Pieces With Mask On at Start?

New member here. I’ve been building modules for the past 8 weeks as part of my position at Army University in the Simulation Education Directorate. I have built 4 modules so far, one of which is based on the boardgame “Aftershock” (with the blessing of the designers, of course. My question stems from building a couple of original wargames for an instructor here, and I just can’t find the answer searching here. Some close, but not exactly what I need.

Currently, each player has a set of pieces they can place on the map within a designated area. These pieces must SHOW the “back” of the piece[attachment=1]Blue_Back.png[/attachment], and is revealed when discovered by the opponent. So, the pace must be completely visible to the player, but look as if the piece is “flipped” to the opponent. I created the pieces using a mask, and that mask shows the back of the piece to the opponent, but the piece information with a “hidden” marker is visible to the player[attachment=0]Annotation 2020-06-12 074030.png[/attachment]. The problem is, I can’t start a piece “masked” in this fashion.

I have created saved games with the pieces properly masked for both players, but it seems this should be a common requirement for many modules, and I just complicated everything.

Now, the “easy” thing would be to have a selection option for a piece to START masked, but that is not available in the current version of VASSAL. The next way to do it is to swap the “masked” view for the “revealed” view so the “base state” of the piece is hidden from the opponent as the default. I would like to know if there is a way, without having to rebuild all of the game pieces, to make all of the pieces (they are each in their own “at-start stack”) show properly hidden from the opponent when placed on the map from the player private window at the start of the game. I’ve made extensive use of prototypes to make editing easier, but some of the answers I’ve seen in this forum seem extremely convoluted and aren’t exactly what I’m looking for (I think). Maybe I’m just missing something obvious, but I just picked-up vassal and ran with it two months ago, as we were under a COVID-Crunch.

Any help would be much appreciated!

Curt Pangracs
Simulation Specialist
DSE, Army University
Leavenworth, KS

The way I solved this in This Guilty Land, was to have slightly different prototypes for Influence markers in the two different states. Bits that were common were factored out into other prototypes.

However I believe there is a more sophisticated solution, where you tie the active layer level to an expression. Then you distinguish the different states with Marker traits. However I found this a little trickier to pull off.

I think that if you start the masked pieces inside a “deck” (instead of an At-Start stack) with the checkbox set that new “cards” are drawn face down, that they will start out masked. You could then move the pieces to their desired starting locations on the private maps (either by hand, or make a Global Key Command that tells every piece to Send-to-Location itself to its game-start position) and then save that and use the save-game as a “predefined scenario” start.

The alternative is to setup the pieces logged in as the owning player side(s) so you can place them as masked and then retiring from the side(s) before saving the save game setup state

Well, that is essentially what I’m doing now. Each piece is in its own at-stark stack. I want to avoid having to now create “decks”. That would entail a complete overhaul of the game. Yes, I know, it should have been solved BEFORE building the game, but I was under a time crunch, and I didn’t yet know what I didn’t know. Personally, there should be no reason for the umpire/facilitator to use a saved game with all the pieces starting “hidden”. In fact, that is what I’ve done for the instructor.

I think what I’m getting at is that the masking state should be SELECTABLE to display a pieces starting state. That’s a development issue. I’m quite surprised this hasn’t been implemented already.