Tuesday 8 March 2011

Sad end to Hanover PBEM campaign

I was sad, and disappointed, to receive a mail this morning from the Prussian CinC player to tell me he was resigning from the campaign. It was sad, but it was not a surprise.

There are two CinC in the campaign, and both play a critical role which makes them difficult, if not impossible, to replace. They plan the strategy and issue the daily orders. The campaign is now at a critical stage. Two battles have been fought, and what happens next is likely to result in victory or defeat. Not a good time to replace one of the CinC!

After a very promising start I was delighted with the progress of the campaign. Then one of the CinC started to criticise aspects of the game. It started with how we handled the wargame of the first battle. He would not accept my explanation, and was obviously unhappy with my decision.

A few days later he was complaining about an umpire decision, and suggesting that I was being unfair or one sided in my decisions. Again I tried to find a compromise, but he would not accept it. This then led to an exchange between him and other players on the forum, particularly with the other CinC.

Again I tried to find a solution, and even offered to change my style of umpiring. But the second CinC, who had defended my position, then decided to resign from the campaign. So I had lost the one player I wanted to keep, and kept the one I would have been happy to lose!

I guess this is pretty typical of PBEM campaigns. There is no face to face contact, so petty problems can very easily get out of hand. Players often do not have the same degree of interest as they would in a club campaign, and just can't be bothered. And who can blame them.

It has not put me off PBEM. I have learned a lot from this campaign, particularly not to allow any one player to hold such a critical part that he is irreplaceable. It has also confirmed something which I suspected all along. No matter how good the campaign rules and systems may be, it will not work without a team that wants to make it work and is prepared to compromise in order to achieve that end.

Quite important lessons to learn, so the campaign has not been a complete waste of time.

I will be starting a new campaign in a week or so. I hope that most of the existing players will take part in the new one, though I would fully understand if they did not want to do so after so much wasted effort.

Despite everything I am not too down beat. The campaign had ceased to be any enjoyment for me. Every day I waited for another petty complaint, which I would have to deal with despite knowing that it was driving another nail into the campaign. Jan was dreading playing another wargame, knowing that every move might be the cause of another complaint.

Nor am I discouraged from trying another PBEM campaign. Most of the players have supported me through months of test play. Even the new ones entered into the spirit of the game. But it was like having a rule lawyer in a club game, nothing you were going to say would ever put it right, and he could so easily spoil a good nights wargaming. In those circumstances the only thing you can do is ask him to leave, and hope that everyone else does not leave with him.

time will tell, and you will be the first to know.

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