Tuesday, 14 August 2012

[Review] Battle Scribe

Everyone who is in to gaming has a need for certain items, a very important item for us all is the army list.  Without it, our models are just a vague mass of points with vague options.  The traditional manner has always been on a bit of paper, either printed up nice and neatly or quickly scribbled on the back of a napkin. It took no time at all for people to start making programs to be used on computers for army lists.  My traditional manner has been to use excel all nice and neatly laid out with cells doing the calculations for totals, points remaining and on the fantasy side, percentages.

I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to my lists, I like having it neatly written out either on paper or printed on A4.  But, when everything is going digital it might be the time to spread out and investigate my options.  As all gamers will know there is a plethora of army builders out there, famous ones like Lonewolf's Army Builder or the specific ones for games systems like War Room by Privateer press.  Everyone has their favourite.  I have an aversion of paying for something when I can just use a calculator and a pen and paper to produce, so for me I found a free alternative; Battle Scribe.

Fig A
The program comes in two main versions, one for a PC/Mac and a mobile app version.  Today I have had a little play around with both and found it to be a simple and fun way of making a list.

As with all these kind of programs when you download it you get a shell.  You get the frame work of a working, useful program but it lacks the fuel to make it run.  This is due to legal issues, that most companies (GW in particular) are not fans of having their IP copied up and given away for free.  Understandable, but it does make choosing a list for your next army or forgetting your book, or seeing what the opponents might come up with difficult.  These programs then, lack any data on the GW, privateerpress and other systems factions.  These you must find for yourself.  Luckily it isn't that hard to find them, while Battle Scribe cannot give you direct links, they do make it clear that they are easy to fine.  Once you found them, all it needs is a quick address dropping in the repository section and bingo, you have your fuel.

Fig B
I found the UI actually quite easy to figure out, especially once you have a brief read through on their website.  It seems quite simple, once the repositories are set up and installed, all you need to do is work your magic.  You'll see in the picture above (Fig A), the simple layout for the UI. The left box is the army units, characters and sections.  The middle is your selections and the right is the options available to each selection.  One option I am a big fan of is when hovering over a selection you get a popup dialogue showing the stats and rules of the unit/character before you choose, allowing you the ability to see if the unit fits your purpose without having ever leaving the screen.  (Fig B)

The UI also has the basic details you'll need to know for your list, at the bottom is a list of warnings or illegal options; so telling you that you have too few troops choices or over spent on the special section allowance.  Useful to know and quite clear to see.  One thing I do wish was clearer is the total points, it is just a single red light on the right hand side.  I would have preferred to see it as an individual box, or at least for it to be bigger text.  It isn't that noticeable.  There is also the confusing part where they add named units in.  By this I mean units that are given a bonus by a special character, the best example I have is from the Orcs and Goblins book; the Deff Creepers.  This unit is an upgraded spider rider unit due to a special character.  This however is not explained, just a named unit.  It's a tad awkward but not a deal breaker.

Fig C
The roster output is nice.  It is simple, clear and each section has it's own special rule summary, stats and options clearly.  But what I really like about it is at the bottom it gives you a break down of item stats, so giving the stats for a specific weapon (ie a big shoota or crossbow), which in gaming terms will give you a shorter amount of time spent looking up weapon stats, when it's all on your roster sheet.

The roster gives you a number of options for the end product.  You can do a straight print or you can convert it to a html file.  It also has options for removing bits and pieces from the roster to streamline the look and feel of it.

Now briefly on the phone app.  I found it a little fiddly, as I had issues with the data files to begin with and rather than being able to add a whole directory I had to add each system one by one.  The buttons also seemed awkward, remembering which ones added more models or brought up the option menu was something I struggled with slightly.  But aside from those, it seemed pretty good.  The roster output seemed crisp and clear on my phone (Samsung Galaxy S2), and the scroll ability is nice.  It also means that they have one less item to carry, it's all on the phone.  The only issue with this of course is continual use will drain the battery quickly and dead phone means no list.  So, it should just be an aid not a replacement.

Overall I give the program a good rating of:   7.5 out of 10

It is good, does all you need but a few niggling items catch my eye and brings it down a little bit.  The learning curve however is pretty quick, making it easy to use and quite simple.


  1. I tried the mobile version of battle scribe, and found that there were errors in what I could choose with some Dwarf units. I don't remember what exactly! This would have been due data files, not the app itself.
    Apart from that battlescribe is pretty groovy.

  2. I gave it a go briefly, the files I had seemed good. I will still use pen and paper, but it'll be nice to have a good looking printed copy or one on my phone for referencing.


Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...