Swapping sides and handicap games

I’m a newbie to Vassal, and already I’m modifying an existing module, with the approval of the owner. I haven’t actually played a game against another player with Vassal, and I’m not certain if my changes will work correctly or will be popular. The module in question is for Twixt. I would like to test out my changes when I complete them. I will post in “Opponents Wanted” after I upload.

The first issue is with regards to swapping sides. Twixt is a fast-paced game, and the advantage of the first move is strong. Alex Randolph, the game’s inventor, was persuaded to add the pie rule after 3M published it. After red places the first peg, the opponent has the option, at that point only, of swapping sides. Actually swapping sides might be accomplished in Vassal if both sides retire and then take each other’s places. Is this workable? Does this method seem awkard? Another way to do it is to swap the first peg. Blue places a peg at a mirror image location, reflected on a main diagonal, with respect to red’s peg, and then red’s peg is removed. From a gaming standpoint, this is effectively the same as swapping sides, although the resulting position is diagonally flipped and color reversed from the position that would result from actually swapping sides. I suppose I could mention both ways in the help file and let the players decide how to do it.

The second issue is about handicapping, which is the “opposite” of the swap rule. Instead of trying to balance the game, a deliberate imbalance is introduced, to compensate for difference in playing ability. The smallest handicap is to dispense with the pie rule. Beyond that, one dimension of the playing grid is reduced. Red moves first, without swap, AND has less distance to cross. I am creating 15 distinct boards, for handicaps from 0 up to 14 rows. Both players would choose the same board to play on. Is this possible in a single module?

Finally, I am adding diagonal guide lines as an option for all 15 boards, so I am actually creating 30 boards. This is not a rules change. It’s just a frame of reference for the eyes on this large grid of holes. Some players might find it easier to read the position this way. But they can always choose the plain board to play on if they prefer. The image below shows a six row handicap board with guide lines. Would players be able to switch between guide lines and no guide lines during the game? Or would they be stuck with the board they choose at game start?

I welcome all comments.