Sunday, 2 October 2011

Planning the next PBEM campaign

Strategic map for 1813 Hanover campaign

Pretty well all of this week has been spent thinking about the next PBEM campaign, and tying out ideas. And at the end of the week, and after many hours spent map making, I have ended up where I started.

Once again it looks like my 1813 Hanover campaign is drawing to a close. I have said this before, and been proved wrong. When I set up the last battle/wargame I was convinced it would end the campaign. The Prussians had thrashed the French and sent off north with their tails between their legs. The road to Hanover was held by just one French corps, who had suffered a heavy defeat five campaign moves earlier. I was confident that the French corps commander would abandon Hanover to save his corps. He decided to stand and fight. Out of nowhere the two thrashed French corps appeared on the horizon. Suddenly we have another battle. And one that looks less of a walk over as I work out the orders of battle. I am amazed what a difference PBEM makes over a solo campaign – even for the umpire.

Anyway last Sunday I sat down to consider the pros and cons of the same PBEM campaign. I am completely sold on the idea of PBEM, so another campaign is not in doubt. But I wanted to see how I could improve the model based on my 6 months experience of this one.

From my point of view it has mostly been a great success. I have managed to keep a team of eight players going for 37 moves, and provided nine wargames. It has been great fun, and a great challenge. The only disappointment is in losing three players, all without reason or explanation. Fortunately I have been able to replace them, and the flow of the campaign has not been affected at all.

I have completely rewritten the rules for the next campaign. It will cover many aspects of supply, off road movement and detachments. I have written the rules, but whether they will work or not remains to be seen.

But the thing I really wanted to change was player involvement. In particular I wanted a system where each player would have more corps and responsibility. This would work well with the campaign concept of five armies in five campaign areas. But when I got to working out how it would all work I realised it would involve a huge amount of extra work for the umpire – me! Worse if one player dropped out it would either stop the campaign for his opponent, or I would have to take it on.

The week was spent making five maps, one of each campaign area. Then working out revised orders of battle for each area. But the more I worked on it, the more obvious it became that it was not going to work.

It did not matter too much when I thought that the current campaign was coming to an end. But I suddenly realised there is another battle in this campaign, and we would have to fight it next week.

So it’s been a busy week, with pretty well nothing to show for it all at the end. It has all been put in a pending file, whilst I work out the “last battle” of the Hanover campaign. But it has been hugely enjoyable trying to make it work.

Meanwhile the PBEM battle looks like being very different. Most of the corps involved start the battle with heavy casualties. This is not something I would have tackled for a one off game, but can not be avoided in a campaign game. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

More news of the battle shortly.

1 comment:

Jacko said...

This campaign has been great morning reading, I am looking forward to the reports from the new campaign.