The past two weeks has been a very challenging time for the PBEM campaign.
The 1814 campaign has run for more than a year, and has been both very successful and has provided us with a mass of interesting battles to wargame. However all of the administration is manual, and is very time consuming. It was designed to provide the type of PBEM campaign which I would like to have taken part in myself as a player.
However since the Christmas break I have begun to realise that some of the players were not taking a very active part in the campaign. I found that I had to send more reminders than normal because daily orders were overdue. I also found that some of the orders received appeared to lack interest. For example “the same as last time”, rather than individual orders for each corps. Finally it soon became obvious that a few players were not even reading the umpire reports I had sent them. Each of which takes a couple of hours to produce. All of this indicated a general lack of interest in the campaign.
During our Christmas break I had also thought a lot about the campaign in general. Having run for so long there were a lot of changes I would like to introduce. Even then I had serious doubts whether the amount of work I put in was really appreciated by some, if not many, of the ten players taking part.
I decided that I would run down the 1814 campaign, and replace it with a new campaign. I would try to keep the same level of player involvement, but at the same time greatly reduce the amount of administration required.
I announced this proposed change about two weeks ago. Within seven days three of the ten players had quit the campaign. Not all had bothered to tell me they were quitting. I was already writing orders for two players who had quit last year; I would now have to write orders for five of the twelve command posts.
Given that I had not expected these three resignations, I needed to find out how many of the remaining seven players were committed sufficient to make it worth my while to increase my already heavy work load.
I wrote to each player and asked them to confirm how many were willing to commit to another six months with the campaign. Four were, three informed me that they would leave at the end of the current phase of the campaign.
It was now obvious that there was no long term future for the 1814 campaign. On the other hand I felt I had a responsibility to the remaining players, even the three who I knew would leave at the end of the current phase. I had made a promise when I started the campaign that I would not just quit and abandon it mid campaign. I was determined to keep that promise.
For a couple of days I was close to starting the new campaign as a Solo campaign, rather than PBEM. But I had enjoyed the 1814 campaign, despite the ongoing problem of replacing players who quit, often with no notice.
So I advertised for new commanders for the proposed new PBEM campaign. I was delighted to get five players. With my three current players who had committed to another six months, that gave me a total of eight players. No quite the ten I would have liked, but certainly enough to make it worthwhile to start the new campaign.
So after a month of disappointment and concern about the future of the campaign, I am now eager to get the new campaign up and running.
However first I must run the current campaign to its logical conclusion. There are four phases of the current campaign to complete. As each one ends I will replace it with a phase from the new campaign. I will also offer the commands of players no longer wishing to continue to one of the new players.
I just hope that the five new players will be prepared to wait until the previous campaigns have run their course.