Battle Chronicler is a free program for making battle reports of tabletop wargames, such as Warhammer. It provides a simple yet attractive user interface combined with excellent graphical output to produce professional-quality battle reports for any tabletop wargame you like.
It’s not uncommon that you play a game of Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, or some other tabletop game and you really want to show people what happened: a battle report. However, piles of photographs tend to just be confusing, and trying to put together drawings in graphics applications tends to end badly. You dream of having gorgeous reports like those in White Dwarf. I’ve personally tried to make battle reports myself, using drawing programs like Inkscape, but they’re just not that great.
Then I found Battle Chronicler: a dedicated program for making battle reports. The screenshots on the website looked pretty nice, so I downloaded it and had a play, since it’s free. I was not disappointed: it’s easy to use, and produces great output.
Battle Chronicler is how I produced such nice images for my post on Warhammer Wood Elf Tactics.
One of the features that I loved straight away about Battle Chronicler was how easy it is to set up the armies for the battle, exactly how you want them. It is extremely customisable: you can have just about any sort of obscure unit setup and you can get it in. Various different symbols can be applied to mark the units, and several formation options are available.
This picture shows the defining of any army. As befits such a good interface, little needs explaining, but it is worth pointing out a few things. Firstly, the currently selected unit, Wardancers, have been put into a Skirmishing (“Loose Files”) formation, making it trivial to represent such units. It’s also had a hero attached using the Specials option, and I added a description to mention this. Heroes and other special models can have different colours and markings, making them easy to see in the final report. This Wardancer unit, when deployed, looks like this:
In the likely case that you play more than one game with an army, it’s really easy to re-use them. You can either define an army as a template, or, if you’re lazy, you can simply import units and other army properties from another saved battle report. You can see buttons for importing and templates in the screenshot.
Portraying the Game
Battle Chronicler knows how these wargames work: you deploy your units, and then you take turns. You have a special deployment turn, where you simple drag-and-drop units onto the battlefield, and then the interface has a handy section for moving to the next one. You don’t have to worry about taking pictures as you go, because you can simply go back to the earlier turns and Battle Chronicler remembers their states.
To move units around, you can either drag them, or you can use a selection of more precise controls on the menu, such as for moving a certain distance forwards, or wheeling. The status bar shows the distance a unit is moving, so it’s easy to get things right. Best of all, Battle Chronicler automatically draws in the movement arrows. Even better: you can switch them off if you don’t want them.
Each unit comes with a nice selection of properties to represent its state. Most of these affect how Battle Chronicler displays them: for example, a Routed unit will have yellow movement arrows, and a Charging unit will have red. You also have fine control over what models in a unit are dead, including special models.
Battle Chronicler uses a system of components to represent terrain and other complex aspects of games. Components consist of an image, and properties like their size etc. The program comes with a selection of terrain components, as well as other components like arrows and explosions, but the best part is that you can create your own. So, you could take a top-down photo of the actual terrain you used in your game, import it, and use it in Battle Chronicler. The default ones are, however, quite good, and work well. There are also a variety of options for the board, so if you want a grassy feel or rocky or whatever, you can.
This may be less interesting to some of you, but as a programmer, I love Battle Chronicler. It’s programmed in C# under the latest version of the Microsoft .NET Framework, and demonstrates exactly what a modern Windows program should look like, making excellent use of WPF to deliver a very smooth GUI.
Naturally, no program is perfect, and Battle Chronicler is no exception. I came across a few small bugs whilst using it, but the stability was rather good for a free program like this. There are also a lot of features I would really like to see: you can’t undo moves, and I keep trying to right-click units to pull up a menu of options, but this simply doesn’t exist. However, all the issues are easy to work around, and do not inhibit the usefulness of the program.
Battle Chronicler is a fantastic program that does exactly what it was designed for: produce excellent battle reports. If you play any tabletop wargame and want to make a battle report, you should definitively look at Battle Chronicler. I’ve also heard of people using it to play Warhammer over the internet, by making a turn and then sending the save file to their opponent. Overall, it’s a great program, and, considering it’s free, you should try it out.
Battle Chronicler can be downloaded for free from www.battlechronicler.com and is available for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.