Saturday, 17 March 2012

Campaign Diary Blog

Work on the new campaign maps has suffered this week, due to a comment on the campaign forum about the campaign diary blog.

I have completed a campaign diary since we first started the 1813 campaign, almost two years ago. The intention was to provide a brief history of the campaign, both for my use and for anyone interested.

When I converted the campaign from solo to PBEM I continued the campaign diary, but I had to be careful not to give away too much information to maintain the fog of war. It is surprisingly difficult to keep such a diary without giving away too much intelligence.

I have always used illustrations to make the blog more interesting, and on the campaign diary I have used maps to show the progress of the campaign. I now had to create a map for each blog entry so as not to show the location of each corps.

Last week I received a mail from one player saying how much he was enjoying the campaign, but that I should take care not to give too much information away on the blog. He remarked that most of the information he gained was from the blog, and most of it would not have been available to him in real life.

This was the second such comment in a few months, and it made me wonder how general this view might be. I raised the subject on the forum to see whether it was general, and whether I would need to reconsider the diary.

As so often happens there was little comment, less than half of the players replied. Those that did found the diary helpful and kept the campaign interesting. So there is no general call for change.

But it did make to think about the aim of the diary.

I would like it to be a short history of the whole campaign. Each PBM campaign is one phase of the overall 1813 campaign which is spread over five areas of Germany and Spain. I am now fighting the second phase in each area, and the diary is useful to remind me how the previous phase ended.

I would also like it to be interesting and enjoyable for those followers of the campaign who are not at present taking part as corps commanders. There are quite a few of those, including many previous corps commanders.

It should also help to maintain the interest of those players going through a non active stage of the campaign. For example keeping away from the enemy to recover from battle casualties, or marching to reinforce a different part of the campaign area.

Finally it is useful to give a brief but comprehensive introduction to the campaign. This is particularly useful when I have to replace a player. Having to brief a new player takes a lot of time and trouble, the more so the longer the campaign has been running. I like to explain exactly what they are taking on before I do so, and the campaign diary is useful for that.

So it serves a lot of practical purposes. But it does damage the fog of war. I have spent the week considering how I might change it, but have not come up with any conclusive decision.

At present I am working on typing up the diary entry at the end of the move, but not putting it on the diary for another three moves. In that way the information disclosed would at least be out of date.


Jacko said...


I've followed the last few campaigns and the dairy has always been entertaining reading. I guess there will always be the trade off between fog of war and entertaining blogs. I can't see a 2 or 3 week delay in blog details to be a problem for followers.


thistlebarrow said...

Hi Paul

Glad that you enjoy the campaign diary.

As you say there will always be a trade off. I have found that asking for comments from the players just leads to more confusion and "soul searching" on my part!

The best, and easiest, answer always seems to be to go with my own gut feelings.

I have been unhappy with the diary for some time, mostly because I have had to compromise so much by withholding information to maintain the fog of war.

It would be a three move, rather than a three week, delay. I think it will work because once started the diary will just work to a different timetable to the campaign map moves. Once the first one has been posted the remainder will follow quite naturally. But there will always be a three move difference between what is appearing on the diary and in the campaign - except for the battle reports, which have to be in "real time".



MurdocK said...

I would agree with Thistlebarrow on this issue.

Delay the posting of the information into the blog until long after it has become useless for tactical use.

Use a word document to build up the data and go with the whole story with maps etc, then do not post it onto the web until the new campaign events have overtaken the value of the data.

I ran a Waterloo game 5 times, giving a follow up report with tons of pictures and tactical maps and AAR's (some of them were the exact ones that I gave the players). They did not get shared with anyone until the game(s) were OVER.

Perhaps you could run old data on the diary for a while, do AAR's and details that are from the past ... to give the game time to build up the three to six turns, moves etc ahead of current?

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Murdock

Its quite difficult to introduce the new style blog in the middle of the campaign. I did try last week, but its difficult to remember what was happening a couple of weeks ago.

I will be starting a battle report next week. They last up to 12 days, and the campaign gets two moves ahead during that time. So that would be a good opportunity to give it try.

I would prefer to keep the diary as a brief summary, rather than give all the reports and messages. I would like it to be an easy to follow history of the campaign, so that anyone with a casual interest could follow it. Or indeed anyone could look back on previous phases of the campaign and get a feel for the whole thing.

So I need to experiment a little and see what works best.