Hello all, Delboy here.
Following ORicK's very good post (Found Here - http://community.spa...-scenery-types/ ) I've decided to dredge through my archives to post the rules and scenarios for a Land Campaign entitled Lodestone that we ran over the summer the the South East Scotland Wargames Club. Hopefully we can build a resource that encourages new starts and veterans alike to get their teeth into campaigns in general.
The Lodestone Campaign
Overview of Campaigns in General
Before I rabbit on, extolling the virtues of our preferred campaign system, I think its probably a good idea to set down our thoughts regarding campaigns and their types.
In this section we will look at the various types of campaigns we have played in over the years and assess their effectiveness when fitted into Dystopian Wars.
Flowchart (a simple flow-chart based game best employed using 2 sides.)
Pro - Simple and effective for two players or when forces are divided equally (Axis vs. Allies). Allows the Campaign Organiser (CO) to pre-plan the games.
Con - Games move on a very linear path and early success can cause the campaign to become futile unless the later scenarios are unbalanced.
Narrative (a purely story-driven campaign where the CO decides the direction of games depending on previous results)
Pro - All campaign operate best as part of an on-going narrative. It provides relevance and engages players.
Con - Tends to be reactive and puts pressure on the CO to provide write ups, articles and later scenarios.
Map (a visual map is used to play out a large world-view game)
Pro - Visually engaging. Players gain the benefit of a situational aspect in their tactics and fleet deployment.
Con - Requires lots of rules/scenarios to be written to best make use of the Map. The effect is often an illusion due to poor movement rules (fleet to fleet) and strange situational factors (ie The Men from Auntie). Requires gaming assets that most players don’t have.
Resource (uses a ‘sector-based’ area of control where players stake their territories before each game)
Pro - Easy to use/design since the games follow Spartan’s game-set up rules with alterations to Lists made depending on how many ‘Airfield/Industrial/Naval Sectors’ an individual controls.
Con - Has no situational relevance and so lacks drama or gaming purpose.
Ladder (players are ranked in order of their victory points scored overall)
Pro - the easiest campaign to play as it merely uses the VP (or CP) system to give players a total scored throughout the games.
Con - Not really a campaign in itself and requires other campaign dynamics to be included otherwise the gameplay becomes dull.
So what’s best?
Well that’s all dependent on which style of gameplay your group is focused on.
If you’re an Outcome-Focused gaming group the Ladder or Resource method works best.
If you’re a Task-Focused gaming group, a Flowchart method is your best fit.
If you’re a Story-Driven group, then the Narrative or Map mechanic is most suited.
If you’re an Innovation-Focused group (the type that likes to write your own rules), a Resource or Map campaign is best.
Clearly, without knowing the mental make up of your gaming group, there is little point in starting a campaign that doesn’t fit the mind-sets of the players who will be playing in it. (Tourney players part of a Outcome-focused group might struggle to enjoy a narrative based campaign where the CO decides the make up of fleets playing in it on a game-to-game basis, for example)
But if the CO and players choose well, the effects of a well run campaign on any gaming group can be more pronounced than first realised. If we look at outcomes its clear to see where the positives might lie.
Flowchart, Narrative, Map (and to a lesser extent Resource) Campaigns allow players to write their own history/background to their fleets and the heroic Captains/Formations that exist within it. This also serves to increase the longevity and gameplay of Dystopian Wars in general
Ladder Campaigns allow players to test their fleets under tournament conditions, with a clear measure of success/failure. This gaming-practice can be invaluable for tournament preparation and the Ladder aspect helps focus the players on victory conditions and methods.
In our experience groups tend to gravitate into one of these two camps anyway, as like minded individuals band together. But it is clear that the Ladder/Tournament mindset suffers worst from longevity pressures and is most likely to be vocal regarding perceived in-balance within the game in general.
The Lodestone Campaign Design Objectives
We had a long chat about exactly what we wanted to achieve when writing this campaign.
*How many players?
*How do the join in?
*Which style of campaign suits us best?
*How long should we play for?
*How do we inject drama into the campaign?
*How many resources do we need to allocate as a club/member to play?
*We’re SESWC so multiple inclusion was a pre-requisite.
*Provision needs to be made for players to join and leave at will
*Our group is quite diverse (with a good mix of Outcome, Innovative, Task and Story gamers) so as many aspects of the campaign structure should encourage all players to get involved.
*Nobody wants to be stuck playing a game forever, right? But we also don’t want the campaign to end prematurely (because someone overtakes everyone......)
*Drama….? Hopefully that will take care of itself as the players compete….
*Do we do Maps? Obviously the immediate answer by most folks would be Yes!….but the more we thought about it the harder it would be to keep a sense of drama…..
We decided quite early on to make the land game our focus. For the very simple reason that this would allow us to trial our system in a more standardised/common environment (we have played more land campaigns over our many years of combined gameplay than sea campaigns). However we hope the lessons we learn from our foray onto land will allow us to translate the concept easily into the sea game (or indeed any combination of land, sea and air!)
We settled on a campaign where we used the following mechanics.
Axis and Allies
Fortunately there are 6 nations at present….so we split them down the middle
Federated States of America + Kingdom of Britannia + Covenant of Antarctica becoming the Allies.
Prussian Empire + Empire of the Blazing Sun + Republic of France becoming the Axis.
This allows us to pit nations against each other with relative ease….Axis vs. Allies style!
It also helps when players join or leave the campaign (although admittedly it becomes more of a problem if one side loses or gains more players - to fix this we ensured that the many ‘Story-players’ with multiple fleets were willing to swap sides if the balance of players went too far out of whack!)
Flowchart with Narrative Scenarios
After much deliberation we settled on the Flowchart Mechanic, but with a few noticeable differences. Using a circular method in the middle part of the campaign should hopefully give the feeling of cut and thrust as dominance in the region continually shifts from one side to the next.
In this simple (?) set-up, emphasis is put on Outright Victory (OrV) to achieve victory in both the scenario and campaign. If either the Axis or Allies fail to achieve their outright victories, their campaign stalls and the game moves laterally to a scenario that provides their enemies an opportunity to advance themselves instead.
Attackers and Defenders
With the exception of the Open Season starting game, all scenarios have a designated Attacker and Defender. Final Victory Conditions from the previous scenario will always note who is the Attacker and who is the Defender.
We decided to total the points scored by individual players to give a Power Block total which would have a relevance in the later games.
Points were allocated in the following fashion.
Outright Victory = +4pts
Marginal Victory = +2pts
Draw = +1pts
Any other result = +0pts
If either Power Block scores a total of +3pts more than their counterpart, they are awarded an Outright Power Block Victory and the group moves the next campaign game according to the directional arrow on the diagram.
We want to keep score on overall PB points, so we can use them in the final apocalyptic game ‘The Last Act’…..but so far I don’t have any more information than that…. I’m waiting for input from the guys.
I’m keen to place the campaign in Africa, since as a land game we would have plenty of room to ‘move’. The ‘Dark Continent’ allows us to mess even more with history and futures …..maybe even giving the African Renegade/Merc fleet a run out…?.
Antartican Surveying specialist, Doctor Lucius Grayson stumbles upon a huge concentration of Sturginium in the mountainous region dominated by the Atlantika Mountains whilst conducting a geographic survey. With the continent still gripped in the global war, Antarctica’s ambassador attempts to broker a truce to assess the extent of the deposit and possible distribution amongst the nations.
Sadly, his attempts at détente prove ineffective as the nations rushed to stake their claim upon the region and cast their rivals out! The Prussian Emperor with his French Allies and her Divine Majesty of the Blazing Sun sign their non-aggression treaty creating their Axis in Mutual Support (AiMS) and stated their collective dominion over the region.
Worried by the increasing strength of this power block, the British and Federated State governments, petition the Covenant for aid in securing the deposit and the Covenant reluctantly agree.
With two super blocks poised to wage war over the precious resource, the world is plunged into a season of fire.
In our initial testing the process of the campaign has been as follows…..
Game starts with the Meeting Engagement (each game involving one Axis and one Allied player.)
After gaming points are totalled, (in the games, the Axis achieved 2 OrV and the Allies only 1 OrV…. With 2 draws….and 1 marginal victory for the Axis.
Campaign Points were allocated as follows.
Axis +4 (2xOrV) +2 (1xMV) + 2 (2xDraws) = 8pts
Allies +2 (1xOrV) +2 (.2xDraws) = 4pts
(We all agreed a deficit of 3pts should constitute an Outright Power Block victory)
Clearly, with the Axis Power Block crushing all before it, the Axis Forces are announced as the winner of the scenario and moved on to their next scenario (Operation Deep Cut) as the Attacker, with the beleaguered Allied powers forced into the Defender role.
In the next game the results went against the Axis who were held to a draw (…the Axis won 4pts across the board and so did the Allies!). The result meant no outright Axis victory and the Allies were considered to have succeeded in stalling the enemy advance.
The next scenario moved across to become the Strongpoint 23 mission. The Axis were noted as the defender since they hadn’t won the previous game with an Outright Victory, with the Allies obviously moving forward to counter-attack.
In this mission the Allies were again victorious (although only just!…winning by 3pts!) This ensured the Allies moved on to the next tier (Operation Firestorm).
[Note if the Allies had failed to achieve their Outright Victory, the next game would have swung back to Operation Swift Blade, with the Axis on the attack again!]
In Operation Firestorm however, the Axis defences held and tore through the unfortunate allied first wave. The victory points scored allowed the Axis to be awarded an outright victory ensuring the next mission moved to Operation Surgical Strike with them on the attack!
Now, with 5 games under our belts, the situation was as follows.
Allies have scored 15pts in total.
Axis have scored 21pts in total.
Operation First Strike is yet to be played and the Axis forces has a clear material advantage….. Still all to play for though…..(they‘ve not broken through yet!!…)
Do We Have Drama?
Much to our combined relief, the gaming-structure is very good at creating the sense of ‘to-and-fro’ we were hoping for.
The scenarios we have written are designed to be balanced, however we have found players in their respective Power Blocks have begun to get together and discuss tactics and strategy! We reckon this is mostly due to the fact they are playing scenarios multiple times and need to win convincingly to break through to the next …which is excellent!
Campaigns should have the aspect of bringing people together, and the cut and thrust between the groups has been very entertaining so far……. (Although with the whiff of victory in their noses, the Prussian ‘led’ alliance has even gone so far as organising a secret meeting to discuss their approach to their make-or-break game….<sigh>…..)
What about Fleet Orders?
Actually we thought this campaign worked best without them. Campaigns are different to Open Play in our mind (encouraging longer and more in-depth games) and pre-determined victory conditions are better than using the quick resolution effects of Fleet Orders in this case.
Using Campaign Points to Force the Issue
After watching players struggle in vain to break the deadlock in the campaign, we decided to allow the power blocks to use their accumulated Campaign Points to add points to individual armies in the game. This led to a certain amount of trading amongst the other members within the Power Block as to how much each player should get, when and even if! Any points should be allocated.
1CP = 100pts in a single game.
We will watch and decide if this mechanic has added anything to the campaign in general.
Anyways……I’ll not bore you with any more, but if you’re interested I’ve listed the 6 scenarios and hope folks will be willing to give them a shot.
Cheers, and thanks for reading,
The day the British start relying on the Americans to save them from the French is the day DW alternate history goes into being just plain silly. . Element 270 is one thing, but the Americans joining in promptly, and on the correct side? Totally unbelievable!
Anyway, I'm sure that Spartan will rebalanced the factions somewhat in version 1.2 or 2.0, whichever is next. I'm hoping to see hints of this in the new units for the core forces
There is big divide between Britain and France (can't be bothered to do the research for Belgium, and the others with small empires..) on one hand and the Americas on the other.
In Britain and France, dealing in slaves was abolished during the Napoleonic period, and slavery itself was abolished, and the slaves freed between 1830 and 1840 (depends on which country or colony you look at) , the very start of the Victorian period. The British then pressured other countries to abolish slavery, using measures from asking the French nicely, to threatening to invade and conquer < insert small African kingdom here> if they didn't sign a treaty outlawing slavery, slave trading, and anything else that was disapproved of.....
Being able to use the cause of being good to do whatever you like is always helpful to those in power.
Indeed, from 1807- ~1860, the Royal Navy carried out anti slavery patrols along the West African coast, with varying degrees of effectiveness generally depending on how many wars there were at the time.
In the Americas, slavery got mixed up with money, politics, culture and power, which were the real causes of the civil war, even if slavery was the trigger. The killing of an arch duke in Belgrade was the trigger for WW1, not the root causes.
Slavery was an issue for that time period. It is also far more complicated than most people think. It was connected into trade patterns across all levels of society, spanning continents, and there would be no-one who's hands were totally clean. Even the abolitionists of Europe would enjoy their tobacco, sugar, cotton and the like, produced with slave labour. It also ignores the issue of what level of economic (not technological) development is necessary before slavery becomes uneconomic...
But yes, it is good to see that the issue is addressed, and not totally ignored.
Bear in mind that it is perfectly possible for both players to satisfy their win conditions during the same activation.
For instance, player A (50% and all smalls) order has sunk 49% of the opposing fleet and killed all smalls.
Player B has the 70% order, and has sunk 65% of the enemy fleet.
Player B sends a cruiser section forward, boards Player A's battleship, and scores a sabotage. One magazine explosion later, both the battleship and cruiser squadron are gone, and in a single bang, both players have achieved their win conditions
I'd peg an activation at about 15 minutes myself. Many big gun warship / big gun and carrier battles took a few hours to resolve- say Jutland, main action ~2hrs, Battle of the Falklands 2-3hrs. The idea that these are only a few activations seems silly to me. That would be something like Bismark vs Hood ( 15 minutes between British spotting the Gemans, and 5 minutes between opening fire and the magazine explosion.)
The basic assumption has to be that ground and model scales are different, otherwise nothing makes any senses speed-wise.
I want a French battle robot that looks suspiciously like a Parisian waiter. His look of disdain when you mispronounce something on the menu has the same stats as a Heat Lance. It's purely a defensive weapon of course, as it would never even consider leaving French soil.