Blank module passwords and player side effects

All of what follows is experienced in 3.5.8, and I don’t yet have an origin release for the behavior, though I suspect this may be related from 3.5.6:

14504: Improved results for users who started with no password and then set one later

Let’s stipulate in advance that the expected user experience in a PBEM setup should essentially be:

  1. Player A (who has a non-blank module password) loads a scenario of the module in use, and chooses a player side.
  2. Player A sends log to Player B
  3. Player B (who has a non-blank module password) loads the log, is shown the “choose a player side” dialog, choose a side, and makes a play.
  4. Play proceeds from there, each player in a different player side and not presented with the “choose a side” dialog again.

We’re seeing plenty of reports on CSW and in VASSAL PBEM Discord of issues related to players having blank module passwords–which is a side-effect of skipping/canceling the dialog where a user selects a name and password the first time they run a module. They keep flip-flopping sides with their opponents and repeatedly have to give up the wrong side and take the one they are intended to be occupying.

Now I can show conclusively that this problem isn’t necessarily related to players themselves having blank passwords. It’s enough for any user that ever occupied an observer role to have a blank password in a file that eventually gets used as a predefined setup.

Here is a set of reproduction steps, using the Blue Water Navy module version 1.11 (link). Not to pick on this designer, but having inspected one of the predefined setups and created this set of steps, I know that it demonstrates the bug because there are two users in observer status embedded in this file that had blank module passwords. These steps assume the use of the predefined setup #1, called “The Boomer Bastion”.

  1. Ensure you have a non-blank module password set for the module.
  2. Load scenario #1 identified above, choose a player side (e.g., USSR Player).
  3. Make any move, save the game (.vsav), and close the game–but not the whole module.
  4. Go into module preferences and change your password, ensuring it is still non-blank.
  5. Load the saved game created in step 3 above.
  6. You will erroneously be auto-placed in the USSR Player side despite the fact that it ought to be locked by the different password you had as of step 1. You won’t see the “choose a player side” dialog at all.
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Thanks for the detailed investigation Joel. We are looking into this as a priority.


PR 10605 should fix it. It was matching empty passwords a little too willy nilly (e.g. at same priority as matching your actual current password). Now it will automatch empty password only if it doesn’t find a slot matching your actual current password, and it will never automatch empty in an Observer slot.

Will definitely be in 3.6-beta4, and we might backport this to a 3.5.9 release given how much we’ve seen of it.



Hello. I reported to Joel the situation with BWN 1.11. I downloaded 3.6.0 Beta 5 and it didn’t seem to fix it. What we did was using 3.6.0 Beta 5 to open a log file from the game we have been playing and the issue remained. I have not tried starting a new game though. Is that what would be required?

Hi jtovb - could you give me a few more details on your situation? How many of the players used to have blank passwords? (just one? more than one?) Do any of them still use blank passwords? What is the symptom when someone who never used a blank password opens the game? What is the symptom when someone you did use a blank password (at least at some point) opens the game?

Could you also please post a copy of your log?


Sorry for the delay Brian. Joel spelled out the scenario pretty well.

I will add what happened to us:

We were both using 3.5.8 (I am for sure). BWN 1.11 module.

  • Started a new game live vassal.

  • Picked sides (I don’t remember an issue with this part). I was USSR.

  • Started to play but we both noticed that we would switch sides during play. I know I kept going from
    USSR to Allied. I would switch back and soon would be back to Allied side.

  • We moved to pbem. When opening a file we would be presented with picking sides again but sometimes the side we were was not available.

  • We both use 3.4.11 vassal and don’t seem to have the issue.

  • We both tried 3.6.0 beta 5 with existing file. I didn’t seem to have issue but the other player did. When he opened the file I sent he was presented with the sides choice but if I am not mistaken his aide (allied) was not selectable.

I might be off on some of the above as we were not recording what happened.

We are going to play live this morning. I will ask him if we can go slow and record what is happening. What I would like to do I guess is open a brand new game with beta 5.

What logs would I send?

Brain if you mean the vlog files how do I get that to you?

Yes vlog files. One possibility is to rename them to “.zip” (you don’t have to actually zip them, just change the file extension) and then you’d be able to drag them into your reply right on here as attachments.

Tried that it says it needs to be a picture format file type?

Also I opened a new game using 3.6.0 Beta 5 and sent to the other guy. He seems to be using Beta 2 and he said he had no issues. The previous files we have been using were from the original setup/start files we have been exchanging.

Do you have a Dropbox or something like that you could link to for me?

I do have dropbox. How can I get the info to you? Would prefer not to post that in the open here. Are you on BGG by any chance?

Can’t you send people dropbox links? Doing that in a private message would be simplest.

Click his name, click “Message” and you’re on the way…

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