In the Pipeline: VASSAL modules for GMT's GBACW series

A few weeks ago, I released my very first VASSAL module, covering the 2nd Bull Run part of GMT’s “Red Badge of Courage”. With my duck broken, so to speak, I have gotten right back to it, tackling “River of Death” on the battle of Chickamauga.

It’s going much faster than my first effort (of course), and it might be done within the next week or so (at least, ready for some playtesting). After that one’s in the can, I will divert a tad to VASSALize the second half of the newest GBACW title, “South Mountain” from “Twin Peaks” (the other half of that set, “Cedar Mountain,” was released within the last week). With just one map and less than 200 counters South Mountain might get done in record time (depending on the number of scenarios are in the Battle Book). I’m benefiting from all the interface set up work I initially did in RBoC to really speed production of any GBACW title.

Then… after those… I’m planning to take on the mothership… Three Days of Gettysburg!!! I’m still amazed no VASSAL module has ever been done for that one, above all others! If my current production pace holds, I should be able to have that available in plenty of time for the 151st anniversary of the battle in July!

Update: during last week, I hit a slight speed bump: my strategy of creating a new virgin module while reviewing the Properties and submenus from the “Red Badge of Courage” (RBoC) module backfired and resulted in a corrupted file. I revised my approach and instead started with a copy of my RBoC module, renamed it, changed out the graphics for Order of Battle charts and the Time Record, updated the Draw Pools “kepis” graphic and even added a spiffy new button graphic for the usually staid “Retire” function. Then, after consulting with mentor Joel Toppen about the wisdom (or lack of same?) of attempting to purge the file of all the RBoC counter art graphics (!!), I did just that. Oddly enough, breaking those thousands of file associations didn’t corrupt the file. I had a huge list of “Bad data” notes in the text buffer when I opened it for editing, but it still held its functionality and integrity.

I took the opporunity to re-do the 4-section map (plus auxiliary section on the southern edge), and removed 98% of the “distortion” and overlay issues of the first attempt, and also got a cleaner cut at the junction of the four sheets. The movement reporting is still not functioning (the map names show up in the buffer but not the hex numbers) so I’ll have to revisit that eventually.

Spent much of the weekend diving into the creation of a new counter manifest, borrowing on the “endoskeleton” of the piece palettes from the RBoC module. But, the graphics-shorn piece files all still work like a charm, retaining their attributes. All I have to do is rename things, delete/copy pieces to create the correct number of regiments and batteries for the Chickamauga organizations and re-assign counter graphics. I’ve gotten a rhythm to that process, and once I get my routine going, I find I mow through a full corps in about an hour. I got 75% of the Confederate Army of Tennessee done, with only the two cavalry corps to go (of course, their numbers are doubled by requiring “mounted” and “dismounted” counters for each unit!). After that, the Union Army of the Cumberland awaits. Then, I’m mostly done.

River of Death has only one introductory scenario (Alexander’s Bridge) and the Full Battle Scenario, so I won’t need nearly as much time to replicate the game’s scenario structure. As I work up this module, I’m also learning more about the Battle of Chickamauga itself, and I’m looking to find some aspects of the battle I can “chunk” for additional smaller scenarios. That’ll be a “game day decision” I’ll make after I’m done with the base production process.

After all that, I should be ready for playtesting and then release.


All Confederate counters created, now delving into the Union forces.

Have also gotten hold of a few histories on the Battle of Chickamauga and am reading them as time permits, hoping to find a few “sectons” of the battle that might make for good scenarios.

Update: RealLife™ and attendant stresses and distractions have prevented me from wrapping this up. It’s been a pretty smooth journey though.

However, I am making progress on creating the set-up files for the three Battle Book scenarios. Alexander Bridge (a short 2-turn intro scenario with only 2 brigades vs. 1 brigade) is done, and I’m about 3/4 of the way through the Main Battle scenario. After that, it’s only the Full Battle (which adds in the 18th of September, 1863, the formation/consolidation phase of Chickamauga). I imagine that will be quicker than Full Battle, since there will be many more reinforcements than forces already on the map.

I increased the size of all the unit counters (they were at 60 x 60 pixels, just a liiiiiiiitle too small for my liking), bumping th’em all up to 75 sq. pixels. I added a few “deploy within…” counters, and the odd graphic element. And, while setting up the scenarios, I’m finding a few boo-boos to correct (there are some units from the free/slave states that have two regiments with the same designation, and a few commanders that share names).

I might be ready for playtesting this weekend… or maybe not. Just depends on how hectic things are.

…and I think it’s done. All three scenarios set up, a few quality tweaks made, a few errors corrected, and now it’s ready for a new set of eyes. I’ve already sent a new consolidated errata to the folks at GMT.

Now trying to find playtesters for the module candidate… distributing via MediaShare and/or Google Drive. I think I have at least ONE volunteer…

Finding that this particular game is something of a rare beast.

River of Death’s VASSAL module has been released, and I also had time to squeeze in the South Mountain half of Twin Peaks.

Now, I’m on to the first title in the series: Three Days of Gettysburg.

Map and most charts are done, and just got the counter art from Mark Simonitch.

I’ve set a release deadline of July 1, the anniversary of the battle. Pretty confident I’ll make it.

excellent! thanks a lot for the players!

Three Days of Gettysburg is now VASSALized. Just in time to play on the anniversary dates of the battle! Download from the modules section!!

Next, I think I’ll be correcting all the mistakes I made with the 2nd Bull Run version of Red Badge of Courage (my first module attempt), and may even expand it to incorporate First Bull Run as well.