Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Playing Warhammer by Email: a basic list of requirements

We're underway! Dreamfish and I have started turn 1 for the Battle of the Wyemm Seeyay. The turn is almost completed, so updates on that coming shortly.

One of the things that I have been asked about, though, is how exactly one goes about playing Warhammer by email.

Let me tell you:

1. One of the players requires two beautifully painted armies, a beautiful table on which to play, and safe place to leave that table unmolested for many days or weeks. This is very important - if you have cats, children or epileptic fits, you'll want a safe place to keep the table. In our case, Dreamfish is the host of the game.

2. That same player will require a digital camera. You knew that already. In our case, Dreamfish also has an IP Camera. This means that we can have a live feed to look at whenever it suits. Dreamfish takes many shots of the field as well, so we can see the state of play as it progresses.

3. The other player - that is, the remote one, requires some sort of image modification software, in order to describe what he wants to do. One could use Windows Paint, Gimp, Photoshop or one of the many hundreds of tools that can do that. In our case, I'd recommend Snagit. You have to pay for it, but it's one of the most useful pieces of software I've ever owned, and it stands head and shoulders above anything else I could recommend for the job. If masochism is your thing, you could try without it, just using text to describe what you want to do, but a small fee avoids all of that nasty business...

4. Army Builder. This way, the players can have the same source for army lists. This is key for the remote player, who might have to play an army they don't themselves own, or know much about. This also adds a layer of trust, as the lists can be produced and revealed at the same time, and saved away. Army  Builder also validates the lists, so both players will know when the lists are ok. It is worth mentioning that my esteemed opponent in this, Dreamfish, is the author of the Warhammer 3 Army Builder files, and produced a template that hides magic items. So - we're able to see each other's lists (as published earlier) but still don't know about each other's sneaky magic items...

5. Both players need access to a dice rolling mechanism. We've discovered the Hamete Dice Server, which allows us to create a dice 'blog', tracking every single dice roll we make. You can choose what sort of dice you want to roll and describe what the roll is.

5. Trust. Especially for the remote player. Do you play tournaments regularly? You might struggle with this one. Players need to understand that the other player did not wake up that morning with the express intention of screwing up your entire life by placing your figures incorrectly. This means that you need to describe what you want to do...and describe your intention as well. So, if you're trying to hide a character in a forest - make that clear to the other player! Don't just say 'move 5 inches north'.

As we play, I guess we'll come across some other tips for the thing, which we'll cheerfully post up here.


6. One of the things we've found much easier to do is to run each sub phase for both players before moving into the next sub phase. Traditionally in Warhammer, player 1 moves, shoots, fights, reserves and does magic, then the next player does the same. In our case, we're finding it much easier (and economical with time spent sending mail backwards and forwards) to handle my movement phase, then Dreamfish's movement phase, followed by my shooting, then his shooting, etc. Much easier for playing remotely...


  1. Hmmm...Number 6 there is quite interesting as it is the method used for many modern table top games...outside of the Warhammer fold....I'm interested to see how it works out.

  2. Hi Blue

    So far, we've not found any major problems with it. I'm beginning to suspect it does have an effect on the 2nd players reserve phase, because the 1st player might be able to engineer a situation where he can see the movement phase of his opponent and could possibly stifle his opponents reserves by using his own reserves to move to within 4", effectively march blocking.

    At the time of writing, we have just completed turn 4 of the Wyemm Seeyay battle report, and I think you can see a case of this happening (unintentionally) with the spectre causing many units to not move because of it's fear.

    But, for remote play, it really, really speeds up proceedings. If we didn't do it this way, our turns would probably take twice as long, because I wouldn't be able to do much as I waited for the various responses to activities in my own turn...