Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Shout Out to Battlescribe

Credit: calculator,pencil,pen by ShelbyCox on Flickr (cc by 2.0)

I'm going to get this out of the way first: I have no great love of writing up my army lists, running through the numbers, or fiddling around on a games day rewriting my armies. Some people DO have a great love of this, and see army list building as a fun part of the hobby - props to them, but that isn't me!

For this reason, army list software is a godsend, whatever game I am using. I have used both Army Builder and Battlescribe over the years, in both cases paying for full-priced versions (just to note that I have no connection - financial or otherwise - with either company or their owners). I started with the former, but then a proliferation of app and browser based options with lower-priced (and easier to manage payment) options came along, and I moved away from it. In particular, I found the payment process and licensing complex and frustrating (it may have changed since then.)

Over the last year, I used Battlescribe, but as I got in fewer and fewer games it sat mostly unused, until Jan this year when I wanted to prep for my first game of the year. That's when I noted that there is a new version, 2.0 (or maybe later by this point).

As I went to download the app, I could see that there was an unusually high number of very low ratings for the app (at time of writing) on the Google Play store. These were mainly to do with speed issues and how the new version was inferior to the old version. Some of these also noted that despite paying for the old "Pro" software they were now being asked to pay again for 2.0. (NOTE: As an existing user, I was able to input my old license on the website, and you can get a discounted price on the app if you bought the old version.)

With some trepidation, I downloaded the free app, which has ads and limited functionality, and set to work making a list.
Battlescribe (ver 2) on Android phone

I soon found out that on my tablet, the app was very slow, with some buttons taking seconds to respond, but overall, it was intuitive and relatively easy to use. Unlike some users, I didn't have massive issues (which is not to say that they didn't!) The app did what it said on the tin, and allowed me to make lists in short order and make on the fly changes to a list. It isn't likely to be perfect (as the app uses source data created and updated externally by others). It is faster on my phone by the way (Galaxy S7, so much newer and faster than my tablet).

Battlescribe on my PC (Win 10)

On that basis, I went ahead an also downloaded the new version for my PC. As you can see in the screenshot above (double-click to enlarge) it is quite barebones in terms of design, but it does what I want:
-Download the appropriate files for your game system.
-Select your army roster.
-Choose your units.
-Adjust their weapons and loadouts.
-Print roster (not that easy for me, as I use Google Cloud Printing and had some problems with the PDF) or save as a file.

Army Builder does these things, but could be said to offer a more polished interface and other advanced features, but at a very different price point ($39.99) and with a different model. No doubt Army Builder is the right option for many, even if not for me. (If I needed some of the features on offer, or played on a regular basis I would likely invest).

To cut a long story short, I became "a supporter" of Battlescribe, and paid for the Android app and the PC version at the cost of "$1.99 per platform, per year". Yes, it is slow on my tablet, but the developer seems active so I expect it will get better, and the app is faster on my phone and the PC version works well. I'm willing to pay a low annual subscription fee to a small firm for software that meets my needs. If it DOESN'T, then I will not renew my pass, but I don't begrudge spending less than $2.00 to a company that addresses a need I have for an enjoyable hobby, especially when getting into a game can cost hundreds of dollars.

To existing customers, (or potential customers), before purchasing anything take a good look at the Battlescribe website and the FAQ. In November, the developer made an effort to describe why the changes have come about, and provided further information about upgrade options and offers for existing customers. (The developer is also active on the reddit thread for the software).

So, Battlescribe, keep up the good work, and I wish you the best - keep at it!


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