Which Battle Reports Are the Best?

Hello, miniature gaming enthusiasts! SaltyJohn from TFG Radio here to discuss which of the Battle Report formats I think are the best.

Battle Reports are not a new thing. From White Dwarf battle reports in the days of yore with a picture of the board and arrows showing you where things went, to the heyday of the written batrep on places like DakkaDakka and the various blogs. Today though, the bat rep has changed to a video-oriented format for the most part. While this is superior to the written battle reports in many ways, not all Video Battle Report formats are created equal.

Twitch and other streaming sites plus the ability to upload long videos to YouTube have ballooned the length of the miniatures Battle Report. However, is longer and more, really better in this case? Well, I think that depends. I think it is important that I state up front that I find watching games of Warhammer 40k or Age of Sigmar for 1-3 hours pretty boring, the exception being games that are contentious, have players who are good personalities, or have shout casters that are funny. Really, the content needs to be entertaining! So that’s criteria number one, entertainment value. The second criteria would be educational value, for the viewer on the game. In terms of format there are uploaded Live Streams, long-form battle reports, and short-form battle reports. Long-form battle reports come in a further two types, edited and unedited.

As someone who has streamed games, and been asked to shoutcast games I know just how hard it can be to make a game between two limp fish opponents or a lopsided battle entertaining to watch. Those are also games that are hard to make educational for the audience. If the players don’t interact much, or well, and the game is completely lopsided then finding teachable moments can be just as difficult as making it entertaining. For this reason, the uploaded Live Stream format is sometimes really hit or miss. Because so many streamers just automatically upload every game they live stream from an event you can end up with some extremely boring and/or unhelpful content. In my experience, the only time uploads of Live Streams get a lot of attention is when something highly controversial occurred in the game. Someone cheated, got a penalty live on stream, was a poor sport, had their models pulled live on air for not being up to the painting standard etc. The only way to make the majority of Live Streams relevant after the fact Battle Reports would be to comb through, edit it down to key moments, and do a voice-over to link it all together. For anyone who knows what they’re talking about with video editing and production you know that’s a lot of work for probably minimal payoff. This is why most Live Streamers just smash that upload button on YouTube and put the whole 1.5-3 hours up. If you look at video game streamers, like Dr. Disrespect, they put in some effort to cobble together highlights of their streams and post them to YouTube, for them this is easier because the action in FPS, TPS, or even SC2 is self-explanatory as you watch. With 40k, AoS, or the more popular historical games, that just isn’t the case.

Unless the production quality is good, uploaded live streams just aren’t entertaining.

The next kind of Battle Report is the long-form batrep. These I define as videos over an hour in length. They come in two forms the unedited and the edited. By unedited I mean the batrep is basically a series of long video shots of turns, usually from a single camera angle, that might be edited together. They are very similar to Live Stream games. Edited means they either filmed specific parts of the game on purpose or went in and heavily edited and produced the footage for best effect. With these, the edited form is almost always going to be better in terms of entertainment and educational value. It’s especially nice when you find long-form batreps that have/had a clear purpose in mind from the outset and they produced the video in an entertaining and educational format on purpose.

While long, a well-done long-form batrep can be entertaining and educational.

I define short-form battle reports as videos that are under an hour. Short-form batreps are the best in my opinion. They can be concise and to the point. Due to their shorter run time, they both keep people’s attention and can be made entertaining and educational more easily. They also benefit from providing a lower barrier to entry so to speak. For example, Little Wars TV is a YouTube that puts out great short-form content for historical miniatures games and even if I don’t play the games I can still find those interesting to watch, something that I can’t say about an hour plus video of a historical miniatures game.

These are great if you don’t watch them you should.

The “40k in 40min” series from Play On Tabletop is probably the best example of great short-form miniatures content out there. The videos are relatively quick, they are edited together beautifully, and the players have interesting games and interactions even when it might be lopsided. The other kind of short-form battle report is the ultra-short kind. These are usually between 8-30 minutes long and are really focused on giving broad overviews and focusing on key elements in a game. They run the gamut from high production quality to almost guerilla, early YouTube, style videos.

The ultra short-form is my personal favorite because it can be made to be entertaining, educational, and concise. Which in my opinion is great because even if you queue up a dud, it’s over fast! Leave your choice(s) for best miniatures battle report creators in the comments! I am always looking for good content, and I know other players are as well.

Tags:

About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

10 Responses to “Which Battle Reports Are the Best?”

  1. Avatar
    Dakkath March 1, 2021 3:18 am #

    I still prefer text over video or podcast. Easier to parse the information and go back and search for stuff.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr March 1, 2021 3:29 am #

      I like written reports too, but they really don’t get the views or attention of the video battle reports, so nobody really does them.

      • SaltyJohn
        SaltyJohn March 1, 2021 8:04 am #

        I agree with both of you.

      • Avatar
        Edward March 1, 2021 9:59 am #

        What do you like about written?

        Details?

        Thought process behind stuff?

        Pictures of the table? If so, how many? End of every phase? Turn?

        Would recreating key moments of the game on TTS for perhaps better visuals be appealing? Or even if the game happened on TTS?

        I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to format written battle reports – because I know the audience is still there but I’m not sure how to not have them be 5,000+ words and super image heavy – or is that the appeal behind them?

        • Michael Corr
          Michael Corr March 1, 2021 12:11 pm #

          I’ve done both written battle reports and video ones, and the written ones take way longer in my opinion. It would frequently take me twice as long to write up a full length report than edit a video report.

          I used to post the written reports on FLG, but honestly, they got zero interaction from readers, so I just gave up.

  2. Avatar
    Yarium March 1, 2021 10:06 am #

    The thing I don’t believe that live-streamers of this game have figured out yet is that this game largely takes place “in the future”. “The present” in our game is fundamentally boring. Measuring distances, rolling dice, removing models. These are not exciting things. What is exciting? The NEXT dice roll, the result of the NEXT move, the question of “what are they going to try to do NEXT”?

    Send me in coach, I’m ready to help live stream these games! Let’s get Whiteboard operating, get some graphics like what GW and the LVO Nopen have done for their “state of the meta” articles for silly expositions on player and list strengths, and let’s start talking about how we can be excited for what happens NEXT.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr March 1, 2021 12:09 pm #

      One of the difficulties of talking about what you are going to do next is potentially giving your plan away. I do like it when battle reports talk a bit more about tactics than just simply observing a game and watching dice roll.

  3. Avatar
    Colinsherlow March 1, 2021 11:34 am #

    I prefer short form like you mentioned. FLG did great videos where the players would talk about what haooened and what their plans were turn to turn. Really great. I also love written battle reports just as much.

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 1, 2021 12:07 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed our videos! Would be cool to do them again but man they took a lot of time to do correctly.

  4. Avatar
    Casey H March 2, 2021 7:18 pm #

    Not wanting to turn this into “Hey, ima gonna pimp my FAV!” but one youtube/dakka poster uses slides, about 8 to 20 depending on the game. He narrates his way through photos and intersperses with movie or TV clips added for humor. His delivery can be self effacing or direct saltiness at GW mechanics.
    He’s funny. He has really good timing on jokes.
    Each video is limited to 14 minutes.

    On dakka he is “Twilight Pathways”. On youtube, look for “Priority Orders Discarded”

    Shout out to Reece, Frankie & Mariana for those time elapsed batreps that clocked in around 20 minutes. Miss those, but understandably acknowledge they’re a lot to work on.

    -Casey H

Leave a Reply