I love campaigns, I think they make wargaming so much more fun, as all the battles have a context. Then there's the strategic aspect that's usually missing for wargaming. Can you sucker your opponent into weakening his defences with a diversionary attack or do you sacrifice a small force to delay your opponent's advance. Then there's the possibility of Machiavellian dirty tricks if you involve diplomacy and for all the accountants out there there's logistics to consider and resources to manage (amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics). However setting up and running a campaign is no easy task.
I'm currently looking at setting up a campaign to run at my local wargames club. The aim is to stimulate the members and to possibly attract new members and tempt back old members who have found real life cutting into their gaming. Also as there are a number of other local wargames clubs/gaming groups I would like to open things up to them as well to boost ties.
However there are some problems. Such as what game system to use as the basis for the campaign; how many people would we need min/max to make it fun and successful; can we cater for people who want to join in later on; how long between turns; what happens if someone misses a turn or a battle doesn't get fought; how long should the campaign run so people don't get bored; what are the objectives/how do players win; how complex should it be and so on. In fact looking at this there aren't just 'some' problems there's a whole heap of them!
Luckily I have quite a bit of experience in running successful campaigns so most of these aren't really a problem for me. The problems I do have are related to the modus operandi of our club. We don't focus on one or two gaming systems like some clubs. For example our Chairman, Matt, recently calculated that he'd played 45 different systems in one calendar year! So finding one system that everyone has models/figures they can use and want to play is very difficult. The second major issue is time. Some of our members find real life intervenes and they have to skip a club night and also they may not want to commit to playing the same game every week for an unspecified period.
So what's the solution? Well there are a few approaches I could take. I could choose 'Kill Team' for 40K as the basis of the campaign. Everyone has access to a few 40K figures the rules are fairly simple and the games are fast so won't take up much time on a club night allowing people to have a quick game before their main activity for the night. I also already have a full 'Kill Team' campaign worked out with random events and special rules ready to go. The problem with this is that I tried to run this a year ago and only got three people interested, not really enough to meet the clubs aims.
The second solution would be to have a more abstract campaign where participants were given non-specific resources and any battles could be fought out in whatever game system the two combatants agreed upon. The sizes of the forces would then be governed by the resources committed. However there is the possibility that the two combatants might not have a system that they both play. There is also the issue if the other local clubs get involved of not being able to schedule the game within the required time frame.
The possible solution to this is to have two types of participant, Generals and Mercenaries. The generals would plan the campaign, allocate resources and possibly engage in diplomacy with the other generals. The mercenaries would fight out the actual battles with the resources they've been given. This would solve most of the problems I've mentioned. Not fighting the battles themselves would get rid of time constraints. It would also allow other club members or members at other clubs to join in by fighting as mercenaries without committing them to the same system week after week (I could even recruit players via TMP to act as mercenaries and fight out the battles for us).
So what's the next step? Well I'm going to propose the generals and mercenaries approach to the club members and see what the response is like. I'll also approach some of the other local clubs to see if they want to be involved. Until I can gauge the level of interest there's not much else I can do. I'll post what happens and hopefully you'll be seeing lots of regular campaign updates here soon. Also, for those of you who may be interested, I'll post up the details on the 40K Kill Team campaign I mentioned tomorrow.