Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Tale of Two Gamers - Campaign Admin

Hi all, welcome back!  This week I'm going to share a few thoughts on running campaigns  and specifically keeping track of all your units throughout the course of the campaigns you play.

Whatever system you play, most games have a kind of campaign system.  Even if they don't, we'll often play a series of narrative battles and link them together ourselves.  Playing a campaign is all about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts - it's not just six games in a row; it's six linked games, each one feeding into the others to make an exciting and slightly personal story.  Your units get battle honours, experience, upgrades - and a story behind them too.  It's one of my favourite parts of the games.

Everyone has their own system for keeping track of your units' progressions in campaigns, and it depends to a large extent on what games you play.  I'm going to be focussing on two campaigns I play with Headologist that are ongoing - our Battlefleet Gothic campaign, and the 40K one too.  But I hope these points will hold true for any games system.



Battlefleet Gothic

(I decided to do this post mostly because of the effort I had to go to to create a decent log for my Imperial Fleet.  The explaination of how it works, and why I made it, will get very confusing.  This is exactly the reason I'm doing it, to save others the hastle of coming up with a system like this.  Hopefully you can use it for a BFG campaign / adapt it for another situation.)
The Campaign Log.  Across the top - battles fought, and down the left, the ships/squadrons which took
part.  Cross reference to find out what damage/upgrades/experience a ship got in a given battle.

The red bars span the previous iteration of a ship - the blue shows the current iteration.

  • Campaign rules in BFG are actually fairly simple.  Ship destroyed?  Replace her.  Squadron down to less than 50%?  Replace it.
  • But I painted my ships with names on them and petulantly insisted that every ship down to the smallest destroyer has a name.  
  • So, look at the chart.  You can see the Falchion was destroyed in the Merovingian Raid.  But I can't replace the model, which has the name 'Falchion' painstakingly painted on the base.
  • So I say to myself, "let's just pretend that for the first two battles, this was a different ship, and now this is the Falchion".  I retrospectively rename it.
  • This means the red boxes show where a ship has been destroyed and I've had to invent a predecessor.

This involves a bit of doublethink, because of course I know that a ship might well get destroyed ten, fifteen, or twenty times but only the last iteration will actually finish the campaign.  So that's the system.  It sounds complicated but apart from each ship having a nice, clear history, it also makes it a hundred times easier to identify ships in battle.

Warhammer 40K

Same as above - battles across the top, officers down the side.  Cross reference to find out if an officer
fought at a given battle, and if so what happened.  The right-hand column tells me if
an officer's service record has been fully typed up.

There are also quick-reference guides underneath, telling me what medals are for and
who has won battle honours.
This is a bit easier, but the principle is the same.  Different officer, different careers - all summed up in the table for reference.  A bit like with BFG, the officers can die and a new 'iteration' comes to command the unit.  Look at 2Lt Creticus' and 1Lt Rhyn's rows - you can see they both command 1 Platoon - Creticus until the Battle of Valkyrie Pulsus (where he died), then Lt Rhyn.

I know most people will already have their own systems for this, so let me know how you do it in the comments.  I just hope that one person can read the waffle (congratulations if you made it this far!) and be spared having to work all this rubbish out for themselves.  I've just thought, this might also be a good way to write out your army/fleet list as well.

Hope you enjoyed!  Headologist is working on the battle reports for our latest clash in the BFG campaign so hopefully we'll have those to show you soon.  Anyway, thanks for reading and until next time...

The Colonel

6 comments:

  1. Interesting - with minimal tweaking it would do to keep players informed of 'out of play' action - assuming that the games played (regardless of points/table area) were merely the pivotal part of a larger battle each time.

    I also like the DOW idea of giving winning generals an 'honour guard' of some sort as a bonus.

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    1. That's not a bad idea - obviously this is just a 1 vs 1 campaign so there isn't as much of a requirement to keep A & B informed of C's actions etc etc, but I'll remember that when I come to run a bigger game

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  2. I love your medal names! hmmmm, A formal log is a really good idea. I think I need something like that for my officers.
    For my current champaign I'm keeping two logs. After each battle I'm writing out who survived and noting any memorable events, injuries, post battle promotions/demotions etc. The second log is of the casualties - which I'm having a lot of fun writing. I'm looking forward to having a really big game in the campaign where I could be quite easily adding a few hundred names to the memorial role!
    I guess all of the details listed on the Battle Logs will eventually end up on the Memorial Role as the models fall in battle. Still, maybe a simplified version as a table like yours could be useful to keep track of the NCO's and Officers.
    As for out of play actions (as Zzzzz points out).... I'm not sure how to capture that.
    Thanks for the post -very interesting.

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    1. Well stay tuned, after the next few BFG reports there's going to be a series of posts on Palladian medals...

      Nice! I have to say my casualties are so horrific that I normally only do the officers by name just to reduce my workload. You're right, they are a lot of fun to write in themselves. The Memorial Roll is exactly what I'm going for, after the campaign a big file of in-world notes/documents that tell the story of the war!

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  3. Those charts look the business! What program(s) did you use to create them? Depending on the answer, I may presume to ask you for a copy to use as a template.

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    1. Mike, it would be both a privilege and a pleasure. The BFG is done on MS Excel '11 and the 40K is in Pages - but I can do them both in compatibility formats so you can open them. Drop me an email (colonelscipio@yahoo.co.uk) and I'll get them to you soonest!

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