I’ve been using the DM Battlescreen for a while. This is a nice 4E combat manager whipped up by Dzmitry Khimaroda (aka Phantom Palmer on WotC boards). I’ve used a few others before and likely might do a round up review. But so far this has been my favorite.
One feature I like is that you can prepare a slew of battles independently of running them. You can keep a list of characters and monsters in a repository, and draw from that pool in the future. So if you choose to enter in a full monster stat line, you can access it repeatedly. You can also directly export monsters from WotC’s monster builder and online character generator. I’ve been pretty lazy and just entering the HP and defenses of monsters, but being able to continually have access to the same monster entries is pretty nice. So once the work is done, you can whip up a combat encounter in a snap.
You can group creatures by initiative, another nice feature. I also like that I can take a large group of similar monsters and split them into 2-3 initiative groups if needed. I can also put monsters in a pool to take them out later. Pretty handy if I want to introduce monsters in waves. Another really nice feature is that I can color code monsters. You automatically have a number associated with creatures, but having an additional color code helps tons in identifying which monster on the tabletop matches those in the program.
You have a lot of flexibility to heal, and add conditions to monsters. I also like that you can easily delay a combatant and jump it right back into the fray with a click. As you tab through the combat, any conditions that are in effect will pop up for the current combatant. I also like the format that you can see the order of combat, so if someone wants to know when another acts, you can pass that information along. Additionally the entire system can run diceless, and the program can handle a variety of rolls and modifiers.
As with all these types of programs, there is a little bit of a learning curve. For the most part I find things pretty intuitive. If a combatant attacks an opponent, you click on the opponent and apply (or heal) the damage. It is a little clunky if you have a monster that is slain and pops back up, but the program can handle it with a little fiddling.
Overall though I’ve really liked this program. It is fairly robust and has some nice features. It is a bit clunky adding monsters into the program from the monster builder, but that is mostly the chore of running WotC’s program and saving creatures individually. I’m still a bit old school though, as I primarily want just to keep track of HP and defenses using the program, keeping the abilities and powers handy on a printed sheet. However, the functionality of DM Battlescreen is pretty robust, I likely have to think about utilizing the program to its fullest.
If you’ve used this program, or have another personal favorite, feel free to chime in with your thoughts.