Thursday, 21 July 2011

Two Battles For The Price of One

Location of campaign battles

The campaign has picked up again and seemed to move smoothly between the table top battle and the campaign map moves. However move 22 has provided a problem which I have been dreading since I converted to PBEM – two battles at the same time.

Each campaign move is four hours, or four moves on the wargames table. There are three moves per day; the fourth is rest and sleep.

Breaking the day into three moves works well. It gives the players an opportunity to react to changing circumstances during the day, and issue orders to react to them. This also allows them to “march to the sound of the guns”, and makes it easy to calculate where and when reinforcements will arrive on the wargames table.

After each battle the losing corps has to retreat during the night move, and must avoid contact with the enemy for the following three moves, or the whole of the next day. This clears up the log jam created by the battle, and allows the winner to pursue and push the loser back for at least one full day.

Each battle takes a full day. This would be three campaign moves or 12 table top moves. I publish one wargame move on the campaign diary blog each day. This allows the players to follow the battle, and it gives Jan and I plenty of time to fight the wargame.

This process takes 12 days, but the players submit their corps orders each four days.

However with two battles fought on the same campaign day I have a new problem. Each battle could take up to 12 moves, then I have to clear the table and set up the second battle and that could take another 12 moves. And if is possible that one, or both, of the battles might go to a second campaign day.

The problem is that both battles are being fought at the same time, so I need the players to write orders each 4 game moves. Both battles start on campaign move 22. So players would have to write orders for move 23 at the end of move 4 of each battle. But if I publish one move each day that would be day 4 for the first battle and day 16 for the second.

I could just put the campaign on hold for 16 days, and then publish the first hour of the first battle. By then I would have fought the first hour of both as a wargame. But that means a long break in the campaign.

There are eight players in the campaign, and I want to avoid them getting bored and losing interest. When I ran a weekly wargames group I always found that after a two or three week break, for holidays for example, it was not unusual to lose a player. So I want to keep the routine of the campaign going to avoid this loss of interest.

One of the battles is quite uneven, and I suspect it will not last the full 12 moves. The other is very complicated, and could easily need a second day for nearby corps to “march to the sound of the guns”. So we will fight the first one as quickly as we can, and start to publish the battle report on the campaign blog as soon as we start the second one. In that way I should be able to keep the move orders in harmony with the table top moves for both corps.

I am getting great satisfaction for the smooth way the campaign is running, and in adjusting it to keep the momentum and player interest.

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