Friday 25 March 2011

On the Campaign Trail....

I expect that most wargamers have at some point tried taking part in a campaign. My first introduction to this aspect of the hobby was back in the very late 1970's when I was lucky enough to take part in the very tale end of Eric Knowles's Madasahatta campaign set in a late colonial/early WW1 period. That in itself was great fun but I was more actively involved in his next campaign - the WW1 inspired South East Asian Naval campaign fought using Fletcher Pratt's naval wargames rules. Again, this was enormous fun and as an aside was responsible for my life-long interest in matters Ottoman Turkish. It was basically WW1 in the far east as far as the opposing forces were concerned and generated some truly memorable wargames, still fondly remembered by those that participated. Sadly, to the best of my knowledge, no written accounts of this campaign (unlike Madasahatta which produced a couple of period newspapers and are available to read on Bob Cordery's Colonial Wargames website: exist which is a shame as it would have certainly made for a stimulating read.

Both of these campaigns provided much in the way of entertainment and the concepts employed have stayed with me and have shaped much of my thinking along the lines of setting up and running any of my own future campaigns. I have a number of ideas for campaign material - the mention of the rivers earlier was quite intentional - and I have wrestled with how best to tackle this, both as a solo and club night undertaking. I think I have reached a solution to this issue and in doing so it will allow me to not only see the campaign through to its conclusion but also, and more importantly, ensure that the required level of enthusiasm can be sustained both from myself (that should be easy as it is my pet project!) and the participants.

The biggest hurdle to overcome in organising or running a campaign has to be that of sustaining the interest and enthusiasm of the participants. I offer no definitive answers for this problem (human nature being what it is) but my own thoughts on the subject are very much along the lines of keeping the scale and intent at a small level, at least for the club night games - regardless of whether or not the overall intent of the campaign is epic in its scope. An example of this would be (and using a topical subject, at least for me anyway) an operation based on a tributary of the Mississippi, say the Yazoo or the Red River - in other words, a campaign within a campaign. This would probably be more achievable in terms of gaming in a club environment than the whole war on the rivers - a tasty side dish rather than the full main course.

My idea then is to run the campaign at the strategic level myself with the tactical events being handled by the participants if appropriate or myself if needs be, depending of the strategic situation arising. The club night action will probably be at the 'linked scenario' level and the results will be then be applied to the overall 'big picture'. To support this, and as a way of keeping the all important interest alive, I intend to produce a campaign journal/diary detailing the action as it occurs, suitably embellished with the appropriate period 'feel'.

The trick will be to ensure that the tactical and campaign level rules are of a similar level of complexity so that the action flows in a relatively seamless way and the transition from strategic map to tactical table top is handled sympathetically.

The map work is already under way for this and the forces are being amassed and I am hoping that ultimately this campaign will prove to be suitable finale to the work and effort thus far expended. It will be a lot of fun (I hope) and if it is even half as successful as the two campaigns mentioned earlier I will be a very contented and happy wargamer!


Paul O'G said...

campaigns are great but youve recognised the real challenges - better a smaller, complete campaign than the grand campaign abandoned after 2 turns methinks. Good Luck mate!!!

David Crook said...

Hi Man Cave,

You are so right! My plan is incorporate elements of the 'big picture' into the lower level stuff but making each link in the campaign trail self contained.

Thats the theory anyway!

All the best,