A general instruction how to run a Campaign for a Miniatures Wargame.
The goal of this article is to provide you with a helper to enable anyone to set up, run and manage a small campaign successfully in their gaming group.
I used this blank system for several different campaigns in different game systems with making adaptions as need be for the game in question with great success. This is the culmination of 24 years experience with tabletop gaming.
The main thing to pay attention to is the time frame, meaning how much time do you have and want to allocate in total to the campaign:
Questions to ask yourself (and answer !) are:
” How much time for each campaign day?
” How much time for players to plan moves on the campaign?
” How much time to fight battles?
Then you need to have a look at the size of the games you want to play:
” How many points do players have to allocate?
o What happens to miniatures dying in the field?
o Do they come back after a certain time?
o How to deal with different point sizes of force? I.e., player A is invading a place with 1500 points, but the occupying player B has 1000 points stationed.
Once you sorted that out, you can start dealing with what kind of resources are there. Personally, I found regarding the resources it’s best to keep it simple and per player, not per race or faction.
You can allow players to deal resources with each other, but then you’ll have the issue of stronger factions, being able to force other players to pay tribute.
I had good experiences in campaigns with resources regardless of the game system with a system like the following:
Farms > give you a few standard troops, (usually enough for half a standard unit)
Factories > give you support unit points, (usually enough for half a cheap support unit)
Cities > provide you with HQ unit types, (usually a quarter of an average HQ unit)
Military fortifications > give you elite troop types (usually a quarter of an ordinary elite unit)
Other rules I usually use:
The invading player has first turn, but the defending player sets up the field to his liking.
In cities, I usually add some kind of city watch militia to his forces. Meaning untrained > unreliable & basic unit types. Usually, I also add fortifications depending on the field type for the defending player.
If players meet on an unoccupied field, they use standard setup rules from the game’s rules.
I usually go with one week to plan moves and allocate troops At the beginning before moves are made, everybody gets their resources from their occupied fields. After allocating the new resources into their forces. The movement starts. The movement should usually happen blind, and this is the most logistic part on your end as the campaigns Administrator. Every Player will have to have their own specific map with a fog of war applied. This means you will have to maintain a general campaign map for your overview and one per each player. Color-coding and easy to use symbols work wonders here.
Depending on the moves you will inform your participants which battles they have to play, they then have two weeks to play and provide you with the results. You should also have a system set up for not played games if they don’t manage to play, and It is not a single players fault, I usually have both participating forces suffer losses. If one player forfeits via a no-show, they lose and their army is destroyed.
So how to motivate your friends to participate in your campaign.
I usually create a nice little backstory with general goals and secret goals for everybody. I usually create a hex field based map as well. I usually also advise players to develop an HQ type Character representing themselves. However, I allocate points cost and will have the last word regarding rules and stats. In general, I advise going with a standard blank character and adding 1-2 special rules and change at most one stat.
If you incorporate rivers, streets or the likes, on your map. I advise having these provide a movement advancement to and from fields connected by these.
So this leaves us with what kind of forces players will play:
I usually give players points to create three small forces to stand guard on owned/ won territory. These should be garrison forces, so basically the minimum game size. Then you can have the main army in the standard tournament size for your game system and 1-2 mid-sized forces with the size between the small and main forces to use to try and occupy more territories.
I Usually have points for units who die being kept dead, with a round of reinforcements about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the total allocated time into the whole campaign.
I also usually have the players do diplomacy at their own desire so that they can form alliances, and trade newly gained resources, or even try and invade a territory together, things like that.
For individual goals, I try to find one with each player individually that fits his army, theme and him/her, so things like owning or finding a particular holy place, even killing a certain individual character of another player.
As you can see, I like to have this fluff driven.
I usually go with 4-6-month campaign length, and 1-week diplomacy/movements on the card, resource allocation and then two weeks for battles. It is also advisable to prepare a themed in-game newsletter, which on one side helps to move on the planned narrative, and on the other hand, helps to keep everybody up to date. It will also keep players engaged.
I usually take on the role of antagonist to all players, which gives you an excellent opportunity to keep everybody on the roughly same power level. So you can prevent players from leaving the field behind. And on the other hand, offers an excellent opportunity to set up a final battle at the end between the players and evil (maybe even some players get swept/forced to do the evils bidding?) It also offers me to participate in Games by controlling random encountered forces and such. Not every city or village will welcome their so-called liberators with open arms.
I hope this helps people interested in running their own campaign or inspire you to try one.
Be aware this will not be working as a league or in an overly competitive environment. The goal of this system here is to create a narrative experience for every player.