So my other group, the one Shawn DM's, had some problems using MapTool. We are playing through Keep On The Shadowfell at the moment, and we got lucky and found a campaign file that someone had used to convert all the maps and enemies of The Keep on the Shadowfell into MapTool usable data. It is a really nice set up that works rather well. Unfortunately, we happened to game at my house one time. Shawn and I were in my living room, Lance and Kristina were in Seattle. Shawn forgot his laptop at home so he had to run the session off of my desktop and he did not have the data for the campaign. So, MapTool was not feasible.
We got Skype working and were chatting with Lance and Kristina while Shawn was fiddling with something in Excel. I didn't quite see what he was doing, but it looked like he was basically converting the pdf maps of the adventure into an Excel spreadsheet. He then created and labelled little shapes to represent Erevan, Blinders, and Cerra and the hordes of Kobolds we were about to face. I believe we were outnumbered two to one in that fight.
Shawn then uploaded his little spreadsheet and sent it to us via Gmail. We then played what amounted to DnD Battleship. Blinders moves to J3 and Weight of Earth's the Kobold at K3. The Kobold at J7 bloodies Erevan as he moves into and out of J6, etc. It actually worked quite well. Shawn really rather liked the way it went so apparently we will be using that till further notice.
Which is fine, it works and we don't really need all the tool tip displays and dice rollers and chat features of MapTool. They're nice, and the macros are handy for using healing surges and rolling initiative, but I find myself nostalgic for "old school" gaming with reams of paper and pencils and dice clattering about like plastic thunder.
It was a neat little thing Shawn did and I like it. I am excited to play again.