Note: I've used certain users pics/batreps to illustrate “best practice” or conversly where minor improvements could be made.
If you would prefer not to have your reps highlighted feel free to contact me and I'll remove them.
Below are a few tips and tricks I thought of which can be used to improve batreps or give general advice on how to write one up.
Feel free to comment/critique them and I'll update the post with any other tips people contribute with.
So when you write a batrep what are you actually doing?
You are telling a story.
You are engaging with the reader who has no knowledge of you and your opponent, the setup, table, terrain, armies, tactics, playstyle or outcome.
Bearing that in mind when writing a rep one must do their best to make it as clear, interesting, exciting and user friendly as possible for the reader.
I liken it to reading a child a bedtime story.
Would you not show them the pics in the story book?
Would you read them 500 pages before bedtime or the friendly shortened version?
Would you read them the middle first and then skip to the end whilst mixing in a bit of the start?
Would you read them half the story and then tell them you'll finish it next week with them?
Would you not make it fun and engaging for them?
Assuming you arent the Wicked Witch of the East “no” is probably the answer to all these questions.
Let your batreps be no different.
So without further ado lets get into it!
A very important part of any Batrep is layout.
Being honest I have yet to decide fully on what is best so maybe you guys can comment in here.
However basic ideas can be followed since 40k
is a turn based game.
Starting off with a small intro paragraph always sets the scene and gets people more engaged. Where did the battle take place, who was playing, why did the battle take place, was it a challenge match, did you have your car on the outcome of it?
Outlining the armies and points values should follow next with possible pics of the army (covered below).
I find a brief tactical insight from the players useful too
After that because 40k
is turn based its most logical to take it player turn by player turn. However some reps will take the game turn documenting it overall.
Both methods work well I feel aslong as the main points are captured and things are clear.
Where you place your pics in the layout can be important too.
There are a few alternative methods to this.
- The first is to write up your text paragraph describing the turn and then posting a few pics after it so readers can see what you meant.
- The second conversley is to post the pics first and then the narrative second, so readers can get a view of what happened, make up their minds as to its pros/cons and then see what actually happened.
- The third method is to intersperse your pics between the narrative so a line or two for the movement phase and then a pic, shooting and then a pic etc etc.
On that note some writers take a player turn as a whole and go through it from start to finish, whilst others will split it up into movement, shooting and combat.
I think both can work well and am undecided as to whats best. Any comments?
The fourth method for laying out your pics and text are simple one liners with a line of short, snappy explanation and then a picture.
Just be careful that the pics dont take over here and the rep runs to a huge lenght.
The final piece of the layout should include a wrap up or post game commentary, this can be as indepth or not as you like but including one gives a sense of closure and finality for the reader.
Heres an example of a well laid out rep:
A very short piece on lenght. Reps can vary in lenght to a huge degree and theres no right or wrong to them. The key thing to bear in mind is that when writing your rep and reviewing it afterwards is, if you think its too long, then it probably is and wont help engage the reader.
Tips below such as links/spoiler tags can help this though.
Make sure to cover what you feel was the most important aspect of the game whilst giving a coherent and balanced over view so the reader can follow the battle progression.
Bear in mind though not every single aspect has to be covered, as long as the rep flows well, readers will follow it, they dont need to know the dice rolls of your 40 guardsmen shooting or how many saves were failed in the 30 man melee.
Also if your Long Fangs omly shot once and killed one guy it maybe dosent need to go n the overall rep since it wont really affect things.
Use them! There isnt much more to be said on the matter imo
, if at all possible utilise them as much as possible in your batreps.
Pictures do several important things for a batrep:
Firstly they allow the reader to follow the ebb and flow fo
the battle more clearly. Its a real cliche I know but a picture really does tell a thousand words. Readers can see where units were, where they moved to and what the reasoning behind the move was. They illustrate the overall positions of units from a macro/strategic viewpoint rather than isolated moves which cant be conveyed as well with text alone.
Secondly pictures add an important visual aid to reps. Humans enjoy looking at pictures, we are stimulated by visual inputs as one of our primary senses. They engage the reader and help to add an excitment to whats going on and the indivdual engagments/battles that take place in the rep as a whole.
And thirdly they complement the written narrative of the rep, the two go hand in hand.
What sort of pics should you use in your reps?
I classify pics into two categories: Tactical and Action. Tactical pics will show a strategic view of the battlefield and the relative poistions of each unit to each other. They allow the reader to get a “generals eye view” of things, bearing in mind they have no clue of how the battle went since obviously they werent present during it.
can show things like:
the overall battlefield before deployment
Unit moves before and after
and game aftermaths amongst others
Its really up to you what you want to cover in your Tactical pics but I would recommened at the very least:
- Overall initial battlefield shot (either with or without initial deployment – if without make sure to add in an initial deployment shot for each side)
- Basic overall army moves per turn. I recommend this per turn but per 2 turns at the least. Anything less than that and manouvering and tacical moves wont be easy to follow for the reader and it detracts from the rep
Should you show each player turn too? That depends imo
on whether you feel your rep is a very big one but more importantly does the per turn pic capture both players movement? If so, then going into each player turn indepth is not necessary. There are games where little movement takes place early on or in certain turns, you dont need to document every single units movement, just as long as the reader has an overall sense of what happened.
- Any reserve/outflank moves that dont get captured in the overall battlefield shot and where they came in in relation to the overall battlefield
- A mid game over view (full “generals eye view” of the table) around the end of turn 3. This allows readers to take a step back and see how the battle is progressing, what has gone before and what could potentially happen later on
- An aftermath shot. This allows readers to reflect on the battle and perhaps comment on things that could have been done better tactically or see someting that heppened they wouldnt have normally seen.
The key to pictures is helping the reader to follow the story. They can add other thinsg as outlined above but that point is paramount. Everyone has different tactical ideas and playstyles and likes to comment on these and helping readers to see the overall flow of the battle clearly, enables them to comment and perhaps point out something you missed, which not only helps the rep but helps players too.
I'll include a small point on overall army pics in reps and whether to do this. I think they are a good idea overall, as again it makes it engaging for the readers and is a good aid alongside the army list. They arent absolutely necessary however and if the rep is getting to long perhaps think about at least spolier tagging them. But they can add a nice little pre game build up to things.
Use of arrows/kill markers/symbols within pictures.
Should they be used?
sparingly at most but probably not at all. I feel that if your pics are clear and you have documented the battle well they will not be needed. They can over complicate things unnecessarily and at worst make the rep just darn confusing. Its visual overload.
If you are going to use them, make them simple, just a high level view is all that is needed, your other pics will do the rest of the work for you.
The second type of pictures you can use in your batreps are Action pics.
These will not necessarily show the reader the flow of the battle (although some can) but are meant to capture important moments in the battle from a fighting point of view or an event that was outside the scope of the overall view.
Perhaps its the Avatar valiantly holding off a huge mob of Orks
a Titan annhilating a Baneblade
or battle to the death between old enemies
Pick what you think stands out as being epic or a really cool incident and get some close up shots of it for the batrep.
Be careful though not to overdo the action shots, they should suppliment the batrep not over rule it (unless you are writing a narrative rep as above).
Again spoiler tags can be used here, even combining them into a “what happened next” moment to add some excitment to the report.
Action shots are usually close up and personal, so take a bit of time getting the shot right and capturing the best angle, dont be afraid to get a models eye view etc for this.
One final point is on the quality of pictures. I wont comment too much here as theres lots of Dakka articles/general Web advice out there but a very handy little programme I use to adjust/improve my pics slightly is Picasa (http://picasa.en.softonic.com/
) and its free.
It has several features that allow you to sharpen, brighten and tweak your photos with and whilst it does take a little bit of time to go through each photo, its definelty worth it.
Remember, its the reader thats important here! If you put in the effort you'll get the reward
Narrative reps Vs Tactical reps
There are two types of narrative reps that I have seen, those that are text based and those that are picture based:
(I cant find a good example of a text based one so feel free to link here if you have one).
These reps tend to outline the battle like a narrative story e.g. “Yarrick surveyed the battlefield, the sand storm making visability poor but his bionic eye allowed him to pick out the main Choas threats, which consisted of two Land Raiders and a Daemon Prince who was skulking through the ruins of the city”.
They tend to allow the reader to make up their own minds on the tactical side of the report whilst highlighting any major events through the narrative.
I'll be open and honest here and prefer the Tactical sort of batrep, I feel unless the writer is very good, the narrative can be a little cliched and get a little lost in things.
However there are examples of great ones out there and they have their own merits.
The second and much more common type is the Tactical rep which simply outlines what happened in the battle and why, detailing manouvers, incidents and combats. Theyw ill comment on why things happened and sometimes include an analysis of it.
Each rep has its own merits and one should feel free to use what feels more comfortable and natural assuming that the reader can follow it clearly and it outlines what you want to get across.
Spoiler tags can be used in several instances when writing your batrep both from an aesthetic and narrative point of view.
The first instance is when laying out your army lists. Depending on what program you use / how you have written the list, they can be quite large in size and when readers are viewing your rep at the beginning this can be a little offputting. Using a spoiler allows the rep to keep its aesthetic lenght/layout in tact but with a simpe button click also allow the reader to view the list for reference.
Just make sure to put in above the spoiler what the army is and at what points its at.
The second instance of spoilers is with pictures. If you have lots of pics (10+) you might want to spoiler some of them. Not all of course but perhaps those that are more “action” orientated which was covered earlier. These pics are exciting and add a new dimension to the rep but are not actually essential in telling its story or helping the reader to follow the tactical flow. As such they might be spoilered to keep lenght down and also page load times. Remember everyones connection is different and having to wait a while for a page to load can be a turn off when reading a rep.
The points above cover the aesthetic aspect of a batrep. The other aspect is the narrative.
By this I mean inserting spoilers for things like: was an extra turn rolled for the game to continue or if the rep was on a knife edge, spoilering the Kill Point result. Perhaps your HQ
went up against the enemies in a titanic struggle, you needed to roll a 4+ to save your main unit - did you get it?, all of these exciting moments could be spoilered. Spoiler tags add that element of suspense and “what happened next tell me!” moments and really engage the reader. Just dont overdo them or abuse them. Moving your squad on turn one into that building dosent need a spoiler tag!
A final note on spoiler tags, if you feel your rep is a very big one (2500 points+, 6+ turns, lots of pics, lots of comentary), dont be afraid to spoiler this and that in the rep itself. This relates back to the aesthetic element and keeps the rep at a readable lenght for viewers. Spend a little time thinking about what could be spoilered with an eye to the viewer in mind. Heres one of mine that in hindsight was just too long and too offputting
Dakka pic hosting VS offsite
Many people use external picture upload sites for their batreps so lets get this out of the way straight up. Dakkas pic hosting does take more time to upload and arrange pics than something like imageshack (not from an upload speed point of view but merely when arranging, tagging, creating galleries etc). One must upload the pics, verify they are your copyright, create a gallery, perhaps use the image improver function and then wait for them to process. After that one must navigate to the gallery and forum code link each image seperately so it does take a bit of time.
However as with all things there is a trade off between speed and other factors when using external host sites and these are as follows:
- External site being down / bandwidth exceeded
I have seen this numerous times with people putting their pics up externally and it is extremely frustrating for the reader. The pics cannot be seen at all in some cases or you have to check back later to see if they have come online which really breaks up the batrep badly. Load times can also be painfully slow for external sites.
- “The work brigade”
Many readers access Dakka from work and external sites are often access blocked which means when viewing one simply sees a “-” where a pic should be. Whilst not a crippling factor (one can view when home/mobile etc), remember, these tips are there to maximise the enjoyment of the reader with your reps. Having a well written rep but the pics blocked because imageshack was chosen over Dakka again can be frustrating.
- Dakka gallery functions
Dakkas upload features have a few neat little tricks one can use when uploading your pics which can help the quality of your batrep. The first is the image improver function when you are processing your pics. This basically changes the color grade/tone of your pics once they are uploaded, giving them a more vibrant feel. It dosent improve things like grain, blurryness or focus but try it out on a pic and you'll see the difference it can make. Whilst is dosent need to be used on every pic, its a very handy feature if a pic didnt come out well colour wise.
The second feature is the image size adjuster. Once your pic is uploaded when you navigate to it where the forum code link is above that is a box that allows you to adjust and set the size of your pic from “normal” to very large http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/429905.page
The third feature allows other users to vote on your pics and comment on them which always adds to the community feel on the forum.
So to sum up using the Dakka gallery is much better than using an external site and barring a little extra time, which should be taken when writing a quality batrep anyways, theres little excuse not to use it (barring Lego spilling his tea over the server). I know its exciting when writing a rep and you just want to get it up and out there but take the extra time, it'll be worth it in the end.
I used to loathe these but they have become so common I just roll with the flow now!
However in all seriousness, if you are going to include a “who will win” pre game poll make sure to make it engaging.
Simply asking X or Y is frankly a bit lazy and very unengaging for the reader.
Include things like the army list, point values, army playstyle, player playstlye, mission and objectives rolled and get the reader thinking about the differnt tactical combinations possible and what might happen. Its frustraing to open a new batrep and see X or Y with little other info and it could lead to readers simply turning off from the rep.
As mentioned above, people in general like to get involved tactially with reps using their experience and views to comment on them, use that to your advantage and make things interesting for them.
“I dont have the time”
This is an issue for everyone and it revolves around having the time (or lack of) to write up a rep in one sitting which often leads to reps being posted half finished and left for a day or so in that state and then completed later.
We can all fully acknowledge real life commitments and how they can get in the way of writing of a rep or even more simply, perhaps its just been a long day and tiredness kicks in.
Eiter way my simple suggestion for a solution is this:
Write the batrep offline
Using programs like Word or Open office writer to write your rep offline and saving it to your harddrive to finish later is the easiest and simplist way of getting a rep done in several sittings and it means that you can upload it all in one go.
You can even insert Dakka gallery links to the document and they will still work when copy/pasted into the Dakka thread text box.
Is posting a half finished rep a crippling issue?
No, it is not but it can be (once again) very frustrating for the reader and a big turn off. It kills the excitment factor and leaves the reader in limbo. Whilst it can add a sense of anticipation to the proceedings I feel the negatives outway the positivies.
Working offline is a great solution and easy to do.
A big secondary bonus (barring a lightning strike) is the ability to save regularly, I've written reps and then hit that X button by mistake or the back button and it is truely crippling!
A final point is writing a rep and deliberatly leaving it half finished to garner views or coments.
I personally dont agree with this and never will, I think its disingenuous and a little pointless fi your rep is of a high quality anyway.
However, to each their own.
Just bear in mind writing a quality rep takes time and effort but if its done well it will (most of the time) get the recognition it deserves. Let you reps stand on their own merits.
Whilst technically not part of rep writing I'd thought I'd mention this.
We've all written reps that have taken time and lots of effort and they get X amount of views but no comments and it can be quite disheartening.
However dont take it personally, I recall soemone saying a while back a lot of the Battle Report forum readers are lurkers and really only comment if something controversial happens or they feel perhaps a mistake was made in the game.
A once off bump is ok for a rep but dont worry if it dosent get 3 pages of comments, many people really appreciate reps but just have the time to comment on them.
Added By Obrek
Another good tip is that if you are doing a multi game report for a tournament or event and are not posting each battle at once, either:
1. Bump the original thread with the following games
2. Create a new thread for each game, but put links to all of the other reports in the same "series."
Using slideshows for Batreps by SabrX
Another nice battle report layout is using slideshow. I personally use Picasa Web Albums for my battle reports. It's a nice transition from pic to pic and can be posted on multiple sites just by providing a link.
Some users post battle reports on their personal blog or website and post a link to it on various popular 40k
forums. By centralizing battle reports to a personal website, it make it easier to edit and it is a great way publicizing said personal website.
My only view on that SabrX is that its an external host site which dosent help those viewing from work and those sites again may go down for maintenance etc periodically.
However its a good idea having things centralised and slideshows certainly add that "movie element" to a batrep which is great.
edit - 10/11/2012
A great set of reps from P and AI here - covers a lot of bases, seriously recommended as reading material/tips:
Thats about it!
I hope the write up helped and gave some pointers on how to write up reps.
For every good rep posted, someone, somewhere learns something new and thats what its all about really in addition to the reader enjoying the read.