21 August 2015

Virtual Gaming with Microsoft Excel

Originally posted over on the Two Hour Wargames Forums:

I have a handful of THW products but except for Friday Night Fights I've never had a chance to play; just too many things going on in life to spare the time to paint figures and make/set-up terrain.

I really wanted to try RRTK however so I started setting up a virtual tabletop on Powerpoint. That stalled when I bought FNG and decided to use Excel instead.

Why use Excel? With a rudimentary knowledge of VBA coding (which is my level...) one can set up macros to help run the game environment. The picture below will help me explain.

Each of the green round tokens and the red PEF triangles represent units and are actually Microsoft Office Shapes. They're easily moved all around the "board". When you click on one and then click the shiny "Select" button it runs a macro. The select macro cross-references the Shape's name to a roster table (on another sheet). This referencing then fills in the unit info, so you have all the figure's stats right in front of you.

Since a figure's status will change, you can click the "Status" button to bring up a list of conditions. Then simply pick from this list and select the new condition (from Carry On to Out of the Fight for example). The status macro will then overwrite the old condition with the new one for the figure on the roster. Since it's captured on the roster, the info is available on future turns.

The dice rolling buttons are self-explanatory. My favorite macro is the ruler function. The player just grabs the black arrow pointer and places it wherever it is needed, adjusting the length appropriately. Then when the "Range" button is pressed, it displays the correct range. The playing area is scaled to represent a 36x48 inch table.

This will never replace actual miniatures for me but it does give a convenient way to explore the rules and play the games. I played five FNG missions in just two hours! Which, by the way, is a great game.