It’s only a couple of days since I posted that I have a corps commander vacancy on my PBEM campaign, and I have filled it already! I was delighted to receive six applications, all of whom were sent details of the campaign, stressing the commitment expected of players. Already four have asked to join, and three of those asked to go on the reserve list for when another vacancy comes up. Thank you all who have applied so quickly.
It’s strange that in the last three months I have lost six players, and only three in the previous twelve months. Not sure why that may be, but I suspect it is because it is much more difficult to join mid campaign than at the start. The new player has to take on a lot of information about the history of the campaign, as well as the background. And his new command is often in a bit of a mess, as that is usually the reason the previous commander packed it in.
For example this current role has changed hands three times in since mid January 2012!
The corps had been commanded by a long time player, who had taken part in two previous campaigns. He had to leave the campaign due to heavy work commitments. I am sure that was genuine, as he had taken part in the campaign ever since I converted to PBEM.
I found his replacement in mid January and went through the usual introduction of explaining what was expected of new players, and in particular the 48 hour reply rule. He seemed very keen and asked lots of questions. He wrote his first orders on 26 January. He wrote two sets of orders. He failed to reply to my request for the third set, and also ignored my final reminder. I took him off the campaign on 4 March.
His replacement applied just two days later on 6 March. Again I went to great lengths to explain the commitment required. Again he seemed very keen, and spoke of great experience in wargaming. On 16 March he wrote his first orders, but only after a reminder because they were late. His second orders were also late, and again I had to send a reminder. His third orders caused me some concern, because they went against the orders issued by his CinC, and if I carried them out he would almost certainly lose his corps. I wrote to him on 25 March to explain and ask why he wanted to attack when it was almost certain to end in complete failure. He did not reply, and I have not heard from him since.
All of this involves a lot of work, and I need to find a way to make it easier for new players to join the campaign and certainly easier for me to replace them. I don’t think I can make it any clearer what the commitment is before they join. I did so with both players, and both seemed quite happy to accept on those terms. Yet both left very quickly.
I have written to both to ask why. Was the campaign too difficult? Was the 48 hour turn around too hard to meet? Did they simply not like the campaign? I have not heard from them yet, but I hope I will do so.
Far from making me disillusioned with the whole PBEM concept, it has made me determined to change the next phase of the campaign to overcome this problem.