As always, remember that Dragon Dice is a trademark of SFR, and DDASSIST is copyrighted property of Automated Reasoning Concepts, Inc, a company that has no affiliation with SFR. DDASSIST is not an official or authorized Dragon Dice product!
The Game Simulator is a new feature of DDASSIST that allows you to play Dragon Dice on your computer. The game status is kept in a binary file that ranges from 5K to 20K in size. The game file enables you to play via EMAIL or, with the assistance of a chat program, interactively in real time. To start a game, use the File, New Game option from the menu in the Race Window.
The basic game simulator window is shown above. In this case, it is a two-player game between Bruce and Barbie. On the status bar at the bottom, it identifies this as Round 1, Barbie's turn, and the Action 2 phase; that is, the action phase of the second march. In the log on the right, you can see that Bruce's army has just rolled a skirmish counter-attack and come up with 13 hits. The next step is for Barbie to roll her army for saves.
The dice participating in the game are described by the two grids. The top grid contains a column for each terrain, including virtual pseudo-terrains like the Reserves, the Dead Pool, and the Burial Vault. The top row of the terrain grid lists the terrain dice themselves. For example, the Frontier has a Highland City currently on the second face. Directly below the terrain die description is a list of the armies at the terrain. For each army, the player's name is shown along with the health of dice in the army. The blue highlighting in the terrain grid indicates the currently-selected terrain. The armies at that terrain are shown in the lower grid. To select a new terrain, you just click on it.
Each column in the bottom grid represents a player's army at the selected terrain. For each die in the army, the die's race, name, and visible face are listed. The die's health is shown in parentheses next to the name. The blue highlighting indicates the currently-selected die. In this case, a Lava Elf Infiltrator is the current die. The visible face has one melee icon, and the box in the upper left corner contains a description of what the icon does. The box in the lower left corner lists the spells and racial abilities active for the die, the die's army, and the terrain. In this case, there are no spells, but since this is a lava elf on Highland, its maneuvers count as saves.
The Game Simulator is not a full-blown Dragon Dice computer game. Most of the time, you will be manually moving and rolling dice, and totalling the results yourself. So, for example, when you tell it you want to roll for maneuvers, it will roll all the dice at the target terrain, but it will not figure out if you won the maneuver roll. Instead, it will return control to you so you can add up the results and decide what to do next. When you make a skirmish attack, you can specify a target army, but the target army won't roll for saves until you double-click its column title and press CTRL-R. DDASSIST is not yet smart enough to resolve SAIs and figure out whether or not a save roll is needed, though I am always trying to make it smarter.
The log window is a very important part of the Game Simulator. You can make the log window appear by pressing the F4 key or using the Edit, Show Log item. It keeps track of every die roll, spell, and transfer. Important events are denoted by a ">" symbol. By saving the log to disk and extracting the lines beginning with ">", you can get a digest of the game suitable for posting in a newsgroup.
The other thing the log does is it enables you to roll dice without passing control of the game to one of the other players. The log keeps track of the results so that all players can see what really happened. Periodically you need to clear the log to keep the game file from growing too big. Use Edit, Clear Log to do this. When you clear the log, it will automatically save its contents to a disk file. If the disk file already exists, the log will be appended to it. This enables you to keep a hard disk copy of the entire log for later use.
You can use the scratch pad to put your own comments directly into the log. The scratch pad is the text box in the middle left of the Simulator. In the sample screen below, it contains the phrase "Time to place the hordes!"
Use the Transmit to Log button to copy the contents of the scratch pad to the log. Scratch pad comments are marked by a ">>" sequence.
Most of the activity in a Dragon Dice game involves rolling dice and moving them from place to place. To do this in the Simulator, you must first mark the dice you want to move or roll. To mark a die, double-click it with the mouse. This will cause a red outline to appear. You can mark an entire army by double-clicking on the army name at the top of the grid. In the screen shot below, Barbie did this to select her army at Bruce's Home.
To roll the dice, press CTRL-R. A prompt will appear asking you the reason for the roll, and-- if the roll is an attack-- the target army.
Click here for hints on how to use the built-in Roll Analyzer.
To move marked dice, you simply drag them with the mouse and drop them on the target terrain in the terrain grid. The dialog box below will appear, displaying the details of the move and asking you to type in the reason.
You can un-mark a die by double-clicking on it again. Alternatively, you can double-click on the column header to un-mark all marked dice in the column.
The Play menu enables you to perform special actions such as casting a spell or maneuvering a terrain.
A spell can be applied to individual dice, an army, or a terrain. To apply the spell to individual dice, mark the dice before casting the spell. To apply it to an army, click on a die in the army. This makes the army the current army, as shown below.
If you have a selected army and marked dice, the spellcasting dialog allows you to pick which one should be the target. You may also choose any regular terrain to be the target.
To maneuver a terrain, make the desired terrain current by clicking on it in the terrain grid, then use the maneuver dialog shown below.
The maneuver dialog does not do a maneuver roll! You have to do that yourself. It should only be used once you've won the roll!
In the Game Simulator, a turn is divided into four marches, and each march except the first has two phases, as shown below.
|March 1||Maneuver 1|
|March 1||Action 1|
|March 2||Maneuver 2|
|March 2||Action 2|
The Turn menu allows you to move freely to the next phase, march, or turn; however, most of the time all you'll need is the NEXT TURN PHASE button. When you start your turn, you'll be in the Start phase. Dragon attacks, feral growth, City recruiting, Temple burying, and Swamp Stalker mutation all occur in this phase. To begin your actual turn, click NEXT TURN PHASE to start your first march. You'll be shown a dialog box listing all of the armies eligible to be the acting army for the march.
Once you've chosen the acting army, the Game Simulator will ask you if you want to roll for maneuvers. If you respond Yes, all armies at the terrain will be rolled. Add up the roll results to determine whether or not you've won the maneuver.
To help you do the math for roll results, the Game Simulator has a special window called the Virtual Tabletop. This window allows you to organize your dice in columns and does the math for you. Click here for instructions on how to use the Virtual Tabletop.
It's not necessary to use the Virtual Tabletop if you don't want to. It's only there to help!
WARNING: While the Game Simulator can be used to play via EMAIL, the Send By EMAIL option on the File menu will not work for all ISPs!!! DDASSIST uses the un-authenticated SMTP protocol. If your mail server requires an authenticated protocol, you must mail the game file manually using your EMAIL program.
The easiest way to play Dragon Dice over the Internet is to play via EMAIL. Simply EMAIL the game file to your opponents when you need them to make a decision. To see how this works in practice, click here for an annotated log of the first DDASSIST play-by-EMAIL game.
When the game file arrives in your mail, you save it to a disk file and reload it using the File, Open menu option. If you know how to do file associations, you can program Windows to recognize the "DGM" suffix as belonging to DDASSIST. Then you can launch DDASSIST directly from your mail reader.
In order to facilitate real-time play, DDASSIST can be configured to periodically upload or download itself using an FTP server. In order to do this, you must first specify the EMAIL address of each player in the player data (see Setting Up a Game), and each player must enter the same EMAIL address in the Options, User Information form. This enables DDASSIST to determine which player you are.
The second step is to turn on the Auto-Send option. Use the Options, Auto-Send menu item to enable this feature and to specify how often DDASSIST should poll the server. You will also need to configure the game for FTP mode (see Setting Up a Game),
From here on it gets slightly complicated. During game play, there is always one player who is taking an action while the other players watch. If you're taking an action, then we want DDASSIST to be sending your changes to the server for others to see. If you are not taking an action, then we want DDASSIST to periodically poll the server for updates. In order for this scheme to work, DDASSIST needs to know who is the active player at any time.
To solve this problem, version 2.0.6 of DDASSIST introduced the concept of taking control. When you first create a game, it is in an uncontrolled state. This means anybody can modify it. During setup, you can use the Setup, Transfer Control menu item to transfer control to a single player. Note that the transfer-control form also lets you specify a message to send to the new controlling player.
When someone else has control, the word LOCKED appears in the status bar and the most of the menu items and buttons are disabled. The controlling player's name also appears in the form caption.
At the start of each player's turn, control is automatically transferred to that player. That player may then transfer control at any time, and it will automatically be transferred back when the new controller is done.
Once you have enabled the auto-send feature and taken control of the game, the final step is to upload the game to the DDASSIST FTP server. You do this by first saving the game to disk and then using the File, Upload menu item. When you choose to upload, DDASSIST will generate an FTP name for the game and store it on the DDASSIST server. After the file has been stored, DDASSIST will display the game's FTP name for you so you can tell your fellow players. Since the name is pretty big, it is also automatically stored in the clipboard so you can comunicate it more easily.
Once you've uploaded the game, tell the other players the FTP name. They can download the game for the first time using the File, Download option from the Race Window. You are now ready to play!
Use the File, New Game menu option from the Race Window to create a new game. You will be presented with the following form.
This form allows you to specify the name of the game, the number of players, and whether or not you are using the Staggered Start optional rule. The minimum number of players is 2 and the maximum is 10.
This form also contains information about the nature of the game. The default option is that the game will start with you in control. In order to put you in control, DDASSIST needs to know your player name, so you need to put it in the Player 1 Name field. Your EMAIL address will be taken from the Options,User Information form.
You have the option of starting the game in an uncontrolled mode. This was the default in earlier versions of DDASSIST. To do this, check the Uncontrolled box.
The Play Mode combo box allows you to select how you want to play the game. Specify EMAIL for play via EMAIL or at a hot-seat using one computer. Specify FTP for real-time Internet play via FTP. Specify Utility for utility mode. In utility mode, DDASSIST doesn't bother to keep track of which turn it is or to enforce the rules for minor terrains and marches. This mode is provided for chat-room games in which not all players have access to DDASSIST.
The game starts in Round 0. While you are in Round 0, the Setup menu is enabled. Using the Setup menu, you can place armies, assign names to the players, set up the turn sequence, and set the terrains.
Use the Setup, Player Data menu option to specify the names of the players and their EMAIL addresses. You may also use it to enter the minor terrains; however, you will probably find it easier to store the minor terrain information in the army files used to initialize the game. The EMAIL information is very important. DDASSIST compares the EMAIL names of the players to the EMAIL name in the Options, User Information form to determine which player you are.
Once you've named the game and the players, the next step is to place the armies. To do this, each player needs to use the DDASSIST army designer to create a home army, a campaign army, a horde army, a summoning pool, and an optional promotion pool. Give all the armies the same group name using the NOTES AND DETAILS button. When the army groups for all the players are loaded into memory, use the Setup, Place Armies menu option. A dialog box will appear listing the player names in the top combo box and the army group names in the bottom box. Select the desired player and the player's armies, then use the Apply button to place the armies at the appropriate terrains.
DDASSIST will put the campaign army at the frontier, the home army at the player's home terrain, the pools at the appropriate pool terrains, and the horde in the reserves. Once everybody's armies are placed, use the Setup, Roll for Turn Sequence menu option to roll all the hordes and determine the turn sequence, as shown below.
You can see the actual rolls that were used to determine the turn sequence by looking at the Game Log. Press F4 to make the Game Log appear. The actual turn sequence will be displayed at the end of the Game Log.
The player who won the maneuver roll now picks the frontier terrain by clicking on the frontier in the terrain grid and using Setup, Set Terrain.
Now each player needs to move their horde and campaign armies to their final terrains. This is done in the same way as normal army movement, by double-clicking to mark an army and then dragging it to the target terrain (see Moving and Rolling). Once all the armies are placed, use Setup, START GAME to roll the terrains and start the game. Note that the terrain rolls show in the log as important messages, along with the start-of-turn message.
Click here to download the latest version of DDASSIST featuring the new Game Simulator! PLEASE NOTE that this is the same version available on the main DDASSIST page. This link is only provided for convenience.
DDASSIST is constantly evolving. Click here to see an archive of previous DDASSIST newsletters.