SYW campaign

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ochoin
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SYW campaign

Post by ochoin »

They tell me that campaigns are the height of wargaming. I've never participated in one.
I've been thinking - always dangerous - I'll try to run a short, SYW campaign for 2 of my pals & me. I want to participate not umpire but awkward number, 3,so there you go.

My proposal is to fight three, linked battles over a short time span - maybe every second Saturday for 6 weeks? I think the campaign needs to be fought out in a shortish time frame.

The idea is the outcome of each battle will determine the scenario for the second & third battles. If you do the maths, I'll need 7 possible scenarios....yet to be worked out. The first battle should be a simple set-piece battle. I have scenario books for General d'Armee for Spain & Waterloo & I *think* that I could adapt some of these battles for the next battles.

The winner of the previous battle should get a slight advantage for the next, but not overwhelming as this would kill any challenge/enjoyment.

Any advice or comments?

donald
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by Panzer21 »

What you are describing is often called a "ladder campaign" . As you point out, if results are catastrophic in one battle it can kill it early on. The problem is, unless the scenarios / games are linked somehow, it's just a set of loosely connected battles without common ground.
For example, if scenario 1 determines how many units of Army A get through to assist Army B in scenario 2 there will be a link and motivation for the players. If it has no result, then no connection.
Campaign games should stop the mentality of fighting to the last man and cavalry charge on the last move "as I haven't used them" that sometimes happens with one off games.

As someone who has played in quite a few campaigns, I'd say the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule applies. Diplomacy type campaigns often work better than complex hex map efforts.

One method that works well is a series of linked boxes; each is a wargames table. You link these with roads which can be major or minor. You can show choke points with a single route through two boxes. You can give boxes towns, cities or villages with or without supply depots.
I did a SCW campaign like this where capturing a box had a random chance of supplies. Each box move used a supply point (tidlywinks). The forces started with a random number of supply points. Do you move 2 boxes or 1? This reduces potential SP from the omitted box but gets you up the map faster.
My map had about 12 boxes and produced some interesting games (each box had random forces or was empty). The Republicans potentially generated a militia column at the end point box (town / city) with randomly generated strength. The Nationalist had to advance quickly to reduce the number of reinforcements, but risked missing supplies so could end up stranded.

For your situation, I'd suggest a central box (strategic city) with a ring of three boxes (all linked) then have boxes radiating out in three directions with a start point for each player. Link each "arm" sparingly so there's a possibility of a wide outflanking move, but limit the number of boxes overall ( maybe 3 in each arm?) That would give 12 boxes + a central city box (aim).

Just some thoughts....
Neil
ochoin
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by ochoin »

Thanks, Neil. I appreciate your advice.
This is something along the lines of what I was thinking, albeit a bit more complex. I don't think I'm there yet.
Battles will be the centre of my mini-campaign - 3, to be precise, from a possible 9. No maps.No supply depots. No points. KISSS (Keeping it super simple, Stupid).

I take your point about motivation as the necessary link. I will need to establish motivation for the "box" battles with a through-line of narrative.

So, "baby-steps" for me at this stage.

donald
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by Panzer21 »

Donald,
All I would say is that a campaign should have some strategic decisions, otherwise it's not really a campaign.
If you are just picking a limited number of scenarios, to get anything vaguely like a campaign will need potential strategic outcomes, otherwise it's just scenario games without much by way of linking them.

For example, if one scenario requires one side to exit a supply column while fighting off the enemy, how successful they are could determine ammunition or morale (food supplies) in a later scenario.
Alternatively, if one army has some of its forces detached, a scenario could be a breakthrough one which determines how much of the force and when it arrives in a later battle.

If you play scenario, 1, 2 and 3 and there is no link or consequence to the result, it's a much a campaign as a wargames competition (which isn't usually), just different scenarios.

Neil
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by RMD »

How about something along the lines of the Saxony Campaign of 1760 (Strehla, Wittenberg and Torgau)? The Prussians start with a small but good force and are fighting a much larger, though generally poor-quality (Reichsarmee) enemy along the Elbe valley. At each battle they establish themselves behind old fortifications and just have to survive for an arbitrary number of turns without being overrun. They then retreat to the next battlefield and do it again. If they can survive the third one, Fred's main army turns up and they can then fight their way back up the Elbe. Then Daun turns up with the main Austrian army for a big, climactic slug-fest.
ochoin
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by ochoin »

Perhaps I'm not making myself clear - understandable as I'm not entirely clear myself about what I want.

The battles should be linked by a narrative. For example, Battle #1 represents the Prussians seeking to advance into Saxony against Austrian & Saxon opposition. If the Prussians win that battle, Battle #2.1 will be a Prussian attack on a prepared Austrian position. If the Austrians win Battle #1, Battle #2.2 will be an Austrian assault on a Prussian rearguard. The winner of Battle#2 gets to set out the battlefield for the next battle - Battle#3. This represents the power of a successful army to choose a battlefield to suit itself. Etcetera.
The above are just initial thoughts & need further thought/development. Trying to link the campaign closely to actual history will also limit options.

So, I guess this *is* strategic as well as being narrative driven. I think the challenge for me will be to keep my pals interested & turning up!
" If they can survive the third one" is an issue. What if they don't? So the "campaign' ends a game short on a decided "fizzle". Or worse, the results mean the final battle is a foregone conclusion -"Sorry, mate, I can't come. I promised my wife I'd shampoo her cuticles." Lack of interest can be more deadly than a volley from a Prussian grenadier battalion.
Nearly as bad would be second, third & fourth battles that don't give any advantage to the winner- as Neil writes, "there is no link or consequence to the result, it's..... a wargames competition."

Baby steps. If the thing works & get enough interest/committent (same thing), I can perhaps progress on to something longer, more sophisticated.
Sadly, I can't see how I can be a participant as I will probably need to take the role of umpire.

donald
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by Panzer21 »

OK, that's helpful.

I think what you're describing is a sort of "closed loop flow chart diagram" ( it's the best way I can think to describe it).

So Battle one has two possible outcomes A or B depending on who wins; rather than an attack on a prepared position I'd have this as a meeting engagement. The players will have to decide at what point they quit or risk further casualties. I assume whatever rules you use will have a method of determining who has won/ lost, if not, I'd say first to reach a breakpoint or casualty level - 10%, 25% whatever is acceptable.

This gives a winner and loser so produces two possible games A and B which will be an attack / defence scenario with A & B being determined by who has won and lost. I'd be wary of allowing the winner total control of the battlefield as they may make it too unfavourable for the loser. I'd just create two tables and allow the winner to pick, but each should have similar features and not too impregnable for the attacker.

Concluding game 3 is the same whichever of A or B is played. I'd have this as a set-piece. Have say 4 brigades or divisions or whatever a side. For each game lost, a brigade/ division is off table as a reinforcement. So, it will mean either 1 or 2 off table with ratios of off-table as 0:2 or 1:1. Any drawn battle I'd count as both have a brigade off table.
Off-table have them arrive after 6 moves with chance of arrival each turn on a 6 (+1 each turn after first?).

So flow chart is:
game 1 -game 2A - Game 3 or
Game 1 - game 2B - game 3

Neil
ochoin
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by ochoin »

That's very useful, Neil. I believe I'll follow your plan.
Many thanks, donald
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by Essex Boy »

A few years ago I organised a short colonial 'campaign' for the Ayton May Bank holiday weekend. I say 'campaign', but actually the site of the four battles that would result from the manoeuvring were predetermined (three 'feeder' battles and a single 'big bash'). The players didn't know that, so how they reacted to the drip fed information they received leading up to the weekend shaped those games.

And, the outcome of the three feeder battles would to some extent dictated the final battle set up. Successes in the earlier battles and manoeuvres earned the players bonuses in the final battle.

E
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Re: SYW campaign

Post by Panzer21 »

ochoin wrote: Thu May 09, 2024 8:16 pm That's very useful, Neil. I believe I'll follow your plan.
Many thanks, donald
Donald, you're welcome.
I find games with a bit of jeopardy (variable arrival) keep interest going and can swing things either way.
Neil
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