Following on from last weeks post, I thought I'd extend the model free time a little and clear my draft folder of all those posts that are half written, so here's a piece that's been sitting in the Draft folder for a while......
Over the years I've used several list building programs, from online forms and excel spreadsheet to the purpose built programs, and I thought I might write up my experiences and what I've learnt. Granted, many of you will all ready be using a program, possibly even one I don't know about, but hopefully this will be useful to someone.
When I started playing years ago list building relied upon a codex and a pen and paper, something which seems to have been lost but still is essential for checking lists. The number of times I've seen people mess up lists because they haven't checked the actual codex for points and options is quite high. Most of the time it makes very little difference, occasionally it has made a huge difference.
When I first came back in to 40k I went looking for a list building tool to help build lists and understand how the new CAD setup worked. At first I started with some online builders, mostly as these were the first ones I came across. I can't remember the specific sites that I used, as it was a while ago, but I found many of them frustrating to use. This was either because I had to register in order to print or save lists, sometimes only being able to save to the site and nothing else, and also because they were usually fairly hard to navigate and out of date. This may have been because I stuck to the free sites, I wasn't going to pay for something I knew nothing about!
This less than satisfactory option lead me to find ones that I could download, which lead me to a couple of excel based builders. These meant that I could save more easily and make a few updates as needed, which they quite often did. This did make life easier up to a point but excel is not the best system for list building and not being a whizz on excel, it meant that I got confused when trying to update the formulas. The main issue I found was that they layout for the lists were often quite messy or hard to navigate once prints, either because to get everything on one sheet meant it was far to small to read in a hurry or you had lots of sheets that didn't flow very well.
So I went back to the internet and found Battlescribe, then got horribly confused about how to make it all work and found army builder instead. Now I really like army builder, its some and easy to navigate, everything I needed was there in front of me and I could chop and change things around as I pleased, as long as there were only three units! Yeah, I didn't pay for the pro version, kept thinking about it but never did. So I used to select my units and upgrades, write them down or write them in to excel and the delete it and move on to the next unit. I got on really well using this system, even if it was a little long winded and I probably would have carried on with this if it hadn't been for two things; one, you can't get it on a mobile, well not to my knowledge anyway and two, someone liked the Battlescribe data files page through Facebook.
Now this changed a few things, as it meant that I finally figured out how to get the data in to Battlescribe, without having to input it all myself and it also meant that I could use it on my mobile. So once I had loaded up the data files and fired up the program, everything became rather easy. I really like Battlescribe a lot, its easy to use, everything is pretty much where you'd expect it and it all works very well. Again, I haven't paid for the Pro version, so the adverts can be a tad annoying and you cant edit any of the names to make them specific to my armies, but that's not really a problem, as in some respects it keeps things simple for the opposition. The fact that you can print out the list in various formats is very useful, not that I have printed any yet as I don't own a printer! Battlescribe has also taught me a few things that I didn't know about, as someone has read a few of the codices better than I have. This has been good in a few ways and bad in others, but its kept me on the straight and narrow, which is useful.
So, overall, I really like Army Builder (found here), its quick, simple and easy to use, but its has its faults, but Battlescribe on the other hand, whilst a little more fiddly is better in pretty much every other respect (found here) and its the one I would recommend. I'll keep an eye open for other builders, as there may well be better ones out there, but for the moment its Battlescribe all the way.