being transmitted by any player. Basically, it allows you to see what another player is seeing. To do this, join a room (double-click or right click the name of the room) where a game is being played. Generally, this is a room with 2+ people in it. When you get there, click the name of the top person in the room and select “synchronize”. A Monpoc game should now be right in front of your eyes. If not, look at the chat box and see which players are saying things like “attacking your Bank HQ” or “moving”. Once the players are deduced, click synchronize with one of them to get in on the magic.
When watching a game, notice how everything interacts. It’s pretty much like being across the table from someone, really. There’s nothing fancy about it.
Playing a Game
This is the final step! All you need is to find someone to play with. The best way to do this is to send a private message. To send a private message, right click the name of anyone in any room and select Private Msg. Just ask politely – “Interested in a game?” or “Game?” Something to that effect. Now, be careful with this. Take the time to join each room and figure out who is not playing BEFORE you send the request. It is annoying to get game requests when you’re clearly playing.
If you get a yes in response to your message, create a room titled “Your Name v. Their Name” and wait for them to join. They will synch to you (or you will synch to them if they created the room). Say your hellos and whatnot, then up by “Structures” and “Models” you will see a little A-Die x5 icon. This is the starting roll. Click it once, wait for your opponent to click it, and…well…good luck! Congratulations, you’re playing Monpoc on Vassal! There goes all of your free time…
There are plenty of little time-saving tricks that you will find while using Vassal, and I’m sure players will comment below with their favorites. I am going to show you what I feel to be the best one, though, so pay attention. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your force pre-made so that you can just load it everytime you want to play? This is possible, and this is how you do it.
1. Open Vassal
2. Select “Start new game offline”
3. Choose any map, any color.
4. Click “File” and select “Begin logfile” (this will record everything you do from now on)
5. Save the file under any name. I usually use my monster’s name, like Xaxor1. You can leave comments blank.
6. Open Models and place your monsters, units, and buildings in the middle of the map, like this.
7. Click “File” and select “End logfile”
Now, anytime you start a game:
1. Click “File” and select “Load continuation” – choose your saved file.
2. Three buttons to the left of the [Action Die x5] Button, you’ll see a forward arrow. When you click this button, it will scroll through everything that you did between the time you selected “Begin logfile” and “End logfile”. This should be your force being placed on the map.
3. Click the button until you are prompted with the end of the logfile. Click “No”. You don’t want to start again, you want to play!
4. Now drag your monster into your appropriate Monster Reserves, units into Unit Reserves, and structures into the appropriate space.
That’ll save some time, won’t it?
And one more thing. You’ll often find yourself needing more than 4 B-Die. If you click the “Pieces” button, next to “Structures”, you can drag and drop as many B-Die as you want.
You don’t want to be that player. So, here’s some things to keep in mind.
1. Don’t ask “Can I redo that?” over and over. Respect your opponent’s right to say “No”.
2. Always announce your phases. “Spawns” “Moves” “Attacking with the 2 Bellowers”
3. Always show your movement by stepping your piece one square at a time.
4. Don’t slide 5 A-Die over and then do a flurry of moves. Spend one A-Die at a time.
5. Don’t touch the other player’s pieces. If their building is destroyed, they’ll destroy it. If their unit is destroyed, they’ll move it.
6. The exception to number 5 – if you’re smashing/throwing/slamming and it’s successful, move the opponent’s monster where you want it.
7. Don’t keep whining about missing a roll. It happens to all of us.
8. If you’re watching, don’t give strategic advice. If a rules question comes up, sure, but let the players play their own game.
9. Have fun.
10. The most important thing. LEARN THE RULES. READ THE RULEBOOK. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF. Please. If you have minor questions, that’s fine, but please don’t try to play a game when you do not know how terrain works, or what the phases are. Watch games first if you are unsure of things.
Well, that should be about it. Enjoy this wonderful program and this wonderful game! I’ll see you online =)