Monday, August 10, 2015

Playing Armada Online - How to Vassal

Edit (10/1/15):  Updated for more of the 2.00 information.  If I am missing anything, let me know in the comments, and I'll explain it as best I can.

Hello again everyone.  Today we are going to go over how to play online with strangers on the internet.  That's right, it's time to discuss how to play on Vassal.

First off you will need to download the Vassal Client and Armada module.  You can find the Vassal Client Here, and the Armada Module Here.  You will need to download both, and possibly download or update your Java client.  For me, it was fairly easy to install, but depending on your operating system, you may need to take some additional steps.

But enough about the install, let's play the game!

Opening up Vassal, you should see a list of the installed modules.  In this case, all I have (and play) is Armada.  Double click that to open up to the Welcome Screen for the module itself.  When you load it up the first time you'll need to enter in a name and password, so that you can save and access the secret information.

10/1/15 Edit:  As of right now, Module Version should read 2.00

Do you want to play a game against yourself, or play online?
 From here, you have the choice of starting a new game online, or joining the online lobby to try and find a game.  We're going to look for a game online!  Can't play with strangers unless you find some right?

It's midnight, so no one wants to play with "Biggs"
 Here we are in the main room.  To start a new game, type a name for that game in the "New Game" box in the Active Games section.  You can chat with other people in your room in the left most box.

 I've started a new game!  Now if I am waiting for someone I know, I can lock the room, but that's not important right now, we are trying to find people to play with us.  So we can click the "!" box above "Active Games" to let other players know we are looking for someone to play with.

 Now that we've found someone that wants to play a game with us, we are going to get started.  Click on File in the upper left of the Armada Controls, and select "New Game".  You'll want to choose a background (I like purple nebula the best) and join as Player 1.

With both players in, it is time to begin setting up your forces.

If you click "Set up area 6x3" the game will overlay a grid for the 6x3 map setup area.  Makes life easy, doesn't it?  I know I wish I had this when I play in real life.

Now, go back to the Armada Controls and click on "Pieces".  This will give you almost all the things you will need to play the game. ship cards, upgrade cards, the ships themselves and the Command Stack.  The Command Stack is a place setting for putting down your command dials in a set order, since Vassal makes stacking things tricky.  Right clicking on things lets you alter objects in the play field, and tells you keyboard shotcuts for future reference.  To rotate my ship, I can left click on it and hit the left or right keyboard button, for example.

To change the dial face, you can hit the space bar, but no cheating!
If you rotate the dial it will tell your opponent you rotated it.

Just put down the command dials in the order they will be activated.  You can also find command tokens in "Pieces" as well.  Some people like putting out all the command tokens you will need, but I like putting out just 4, and copying everything as I go.

10/1/15 Edit:  Note that command dials will come out face-up - you will need to flip them (right click to flip face up / face down).  Setting command dials is best done in your "damage card" section (found in the upper right corner of the Armada Controls - it corresponds to your player number) - you can drag the dials there and change them with no "alert" being sent over the chat.

Prepare for an engagement!  NebB at long range!
 Looks like the enemy has closed into range.  Let's open fire with our VSD!  By right clicking on the VSD, we can select "Measure" to chose how we are measuring from our base, by distance (starfighter side) or by range (ship side).  You can also click on Line of Sight at the top of the map screen to use the LOS tool as well.

Get ready to shoot!
Clicking on the picture of dice brings up the "Dice" for the game.  Right clicking on each color lets you pick how many of each color to roll.  Modify already rolled dice by right clicking and selecting how to modify them.  Click the fading dice on the bottom to clear the roll before the next attack.

Boom!  Good hit on the enemy side!  Looks like we'll be dealing damage.

You shouldn't deal damage cards for your opponent, but if they shoot you I guess you need your own damage deck.

Click on the "1" box on the Armada Controls (since we are player 1 in this case) to activate our damage deck.  The opponent would activate theirs ("2" since they are player 2) in this case.  No, I'm not playing by myself, why do you ask?

Just drag the card off of the top of the deck and onto the play area, much like you dragged the pieces from the "Pieces" button.  You can flip the card by right clicking, or send it to the discard pile.

Time to move.  Right click on the VSD and select the first maneuver template you want.  From there, you can drop additional sections (you'll always be dropping at least one) and clicking them before dropping the next one.  We're going speed 2, so we'll drop 2 extra sections.

Finally, all that is left to do is left click and drag your ship into position.  Again, you can rotate the ship by pressing the Right Arrow key, or by right clicking and selecting "Rotate Right".  Time to brace for the enemy attack!

10/1/15 Edit:  Now maneuver templates work even easier - you can "Place" the template to pre-measure your movement, then "notch" it to begin your maneuver.  If you notch left, press "CTRL" and 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 in order to move your correct speed.  If you notch right, it is the same, plus "ALT".  Make sure you press the correct numbers in order - due to coding it won't work correctly otherwise.

If you make a mistake at any point, you can always click the "undo" button (a backwards facing arrow on the Armada Controls) to take back the last action taken.  Note: you may need to press it multiple times to get back to the correct spot.

Well, there you go, a quick and dirty basic overview of how to Vassal.  Hope to see you on there.  Look for "Biggs".  Until next time!

Edit:  MattShadowlord on the FFG forums has a way to save your favorite lists for easy loading between games!

How to save your squadron's ships and cards:
Click on the 'Pieces' button. Drag your ships, squadrons and upgrade cards from Pieces window to any area of the map. (I usually put mine neatly in the grey margin area at the bottom, but anywhere will do)
Go to FILE, and click "Begin Logfile". Give the file any name you will easily remember (eg 'VicVicGlad' or 'MothmasSwarm')
Select all your ships, squadrons and cards (click on the map, hold the mouse button down while you draw a large box around them)
Press Control-D to Delete (yes delete) all the pieces at once.
Press the Undo button (curved arrow at the top left, under 'File')
The deletion will be undone, and the squadrons, cards etc will now reappear.
Go to FILE, and click 'End Logfile'
And you're done.

How to load your squadron's ships and cards:

Go to FILE, Load Continuation
Pick the file you saved earlier (eg VicVicGlad.vlog)
Press the play button (top left, next to Undo) until the replay shows the part where your entire fleet, cards and squadrons reappear after being deleted during the recording.
And you're done.


  1. Thanks for putting this out there. I've got an extended tutorial document in the works for the 2.0 release.

    A single note... The intent is to change command dials in the same window as the damage deck. If the command dial is changed there it won't send out the global alert. That alert was just to passively prevent intentional or accidental changing of planned commands.


    1. Thanks for the heads up on the dial. I would never have figured out moving it to the damage deck window, though I have accidentally dragged other pieces there by mistake. Gonna have to do it that way next time.

  2. Hi Biggs, thanks for posting. You have inspired me to download vassal and try to play! However, I can't seem to build a fleet when entering a new game. Any ideas on what I am doing wrong?

    1. Sorry, just saw you put that at the end of the article. Always read the full page before posting next time... :-) Thanks!

  3. Great article but I don't see a chat room/lobby when I look for a game online (even if i click the show/hide server controls)...any ideas why? it works for BSG. My vassal client is v3.2.15. BSG is also v3.2.15. Ive downloaded the latest armada module but it says it's vassal v3.2.13...
    mega confused

    1. I'm not entirely sure what the reason is for that. My suggestion is to ask here or message Ransburger directly - he is the guy who developed the Armada Vassal version.

    2. ok so i just uninstalled vassal and deleted the module. I downloaded them both again and now i see the lobby! yippee :)

  4. Ok thanks man! will do!

  5. Hello! any idea how to shift my view of the table when i have zoomed in? I dont have a very big screen and when I zoom in it just zooms toward the top left corner. I have tried dragging but it does not work. Please advise

    1. Try clicking the "overview" button and clicking where you need the screen to be.

    2. A tiny white dot appears in the top left corner of my screen, but that's it. I can't click anywhere that helps to move the screen view

    3. Well, I'm stumped as to what your problem could be. I am sorry.

      I'm going to refer you to Ransburger in this thread:

      Hopefully he can figure out where that bug is coming from.

    4. Could you help me ask him? I cannot post on the forums as yet, moderator has not approved me

    5. Probably better if you ask yourself once you get approval. He'll likely have more questions than I know to ask to figure out the root cause.

    6. Ok thanks I will!