Simulating Politics in a Wargaming Campaign with Political Tokens

War is merely the continuation of politics by other means

Carl von Clausewitz

Given warfare is politics by other means it seems appropriate that a wargaming campaign system models the political element. And I’ve found a great little campaign system that does that: Kapitan Kobold: The Campaign For Alto Peru A Mapless Campaign for Liberated HOTT.

Kapitan Kobold’s campaign is for the Wars of South American Liberation using his variant of HOTT. The campaign has the usual stuff about forming armies, fighting battles, troops gaining experience, and handling casualties. The bit of the campaign system I found particularly interesting were the victory conditions.

Kapitan Kobold’s campaign system uses Political Tokens to simulate the political element. Players strive to gain Political Tokens and thus win the campaign. The mechanics are simple yet effective so I thought I’d paraphrase them here.

Politics using tokens

The campaign is about politics represented by Political Tokens. A token will be controlled by a specific player or uncommitted. Having more tokens is good; less is bad.

In a two player campaign there are six Political Tokens. Each player gets two Political Tokens at the start of the campaign. The other two start uncommitted.

Battles affect the political situation

The victor of a battle has the potential, but only potential, to gain political power relative to their opponent. There are three ways to do this but the victor of a particular battle can choose to do only one action. The actions are:

  • Gain uncommitted support: Add a single uncommitted Political Token (if any left) to their own collection. No roll is necessary.
  • Agitate amongst enemy wavers: Convert one of their opponent’s Political Tokens to uncommitted. This succeeds on 3+ on a 1d6.
  • Convert Opponents: Seize one of their opponent’s Political Tokens and add it to their own collection. This succeeds on a 5+ on 1d6.

The picture shows a two player game where the Red player has just won a victory. Red chose to agitated amongst the Blue wavers and forced one token to become uncommitted. They succeeded on a roll of 3+.

Political tokens

Political tokens

The aim is to politically defeat your enemy

Kaptain Kobold set the victory conditions as:

A player wins the campaign immediately their opponent has no Political Tokens left.

But that could lead to a quite long campaign. The fastest possible campaign is for one player to win three battles and elect to covert opponents. On average this will result in the player gaining both enemy Political Tokens. That is the fastest (3 battles; one side wins all battles). Any other option will result in a much, much longer campaign.

So I’d state the victory conditions as:

  • A player wins the campaign immediately their opponent has no Political Tokens left.
  • Otherwise the player with the most Political tokens at the end of the campaign wins.
  • If there is no clear winner then the campaign is a draw.

Or perhaps

  • A player wins the campaign immediately when they have more than twice the number of political tokens as each of their opponent 1.
  • Otherwise the player with the most Political tokens at the end of the campaign wins.
  • If there is no clear winner then the campaign is a draw.

Notes:
(1) That would mean in a two player game taking one enemy token would cause a win because Player 1 would have 3 Political Tokens and Player 2 would have 1 Political Tokens. Maybe too quick. On the other hand it represents those political leaders who try for a knock out blow depending on a successful battle then a successful political result. A cautious approach would involve taking uncommitted tokens – with no roll needed.

References

Kapitan Kobold: The Campaign For Alto Peru A Mapless Campaign for Liberated HOTT

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