When I started writing this “series” on Battle Chronicler, I had only meant it to be a review. It has actually become a tutorial now. This second post will finish off the basics of using the program, and some thoughts on it. Like I said before, I’ll have to write separate posts that detail things like adding Terrain and stuff, but I don’t want to drag this review on any longer.
If you took good notes or pictures during the battle, or have a good enough memory, this part of the report is going to be very easy. That’s because you’ll pretty much know which units go where on the board in relation to each other and terrain features.
So Battle Chronicler makes it easy for you to plop units down. The “North” army will face down, and the “South” army will face up. All you have to do is click on the unit in the column on the left, and then pick click on the map where the centre of their front rank goes. If you make a mistake, you can use the arrows up at the top to move the unit left, right, up, down, etc. Or you can click on it and drag it into position. It’s really, really easy.
At this point the unit and individual character names will also go on the board. You can turn this off, but it makes for a much more informative Deployment screenshot. Sometimes the names will overlap other units or other names, because of their proximity. You can drag the name alone around, and move it under, over or nearby, whichever makes more sense. You can see this above with the Liche Priests, for example, and the SC2 unit, where I placed the name out of the way. When there are a lot of units and characters together it can get pretty jumbled, so you have to try and make it look as clean as possible.
Another important part of this step is adding characters to units. The best way is to “Attach” them to their units, as it keeps them attached when you later move the unit. Just click “Attached”, and then find the unit their in from the scroll-down menu. This will put them right in the centre front rank, so if that’s not where they were in the game and you want them to be accurate, just move them over. Two clicks of the left or right arrow will move them one file over, usually.
Lastly, for units that don’t come on until later, like Ambushers or Summoned creatures, just leave them for now. When they do come on the board, just put them on the map the same way you did the other units during deployment.
Clicking on the arrow near “Deployment” will move you to the first game turn.
Now would be a great time to save the game and export your first image. File -> Export To Image File is the way to go. It’ll ask you to save, which you should. The next pop-up asks whether you want to export the whole image, or just a snapshot. Choose the whole image. The next screen looks like this:
You can change the settings, but these are the ones I use and I think they look good. At least for my blog. At least I think so. Let me know if they should be changed 🙂
I will say that you should change the Image File location to your Desktop, making it more accessible. You can delete it once it’s been uploaded to your batrep online, of course. I also suggest changing the name to something more manageable. I like to use the date of the game, and then D for Deployment or 2 for Turn 2. For instance, this image ends up being 1125D. If I fought a battle today and wrote a report, it would be 1212D.
Just remember that each time you export an image, usually at the end of each turn, you need to change the location the picture saves in.
Here comes the meat of the report, and the least straightforward.
The most important thing to learn here is how to move your units. My first bit of advice would be to go to Edit -> Preferences and make some simple changes so that Mouse Move is “Move” and Mouse + Ctrl is “Turn.” The default will be Mouse Move as “Move and Turn,” and this is really difficult to deal with. I didn’t find out that I could change this until after writing many, many battle reports and a lot of frustration. Believe me, make this change, and it’ll be smooth sailing.
So, to move a unit you have two options. One is to click on the unit and then use the arrows at the top of the screen to move it forward, backward, sideways and to rotate or “wheel” with it. The other is to click on the unit, hold the button down, and drag the unit around. You get more control this way, as you can place it exactly where it needs to go. To rotate it, click-hold and press Ctrl, and it will rotate.
This part of the program might take some getting used to, and might require some practice to get right. I don’t think using the numbered arrows is all that accurate, so I just move the unit to where it looks like it should be, according to my notes and pictures. Of course, being completely accurate is not so important here, so just get it to about where it should be.
You will see that you’ve got an arrow following the unit, that gets bigger as you push it further, and curves as the unit changes direction. It is white as standard, but you can make it red or yellow by clicking “Charging” or “Routed” on the left. Sometimes you might want to get rid of the arrow altogether. You can click on “Hide Move Arrow” on the left to do this. I usually do this if I just rotate a unit, and a funny, small curved arrow shows up which I don’t want.
So Movement is pretty much the most important thing to learn. Other details include:
Losing models – On the left you will find different sized Skulls under Markers. I like to have the 1″ ones represent fallen models or wounds on bigger models, and the 3″ ones represent entire units that are destroyed. Sometimes I don’t even use the skulls, like when I am reporting skirmish games. But I like seeing rows of 1″ skulls on units in Fantasy, representing complete ranks that get removed. Sadly, they are usually from my units. *sigh* A trick to help you line these up nicely is to see the individual models in a unit. To do this, look at the top of the screen and find three symbols: an empty unit symbol, a unit symbol with three circles in it, and three circles. I usually click the three circles, and it will turn the large block symbol of the unit on the map into a broken-down one. this lets you see exactly where models lie. Don’t worry, later on when you export the image, it won’t show the individual models, except for Skirmisher units (where you had their Formation as Loose Files).
Now, that’s just how you show it in a picture. To actually remove models from a unit, click on the unit and on the left you will see two tabs, “Unit” and “Models.” Go to models, and starting from the BOTTOM, not the top, uncheck models. It is important that you start from the bottom, at the highest number, or else it will skew the unit up. Unless it’s a Skirmisher unit that actually shows individual models, you won’t make the unit symbol on the map smaller until you lose a whole rank. So if you start with 23 models, once you uncheck 3 models the unit on the map will actually get smaller.
Destroyed Units – Now, if you use a big skull to show that a unit is completely destroyed, you’re going to have to take it off the map, too. I wait until the next turn, and then just click on the unit and hit Delete. This will put it “In the Box,” and off the map.
Explosions/Fire – Sometimes you will use blast templates or want to mark Miscasts and Misfires. Under Fire on the left you will find a Fire Cone, Fireballs and Kabooms. The Fire Cone is like a spray template, the Fireballs are like the blast templates, and the Kabooms are great for the failures. You can always change the size of these, as well, to fit your needs.
When you are finished with all this stuff, this would be a great time to Save and Export, before clicking to go to the next turn.
Let’s pretend this is what the first turn looked like, for the Tomb Kings:
As you can see, three units moved up a little, with no charges. Through magic and/or shooting, I managed to kill some Eternal Guard, some Dryads and a Glade Guard (oops, I misplaced that skull). The Glade Guard is now fleeing, there was an explosion of some sort on the Dryad unit, and Hierophant Liche Priest had a miscast. Eventful turn! (Note, this is not how this game actually turned out, but close enough for example’s sake).
Another important thing to note is that when you’ve saved and moved to the next turn, all of the movement arrows, skulls and fireballs/explosions will disappear, so you don’t have to clean it up. What won’t disappear are the models/units that were removed, so make sure you manually delete models as explained above.
And one last thing, you can fix mistakes! Especially when you’re still learning the program you will make mistakes. I think the biggest one is moving a unit by accident. If you want to get it back to where it was at the beginning of the turn, click the unit then go to Game -> Reset Selected Unit. It will prompt you to make sure you want to do it. When you do, it’ll go right back where it was at the end of the last turn. You might also delete too many models in a unit when removing casualties. Just get it to the proper number, which will deform the unit, and click Game -> Reform Selected Unit, and it will fix itself.
And that’s it!
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Okay, so clearly there is SO much more to Battle Chronicler than I wrote about in these two posts. There are a bunch of little tricks you will learn to make things easier, and hopefully at some point I will find the time to write them down. But I totally recommend that you go and get the program and try it out. Initially you may find that the reports take way too long to write, especially since you have to do this imaging and THEN you have to actually write a report. Yeah, there are times when the report took longer to do than the game took to play. Pathetic, I know. But honestly, now that I have most of my armies saved as Templates, and I have used the program so many times, I can pop the pictures out pretty quickly.
Battle Chronicler is a great program, and I think using it to write batreps has helped me with the hobby, by giving me a new way to explore it and share it with the world.
I’d like to thank everyone that has worked and continues to work on Battle Chronicler, and I hope this review & how to will help spread the love.
Thanks for reading.