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Instruction: How to play Totaler Krieg with Cyberboard

How do I create a game file (.gam) out of a scenario-file (.gsn) and how do I play the game?

Download-location for TK-Cyberboard-Module and scenario files

Note: a new VASSAL TK- module is available, allowing PbEM and online live gaming. This program is java based and runs on different platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac…), and it is a great alternative to the CB module. The latest versions of the VASSAL game engine and the TK mod can be downloaded at www.vassalengine.org.

.gam, .gbx, .gsn, .gmv – what is it and why do I need it?

First, you need the game. A game with all its maps and counters is saved in the *.gbx format (“Gamebox”). You can download the Totaler Krieg gamebox here.

A TK scenario file includes the counters and force pools and some additional information needed for the game

Scenarios are saved in the *.gsn-format where the force pools and setup are already prepared and adjusted according to the scenario. The TK gamebox already includes the Standard Campaign setup file. More scenario files can be found in our scenario collection here. In addition, it’s very easy to create setup files yourself.

This scenario.gsn file ist the starting point for your game. Once you launch a scenario.gsn file, you create a “game file” (*.gam format) in which you will later record all your moves, play the playback, roll the dice, and write messages. And, which is most important, only here it is possible to create the “Game History” in which the entire game will be archived. The game files are side-specific, so German counters will be locked to the Allied player etc.

If you simply push counters in an open scenario file (.gsn) without creating a game file, you won’t have a game history or recorded move to send it to your opponent – you are just changing setup. Finally, moves and turns are recorded in a move file or log file (*.gmv) which are send back and forth between the opponents and you are opening these log files within your game file. This sounds complicated and quite confusing, but it’s very easy – once you open the game, you will understand how it works.


It’s not very useful to do your game setup in the original scenario file (because you will want to use it in the future, perhaps with another setup)  or if you do your setup in your own game individual file. It’s also not very useful to log your setup into a movefile or log file because your opponent will be forced to watch the entire setup process by playback before he can do his setup. This will only cram the game history and it isn’t very thrilling to watch hours of log files which show the opponent’s setup process.

The best solution ist that the starting player opens the desired Scenario.gsn, does his setup in this file and then saves the scenario (under a new name, but still with the .gsn ending to prevent an overwriting of the original scenario start file). He then sends this new scenario file, which already includes his placed counters, to the next player who will do his setup in this file, too.

Once all players finished their setup, the starting player receives this final scenario file. He then creates from this scenario file the individual game files (.gam) for each of his opponents. From now on no more game files or scenario files will be mailed to the single players, but only log files (.gmv) will be sent to play the game. Each player then includes these log files into his game history.

How to create the initial game files for the players

  • Open “Cyberboard Player.exe”
  • Load the desired scenario by “File” – “open” – “Scenarioname.gsn”
  • The scenario file opens. Here you have to create the player profiles and designate owners for the different trays.
  • Insert number of players (a “0” deletes all information entered before)
  • Edit players: PROJECT – EDIT PLAYERS. Here you can assign individual names to the players.
  • When done, you can designate the tray’s owners (if necessary), in order to make them invisible to the eyes of the other players (e.g. for his option cards, hidden units etc.) or to protect them against unauthorized access: In the main window, where you can find the scenario information, click on the respective tray or Force Pool etc., so that it appears in grey. Click “PROPERTIES” – “BOARD’S OWNER”. A list of available players appears and you can choose the new owner. You can also adjust if and who of the other players is allowed access to this protected tray or force pool. If you prohibit access to an object, this object becomes invisible to the other players (this isn’t very useful for Force Pools because all players are allowed to see them, but it can be quite useful for Option Cards).
  • When you finished editing these preferences, save the scenario with “Save as” under a new name (to prevent overwriting). Then you close the whole thing.
  • Now load Cyberboard Player.exe again and click FILE – NEW – GAME.
  • The program asks from which scenario the game will be constructed. Enter the location of the previously created and saved scenario file.
  • A window opens where the program asks if you want to create a “Referee File” (Spectator File). It also creates an individual file for each player, which will be distributed to the respective players after finishing the game file creation. Here you have the opportunity to change the player’s names.
  • The Referee File (if any) should be distributed to one player who later includes the single log files there. By doing this, an archived version of a complete PbEM game will be available for later reference or for distributing to other persons who are interested in the played game.
  • If you click “okay”, the program asks you to name the basic file. Here you choose the game’s name (for example “Betatest”, “TK-1-M” or what naming system you prefer). The program then creates some files (one for each player), which are named in a combination of this name and the player’s name. (e.g. Winston Churchill.gam, Spectator.gam etc.). Confirm this program message.
  • Mail the individual .gam files to the respective players.
  • From this on no more game files will be exchanged – only LOG FILES will be sent by email in which all moves, actions, texts and dice results are saved. These files will be integrated by all players into their Game History in their own, individual game file.

How to create these log files and how to start the game?

  • The first player opens “Cyberboard Player.exe”. Open in FILE – OPEN your individual game file with your name.
  • The game file will be loaded and besides all types of windows (Map, Force Pools etc.), the scenario main page with the scenario description appears, together with an empty Game History. If you opened a “normal” scenario.gsn file before, you will realize that the menus now changed and contain different options and buttons.
  • It is possible to record your moves and texts – i.e. your turn. In order to do this, the player opens the map. If you followed our suggestion and did the setup before creating the individual game files, you can now start with the first turn.
  • If you move your first counter (out of a tray or already on the map), the program automatically starts recording. You can check this by looking at the status bar – the envelope/disk icon is bright-colored now. If you want to move a counter, simply push it over the map by clicking with the mouse. It isn’t necessary to use complex systems such as the compound or plotted move; the counter movement will be recorded hex by hex and played in the same manner when the opponents load this log file and press the playback button. It’s a matter of taste which move method you prefer, but as a beginner you should move the counters just by clicking with the mouse from one hex to the next – here you can decide the playback speed and you could stop after watching your opponent move a counter to a single hex to check if there were some problems or errors in his movement. A compound move runs automatically when your opponent watches the log file, but leaves a trace of his path. A Compound Move may be unclear if you use a low monitor resolution and the counters move out of your focus. Later, if you are more experienced in using Cyberboard, you can choose whichever move method you prefer, maybe to speed up the game and reduce the number of clicks. For the moment, simple drawing with the mouse should be sufficient, as you would do it in face-to-face-play on a real game board. By the way, remember that counters in TK are drawn one at a time, except when retreating together in a stack!
  • When you finished your move, click on the letter with the disk icon (“Save active game”). The program asks for a name of this move file. Here it is recommended to accept the suggested file name (we like to use the “historical” player’s name, for example “Winston Churchill.gmv” for the western allied player). Another window opens where you can give a clear and descriptive name for your move (for example: “Attack on Kiev” – everything you enter here will appear in the game history; the better and more informative your name, the better the game history!). Finally you can enter a detailed description of your actions which will also appear in the game history.
  • This file will be sent to all opponents. They now load their own individual game file and click on “Game History”. In the control bar a yellow envelope icon appears. If you click on this icon, “load Recorded Move File” appears. Here you can load the just received player’s turn which will appear in your game history with title, date and description. If some files are missing because opponents forgot to send them, a warning appears, telling that the game isn’t recent and complete.
  • Once the opponent’s move appeared in the history, you can click on “REPLAY” below this window. In the history appears “History Entry Playback”. If you open the map, you can see that the playback buttons are now black and active. If you click on “forward”, the program jumps to the active area and shows the counter’s movements. This can be watched step by step. If you saw enough or if you reached the end of the playback file, you click on PLAYBACK – CLOSE HISTORY PLAYBACK (you must accept it first, or you can reject it if it contained too many mistakes!). You then can start with doing your own movements and actions. All you do and everything you touch from this point on will be recorded immediately (have a look at the bright envelope with disk icon!).
  • It’s not only possible to move your counters, but to roll the die and to enter messages, too. If you want to roll dice during your turn, just click on the die symbol in the map’s status bar. The program asks what type of die you want to roll (sides, number…). You also have the opportunity to enter a text message here, for example to designate your die roll. Then you click on “SEND” which includes the die / dice roll into the log file automatically. When the opponent plays back your file, a message pops into action when you rolled the die, informing him about this die roll and the result. The same is true for any message you wrote by clicking on the “ENTER MESSAGE” button (Icon: a hand with a pencil). It is even possible to roll a die in the message window.
  • Don’t forget to click “CLOSE PLAYBACK” after watching the opponent’s moves. If you don’t, all buttons are grey and you cannot do anything.
  • Take care that the move files are entered carefully and in the correct order into your game history (this is especially important if you play a 3-player game where all players get all files, even if a file doesn’t concern them at all).
  • All move files have to be entered in the correct order into the spectator file, too.
  • Please use clear descriptions of your moves, you have enough space to be creative.

Now you can start the game!

Example: Start scenario D1.gsn

…do your setup and create the 2 players (Western allied and Russian) in scenario-file D1.gsn (it is write-protected, so you are automatically asked for an alternative name, for example “Russian setup.gsn”. Don’t use special letters or umlauts such as ä, ü, ö because of potential email problems!) and send it to your opponent.

He then will do his setup in this new file and send it back, for example as “Western allied setup.gsn”. You then create the single game files out of this scenario, and probably a spectator file, if you want to. Your opponent, who will play the Western Allies, will be sent the ‘Churchill’ gamefile. In this file he will include your log files in future turns. You keep the ‘Stalin’ gamefile because you play the Russians. Then you start your first move, write your messages, make your die rolls etc. and then send only the movefile to your opponent.

Your TK PbEM has started!

May the dice be with you 😉

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