Kingmaker modules... at sea here...

OK… a group of 6 of us are attempting to start a multiplayer game of Avalon Hill’s Kingmaker. We want to use the most recent 2.3 version of the module. Two of us have had experience with the 1.0 version of the module.

We tried to make an initial deal of Crown cards to begin the game. BUT: it appears that when the “dealer” starts the game, and , he chooses a faction, begins a first log file, and then deals the cards., he can see “through” the cards for all factions. Restrictions should limit a player to only be able to “see” through, or to flip over, the cards for his faction.

In an earlier game, this all worked properly, so, just as a sanity check, I opened the old module, started a new game, selected a faction, started a new log file, and tried a mock deal. Same thing: I could see through all the players’ cards. Then, when I saved the first log file, and relaunched, either by double-clicking the log file or launching the module and selecting Open Saved Game, I was never asked for a Password, or asked to choose a faction. And, once inside the file, and playing it through to the end, I could see everything.

Any ideas as to what I’m doing wrong here?

You’re experiencing the confluence of several regrettable aspects of VASSAL and this module’s design.

  1. The Mask trait on the Crown cards is using a semi-transparent image of the card back, rather than a fully opaque image.

  2. VASSAL grants “ownership” of an item drawn off a deck to the player side that draws it. This design choice (which I think dates back years) in conjunction with item 1 above means you essentially can’t draw cards on behalf of other players in a setup like this. The cards are being drawn face down and no other player (e.g. if you were playing live) sees “through” the cards, but you as the “owner” are being presented with the semi-transparent mask and you can.

The alternatives here include using a different image as the mask, or tooling up sets of GKCs that will send cards from a deck jetting off to various places like player hands (even private ones), enabling 1 person to deal out to many players without knowing who got what, as is usually intended. I’ve put this into all modules I’ve worked on.

  1. Regarding logs and faction choice/password, again this is expected behavior, even if one that almost certainly would not be implemented if one could go back in time, as it has caused an enormous number of headaches for PBEM players down the years. The very first time you open a module on a given computer you supply a module password for it, but thereafter are never asked for it again. When you created the test game and selected a faction, your personal module password then locked this faction, rendering it unavailable to other players who might load this file later. Any subsequent saved games or logfiles you open where your personal module password matches one embedded in that saved game/logfile will silently, instantly slot you into that player side without asking. To “unseat” yourself you’d have to switch to observer before saving.

This really hare-brained design has made so many multiplayer games founder. Fairly often a player decides to drop out or just goes off the grid and forces the rest to find a replacement player. But they almost never know to make a log in which they abandon their player side, which means the replacement player is unable to occupy the side they are taking over. Very frustrating system and not intuitive at all.

Thanks, Joel, for the insight. It may not solve things, but at least makes them a bit more understandable.

Our game finally did get off the ground after a few fits and starts. We’re going along at a nice clip now.