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"Using a virtual table top to play war games." Topic

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5,603 hits since 18 Mar 2013
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ErnyRoamer Inactive Member18 Mar 2013 4:41 a.m. PST

OK the title says it all, for some of us time commitments are so great we don't have time to get to club, set up, play and pack up. Others of us live in remote locations or far away from our friends. Either because we have moved far away from original groups or a new circle of friends has grown over the internet that knows no bounds.

For some time RPGers have benefited from virtual table tops, able to play their games across the interne almost as though in the same room. Where there are many minuses compared to reality virtual table tops offer some bonuses such as extremely accurate measuring, a permanent table top you don't have to clear, easy attachment of notes and stats to figures or tokens.

Until now applying the virtual table top to war gaming has not been so easy or gratifying. This is generally because the systems released have worked out from a core system or at least a character sheet view to the table top. More of the program is devoted to tracing stats and status and less to simply moving miniatures about in as easy and hassle free way as possible.

Roll 20 is different, it starts on the table top, you add map elements and you add tokens. These can be moved about as you wish particularly if you turn the grid off. You can also very easily add your own tokens and scale things quite accurately to each other in fact it is almost perfect for war gaming.

I found that by taking photos of my own miniatures entirely for personal use on my own roll 20 account I could recreate my real world table top experience:

I was then able to GM a game just the other night between two internet friends who live the other side of the country. We had a great time and the following blog posts give you an idea of just how much fun and how like the real thing our experience was:

There are still some problems the worst of which is the difficulty in turning groups of virtual miniatures in one go. My solution is to keep the same unit on a different page arrayed at different angles. But I'm sure its something that the dev team at roll 20 could sort out and it certainly didn't detract from our fun or our experience.

Now the mind boggles at what I can do with this. There are some friends across the pond I'd love to game with. I have some WW2 miniatures I'd love to get into the system, indeed I could resize my 20mm stuff to fight my 15mm stuff. Real life photos of ships or planes could be used for fantastic games. Or with no need to pack away between sessions, giant sieges and campaigns await.

I'd love to hear about your similar experiences with VTT and if you think that this is perhaps the future alongside real clubs and gatherings of friends.

YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2013 5:08 a.m. PST

Dangerous waters, here. In ten years we won't need physical toy soldiers, just virtual ones, and we will all just be video gamers.

Dynaman878918 Mar 2013 5:16 a.m. PST

Take a look at the vassal engine as well.

There are a couple of modules for it that are a great start for wargming. One is 40k and the other DBA (I think). They allow dragging and dropping terrain anywhere, non-grid movement, moving in groups (not wheeling around as a group yet though – but it is open source so someone could add that).

If you like a module you can open it up and modify as you see fit as well.

Cherno18 Mar 2013 5:54 a.m. PST


yes, I discovered VTTs last year and played two sessions of D&D 4E Dark Sun so far, with much success. I use Maptools
which is not as user-friendly as Roll20 but has far more flexibility and "power", in fact you can do pretty much everything with this program using a simple scripting language, and of course there are countless fan-created "frameworks" out there for all sorts of RPGs.
One of the best features is the fog of war and line of sight blocking.
Then and again I thought about creating a framework for All Things Zombie.

Here's a thread detailing my experiences with the program, take a look and maybe you can find some inspiration there


billthecat18 Mar 2013 9:37 a.m. PST

I still prefer playing across a physical table with physical people and physical miniatures and terrain. For those who really don't have this option, I offer my sympathy, but is it REALLY not an option, or just lack of motivation? Anyway, still better than other video-games.

Cherno18 Mar 2013 10:37 a.m. PST

Guess what

I use VTTs for face-2-face sessions, it's nice having the option the make any kind of terrain of any size and letting the program take care of things like hit points, equipment, effects and so on…. Things I tend to forget all the time :)

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2013 12:47 p.m. PST

How is this different from playing a video game? I have seen board games used in a similarity way. Is this like another category of video gaming? It's not miniatures, it's not board gaming. I still prefer face to face games with actual miniatures. This is something but don't call it miniatures.

Dynaman878918 Mar 2013 4:41 p.m. PST

Virtual Miniatures. Or VirMin as one program was called (it was 3d, alas it appears to have died)

these are certainly not video games, it is simply playing miniatures games on a computer monitor rather then on a table. With all the pluses and minuses that entails.

Minus – all the obvious stuff (No minis!)
Plus – Can play anyone anywhere if they have the software. Hidden movement is a breeze (so is concealed movement under a blind)

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member18 Mar 2013 10:02 p.m. PST


ErnyRoamer Inactive Member19 Mar 2013 3:12 a.m. PST

I am the chair of my local wargames club and I'm helping organize an nationwide even international gaming event this summer. I have friends whose houses I visit for gaming and in turn they come to mine. I also am currently introducing my four year old to gaming.
I have very large collections of painted minis in many different scales, historical, fantasy and SciFi.
To suggest I lack motivation is laughable.

However I have friends many hours away that I'd like to play more regularly, some are across oceans and hemispheres.

This software allows me to play them in an as near to table top environment as is possible. I can assure you when we tried it out the other night it was like being at a club with these guys and it was like having a table full of miniatures. We used the same rules as we do on the table top, even moving with tape measures and rolling virtual dice. We had a blast.

The pictures of miniatures we move around are of real minis I painted myself. I don't see how they are any less miniatures than the photos people effuse over here and other sites. If I said to these people but they aren't minis just pictures of minis people would rightly raise an eyebrow.

Well these two are pictures of minis. Some people just can't appreciate that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

VicCina Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2013 6:36 a.m. PST

I can see this being used very well for a campaign. You could do the map moves with this and lay out the troops on the table the next time you game.

I can see where this could help people play against others who live in isolated areas.

Dynaman878919 Mar 2013 9:20 a.m. PST

Finally got a look at the roll20 program itself, pretty impressive. Looks like I can get that GURPS game up and running again (the original group is now spread throughout the US)

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2013 9:26 a.m. PST

ErnyRoamer, no problem from me. I like the idea. VTT's can be used as much, or as little, as the individual gamers desire. I want to use Skype to play my old FRPG campaign with friends who live a six-hour-drive away. I don't plan to use a VTT, per se, because it is too much work for us to learn it/load stuff into it for each game session. Skype will suffice, and I trust the players to roll dice, and tell me the true results. We plan on trying to point my camera at the tabletop, and I will likely use a second camera, and PC-laptop, for the group to be seen by the remote players. Haven't worked out all of the challenges yet, but I don't see this as a false way to do things… Just another way to skin the critter, as you say. Cheers!

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member19 Mar 2013 12:20 p.m. PST


John Thomas819 Mar 2013 3:08 p.m. PST

As long as you know you're computer wargaming and not miniature wargaming, you're Ok.

If you don't, you're still Ok, you're just not miniature wargaming.

Noelvh01 Apr 2013 12:38 p.m. PST

Universal Battle. This was once a hack that people used to play WHFB, and now it is a pay web site that lets you run only table top games. I paid for the life time membership, and love it. I think they need a bit more content, but mostly every thing is there. Roll20 is also a get tool, and when I stared to look into this type of gaming Roll20 was just a thought. Maptool is also great, and was the second tool I used. My first was from NBOS and it word but was never updated, as time went on. Vassel I gave it many tries, and it never stuck for me, to much work.

As for this taking over as the medium for TTG, I do not think it will, if you play main stream games like 40k, WHFB, warmachine, but if you are like me and play 15mm scifi, 15mm fantasy, SBH stuff that do not make the local stores then this is a great tool.

MadMart Inactive Member19 May 2013 3:43 a.m. PST

Found a video on YouTube recently for some software called the Virtual Wargames Room. Seems to offer loads of features, and the big difference is that you CAN

look down at eye level to appreciate the model(s) and terrain from different perspectives

It's a true 3D environment, not top down 2D.

Video here
YouTube link

There's three games in the demo video, first is a Dark Ages skirmish, then a modern SWAT type game, and then from 5.30mins shows a large Ancient army moving around, showing how you can look all around the table/figures.

It has a link to the guys website

Hasn't been released yet but seems to be in the near future.

Have been looking for something like this as my long term wargaming buddy moved away so we can't game 'face to face' anymore.


WargamingAddict Inactive Member03 Jun 2013 6:49 a.m. PST

I really like Roll20 and use it all the time for solo wargaming. It lets me leave the "figures" "set up" and I can go back to a game any time I want.

It also lets me record the screen to do battle reports (which you can see on my blog).

I did a video walkthrough of Roll20 if anyone is intersted in learning more: link

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