My first ventures in campaigns were two large, 12-14 player, Ancient/Medieval DBM Campaigns. One was called Europe 1100 AD and the other Europe 1455 AD. The mechanics were fairly simple being based on DBA campaigns but I quickly found problems and the campaigns petered out when people lost interest. I now favour even snappier campaign rules and less people.
These are what I now think makes a good campaign and/or multi-player game:
Fewer players is good. 2 is really good. 6 is ok. I would not, now, attempt 12-14 players.
Short is good. People quickly lose motivation so you’re better off trying to maximise energy in a short time.
- One day campaigns/games are great.
- I’ve run DBA / HOTT campaigns loads of times and they are always a success (check out Britannia 600 AD).
- Matrix games also provide a simple method for playing out a one day campaign. Check out A Load of Gauls and Austerlitz.
- Operational games like Offensive offer potential as well.
- My big Krasny Bor scenario was a little more ambitious but still only took 2 days over a weekend.
If you’re planning a longer more free form campaign then a couple of months is probably doable. But you’ll need a mechanism for people to join/drop out.
People like winning so you need clear victory conditions.
A clear finish is essential to maintain momentum. My experience is that open ended campaigns peter out when people lose interest. A clear finish could be provided by:
- A linked scenario campaign, e.g. a 3 Round campaign like Tarnopol 3 Round or a Race for … X campaign like Normandy , June ’44.
- Specific victory conditions like “First player to capture the ancient capital wins”
- Number of turns, e.g. campaign ends after 12 campaign turns.
- Elapsed real time, e.g. end of the day or end of 2 months.
Little paper work
Less paper work means less mistakes and more gaming. Some people enjoy the logistical element of campaigns but most don’t. No paper work is best. Minimal is ok. Loads is no fun.
- DBA / HOTT campaigns have no paperwork. Dead troops are transferred to a reserve and these are the only troops you can recruit. Dead simple.
- But if you run a DBA / HOTT campaigns over time, i.e. more than one day, then suddenly you have to record what is in each field army and in each reserve. Not a lot but it takes effort.
- And if you add currency to a DBA / HOTT campaign, like I did with Britannia 600 AD, then there is still more paperwork.
- Also check out Low Maintenance campaigns
- Mapless campaigns from Warmaster Ancients takes little paperwork to heart.
- Written orders, flexible orders of battle, secret orders all add paperwork. I tend to avoid them.
An umpire is useful but it means somebody doesn’t get to play and most people like playing. Unlike the criteria above I’m not super religious about this one, for example I offered to umpire Krasny Bor rather than play, but it is something to bear in mind.