VSQL Survival Guide created by Scott Bramley

1.  VSQL Survival Guide Overview

1.1. The purpose of this document is to introduce Squad Leader (SL) and walk through the set-up process for Virtual Squad Leader (VSQL). A first time user can complete this guide to install VSQL and it’s related components.

2.  Squad Leader (SL)

2.1. Squad Leader is a game of WWII tactical combat in Europe. The original game included a 35 page instruction booklet, four map boards, two quick reference charts, 12 game scenarios, unit counters (die-cut cardboard pieces) representing leaders, infantry, support weapons, vehicles, and two dice. Subsequent extensions were added to the original board game. They are: Cross of Iron (COI), Crescendo of Doom (COD), and GI: Anvil of Victory (GIA).

2.2. Advanced Squad Leader (ASL)

2.2.1. This is NOT Squad Leader. In 1985, Advanced Squad Leader was introduced as consolidated replacement gaming system for Squad Leader. It is another gaming system and is not interchangeable with Squad Leader. It has its own Vassal module, game rules, and unit counters.

2.3. Pre-advanced squad leader (PREASL) refers to any or all of the Squad Leader games (SL, COI, COD, GIA) that were developed prior to Advanced Squad Leader.

2.4. Hint: In this article, frequently used abbreviations are in parenthesis.

3.  The over-the-internet play (OTIP)

3.1. The Squad Leader board game is digitized and playable over the internet. The counters and boards are replicated and it’s possible to “sit down” with an opponent for face-to-face play or play by email.

3.2. How to install the software is discussed in Section 5 below, don’t install the software discussed in Section 3 just yet.


3.3.1. The software for OTIP is called VASSAL and was developed independently and separately from the Squad Leader board game. This software allows players to connect via the internet and play various games in real time. You first need Vassal to play VSQL.

3.3.2. Vassal supports multiple operating systems.

3.3.3. Vassal Web Page

3.3.4. Hint: Don’t use the Vassal Quick launch on the Web-Page. This downloads the incorrect version. Use the VSQL 3.0 Stand Alone link below in Section 5.

3.3.5. Historical note: Vassal began as "VASL" originally designed for the support of ASL. SL was played on VASL by modifying the counters and (of course) using different rules. When VASL was converted to VASSAL to support multiple games, the separate VSQL was created to directly support SL counters and play.

3.4. Modules

3.4.1. The Squad Leader game was converted to software for use with Vassal. Vassal calls these converted games Modules and the files are identified by the .mod extension. Vsql.mod is the software version of the board game. This contains play aids, charts, Line of Sight rules (LOS) and unit counters.

3.4.2. VASL is not VSQL. There are two separate modules for Vassal, VASL is Virtual Advanced Squad Leader and VSQL is Virtual Squad Leader. These are separate modules with different unit counters and rules and are not compatible.

3.5. Additional files.

3.5.1. Boards    All the original game boards are reproduced in graphic files. They are not included in the VSQL module and must be downloaded and stet-up separately. All boards used by ASL/VASL can be used for SL play, although some depicted terrain may not be defined by the preASL rules.

3.5.2. Scenarios    VSQL scenarios are the same as in the original board game. Scenarios provide victory conditions, board configurations, special rules, and force deployments. The VSQL scenarios files have .scen extensions (for VSQLv3, the .v3scen extension should be used).  Hint: The original scenarios introduced rules incrementally, play them in order to learn the rules.  Hint: Even better, use the Tactical Training Scenarios at Advance Phase, which also introduce the rules incrementally, but in an order better suited to learning tactics.  You’ll read how to down load both of these later.

3.5.3.  The difference between boards and scenarios  Boards are not scenarios and scenarios are not boards. A scenario is a game played on a board or boards. In VSQL, they are loaded at different times and places. A scenario may load a board(s) automatically, but you must still have downloaded and set-up the boards file separately.

4.  Materials for play.

4.1.1. Squad Leader Rules

4.1.2. Computer with internet connection.

4.1.3. Java

4.1.4. Combined Vassal/VSQLmodule Software

4.1.5. Files of Boards

4.1.6. Files of Scenarios

5.  Order of Set-up for OTIP

5.1.Install VSQL and Vassal in one download

5.1.1. Download VSQL- 30-Stand-Alone.zip

5.1.2. VSQL and Vassal installs automatically. The web page has a quick install link that downloads and installs the software automatically. The only required prompt is were to install the Vassal directory.

5.1.3. Hint: If you install the directory in the default directory, send a shortcut to the Desktop. It is easy to locate the directory for downloading modules, boards and scenarios later. If you don’t, you’ll end up clicking through lots of sub-directories.

5.1.4. The vsql.bat file starts vassal and vsql. Click on this to start the game.

5.1.5. Hint: If you sent a shortcut of vsql.bat to the Desktop, You can start VSQL with out changing to the vassal sub-directory.

5.1.6. Hint: Vassal offers a tour the first time you download it. Take the half-hour tour to become familiar with it.

5.1.7. Hint: Vassal offers to install a short-cut on the desktop – its a lot easier then using the start menu in windows xp.

5.1.8. Hint: Remember, you can’t start playing SL until you’ve downloaded VSQL, boards and scenarios. Think of vassal as the owner of the room in which you bring your game (the VSQL module, boards and scenarios) and meet your opponent.

5.2. Download the boards.

5.2.1. As of May 2005, the boards version is 4.2 plus. This version is required for LOS functionality in VSQL. A great strength of VSQL is the determination of Line-of-sight so you don’t need the original boards to play. The link below downloads a zipped file of many boards, including the original four SL boards.

5.2.2.  This downloaded file is approximately 15Meg and it is one zip file used to transport numerous boards. This transport file must be unzipped.

5.2.3.  Later, you’ll tell VSQL were to find these maps when you set your preferences in VSQL.

5.2.4. First, download a file containing many boards.  Create a sub directory in the Vassal directory called Boards Ver 4.2  Download and unzip the boards.zip file following the link below.  Hint: This file must be unzipped because it contains several board files but the board files are not unzipped.  Download VSQL Boards from War Game Academy
Also available at: Download VSQL Boards from Vassal/VASL  The correctly downloaded boards look like this:   vsqlsurvivalguide.gif

5.3.Download the scenarios

5.3.1. These (scenario set up files) files are a playable game for VSQL. They contain units, victory hexes, start-up locations and other information.

5.3.2. On the best sites these files do not need to be unzipped, unless you download one of the multiple-scenario files.

5.3.3. Hint: You can create your own scenario "start-file" by using the VSQL "File/New Game" to select and modify the boards to use and selecting the counters from the counter window. See elsewhere on Advancephase.com for guidelines on how to create and submit your "start files" so others can use them.

5.3.4. Create a sub-directory named Scenarios in the Vassal directory.

5.3.5. Click on the “Scenarios” link below.

5.3.6. Skip the “Submission Procedure” at the top and go right down to the Squad Leader table. It will name the Module, Source, Number and Scenario name. Go ahead and click on the number to download the zipped file.

5.3.7. Download and unzip the files at the below link into the Scenarios sub-directory you created:
Warning: A NEW site for VSQLv3.0 scenario start files is under preparation.    Download VSQL Scenarios from War Game Academy    Focus on downloading the scenarios 1 to 12, they are replicas of the scenarios from the original Squad Leader game.

5.3.8. The Tactical Training Series provide an incremental, tactics-based challenge to New Players. They are great to learn basic tactics from:    Download TTS Scenarios from Advance Phase


6.1. You’ve downloaded all the files necessary to play Squad Leader over the internet.

6.2. Now you have to set-up VSQL.

7.  Setting Preferences in VSQL

7.1. VSQL must be set-up to properly determine LOS, place unit counters and find maps.

7.2. Setting preferences

7.2.1. Start VSQL 3.0 by clicking the vsql.bat file.

7.2.2. Go to “Edit Preferences”


Click on “Edit Preferences”



7.2.4. Enter your name and information you want others to see.

7.2.5.  vsqlsurvivalguide2.gif


7.2.6. Enter the location of your boards and check the appropriate boxes.

7.2.7.  This tells VSQL were to find the boards you downloaded.


7.2.8. Preference options:
-- Consider NOT selecting the combined window option, this will give you multiple windows that you can move around/unselect on your desktop.
-- Consider checking the CNTROL-SPACE stack viewing option.
-- Above all else, be SURE that you have "auto-report moves" checked.
-- If you want to create scenario files for others, be sure to have "let opponents unconceal my units" checked when you create the file (otherwise nobody else can delete the "?" counters you put on the "scenario start" map).

7.2.9. Setting the LOS

7.2.10.  Select whichever color you prefer.



7.2.11.          VSQL preferences

7.2.12.           vsqlsurvivalguide5.gif

7.2.13. Add contact information (an email address) and your world TIME ZONE in the "personal info" section of Personal tab, this is can be viewed by others when you are on-line and can be quite helpful!

8.  Scenarios

8.1. Finally, the last piece of the set-up.

8.2. By now, VSQL should be running and configured per the above.

8.3. In VSQL open the file menu and load game.

8.3.1.  vsqlsurvivalguide6.gif

8.3.2. Select the sub-directory Scenarios

8.3.3.  vsqlsurvivalguide7.gif

8.3.4. Click on the scenario "start file" (ending in .scen or .v3scen) you wish to play.

8.3.5. The map and initial placement should appear on the screen.

8.4. Click the info button on the VSQL toolbar for a copy of the scenario "card" plus special rules, victory conditions and game turns.

8.5. Note: VSQLv3.0 contains new counter (squad, leader, vehicle) which track movement. If you are not using a .v3scen file, you will have to update the counters to 3.0 in order to use this useful tracking feature.

9.  Saving Scenarios games.

9.1. Simply create another directory, for example Saved scenarios and rename the file to that directory

9.2. Hint: Don’t save scenarios in progress using the original file name, you’ll overwrite the scenario file.

9.3. Hint: To play by email you need to open (begin) a logfile with "file/begin_logfile". From this point your moves and typing will be recorded providing you end your session with a "files/end_logfile" action, NOT a "files/save" action (which will not save your moves and actions).

10. Summary Table



War Game Academy

Great site for SL, Look for the Officer Candidate School.

Advance Phase

Great site for the beginner/intermediate player. Many articles on tactics, also includes the Tactical Training Series

Download VSQL- 30-Stand-Alone.zip

Download VSQL and Vassal installation files in one step.

Download VSQL Boards from War Game Academy

Download many Boards in just one zip file.

Download VSQL Boards from Vassal/VASL

Download Boards, files with boards 1~10, 11~20, etc. are available.

Download TTS Scenarios from Advance Phase

Download training scenarios.

Download VSQL Scenarios from War Game Academy

Download original SL scenarios.