Three subjects to cover on this issue. Online wargaming platforms.
*wait a second, that’s one not three !!!!*
Wrong. That’s three. And I will explain.
PBEM. Vassal. Live play.
Vassal is a tool. Nothing else. A framework ( with strengths and shortcomings ) that allows anyone to assemble components and recreate any boardgame within the virtual space and play it. While it lacks the three dimensions projection it can also be perfectly suitable for some miniatures wargames that do not rely heavily on 3D line of sight, such as DBA, Lost Battles, and similar.
Vassal includes a fairly simple logging system that records every action undertaken by players and that can then be sent ( via comms application, email, etc ) to others, so they can watch what the opponent has done – step by step – and recreate those moves on his own saved virtual table.
It is exactly the same principle as playing chess remotely and just telling my buddy the moves by text message.
Regarding wargames the experience feels so impersonal that I cannot find any enjoyment out of it. With chess I am okay with it. With Vassal no, I’m not.
Enter live play.
Twice per week for 2 hours we enjoy live play of napoleonic era OSG Napoleon’s Wheel. This is a novelty for me but feels alive ( with the discord chatter ) as opposed to the impersonal play by email. Call me old’fashioned…
Now I am okay with it, although I prefer Tabletop Simulator, and I can endure a couple hours of live play and chatting.
And here resides the strengths of Vassal ( and other tools likes TTS ). Live play.
Sit down for 2 hours, chatting in voice comms, and moving pieces around while learning a new game or teaching a game or enjoy a familiar game.
One doesn’t NEED to finish the game in one sitting. One can save the “table” and continue any other time.
PBEM ? No, thanks. Is like playing “the computer” but only once a day or even less.