Sunday, 20 September 2015

Length of PBEM Campaign Phase

The campaign has five geographical areas, each with its own French and allied army.   Each is independent of the other, but they all run on the same time frame.

The intention is to run a series of mini campaigns, or phases, each of similar size and scope as the Waterloo campaign.   I had hoped that each phase would produce about four or five battles to wargame.  I anticipated that there would be one or two small battles (one corps per side) leading to a major battle (all four corps per side).   I had never intended to limit the number of days each phase would last, prefering to let each run its natural course.

It has worked well for the past five years, always producing sufficient battles to ensure that we always had at least one to wargame.   However over the past few months I have noticed that there are less and less battles.   It would appear that the current army commanders are more inclined towards a defensive campaign, rather than an aggressive one.

The result is that for the first time in all those years we have actually run out of campaign battles to wargame.

This has prompted me to reconsider the structure of the campaign.    From my records I can see that most phases last between 12 and 15 campaign days.  Each day takes about one week to process, so each campaign phase lasts about three to four months.

However they have been notable exceptions, when one commander does not want to accept defeat.   The longest phase so far has been 28 days, a massive seven months.

These longer phases become increasingly difficult to administer.   Supply becomes a serious problem, and battle casualties dominate the battles.   This is because some commanders just want to attack, attack, attack.   It results in battles where the attacker is so weak from earlier battle casualties that they have no chance of winning.

So I have introduced a limit of ten days for each campaign phase.   This is long enough to fight those four battles that I mentioned.   It is also long enough to provide serious supply problems to those commanders who have not made any plans to resupply.

At the end of the ten days either commander can ask to extend for a further two days.    This is to prevent a player gearing his whole campaign to a final attack on day ten, despite having ignored supply and battle casualties.  

It will also provide prospective players with a time limit of three months for each phase.   At the end of that time they an either leave the campaign, or carry on with the next phase.

Equally important it will allow me to introduce adjustments to the campaign at regular intervals.   I find that the campaign rules, administration and maps change frequently as a response to problems encountered.   It is very much like using the same wargame rules over a long period of time.  Problems are encountered which require adjustment or amendments to the rules.

It will be interesting to see how the time limit affects the player tactics.   The “ticking clock” should produce a faster moving campaign, even though most previous campaigns would have been completed by the end of the new twelve day limit.

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