The latest phase of my 1813 PBEM Campaign is only one month old, and already I have lost two of the six players. Fortunately there were three reserve players, and the two posts have already been filled. But it has made me consider whether it is something I am doing, or perhaps not doing. In effect “Is it me?”
The campaign has run nonstop for four years. During that time we have had six phases, or mini campaigns, and a total of 48 players have taken part.
I have kept a list of who has taken part, why and how they left.
15 left the campaign without reason or explanation
15 left at the end and did not want to take part in another campaign
5 left because of accidents or personal reasons
4 left because they did not enjoy the campaign
3 were removed because I did not want them in the campaign
6 are still playing
I try very hard to explain what is involved before inviting anyone to join the campaign.
I send everyone a written description of the role of the corps commander, and ask them to confirm that they still want to take part. Experience has made me wonder whether some actually read the description.
The players are a very important part of the campaign, and I work hard at making it as interesting and enjoyable as I can. But the campaign always comes first. No one is allowed to ruin the campaign, either for me or for the other players.
The big problem with PBEM is that I don’t know the players, and they don’t know me. I always start by taking a new player at face value, and accept what he wants to tell me. But given the large number who have left the campaign without warning or explanation, I have to assume the worse as soon as they fail to respond to mail. To do anything else would result in long delays which would put the whole campaign at risk.
It would be great if I could find a small group of like minded players who would take part in campaign after campaign.
But life is not like that.
“Real Life” just gets in the way.
So on consideration I don’t really see what more I can do to keep players in the campaign. I get very little feedback from any of the players, so I can only assume that most have a very limited commitment to it. I don’t mind that. I certainly don’t expect any great commitment as a requirement to take part.
The two that just left do pose an interesting comparison.
One was new to campaigning, and I suspect also to Wargaming. He made that clear at the start. I helped him all I could with orders and reports, but he was clearly struggling. Eventually he failed to reply to my mail, and I removed him. A few days later he wrote to apologise, explaining that he was having problems with his computer. I don’t know whether it was true or not. It doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that he could not keep to the campaign time table.
The other was a very experienced wargamer. I had read his comments on forum, and he clearly had a lot of experience. I was sure that he would be a great addition to the campaign. However within weeks he was putting his command in a position where he was almost certain to lose it. This in turn would have meant an early end to the whole campaign. Despite my attempt to get him to adopt a different strategy, he refused to do so on historical grounds. Pointing out that this was not a historical campaign, but a wargame one, did not help. Eventually he decided to leave. Very sad, but no doubt for the best.
So here you have two opposite types of player. One left because it was too complicated. The other because it was too simple. I guess the only answer is to please myself and hope that I can continue to find sufficient like minded people to take part in future campaigns.