Friday, 15 October 2010

1806 PBEM Campaign


About two months ago I got involved in an 1806 PBEM campaign. My interest was in trying to develop a set of "stand alone" rules which could be used by campaign players and avoid them having to learn the complicated rules being used by the umpire.

For this project to work it would be necessary for the player rules to interface with the umpire rules. I did not have a copy of the umpire rules, but was assurred that they did indeed interface.

We set up a campaign to play test my player rules. I opted to play the role of Napoleon, as this would be the most challenging roll and would give me a real feel for how well my player rules were working. It all went well for a month or so, and then the cracks began to appear. It soon became obvious that some major aspects of the umpire rules were not included in the player rules I had devised. I suggested ending the campaign, as the whole purpose of the campaign was to play test the player rules, and they clearly did not work anymore.

The other players, and the umpire, wanted to continue with the campaign. I agreed on the understanding that my rules would no longer be used, and the umpire would answer any rule questions raised. More and more of the questions went unanswered.

Two weeks ago the campaign reached the stage where the first battles would be fought. The umpire promised that they would be resolved within a few days, then a longer delay and finally silence. Despite a request for confirmation of what is happening, no reply only silence.

Its beginning to look like he has abandoned the campaign. No reason or explanation, only silence. Of course there may be a very good reason for the silence, it may be real life getting in the way again. But what a pity some umpires will not take a few seconds to send an email to the players to explain what is happening.

Apart from an attempt to make my 1813 campaign work as a PBEM, I have only been involved in two other PBEM campaigns. And each time this has happened. Perhaps I have been unlucky, but it does make me wonder how many other campaigns have ended in a similar way.

Its such a shame, because in both cases the umpire obviously put a lot of work into the early stages of the campaign. I suspect that resolving the battles just proved too much, and it was easier to walk away from the campaign than to explain what had gone wrong.

It has not put me off PBEM, but it has put me off taking part in one run by someone else.

I am working on the next stage of my 1813 campaign, and am again considering whether I could make it into a PBEM.

The problem last time was the lack of suitable maps. Now that I have ProFantasy I can solve this problem. However I am still uncertain whether I want to put our wargames at risk by opening the campaign to PBEM.

The whole reason for my 1813 campaign is to provide Jan and I with good wargames. It works extremely well in this respect. However it does get a little boring running the whole campaign myself, and it would add another dimension if there were outside players to do the map moves. The problem is that they would not want to have even handed wargames. They would be looking to bring superior forces to bear. And that scenario does not result in an enjoyable wargame.

We are still busy with the Valladolid campaign, so there is no rush. I have almost completed the maps for the next stage, which will be set back in northern Germany possibly around Hanover.

The other option would be to go for a seperate campaign. I have already worked out a set of rules, which include a method for resolving battles without fighting a wargame. But I am not sure that I want to devote the amount of time that would be necessary. Particularly with my earlier experience of the tendency of some PBEM players to just disappear.

Anyway that is what will be occupying my thoughts this weekend.

Whatever you are doing - have a nice one!

6 comments:

Stokes Schwartz said...

Sorry to hear that your campaign seems to have petered out. I've run a few PBEM games here, and, despite some very limited fun, have found them more trouble than they are worth frankly. The work involved, the waiting around, the apparently different levels of commitment, and the sometimes annoying fellow participants have satisfied any urge I might have had at one time to continue with this type of game or campaign. Too bad really as the potential for tabletop fun and interesting situations along with post-game discussions seems very great, but there you are.

Best Regards,

Stokes

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Stokes

Its reassuring to know that someone else has had similar problems, and come to much the same conclusions.

I must admit that I enjoyed the two campaigns when I opened my 1813 campaign to PBEM. And I must also confirm that all of the players played their part well.

I felt however that the campaign, which was designed to provide Jan and I with wargames, did not provide sufficient challenge or allow enough scope to the players.

For this reason I would quite like to have another go. But its a matter of finding the time to run a another campaign.

My greatest disappointment with the two campaigns in which I played a part was the abrupt end to the campaign without any explanation or even an email to confirm that the umpire had decided to stop.

I really do find it difficult to understand how someone who has put so much work into the earlier part of the campaign can feel so little responsibility to his players that he can treat them in such a high handed manner.

The WWW is great for the hobby, and in particular for those unable to join a local club. But it does have a downside. I am sure that this sort of thing could never happen in a local club.

I hope that you are still engaged in some form of campaign, even though it be not PBEM. For they are not only very enjoyable to run, but they also make the tabletop games so much more meaningful and challenging.

best regards

Paul

Dave said...

Hi Paul

It's been a long time since I've taken part in a campaign, for the reasons you and Stokes have noted. I've started thinking about running one several times over the last few years but have always heldoff. But I'm thinkng about it again. Be interesting how far I get.
Dave

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Dave

Don't be put off by my experiences, it can be great fun and very rewarding to either run a campaign or take part in one.

I am about to start a new project to convert my solo 1813 campaign to a PBEM campaign.

If you follow this link you will find a forum which explains the proposed campaign and asked for bids to play in the campaign.

http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/napoleonicpbemcampaign

you would be very welcome to either take part in the campaign, or just to follow its progress and development.

regards


Paul

Dave said...

Hi Paul

No, your experience hasn't put me off. Only my experience, which just happens to agree with your's.
I sent you a direct e-mail saying I would like to be part of your campiagn but due to my current interent access it would be best to wait it I have a permanent one, next year so put me down as a reinforcement.

Thanks
Dave

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Dave

The PBEM camapign is taking shape, and I hope to be able to start it very soon.

I had not done much preparation until I was sure there would be sufficient interest, so I have been busy over the past few days.

Let me know if/when you would like to join in. There are sure to be vacancies as players drop out due to lack of interest or other commitments.

regards

Paul