Improved Initiative: Running combats with the Combat Manager v1.6.0

Posted on December 15, 2009 by


This is the second part of the D&D 4e Combat Manager v1.6.0 overview.  In my last post I introduced the program and highlighted how simple it was to build your permanent PC/Creatures library to use in your encounters.  Now, I’ll quickly go through an actual encounter so you can see how useful this program can be for your games.

The most useful thing for me about this program is the ability to create your fights ahead of time, save them as encounters, then load them up as you need them.  If you need to remove or add characters or monsters, it’s very easy.

I created an “Encounters” folder to store my pre-built encounters.

Once you load an encounter, you’ll see all the participants in the “Reserve” spot on the left.  Now here’s a cool trick:  In the library, you can add the conditions that your PC’s and monsters can cause during combat, so that they are only a click away once you start fighting.  It’s a real time saver.

So on to the combat.  You can choose to roll initiative for the entire table all at once, or manually enter the rolls as your players call them out.  I find that my players like to roll their own initiative, so I’ll let them continue to do so as I use this program.  I’ll manually roll the monsters as well.

Here’s where you handle the initiative for the combatants.  The PC highlighted in blue is the one you are currently entering initiative for.  You select him by single-clicking on him, then either enter his initiative or hit “roll initiative”.  He’ll automatically move into the “reserve” box in intiative order with everyone else.

The once thing I’ve found that I’m not too crazy about is that the program automatically defaults to a surprise round, and there’s no quick way to assign the “surprised” label to a combatant. You have to go into the conditions section and apply from in there.  I think it would be more intuitive to have it be a part of the initiative tools instead.  Also, being surprised doesn’t limit you actions as far as the program is concerned.  It lets you expend as many powers as you care too when it should just skip you completely in the initiative order.  Also, it assumes that the first round is a surprise round always, and doesn’t let you skip that label and start from round 1, I wish it did.

So once you’ve got everyone’s initiative roll it’s time to play.  There are three tabs there in the middle. Stats/Initiative/Damage & Healing.  The stats has the combatants basic stats at a glance for you, while the initiative tab lets you delay or ready an action, and the damage/healing tab lets you adjust hitpoints and add temporary hp as the combat moves along.  I’m not really doing it any justice, so download it, try it out, and I think you’ll be as impressed as me with its ease of use. Add in the fact that you can import character builder and monster builder files and it becomes a no brainer.  This program is in my opinion a serious contender for the must have app as far as initiative trackers go.  It needs way better documentation, it needs a few tweaks that I mentioned at the top, and maybe a tutorial.  Once you get past the learning curve, it’s a piece of cake.

Here’s a screencast I recorded of a very, very quick combat sequence so you can see the program in action.  Be kind, I recorded this at 1am, tired and groggy. I’m a dedicated blogger.  🙂

Edit: I see it’s not really legible.  Oh well. Try to follow along. It’s my first one, I’ll figure it out.

Posted in: 4e D&D, DM Tools, Gaming