In his article “The East is Ablaze: 1919-1926” Chris Peers outlined a simple but effective method for running a campaign without a map, and ignoring all those pesky things that can bog a campaign down (politics, diplomacy, economics and logistics).
Chris Peers article is:
Peers, C. (2002, Sept). The East is Ablaze: 1919-1926: Some ideas and army lists for a Central Asian Campaign The Army Lists Part 2. Wargames Illustrated, 180, 42-47.
Here are a couple of variations on his system.
Basic Free-For-All Campaign
Chris’s article describes a free for all campaign where all players compete to reach a goal (in his case a significant city). You win if you reach the goal first. All players start 12 stages from the goal. You can advance a stage in one of two ways:
- By winning a battle against another player.
- By making a “forced march” along dangerous short cuts, assumed to be across deserts or mountain passes where water, food, and/or shelter is in short supply.
Turns represent about a month (not that it really matters).
Each turn starts with the Umpire assigning the initiative to one player. The obvious way is randomly amongst the players who turn up.
In their turn a player can choose do one of three things:
- Attack any other player. You can pick anybody as the area of activity is assumed to be sufficiently small that it doesn’t matter who is where. The winner advances one stage nearer the goal and the loser retreats one stage further away. Anybody who is driven more than 15 stages from the goal is out of the game.
- Forced march. Throw 1d6: on 1-3 you get lost and turn up back where you started; on 4-6 you advance a stage. Either way if you are attacked before your next turn then some of your army may still be lost in the wilderness and either won’t be available at all for the battle or will straggle in late. For each unit throw 1d6: 1-2 not available at all; 3 straggle in late; 4+ available from start. Fast moving troops (e.g. cavalry, vehicles) get a +1 on this roll, i.e. are more likely to be available.
- Do nothing
Use any rules you want for the battles. The players armies should be as evenly matched as possible and if you are using a points system then agree the points before the campaign starts. The “attacker” in the tactical battle is the player who elected to attack using their campaign initiative. All losses are recovered between battles.
Possible periods: Lebanon War.
I really liked Chris’s ideas, but often war wasn’t a free for all, but involved multiple force teams. I think you only have to make a couple of changes to the basic system to achieve this:
- Each side has different goals (e.g. different enemy capitals to capture); not that it makes a difference to how the game is played.
- You can only attack somebody from the other team.
- You personally win if you reach the enemy capital before your team mates and before any enemy player reaches your capital; and your side wins the team competition at the same time.