Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: BattleScribe Army Roster Builder

Recently I came across a thread on Dakka, begun by user Jonskichov, regarding the release of a new, free army builder program named 'Battlescribe'. And yeah, I fell in love with this little gem right away (in fact, I literally dl'ed it only 30 minutes ago!)....

'Battlescribe' (currently V. 1.02b and still in BETA) is like any army builder tool really. It seeks to simply the process of creating army lists, without the hassle of pen & paper or lengthy Excel spreadsheets. The user simply downloads the main program (here), downloads and extracts both the game system files (40K here - this means the user can use BS between several different games and rulesets) and any relevant codices extensions (40K Codices here). The main program already creates the sub-files where the game system files and codex extensions are placed, which is handy.

The U/I looks like this (click the thumbnail for a larger pic):

As you can see, unlike many other army roster programs (*cough*ARMYBUILDER*cough*...ahem) the interface is clean and free of excess clutter. To begin, you simply select "New Roster" and a window pops up with any Game System Files you've loaded, any codex sub-files, a space for the Army name, and the total points value.

In the example, I've selected "40K", "Eldar", "Re'lant Corsairs", and "1000pts", respectively. The left-hand window displays all unit types available from the codex. Highlighting the desired unit type and hitting the "Select Entry" button loads that entry into your roster, in the central window. From the Roster window, you can highlight specific units and add any options you'd like. Below I've selected my Farseer and can now chose to add or subtract any options in the Option window to the right:

Removing units is as easy as the click of a button (literally the "Remove" button in the central window). BS will also tabulate the total points you have and will warn you if you exceed your given points value. When complete, you can save your Roster (either as an editable ROS file or an HTML document - allowing you to post it on the web or print it from any browser). Features and roster output may be lacking a bit, especially for those accustomed to AB's inclusion of rules right on the roster. Personally, I think having the rules printed on the roster (literally down to codex-specific universal rules, like Waaagh! for Orks or ATSKNF for SMs) can make the rosters look clumsy and jumbled. I'd rather go to a codex for specific rules, if need be (that's why you buy a codex anyway...!) and keep the roster focused on what it's supposed to - letting you & your opponent know what and how many of something you're taking.

-Quick, easy-to-learn interface
-It's FREE! (though I'm sure a small donation would be nice for the developers...)
-Small size allows program to be loaded unto a USB for use on any computer
-For a free roster builder, has all current codices and has few errors

-Lack of a direct printing feature may turn some people off
-Currently only supports 40K
-Lacks all the bells-and-whistles of more 'advanced' programs, like Army Builder


Jonskichov said...

Hi Jeremy, thanks for the review :)

I'd just like to add that BattleScribe includes the tools to create and modify the game system and catalogue files, so users can make what they need to get it working for whatever game or army they use.

As BattleScribe is still in development, I'd love to hear about any features you'd like to see in the next version. I've set up a UserVoice page for people to make suggestions and vote on them.

Once again thanks for the review - I'm glad you find it useful :)

DZoldak said...

Hey there! I just found your blog through AWC and I cannot thank you enough for the post on BattleScribe. I have been looking for an Army Builder that I can run on my Mac for some time now. I hadn't found one and I didn't want to partition the hard drive and install Windows just for AB. Thanks to your post I know what I'll be doing as soon as I get home tonight.