April 27th, 2010
Review: Cool Wargame tools
Many wargame enthusiasts would argue that for most any wargame all that you need is a pen, some paper and a calculator to put together an army list. Sure you can get by just fine with that alone... I did for many years, that is until the Internet and PCs made it so much easier to use a web-based, or offline software based solution.
For years it seams Army Builder has been popular among many, but I've tried multiple times to reach Lone Wolf Development the makers of it, and no one ever replied. So I can't really recommend Army Builder, as I don't have enough experience with it. I can only comment on the fact that I'm aware that it exists, and it's been around for years, but I can't say much else about the software itself.
It's also one of the few, if not the only software solution that you have to buy anymore. What I do know, is that the Army Builder owner went around the internet bullying some of the other developers out there into believing that Lone Wolf are the only ones that can call something an "Army Builder" a couple of months ago. The Forward Kommander website ended up with a cease and desist letter, and the threat of being sued by Lone Wolf Development, due to calling his tool an Army Builder.
One of the other tools we cover below was called the HeroScape Army Builder at one time too, and at that site it clearly shows they blocked out the other letters of the word builder and left the B there to poke fun at Lone Wolf.
They even went as far as telling forum users not refer to any other product as an Army Builder generically, that it is their trademark, and made threats to Privateer Press that it's their job to keep these people in line, since some of the posts in question were on their forums. Click this for the original story from TGN on the topic.
If you ask me, there's more than one army builder tool out there. It's like someone saying Dixie is the only company to call their products a "Drinking Cup", and if anyone else called another cup a drinking cup, they'd sue them. I'm no attorney, but I can certainly smell a crock of shit as well as the next guy, and while I see their wanting to protect their product, and namesake... at the same time, they're the only ones with a product that costs money anymore, while all the rest are FREE now. So it's pretty clear who makes the Army Builder product, and it's not hard to tell who Army Builder people are now after the fuss they made on the internet a few months back.
Harassing end users of other free solutions out there, on another company's forum does nothing to sway them into being a paying customer of Army Builder either. Now the owner did issue an apology letter a few days later, after he went off half cocked, but he admitted he wasn't a legal expert either.
So I can't comment on their software, but it's clear that the Lone Wolf knows how to howl when they want attention on the Internet. I think that with so many other viable free options out there, that they're feeling the pinch, because they are no longer the only army building software around, and lashed out.
Thankfully today, there are many other free solutions out there, and here's a list I put together detailing the better ones that I could find, and where you can get them...
This is by far my favorite web-based solution for building an army for Warmachine and/or Hordes. As Privateer Press releases new pieces, the Forward Kommander is usually updated not long after. It doesn't get much simpler than this, and it's why I'd have to say that this is my #1 pick.
I'm not that familiar with this piece, because I don't play Tyranids, but there is a v4 Ed and v5 Ed rules-based package for this tool, and it's a software based solution, not web-based. If you're a Tyranid player, this might be a nice option to help put together a list with...
Tyranid Army Creator
I'm not very familiar with Anima Tactics, but I've seen the pieces and it looks interesting. Evidently it's interesting enough that someone has taken the time to create a builder for creating forces for it. This one even seams to incorporate detailed information on each piece, with stats and abilities, and even fluff. This one seams more detailed than any of the others I've seen first-hand. If you're into Anima Tactics, this is definitely a must...
Anima Tactics builder
HeroScape seams to have a really strong following of diehard fans. I owned it, and the Marvel expansion both, and I really just couldn't get into it. It wasn't for me, but it's more than evident that others love it, and continue to love it, even though new product seams to be next to non existent anymore, aside from a 2009 released Dungeons and Dragons themed set.
There's two unique tools for this game worth mentioning. HeroScape Army Drafter is a web-based tool to help create HeroScape armies with...
HeroScape Army Drafter
Here's another interesting tool, this one is used to create your own custom cards for HeroScape. It was originally used to make custom Magic The Gathering cards, but someone modified it to make HeroScape cards. It doesn't look terribly complex, and it looks like a neat little tool for the serious HeroScape enthusiast who likes to create their own new miniatures for the game.
I'd imagine this would be useful for making new super heroes from older HeroClix figures, since Hasbro never did release any of the promised expansions for the Marvel set. The lack of further support for the Marvel set is the #1 reason I sold off my HeroScape stuff, and haven't looked back since. With the means to make new cards now, the possibilities are endless for custom figures. If I had this then, I might have kept the Marvel set and gave it another shot.
MSE Easy Card Creator for HeroScape
There's a variety of Warhammer Fantasy builder tools out there, but this one looked interesting. This one is designed specifically for making armies for Chaos Warriors in Warhammer Fantasy. It's an online tool, and seams simple enough. Check it out if your a WFB Chaos player...
Chaos Warrior Army Creator
This next one is a work in progress, but looks very interesting. There is a pre release version you can download and try out too. This is one you might want to keep an eye on, as it claims to be useful for most any wargaming system, and across multiple platforms. They call it a cross-platform, multi-system, open source army creator. There's a really in-depth comparison page that pits Warfoundry vs Army Builder too.
Here's another game I haven't played, but am very interested in playing, and trying out, since the miniatures look so amazing. Infinity Pool is a web-based solution, and while it's currently in the beta state, it's still useable. It looks to be shaping up nicely too based on what little I saw of it. If you play Infinity, you don't want to miss this tool...
This is another multi-system builder tool. This one offers an online builder, offline builder software and they're working on a mobile version as well, all of which support the same file system.
It looks a bit like work in progress, but I was able to setup a Cygnar army for Warmachine with it, and it seams to offer sample rulesets for Warmachine, WFB v7 and Infinity at present. You can also create your own Rulesets, so it supports pretty much any game that you want to create a ruleset for. This one looks promising, check it out...
Here's another Warmachine/Hordes army list builder. This one is simple to use, and may be a little prettier than the Forward Kommander, but functionally it works just as well it seams. Try them both out, and see which one serves you best is what I'd suggest. You can't go wrong with either one, I just prefer Forward Kommander.
Warmachine and Hordes Army Gizmo
Do you have an iPhone, iPod Touch or Android phone, and love to play Warmachine? This is totally for you then. iBodger is available for all three gadgets, and is by far one of the slickest apps you can get on a mobile device for Warmachine army creation. Oh did I mention it's free too?
Pulp City is a title we'll be taking an in-depth look at soon, so I was really excited to stumble upon this site.
Pulp City Team Builder helps you create super hero/villan teams for Pulp City, and is a web-based tool.
Pulp City Team Builder
This next tool is a downloadable option, and it's at present tuned for AT43 and Confrontation, however they claim it can be used to create armies for any game, as long as you create the Library Plug-Ins for it. This looks promising. Thanks to a reader named Pitac for this tip.
Open R-Community Tools
As you can see, there are a lot of options out there, all of which are free to use online, or to download and use on the go. They all definitely beat the old pen, paper and calculator approach too. Be sure to check some of them out, there's a little something there for everyone.