Board Games Spreadsheets

Why spreadsheets?

Various board games impose bookkeeping requirements which can get in the way of playing the game. With a suitable aid the bookkeeping can be done for you while the players get on with playing the game. For many games a suitably programmed spreadsheet is adequate. This is the start of a collection of spreadsheets to do such tasks.

What the spreadsheets run on

Obviously the spreadsheet has to be available when playing the game, which means it needs to run on a portable device. These spreadsheets were originally written to run on the Psion Series 5 palmtop computer (or any later device running EPOC, such as the Series 5mx or Series 7).

The choice of the Psion 5 was obviously because I owned one. However that decision was made at least partly so that I could produce applications such as these spreadsheets for portable use. Personally I think a palmtop is a better solution than a laptop for such situations.

The drawback of the Psion 5 is speed, at least for complex spreadsheets. In some cases spreadsheet update is not instantaneous, however it should not be a problem for any of these spreadsheets.

I have now converted these spreadsheets to Microsoft Excel, which should have a wider appeal. This conversion should be automatic, using PsiWin but previous experience has shown that this often not the case the case (and never the case if appearance counts). Note that this means that the progamming may not be particularly good on the Excel version. (It may also not be particularly good on the Psion version, but for other reasons.)

Which games are included?

Current spreadsheets are for the games: Also note that I have also produced spreadsheets for the WRG's figure wargames DBM and DBR. These are available here.

Downloading the spreadsheets

The spreadsheets can be downloaded here:

How to use the spreadsheets

The spreadsheets are considered in turn below.

Advanced Civilization

The purpose of this spreadsheet is to keep track of civilization card purchases, both overall and for the current turn. It will support up to eight players (although you need to scroll off to the right on the Psion 5 to see the seventh and eighth players). You can name (or at least initial) the players by replacing the fields originally set to the strings P1 to P8.

Each player gets two columns for each card. (The cards are alphabetical rather than being grouped by type.) In the left hand one put the turn number on which the turn is purchsed. The current turn number must be put in cell B1 (near the top left of the spreadsheet). This must start with turn 1, as supplied.

In the right hand column the current price of each card is shown, taking into account all discounts for already owned cards. If the player does not have the necessary prerequisites then the price is shown in parentheses (). Once a card has been purchased (on an earlier turn than the current turn) the price is blanked out.

At the top two lines show, in the right hand columns, purchase totals, for each player. The first (Total) is of all purchases (including this turn) at full value, hence showing card victory points. The second (Purchases) is of this turn's purchases only, at current discounted price (hence showing the total price to be paid this turn). In the left hand columns the same rows show numbers of cards owned and purchased this turn, respectively. Finally column B is used to show how many players have purchased each card.

The spreadsheet contains various error checking. If # signs start proliferating, you've probably entered an invalid turn number.

The Excel version uses a lightly coloured background to show those cells which are user-editable.

Age of Renaissance

The purpose of this spreadsheet is to keep track of advance purchases. This spreadsheet is, in effect, an improved version of the Advanced Civilization spreadsheet described above. Obviously it only handles six players (all of whom appear on the screen in the Psion version).

Each player still gets two columns for each advance. Advances are shown in the order A to Z, with description. Again use the left hand column to enter turn numbers, with current discounted prices shown in the right hand column, blanked out if purchased earlier. The current turn number is again cell B1.

At the top two lines again show overall and current purchase totals, for each player. A third total line shows this turn's total Misery Relief.

The new feature of this spreadsheet, compared to the Advanced Civilization spreadsheet, is the presence, after the advances, of leaders. Again the left hand column is used to show the turn in which the leader's credits are claimed (whether from play or Patronage is irrelevant, in the latter case payments to the original player must be handled outside this spreadsheet, including the cash flow issues which may arise).

To handle the case of those leaders (Walter the Penniless and Marco Polo) which have two possible values, cell C1 may be used to indicate if this is a Crusades turn (enter a C) or a turn on or after Mongol Hordes have been played (enter an M). Note that these are mutually exclusive (the latter voids the former). After this turn a C must be deleted (an M may be left to the end of the game).

The leader credits include the effects of Written Record. The purchase total includes any discount for previous advances when Printed Word is purchased.

Error checking includes that a leader is only used on a single turn. Some subtle errors (such as that only one player without Patronage can ever claim a leader, or that one leader a turn can only be claimed by a sinle player) are not (currently) checked for.

Time Agent

This spreadsheet keeps track of RPs and VPs as events are changed and technologies are uninvented and reinvented. It is my opinion that such a spreadsheet makes the game playable (although I still have not decided how good I think it is) as keeping track by hand during the game is fiddly, time consuming and error prone. When I have used the spreadsheet we have copied the values to the score track at the end of each turn.

Using the spreadsheet is simple. To uninvent a technology or reverse an event make column A non-blank on the appropriate row (I use a single x). To reinvent a technology or re-reverse an event make it blank again. Read off the RPs and VPs in rows 3 and 4. That is all there is to it (and there is a summary in row 1).

The Excel version uses a lightly coloured background to show those cells which are user-editable.

Other games and comments

Apart from 18xx record keeping, which I have played with but do not have anything worth releasing, I don't have any definite plans for specific new spreadsheets at the moment. Suggestions are welcome (although of course if I do not play the game I will not be following it up - that still leaves plenty of scope however). Similarly ideas for improving the current spreadsheets are welcome.

The formal bit

The game names are trademarks of their publishers, which are recognised.

The spreadsheets are only any use with the game, as they only provide certain bookkeeping functions. As such I believe they should not be any threat to the publishers (even to a computerised version of the game which would make these spreadsheets look very limited). They might even help the publisher if they make play easier. To support this a condition of use of these spreadsheets is that you must own a copy of the appropriate board game. (No, it is not enforceable, but on the other hand without the game the spreadsheets are pretty useless. I have no intention of releasing anything that would be otherwise.)

These spreadsheets are still in what I would regard as (hopefully late) beta test. (The condition, and amount of testing, obviously varies.) There are no faults I am aware of, but they come with no guarantees for fitness of purpose or anything else. (If you lose a game due to using them I'm afraid you're on your own - but do let me know.) In short they may only be worth what you paid me for them.

Obviously if you have any comments, suggestions, corrections or whatever I would appreciate them. Any used will be credited here. If you want to be informed if I correct or otherwise update the spreadsheets then drop me a line. (No guarantees, but I dislike erroneous software out there with my name on - and knowing there's someone else actually interested would give me some satisfaction value.)

Contact information

Christopher Dearlove (author, spreadsheets copyright 2000-2007).

Currently I am chris@mnemosyne.demon.co.uk. My web site is at http://www.mnemosyne.demon.co.uk

If you play board games and live (or work) in Essex, especially Chelmsford, England, drop me a line. Alternatively come along to The Chelmsford Games Club.

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Last modification: 8th September 2007 (simplified some zip files, minor changes to some spreadsheets).