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Monday, May 31, 2010

Roland's Guide to Map Campaigns: Part 1


Hey all! I'm going to begin a short series on one of my favorite ways to play 40K: Campaigns. I find campaigns more enjoyable overall for several reasons: they can (and usually are) fairly competitive; it's usually played with a good group of friends so while competitive, everyone always has a good time; and most importantly, it makes the game more interesting/exciting when the players have some level of emotional/intellectual investment in it beyond a typical tourney style mentality which can focus on "Will I get enough games in to make it a worthwhile investment? Will I win and get some prize out of it? etc" Campaign, and in particular map campaigns, allow the players to really flush out the background and "fluff" of their armies. In short, it breathes a semblance of "life" and "character" into what would normally be a bunch of pieces of colored plastic on a tabletop. This article today will focus on some basic ideas I've been working with for a while now on "How To" make/run map campaigns and ensure they're fun.

The very first thing anyone needs before getting involved in a map campaign is to find a good group of people who'd be interested in participating. I usually find the magic number of people is between 7-11 people. Why 7-11? Well you'll need at least 1 person to be an impartial judge/GM who's sole job is to ensure all moves are made in an appropriate amount of time, to roll for any variables (like weather), and to enforce any penalties should time limits/rules/etc be broken. Also it's always good to have a impartial friend act as the ref during games to resolves disputes/questions, especially when the outcome of such battles can have massive strategic effects on the game! The other reason for the 7-11 number is you want each side to have enough player o make it fun, but not too many where the whole game gets bogged down. 3v3, 4v4, and 5v5 I find are perfect numbers for map campaigns.

Once you find that core group of friends who want to play, you need to set up a time schedule. Me and my friends usually like to do it this way: from Monday at 0800 until Friday at 2000 we have time to discuss strategy as a team and make any map movements as needed. These we send to the Ref/GM to make note of and annotate on his Grand Map (more on maps in a minute). This way he knows what units are where, and who will have to fight whom the following day. This brings us to Saturday, where we try and get together and fight whatever battles need to be fought. What makes map campaigns fun is that this can range from no battles to having several battles going on simultaneously. It also means if it's a "down day" (i.e. no battles being fought) we can always break out other armies and just play for fun, or say Screw It and go to a bar.

So now we've got the players and a time schedule, we need some background and some maps. Background can either be a group collaborative effort, or it can be the realm of the GM. Usually we let the most creative in our group come up with a story line, and he then passes it to the GM who makes the maps. Maps can be a fairly simple affair (using a mix of power point and MS Paint) to highly complex (we've never done anything more complex than that so...no examples here). Each player gets a copy of a map and they are then supposed to mark on it the location of their battlegroups, territories, friendly battlegroups, and known enemy battlegroups. As the campaign progesses they update these maps to reflect their movements/gains/losses/etc. The GM keeps the Grand Map which shows the locations of ALL battlegroups on it and rcords the movements of ALL players. That's how players find out if they are attacked or run into an enemy battlegroup and need to fight a battle: the GM will alert them.
By this point, we're almost ready to start playing games, and here's where I'll begin throw out some useful Campaign rules we've used in the past. Typically each player is allotted between 5000 and 8000 points.
Of that 5000-8000 points, between 3000 (for games of 5000)-5000(for games of 8000) points are immediately available to make Armies with. These Armies can range from 500pt Recon Forces to 3000pt field armies. It is up to the individual player to decide how to divide those 3000pts. However the points are divided, they must follow the FOC. These forces are represented on the campaign map. Any points that remain are used to make up Reinforcements.

Reinforcements are those forces not readily available for use to the battlefield commander.
If a commander chooses to, he can deploy his Reinforcements as their own stand alone battle group. If this is done, however, there are no more reinforcements to be had, so any battlefield losses cannot be recouped. Furthermore, if this is done, the battle group is comprised of the remaining reinforcements, not the entire Reinforcements list.
This concludes my first part on Campaigns. Part 2 I'll write up shortly and I'll get into the actual campaign mechanics, from the Strategic Phases, to moving and attacking, to Lines of Communication. Stay tuned for more awesome Campaign ideas!

4 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...

Cool beans. I've never done a map campaign before, but it sounds like it could be fun.

Kirby said...

Camps are great fun but can be difficult to run without some good tweaking of map rules, etc. I remember running one when I was in school and I used a map maker from a computer game (Heroes III) which is a good way to make "advanced" maps. Problems can be taking too long which I always ran into ^^.

Chumbalaya said...

<3 Heroes III

Dungeon FTW

MagicJuggler said...

I was contemplating using Mordheim as the base system for an Age-of-Wonders style campaign-game. Shadow Magic was a great game.

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