Above the Fields TRC
The "How to Use the PBeM Aid" is a general description. I’ll try to explain the system in a bit more detail anyway.
For convenience, I start a new folder for each game in The Russian Campaign folder (C:\Program Files\Above the Fields\The Russian Campaign). I label the file with the name of the opponent, but any suitable name can be used. Any game turns that I receive from that opponent, I’ll unzip to that file.
When you open the game, the map is visible on the screen. In the upper left is a list on menus reading from left to right: "Files", "Map", "Left Click", "Right Click", "Combat Display", and "About". Below this list are 11 icons in four groups. Holding the mouse pointer over the icon gives the title of that icon. Pressing the icon button yields the same result as left clicking the selection from the menu. I’ll explain the menu items:
Open Turn: Left clicking (LC) on "Open Turn" opens a file selection window. You may have to move up or down levels to find the folder in which you’ve place your game turns. LC the "Up One Level" icon just to the right of the "Look in" box to move up a level. LC the folder you wish to enter and then LC the "Open" button to move down a level. Only files with a ".trc" label should be shown. Select the file that you want to open by LC and then press the "Open" button. After a brief pause, the selected file will open placing that file’s units on the map.
Save Turn: LC on "Save Turn" opens a Turn Question Box. The box asks if it is the end of turn with "yes", "no", and "cancel" as options. After you "move" in an impulse, you want to save the move but NOT reset the unit starting positions just yet – so you select "no" for not end of turn. After combat in an impulse, you DO want to reset the unit positions for the beginning of the next impulse or turn – so you select "yes" end of turn. A LC on either "yes" or "no" opens a file save window. Type in a file name. For example: I save the Russian May 41 impulse movement as "Rmay41m" and then LC the "Save" button. Each time that you save a file, two files are actually created. One file is labeled ".trc" and the other ".cbt". While just a single file "Rmay41m.trc" will show in the window when you reopen that same folder, if you use Windows Explorer to look in that folder, you will see the two files, one labeled "Rmay41m.trc" and one labeled "Rmay41m.cbt". Both files are used for each save despite whether it is end of turn or not and despite whether it is a movement or combat segment of an impulse. The ".trc" files contain the unit placements at the beginning and end of the save, and the ".cbt" file contains notes and die rolls. Because there is generally no "combat" during movement, this file will normally be pretty small when you save the movement segment of an impulse. But, you could use the "combat" box to leave a note such as "unit moves through this rail hex" or you might need the die roll for a sea invasion during movement. For a complete turn then, there will normally be eight (8) files:
1. "Rmay41m.trc" – Russian May 41 Move (unit placements)
2. "Rmay41m.cbt" – Russian May 41 Move (notes/die rolls)
3. "Rmay41c.trc" – Russian May 41 Combat (unit placements - retreats)
4. "Rmay41c.cbt" – Russian May 41 Combat (notes/die rolls)
5. "Rjun41m.trc" –Russian Jun 41 Move (unit placements)
6. "Rjun41m.cbt" – Russian Jun 41 Move (notes/die rolls)
7. "Rjun41c.trc" – Russian Jun 41 Combat (unit placements - retreats)
8. "Rjun41c.cbt" – Russian Jun 41 Combat (notes/die rolls)
Undo Last Move: LC this to return the last unit moved back to its position before movement.
Move All: LC to move all units in a hex as a group. Mouse arrow changes to a multiple arrow. LC and hold the group with the mouse arrow. Drag units to new location and release mouse button.
Zoom: LC makes a map showing the entire board at one time. Zoom is not very useful because you cannot move units on this map. You might want to try adjusting your monitor [Right Click (RC) on a blank desktop area, on the menu that opens LC "Properties", LC "Settings" tab, adjust slider in "Desktop Area" box to 1280x1024 or 1024x768. These settings give almost the whole map on the screen without using the "Zoom". But, if you have a small monitor, the units might be too hard to see at these higher settings. Or, the "flicker" might be too hard on your eyes.
Move: LC this to select the option to move units. LC any unit and drag it to its new location. Hank’s set does not monitor your move, so you are responsible to move correctly.
Return to Start Hex: LC this to move unit back to its "start" position. Mouse arrow changes to a hook arrow. Then LC specific unit(s) to be returned to starting position. The starting positions are reset when you "save" end of turn "yes".
Combat: LC this to select the combat option. The mouse arrow changes to an "anti-tank gun" icon. LC on the unit being attacked (or the unit where a note is being left). A die roll box opens. If combat, LC an odds dot. LC "Bone" button to roll the die. Type some note into the comment box, e.g. "DE". When combat involves attackers in contact with multiple defenders, please comment which units are attacking which defenders. LC "Close". A pink die roll marker shows at the left of the attacked unit. Change the mode back to "Move" from "Combat" and remove or retreat units as necessary during the combat segment. You can select a die roll modifier that is added to the "Bone" die roll. Say, for example, you are rolling a lot of "2’s". Maybe, you think, adding "3" to your roll will bring you better results. Well, you can do it, but don’t depend on getting better results as the rolls are still random and the "3" on top of the "5" that you now roll will give you a "2" result again. This box can also be used during the movement segment of an impulse to make notes or to roll for invasions, transfers, or evacuations. If the box is used to leave a "note", the die roll still has to be made and still shows, but it means nothing. The "Move" and "Combat" modes can BOTH be used in the movement and combat segments of an impulse. A bit confusing – what! After the file is saved, the pink die roll marker changes to green and moves over to the right side of the unit or the unit’s former position.
Rotate: LC to select this option. RC (or LC if "Move" option is also selected) will rotate through units stacked in a hex. Each click places the bottom unit on the top of the stack.
Surr/Rail/Rep: LC to select this option. RC on a unit to place a "surrendered" marker on the unit ("S"). A second RC changes the "S" to "R" for "unit moved by rail". Only Axis and Russian units moving against the rail allowances are marked. The free rail provided to most incoming reinforcements and replacements is not marked. A third RC changes the "R" to "r" for "replacement unit". Only replacement units - not reinforcements - are marked. These markers just help identify units moving by rail, units being replaced from the eliminated pile (generally Russians), and units that are permanently out of the game.
Show Combat: LC to select this option. RC on a hex with a die roll marker to display the "combat result" box. The box shows the odds, die roll and "comment". LC "OK" to leave the box.
Show All: LC to select this option. All combat markers, if any, are displayed.
Clear All: LC to select this option. All combat markers, if any, disappear.
About: LC to display credits.
Icon buttons do the same things, but may be handier to use.
The game generally starts like this: Rules are agreed. The Russian player provides his set up. The German player sets up in the end of the first movement impulse positions. Generally between experienced players, there is no point in providing a German set up. Just ensure that appropriate German units are attacking appropriate Russian units during the 1st impulse combat.
The game generally proceeds like this: When you receive opponent’s move, place (or unzip) all files to a folder established for that game. Open the TRC program and then open your opponent’s latest impulses. Make your 1st impulse move including leaving any notes (such as, "Went through this rail hex") and invasion die rolls. Save as "not end of turn". Do 1st impulse combat. Make the loss selections for your opponent (not in accordance with the rules, but it speeds up the game) as well as yourself. Usually, the unit that your opponent would choose to lose is obvious, but if you are in real doubt, go ahead and e-mail your opponent the choices. [You can then continue finishing your combat and save, but hold off on the next impulse until your opponent responds with the unit he wishes to lose.] Put both your dead units and your opponent’s dead units in the sea on either side of Russia. This gives the opponent a chance to quickly see what units were lost when it becomes his turn. Your opponent, at the beginning of his turn, can then place all dead units in the appropriate replacement pool with surrendered units off to the right of the "Turn" column. After all losses and retreats have been made, save as "end of turn". Then proceed with the second impulse. Do it in the same manner as the first. Then zip all eight files together and e-mail to your opponent.
If we don’t use historical weather, the Russian during his last combat impulse preceding each turn requiring a weather roll places a roll on Hitler. The German places an "Archangel" roll on Stalin before each turn during the period that the Russians receive Archangel replacements.
If you make an error such as move a unit too far (an inadvertent forced march?), your opponent can either accept that move or request that you redo the whole turn. This may sound pretty dramatic for a simple error, but it’s pretty easy to do a whole turn and a bit hard to keep track of small errors. That is how Hank Burkhalter plays because he usually has quite a few games going at one time. I don’t have many at the moment, so we can see what happens.
I know that this is pretty long, but I am going to save it so that if someone else needs to know, I won’t have to start from scratch. I don’t know much about computers, so some of this is guesswork and may not to totally accurate. Correct me if you spot an error.
Errors and Corrections (8 Jul 99):
Text File: If your opponent has Hank’s set, you DO NOT need to send this file. Hank has added a text (Notepad) file to each save with his newest version (Version 1.2). This text file shows the beginning and end position of each active unit and marker, and the file also notes those units that did not move and those units that are marked with "surrender", "rail", or "replacement" tags. This file is created with each save and carries the same file label as the ".trc" and ".cbt" files but with the ".txt" file format label. You can find the file with Windows Explorer. The file can be printed for use with PBM or copied to be used with PbeM opponents who do not have Hank’s set. All units located in hexes A1 through QQ31 are listed (this includes units placed in the seas). All others are "off board" and are not listed. Units that arrive from "off board" or exit to "off board" are listed.
Undo Last Move: The "Undo Last Move" icon button and the "Return to Start Hex" menu selections are quite different. While both have the same "hooked arrow" appearance, the Undo Last Move button only returns the last moved unit to its position before being moved – not necessarily its "Start Hex". When a unit is moved, the Undo Last Move button turns green. Clicking the BUTTON returns the unit back to the position it occupied before being moved. The button then grays-out until another unit is moved. If you move three units in succession or one unit three times, pressing the green button will only return the last unit moved to the place occupied before its latest move. Selecting the "Return to Start Hex" menu item will change the pointer into a "hooked arrow". Clicking any UNIT will return that unit to the position is occupied when the file was last saved as "end of turn". This should be the beginning of each movement impulse. Well if you cannot understand this, just practice a while with the button, saving files, and the "Return to Start Hex" menu selection.Charles G McLellan