Tuesday, 30 August 2011

New Campaign Rules


The revised (PBEM) campaign rules are taking shape. I have added PBEM, because pretty well all of the revision is due to the campaign moving from Solo to PBEM.

For solo play four A4 pages were more than sufficient. They were similar to the first draft of our wargame rules, more a crib sheet than a set of rules. My main aim had been to keep them simple.

The first PBEM campaign quickly highlighted how unsuitable they were. Everything had to be explained in more detail, so that players could grasp the implications of what they wanted to do.

The rules quickly grew from four pages to twelve, though three of those are examples of how to write orders or reports. And this was just to cover the same basic rules I have used all along.

However things are about to change for the next campaign. The introduction of off road movement, forced marching, garrisons and sieges have all added to the size of the rules. And all have required a great deal of time to think them through and revise draft after draft.

The new rules are already eighteen pages long, including six annex which cover such things as organisation, orders, messages and fighting ability.

I suspect that all of this extra work and more detailed rules will be largely ignored by most of the campaign players. I quickly discovered that most players either do not read, or do not follow, the rules. Some seem to completely ignore them, do their own thing and wait for me to put it right. However one or two read them from start to finish, and raise endless points. Almost always based on historical examples.

I have long since given up any attempt to defend either my wargame or campaign rules on any sort of historical basis. To me both seem to recreate the Napoleonic period to perfection, but I have come to realise that there are so many opposing views on every aspect of the period that it is a fool’s errand to try to appease everyone.

The important thing is to keep it simple. I would love to be able to keep the rules to three pages, but clearly that is not possible. The mechanics of the campaign have to be covered in some detail, and even then are often ignored. But the rules are guidelines only. Far better to roll a dice to decide the outcome of something that is never going to happen again, than to try to write a detailed rule just in case it does.

So the rules are taking shape. Over the past three months or so I have revised them half a dozen times, and I am now quite happy with them. But I am pretty certain that once the campaign starts I will discover problem after problem. There is nothing quite like game experience to throw up the not so obvious glaring errors.

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