Sunday, 26 September 2010

New PBEM Campaign Rules

The 1806 PBEM is still going, but has slowed down a lot. This is mostly due to late submission of orders. This is something which happens a lot in PBEM, particularly after the first flush of enthusiasm has worn off. It usually sets in when the two armies come together and there is the prospect of a battle. I suspect that it is often the result of one, or more, players realising that their grand plan is not working and are then unsure what to do next. And, of course, it is easy to just fade away when the only connection between players is an internet game. This is perfectly understandable, but very frustrating for those players who want to get on with the campaign.

The problem is then what to do next. There are really only three options. The first, and in my opinion the best, is to have a CinC player on each side who is planning the grand strategy for his side. He can then step in for the absent player and issue orders to his corps/army.

The second option is to ask a new player to take on the role. This I feel is very unfair. He may well have to take on a command which is already in a mess and beyond any chance of winning.

The third option is for the umpire to take over the command of the missing player. This is quite difficult to do, for it is pretty well impossible for him to ignore the information he has about the other side. And unless he is a saint, he will use that information - particularly if the game is in danger of coming to an untimely end and he wants to keep the campaign going.

I am not suggesting that this is the reason our present campaign has slowed down. It may well be the other common reason, namely that real life has presented one, or more, players with a more pressing problem.

I on the other hand, being retired and very much a "wargame anorak" am always amongst those left with a strong interest in the campaing. This results in intense frustration and a determination never to take part in a PBEM again. This resolve usually lasts until someone asks for volunteers to take part in another PBEM!

The other solution is to run the PBEM yourself. This does not prevent other players from dropping out, but it does mean that you can use one of the three options mentioned above to avoid an abrupt end to the campaign.

I mentioned last time that I was writing a set of campaign rules, which would include a method of fighting battles without wargames. That is going well, and the first draft of the rules are now completed.

I am play testing them myself, which is a very boring process. But I want to be reasonably sure that they work before I ask others to become involved. They seem to work ok, but I will not really know until I open them to other players. That is really the only way to discover the weakeness of any set of rules.

If anyone out there would like to help out I could do with two players, one French and one Prussian. But be aware that the rules are completely untested, and I may even have to change them as the game is ongoing.

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