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Subject: How to play Hammer of the Scots PBEM with ACTS and Vassal rss

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Forest Green Hobbit
United States
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Since the site has been down for a couple of year now, I thought I would post this article on how to use ACTS and Vassal to play Hammer of the Scots PBEM. With all the back and forth in battle resolution, I had originally thought that PBEM HotS would be too difficult. Turns out, it is not soo bad and PBEM gives one plenty of time to think.

Here is what you will need:
1. An ACTS account. If you don’t have one, you can get one free here:
2. A copy of Vassal and the HotS Vassal module. You can get Vassal for free here: and the HotS module is here: NOTE: The Cyberboard Gamebox posted on Columbia’s web site here: is to the best of my knowledge based on an older version of the game. It has incorrect values for some of the blocks. The latest Vassal module seems up to date. Of course, one can always set up a physical copy of the game to substitute for Vassal’s function.
3. An opponent who has all this too. Geekmail me if don’t have an opponent.

You will use ACTS to deal and play the cards, roll dice, and to record your moves. You will use Vassal to keep a copy of the game and keep track of position and to draw blocks from the pool.

To get started:
1. Decide if you and your opponent want to use the OPTIONAL Schiltrom rule. Since this rule is optional, both players should agree on its use before starting. As it is an optional rule, if not discussed beforehand, it should not be used.
2. Set up a new game on ACTS. This is pretty self explanatory. Go to, and click on “New Game” under Hammer of the Scots. Click that you are ready, select a scenario, give the game a name, select your side and then select who you opponent is going to be in the drop down box. Your opponent needs to have an ACTS account for this to work. Finally click on ‘Create Game”.
3. Set up a new game on Vassal. Start Vassal and open the HotS module. Select FILE > SCENARIO > and then the Scenario you want to play. When it asks you which side, “Join game as which side” be sure to select SOLO in the drop down box. This is IMPORTANT. If you select English or Scots, you will not be able to see or track your opponents blocks. (Only select English or Scots if you are playing someone live (not PBEM) on Vassal). Then click FINISH.

To play:
Every time something happens on ACTS, you will get an email with a link to your game's page on ACTS.
Play Cards: From your game’s page on ACTS, you will be able to select cards to play under the “Strategy Cards” section. Your available cards will be active hyperlinks. Previously played cards sometimes show up here as non-hypertext. Do not confuse these with your available cards. You can see how many cards are left just above the “Strategy Card” heading.
Move: From your game’s page on ACTS, click on “Send message to all players”. Type in your move and send it off. I usually use the format below as an example for a 3MP card:
“Lothlian: 1 to Fife, 1 to Lanark
England: 1 to Lanark
Norse: Strathspey to Fife”
Roll Dice: From your game’s page on ACTS, click on “Submit die roll request”. Select the number of die to be used. ALWAYS include who is rolling. (I like to put that on the first line of the message). I also like to include the status of the battle just before the dice were rolled. For example:

“3/4A3Wallace rolls
Battle Angus, round 1:
Scots: 3/4A3Wallace, 2/4C3Douglas, 3/3A2Norse, 2 in reserve
English: 3/3B3Angus, 4/4C2York" [Angus is a B3 here defending his home area.]
“Herald Bruce” [this would be what to include in a Herald event roll]
“Celtic Unity Welsh Archers” [this would be what to include in a Celtic Unity roll]

NOTE: Unless all blocks rolling are IN SEQUENCE and OF THE SAME FIREPOWER, you must roll for each block SEPARATELY.

Winter: To winter just write down eveything you might do like this:
"Scots Winter:
Agus goes home from Mentieth
Comyn goes home to Badenoch from Argyl
Disbands: 1 in fife
Wallace winters in Selkirk from Argyl
Moray: draw 1, build 1
Angus: draw 2, build 1
Selkirk: build 2
Scots postition after Winter:
Argyl 2
Moray 2
Angus 2
Badenoch 2"

See Past Moves: From your game’s page on ACTS, click on “View game journal” to see the history of the game.
Using Vassal: Keep track of block positions and your block’s strength using Vassal. Double click on a stack to separate it. Click on an individual block to move it. Right click on a block to change the number of steps, disband, or eliminate it from the game (kill). Be sure to save your game so you can bring it back up later.
To draw from the Pool: In Vassal there is a draw pool for the Scots and one for the English, both located in the North Sea. Vassal automatically randomizes anything you put into these pools. So to draw from the pool, you just drag a piece out and it will be a random draw. Adjust the strength of blocks drawn from the pool accordingly. For the English levy: 1) just draw a block from the pool and drag it to England. 2) draw another from the pool and set it aside, 3) repeat 1 and 2 until the pool is gone. This will ensure you have randomly drawn half the blocks in the pool rounded up.

Do you have the most recent version of the game? If you don’t have Version 3 (as of this writing) of the game, make sure you have the most recent rules, blocks (labels), cards, and mapboard from the OFFICIAL web site:
HOWEVER, As I previously mentioned, the Cyberboard Gamebox on this page is not current. Also some of the translated rules are not current, AND the link to “Hammer of the Scots online” on that page which takes you to works, BUT the site itself is just static and dysfunctional.

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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Graduate of Barlinnie
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VENI, VIDI, VISA - my reaction on entering my FLGS.
Like a good red wine, I improve with age... and being laid.

I envy guys like you... My brain hurts just playing it normally.


Est. 1949

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