Sunday, November 28, 2010

I need a little help guys


I've been thinking about GoC quite a bit recently, especially where it's going and what I need to do on the project. As I've mentioned in the past, one of the things I want to do is make a pdf version that's easier to follow than this blog format and can be printed out so that players can use it away from their computers.

My original plan was to finish the blog version and then turn it into a pdf version but I've been thinking about that and the downside it that it'll be a long while until the pdf comes out and it'll be a hell of a job to convert what will be a massive blog into a pdf when I get to that stage.

I've decided that I'm going to do it in parts and publish individual pdfs of the various sections as and when I get them completed. Hopefully, this will give people something usable sooner and make putting the final pdf together much easier as all I'll have to do is compile the various pdfs and pull it all together.

So, over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be reworking the Narrative Campaigns section so that I can finish the section and make a Narrative Campaigns pdf. There's a few things that I could do with a little help with guys ....
  • Can you have a read through the Narrative Campaigns section and see if I've missed anything, I welcome any additions, advice or constructive criticism.
  • I need ideas for the Narrative Suggestions page, they can be generic or race based, just add them in the comments.
  • Finally, I need some help with graphics for the pdf. If any of you are graphical guru's or have experience in putting pdf's together and would like to help out, please drop me a line at colcorbane@googlemail.com.
Thanks in advance guys, hopefully with your help, The Going on Campaign guide to Narrative Campaigning pdf will be coming out real soon.

Col Corbane

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ending the campaign

The final key element in designing a campaign is deciding how it will end. Without setting out what the victory conditions will be, campaigns run the risk of running on for a long time with players slowly losing interest and the campaign ending in a sort of stale mate. It’s easy to think that a last man standing approach is the best way forward, but that’s not always the case. There’s a few different methods of ending a campaign including by a time limit, achieving certain victory conditions or by holding a certain about of the map.

The easiest is by time limit. Simple specify how long the campaign will last in either actual time or campaign turns. When this limit is reached, the players with the greatest number of territories, forces left or victories is declared the winner. There’s a number of advantages to using this method, the first being that it’s pretty simple to keep track off but more importantly, it lets the players know how long they’re going to be playing the campaign. Without defining an end point, it’s easy for players to become bored with the campaign and drop out, especially when things aren’t going well for them. Whereas when they know that the campaign is only going to last a few more turns or another month, they’re more likely to stick with it and see the campaign out to the end even if they’re not doing that well.

The second method is by achievements, whether it’s achieving a certain number of victories, controlling a number of key locations or a certain amount of the map. This method encourages to players to go for the objectives of the game picking their fights tactically compared with the time limit method which just encourages players to play the campaign to the end. The downside of this method is that it could take a while to achieve those victory conditions especially when campaigns turn into a stalemate. This method also doesn’t encourage players who aren’t doing that well to stick with the campaign, meaning that a player who doesn’t do well at the start might drop out early as they don’t see a chance of winning the campaign. The other important thing to note is that the victory conditions must be achievable within reason. The harder the victory conditions are to achieve, the longer the campaign will run and the more you risk the players losing interest.

The third method which is the most obvious and the hardest to achieve is a total wipeout victory. I wouldn’t recommend setting this as a sole victory condition, but if a player manages to sweep all aside, then obviously, they should win.

The best form of victory conditions are one’s that include all these methods. Simply decide on what you want your main victory condition is based on an object such as controlling key areas or a certain percentage of the map and then specify a time limit to the campaign and how the winner will be decided when the time limit is reached. This way, the players will still play the campaign tactically going after their objectives but won’t lose interest if they’re not doing well because they know when the campaign will be ending.

As a final note, it’s fine for different players to have different victory conditions as long as they’re balanced unless you’re playing a campaign with a strong narrative where unbalanced victory conditions add to the story leading to a last man come underdog type campaign. Unbalanced campaigns are fine as long as the players know what they’re getting themselves into.


Can you help? Have I missed anything? include your thoughts in the comments and I'll get them added to the page.
 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Moving forward ....


I thought I’d take a moment of take you all through where I see GoC going in the future. What started as a ‘hobby burnout’ project has seriously grown into a titanic project. Initially, I thought I’d just give a brief overview of campaign and a simple set of rules people could play by. Overtime, this initial vision has warped out of proportion with the realities of typing it up. Ever section I type makes me aware that there’s so much more I could write about that section and I’m often dismayed that I haven’t included everything I wanted in the section. Essentially, it’s become a balancing game between getting the information out there for people to use and making it as comprehensive as I possibly could.

So, what does it mean for you guys, well, I’m certainly not abandoning the project, I’m just reconsidering how it’s developed. I’m going to aim to get all the basic sections done, so people have the information they need to play campaigns. Once this is done, I’ll be going back to add additional pages and edit the ones that already exist. So what does this mean for you, well currently the sections have been added in a logical order, so it’s easy to follow the information, but when I start going back adding sections, they’ll be coming through in an illogical order blogwise. Also, any editing of pages won’t appear in your readers, so you’re going to have to come and check the project log to find out what pages have been updated. I’m sorry about that guys, it’s simply the downside to using a blog format for this project. I’m also going to be making some changes to the appendix sections, mainly dropping the scenarios section. The simple fact is that there’s far better resources out on the web for scenarios and when you combine that with the Battle Missions book etc, the section has become redundant.

Thanks for sticking with me on this guys, hopefully together we can build one hell of a resource.

All the best
Col Corbane

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Initial forces

Once you have your map all sorted, you need to decide on what forces the players will be starting the campaign with. This doesn’t mean that these will be the only forces they have through the campaign, we’ll be looking at reinforcements later on but at this point you need to decide how you want to handle the initial forces the players deploy on the map. There are three main ways of handling the forces through the campaign, either by armies, by points or by roster.

In the by armies method, you simply decide how many armies each player has to place on the map and use to manoeuvre around the map and into battle. This method is relatively simple as once the army point level per army is set for the campaign, all the players and campaign master need to do is track where these armies are on the map. Whenever opposing armies meet, the players can simply pick their armies to the point level and play a game. This method is the simplest admin wise but doesn’t take into account the fortunes and misfortunes in battle of the various armies.

The next method is by points where you decide on a total amount of points available to a player and then the player assigns various points to various armies. For example, if a play has 4500pts at the start of the campaign, they could allocate them equally into three 1500pt armies or they could have two 1500pt armies and three 500pt ones giving them a proper armies and three scouting forces. This type require more in the way of tracking but allows for the points levels to change depending on the results of various battles and ongoing recruitment during the campaign. Overall, it gives the players greater control over the forces under their command, allowing them to amalgamate small forces or build up super forces. If you do decide to use this type, then it’s best to set a minimum and maximum point level for armies to stop players fielding lots of one unit armies or one huge super unstoppable army.

The third method is by roster, where the initial total points amount is divided up between the armies and then actual rosters are written up for each army detailing exactly what’s in each army. The benefits of this method is that it allows players to actually track the fortunes of the individual squads and vehicles playing in the campaign. This method is seriously labour intensive to track and it’s only recommended where there’s a small number of very dedicated players playing in the campaign.

Once you’ve decided on what method of tracking what points or forces each army is made of, you need to decide how many points each player is starting the campaign with. This is normally the same for every player, either x amount of points or x number of armies but you could allocated different amounts to different players if your campaign was following a strong narrative such as a desperate last stand or if a player has an advantage due to the map resources they control at the start of the campaign.

It’s also important to realise that these are just the starting forces, over the course of the campaign, their forces could diminish due to losses in battle or because of various events. They could also be replaced over the course of the campaign by the recruitment of new forces which we’ll look at later on. Once the map and initial forces have been decided, all that remains in setting up the campaign is to decide how it will end.


Can you help? Have I missed anything? include your thoughts in the comments and I'll get them added to the page.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Starting positions

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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gearing up

Well, it's been a while since I last updated GoC with life getting in the way and GoC getting put well and truly on the backburner. I hoping now life is sorting itself out, I'll be able to start getting sections added.

A big plus is that with my new job, I've got net access at dinner time and I eat my lunch at my desk, so theoretically, I've got five hours a week of dead time that I can dedicate to GoC, and so that's the plan. The other advantage of my new job is that I've got access to a wealth of design and publishing tools, which means in the future, I can look at publishing a pdf version of GoC.

So, good times ahead, keep your eyes peeled for more sections coming soon.