With the current COVID19 situation making in person gaming difficult, I thought I would share how myself and others have played, streamed, and even ran tournaments of Warhammer Underworlds via webcam set up of varying complexity.
I'm not especially good with this stuff, so there are likely better ways of doing what I am doing. If you know of any tips to make my set up better, I'd love to hear it. This is what I've found success with so far, though.
To just play cam games with no streaming, all you really need is a computer, Skype, discord, zoom, or something similar, and a camera pointed at your game set up, which should be set up next to your computer screen. A webcam and mounting arm can really help with this, but they aren't really required if you can figure out a good place to position your camera.
Rob, an Underworlds player from The Netherlands has been playing web cam games with members of his local community, and sent me this great picture of his set up using a laptop camera:
Once you have your camera set up figured out, you can use pretty much any video call program to start a video call with the person you want to play with, showing them something like the below image:
In order to play the game, both players need to have their decks with them.
As far as models, dice, and boards go, there are two main options I call Mirroring and Single Set Up.
The only real limitation to either set up is that both players cannot choose the same board (or the one on the other side of one that is being used), unless you happen to have two copies on that board. The same goes for picking the same warband, though you may be able to proxy models to fix that issue. In my experience, these limitations are not that big of a deal in most cam games.
Option 1: Mirroring
Mirroring is, I think, the most commonly used set up for Underworlds cam games. The first time I played a cam game was with Max from the Battle for Salvation podcast, we used this set up, and it worked well (except that he beat me 2-0 lol). Basically, you both have a full game of Underworlds set up in front of you, and you copy the other player's movement as they move models around.
For this set up, both players will each need to have everything in front of them to play a game of underworlds: The boards each player uses, models for each warband, enough tokens and counters for all of the fighters, and the right number of Feature and Lethal Hexes. The only thing each player does not need to supply for their opponent are the dice and cards they will be using, though they may each want to have the opponent's fighter cards in view in order to place wounds tokens on them.
When setting up, both players should set up their cameras and video feeds as shown above so they each have similar views to those images. The main trick to this set up is to both position your cameras where your opponent would be sitting so your camera's output feed matches what your opponent actually sees in front of them. This makes it easy for both players to understand what is happening on the board as fighters are moved around.
Once you have everything set up, you just play the game! The main difference to playing in real life is you will need to refer to your opponent's video feed to see their dice rolled, and to match the movements of their models. You may also need to ask your opponent to remind you which upgrades are on which fighters, and which fighters have how many wounds, since you may not be able to see their fighter cards very clearly, depending on the camera set up.
Option 2: Single Set up
I call this option the Single Set Up because only one person actually has the boards in front of them, and the other person just tells them what they want their models to do. Although technically easier for one person, the single set up option can take a little more getting used to, and may feel a bit less like the real thing for the player without the models in front of them.
The advantages to this set up come when you start getting more and more complicated with your set up, and is my preferred mode for streaming cam games, both of which I will cover later on. It is also a nice way to invite people to play with you who might not have a camera, or may not have a space available to set up their own boards and camera set up, and you can just "host" the game on your end.
When you play this way, the player with the board set up needs to have everything except their opponent's cards. They set up the board similar to the previous images, but it matters less where the camera is placed, though it might actually be ideal to have it mounted to the side of the playing of the play area rather than where the opponent would be, as shown here:
The player without the boards in front them really only has to have their cards in front of them, and their dice if they want to roll them. If they do want to roll their own dice, they just need a camera set up on a dice tray or box where the dice are rolled. They could also have the camera include their discard pile and fighter cards if desired. If both players are comfortable with it, the other player really doesn't even need to do any of this, though, as the player with the set up can roll the dice for both players, and listen and remember/ask about the cards the other player plays.
To play, the player without the set up in front of them just tells the player with the set up what they want to do as far as moving fighters, rolling dice, and playing cards.
Cam Game Etiquette
I think it is worth adding here that due to the added complexity of the set up and increased possibility of confusion it may add to the normal Underworlds experience, cam games should typically be treated as the friendliest of friendly games, and allowing for mistakes caused by this confusion to be corrected is something that I would encourage.
As with any Warhammer game interaction, you always want to make sure you and your opponent are on the same page, as there can subtle but important differences between what is expected during learning games, test games, casual games, or tournament games.
Typically, I would just mention the increased likelihood of mistakes at the beginning of the game, and make sure you and your opponent agree on an acceptable level of confusion based take-backs and so on. Most players wouldn't want to win or lose because someone got thrown off by the camera set up, or forgot about an upgrade they might not be able to see very well, so I find this tends to be a good policy.
Streaming Cam Games:
To effectively stream cam games to Twitch for others to watch live, some additional set up is required. It took me a little while to figure it all out, but I think I have most of the set up to a place I am happy with.
Of course, if you do have someone to play with real life with you, you can also use these tips to set up a stream for a normal set up, which is actually much easier to do, since you don't have to also worry about all the complexity of the cam game aspect.
This is the hardware I currently use to record and stream cam games:
Laptop - A fairly low end gaming laptop.
I also have two additional monitors connected via this docking station.
Camera #1 (Dice Cam) - The Camera I use for my dice tray.
Arm #1 - A mounting arm for the camera.
Camera #2 (Main Cam) - The camera I use for the main board.
Arm #2 - A mounting arm for the second camera.
A table to put the game on. I got a basic $40.00 card table from Target and set it up near my computer.
Lighting - I have a number of standing lamps and desk lamps around my room, pointed in various directions. You don't want them to reflect too much into the camera and cause glare, but I find the brighter the room is the better.
A dice tray of some kind - If you want to do a green screen, make sure the tray is a bright solid color. Mine is red and works pretty well, but the classic green screen bright greenish yellow is ideal if you can find it.
Depending on what you want your set up to be like, you could likely get away with not having certain aspects of the above. Multiple monitors is nice but not technically required, and a separate dice cam is definitely not required. You might even be able to get away without an arm mount if you have a good place to aim the camera.
I use the below software to stream and play Underworlds WebCam games:
Skype - I find this voice chat platform to be the most reliable, but most (hangouts, discord, zoom, etc) will do the job. If you just want to play, this is probably all you need to use.
Open Broadcast Software (OBS) - I use this to create a video output that is more complicated than what just the camera sees, and it is the program I use to stream the games to Twitch. It requires some set up depending on how fancy you want it to be.
Score Board Edit - An OBS add-on that lets me adjust the scores on the stream with the click of a button. Optional if you don't want to do this part.
SplitCam - This program allows me to set my Skype output video feed to a browser window or monitor display rather than my camera. This is how I show the opponent the full OBS output rather than just my basic camera feed, and how my camera feed can go to both Skype and OBS at once.
Some overlay art and images - Truly optional, but nice for making your stream look nice. I had a friend of mine that is good with photoshop and whatnot make me a simple Beastgrave themed overlay that I think does the job well. You can find the files for it here, if you want to use it as well. You might also want some kind of logo or other images on your stream, so you'd need those as well. There really isn't any limit to how fancy you want things to get in this area.
Room Set Up
Ideally, you have a room where you can set up things and mostly leave them where they are between games. I have an office/game room/guest bedroom I use.
For this process, I am assuming that you are doing everything yourself while you also play the game. If you are streaming while someone else plays (such as at a tournament or a game night), then some of these things become easier or less important.
The first thing to do is set up your play area and computer so that you have decent access to both. I found the easiest way to do this was to set up a card table next to my computer chair, so that the table and my desk form something like two sides of a square, with my chair inside it. This allows me to reach my mouse, see my computer screen, read the Twitch chat, and so on while also being able to reach the game board.
Next you will want to set up the camera in a place where it can see most or all of the table, which should be large enough to fit any board set up in Underworlds. You will likely have to adjust the camera depending on the way boards up being placed, which is another reason the arm mounts are useful. When doing your initial set up, I recommend trying out long boards, diagonal boards, and wide board set ups to make sure you know how you will place the boards, models, and fighter cards, and what your camera angle might need to be as these set ups change. I have a bookcase in beside my computer desk looking over the game table, and I have my camera mounted to it with the arm.
For lighting, you basically want all the lights you can get, though camera settings can help make things better as well. I have about 50w of LED bulbs in my game room, and it works okay, but I would also be okay with more.
You might also want a secondary place to hold things like extra boards, or warbands that are not being used, but a chair or the floor also works okay.
If you want to use a dice cam, set up a dice tray
Computer Set Up
This takes some time, but once you have it set up how you like, it's easy to use from that point on.
The first thing you need is a Twitch account. There are lots of settings and whatnot to mess around with once you create it, but the main thing you need to get is your stream key. Once you have an account, you can find this by going to Settings, and then to the Channel and Videos page. You will want to keep this stream key secret, since anyone that has it can stream to your account.
Once you have the twitch account, download Open Broadcast Software (OBS). There are other programs you can use as well, but this is what I use.
Basically, OBS allows you to have multiple "scenes" made up of multiple "sources." A source can be anything from video feeds, text, images, video games, or one of your computer screens on top of or beside each other in different fancy ways. The scene is where these sources live, similar to a computer desktop, and the whole thing is what the viewers to see. You can have more than one scene if you want to, and switch between them, but they can only see one scene at a time. For example, one scene could just contain the logo for your stream that you would display when the game board was not ready, and another could have all of your camera feeds and scoreboard elements. For what is probably a much better way to learn about OBS, and the best way to learn how to mess with stream settings and whatnot, I recommend checking out their very helpful Wiki.
The most basic streaming scene would only have one source: the game board camera as a Video Capture Device source.
To start making things more complicated, you can add in images like overlays, logos, glory icons, and so on. Here I have added the images for the overlay.
Now I have added images for glory, the Path to Glory logo, and the warband icons:
Now I have added a box with my laptop's camera feed inside:
Next I want to add in the score board info. The app i use is Score Board Edit. Download and follow the instructions to link the document to Text (GDI+) sources. Here you can see my stream set up with the score board text boxes (with the Underworlds-ey font of Elysium Bold) added and linked, and what the scoreboard app looks like:
If you just want to roll dice on the board that works fine. If you want to have a dice cam in a small box on the side of the screen, that also works. If you want to have the dice roll over the screen, you will need to green screen your dice tray away so only the dice show up on the screen. You can see what that looks like here:
This is achieved by having the dice cam over the main camera, but using a Chroma Key Filter (right click the source and go to filers, then add a Chroma Key Effect Filter) to remove the color. My dice tray is red, so i have the key color set to red with these settings:
Above is without the filter on (the eye icon crossed out), below is with the filter on:
It is important not to use dice with the color you are filtering out, because it will make them show up very strangely.
Circling Back To Cam Games
Most of this has just been about how to set up OBS to stream your games. To play with this set up in a cam game, you will need your opponent to be able to see your output. To do this, right click the screen and bring up a Windowed Projector (Preview). This creates a window that looks like what you would be streaming. Maximize this window, but feel free to put other windows over it once you do.
Then download and launch SplitCam. Under video, make the video source the Windowed Projector (Preview). This lets you use this preview as your camera output in programs like Skype (which for some reason shows the preview image mirrored, but the person you call should see it correctly):
Now, the person you call can see everything: The board, the scoreboard, your camera, and whatever else!
With my set up, we have been playing using the single set up mode, and I will move models and roll the dice for both players. This way the other person just needs their cards, can tell me what they want to do, and this way they don't need a camera set up of their own.
If they did want to roll their own dice on camera, you can simply have their video up on your computer while you stream, and create a Display capture source to add to your scene. You can crop this to only have their video with the dice and cards or whatever else they want to see. If you wanted to do the Mirroring method you certainly could do that as well.
I'm sure there are lots of other cool things you can do, but this is what I've found to work so far.
It is even possible to run tournaments using cam games!
Rob from The Netherlands has held a number of events in a "Straight Outta Shadespire" series using cam games and Zoom meetings in order to run things. He even created a great event manual to help players through the initial process. I asked him how he ran the events and he advised me of the following:
in short, this is how it worked:
Everybody was provided the article / manual.
All contestants were added to the Whatsapp group and subscribed on Underworlds Deckers.
The zoom meeting was shared in the Whatsapp group half an hour before the start of the event.
Underworlds Deckers paired the matches after which I (as the organizer) dropped all the players is several break-out rooms within the Zoom meeting. In case you don't know what breakout rooms are, this is a great feature of Zoom in which you can make parallel meetings. So all games were played in a 1 to 1 meeting within the larger event meeting.
After 45min, I sent out an 'almost time to stop' message to everybody.
When the games were finished (we took 1hr playing time) everybody returned to the main session to add the scores into Deckers and do the next pairing.
We played 4 rounds, Best of 1, in total with a lunch break in between. Everybody agreed that this was a good time.
If you'd like to join the next event Rob is running, the information will be posted in the Warhammer Underworld Facebook group, like this post here (that event, the 3rd they have held, was actually today, bad timing on my part lol).
I think these tournaments are a great way to play with your local groups if physical play is not possible, and perhaps also invite others from farther away.
That's it, thanks for reading!
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