Where players start on the campaign map can drastically effect how the campaign plays. When players are positioned very close together, the campaign takes on a cut throat feel from the start with conflicts starting almost immediately. Conversely, when players are well spaced apart, then the campaign takes on a more laidback feel with payers taking time to manoeuvre into battle and out manoeuvre the other players.
When considering placing starting positions on the map, there’s a few factors you need to consider ...
- Map size – the larger the map, the more space player will have to manoeuvre and seize ground before engaging the other players in battle.
- Number of players – the more players there are, the less space there is to manoeuvre and the less campaign turns there are before players start battling.
- Starting territories – player can start in one point and expand from there or start with a number of territories.
- Map details – players that start close to a number of valuable territories will have an advantage to those who start in barren areas.
When creating a campaign, you should bear all these factors in mind when deciding where players start on the map. A small map with lots of players will result in a very bloody campaign, especially if players start with only one or a few territories. You’ll find that players quickly lose their territories and drop out from the game if they’re attacked by multiple players or have a bad run on their initial battles. On the flipside, campaigns with large maps and few players and an unbalanced amount of resources in certain areas can lead to some players gaining an unfair advantage especially as they have plenty of time to capitalise on these resources whilst other players take campaign turns to move across the map to engage them.
The best approach for a balanced campaign is to have the starting places distributed evenly across the map, all within reach of resources so that every player has a chance to expand their territories and seize resources before they engage the other players. This ensures that no one particular player gains an advantage in resources or is wiped out of the campaign prematurely.
Campaign masters can either pick where the players start on the map which works well for campaigns with a strong narrative, such as imperial players being grouped at one side of the map whilst a combined force of chaos and ork players being grouped at the other side of the board. This then sets the up the narrative of an invading force moving across the map to attach defended position which suites many invasion narratives.
Alternatively, starting points can be assigned to the map and then players can be choose where on the map they start. In this case, it’s best to randomise the order that players choose their starting positions which can be done by rolling off or drawing lots if there’s lots of players in the campaign. This style of starting point allocation does lead to a more randomised distribution of forces which might not fit a narrative that well, but it does give the players a chance to seize starting points that they think will give them a tactical advantage due to what map details and other players are near their starting positions.
Which ever way you choose is down to you and how you want the campaign to run, as long as it's fair on all the players involved and they know what sort of setup it's going to be, you shouldn't have any problems. Once you’ve got your map designed and assigned your starting positions, it’s time to look at what forces the players will start the campaign with.
Can you help? I'm after suggestions for any ways of setting up the initial forces, include them in the comments and I'll get them added to the page.