View Full Version : Bystanders in Campaign Games
04-24-2004, 03:45 PM
This topic arises from time to time, and I thought I would post a thread to see if there are any new ideas. The issue is what to do in a campaign game where you've got 5-6 (or more) players, some of which will be regrouping from defeats or avoiding battles, and others engaged in seiges, so that you are only averaging a battle or so a season. That means the majority of your players are bystanders watching the battle be played out, unless they are providing ally contingents.
Here are some ideas, and I invite others.
Structure the campaign so that you have non-campaign countries/armies in the mix. Have a game mechanism where those armies attack from time to time, creating a role for your bystanders to fill in as generals.
Have players fight out seiges using the Fanaticus variant rule or some other mechanism.
Punish players for avoiding battles by substracting prestige points. Or encourage players to engage in battles by giving additional prestige points for every battle fought.
04-24-2004, 05:58 PM
Make it a Big Battle DBA Campaign with each General commanding 3 x DBA armies. Give your best or most experienced two players CinC of the anchor army in each of the Big Battle opponents.
This allows for DBA army commanders who may have to sit out a turn or two to recruit new troops, replenish supplies, (depending on your campaign framework) an advisory role to the CinC. From personal experience I have found "on the table lessons" most informative. The CinC can then "bounce" ideas (tactics) off his subordinates and explain his choice of a particular attack or defence.
The ancients gaming community here is small. We seldom play campaigns. When we do, they are based on the well known WWII ASL Boardgame rules. The above is pretty much how we play Big Battle DBA or DBM games of 200 AP (without certain of the rules which add complexity).
Now only if I could get more ancients players !!!
[ April 24, 2004, 15:10: Message edited by: derek ]
04-26-2004, 09:50 AM
In my (forthcoming - honest!) response to your Persian campaign challenge I have dealt with this issue by setting it up as a team campaign - there are more armies than players so there should be enough battles to go around most of the time. Players can command whichever of the armies on their team are fighting at the time.
The Big Battle idea is a good one, but Big battles take much longer to play, so it depends if you want a campaign to give some meaning to a few battles, or as an excuse to fight lots of them.
04-26-2004, 09:53 PM
Originally posted by Chris Brantley:
... some of which will be regrouping from defeats or avoiding battles, and others engaged in seiges, so that you are only averaging a battle or so a season. I have always found that you need to take care with how you force people to fight when they don't want to.
This comes up in several threads, forcing players to play stupid. In a campaign, players avoid battle because either they don't think that they can win, or because they believe that they can acheive the objective in a cheaper fashion.
Generals who picked the time and place of a battle, or to wore down a superior opponent by not giving battle until they were ready are the commanders we admire (Fabius, Bertrand DuGesculin, Hannibal, Henry V, Robert the Bruce). Why should we punish players in a campaign who seek to emulate these commanders.
If the standard strategic movement mechanism is in place for a DBA campaign, a player cannot avoid battle too many times before their entire territory is overrun, their army destroyed from behind the walls of their capital, and they are left as vassals, and down to 2 elements at the start of the new year. If that isn't an incentive to fight then further punishment is not going to work.
The best way to ensure that players fight rather than avoid a losing prospect is to remove the consequences of the loss, that is troop losses for future battles and territory. At which point the game is no longer a campaign its a round robin tournament.
Sorry about the rant Chris, it doesn't help I know. My own suggestion is to use something like my rating system to scale the prestige awards for battles. A player that is much weaker (either through quality or quantity) of troops can reap high rewards from a battle if they win, or simply take the camp or kill the general. Similarly, a player that consistently attacks weaker opponents (which leads to a corresponding drop in the likelihood of a battle) will have any battle prestige he wins scaled down.
We've tried it out once and it went pretty well, we have to give it a longer run before the final verdict is in.
All the best
04-27-2004, 12:46 AM
Originally posted by Macbeth:
Sorry about the rant Chris, it doesn't help I know.All valid points, so no need to apologise ;)
My own suggestion is to use something like my rating system to scale the prestige awards for battles. A player that is much weaker (either through quality or quantity) of troops can reap high rewards from a battle if they win, or simply take the camp or kill the general. Similarly, a player that consistently attacks weaker opponents (which leads to a corresponding drop in the likelihood of a battle) will have any battle prestige he wins scaled down.Instead of scaling, how about the winner takes the prestige points of the loser?
04-27-2004, 01:55 AM
Originally posted by Chris Brantley:
Instead of scaling, how about the winner takes the prestige points of the loser? I always have a nagging doubt about negative penalties. They work well in theory, if the overall leader is attacked from all sides, but could instead see a greater gap open up if the leader continues to win and takes the prestige from the nearest competitors.
The modification on that front that I am currently working on, that is yet to be trialled in my campaigns would work as follows.
At the end of the year any vassal with a higher prestige value than thier overlord loses two points of prestige. Note that in my games there is a 1 bonus prestige point awarded at the end of the year for each vassal controlled, and for each recruitment point not used.
If a high flyer is brought low and made a vassal they will slowly bleed prestige points until they drop below the value of their overlord. However at the same time the overlord's prestige is increasing, so the effect is to draw the two level.
We'll see how it goes when the next campaign kicks off.
04-28-2004, 02:37 AM
I think that issuing each side a set of objectives at the outset of the campaign would be an interesting way of templating possible action, and a way also to "handicap" the sides. It seems to me that a leader's success or lack thereof hinges on how best he can conform his own tendencies to the best interests of the entity he leads. For some states absolute dominion is victory, while for others survival in the midst of powerful neighbors is also winning. Presenting a gamer with a set of criteria for success that requires him/her to go against there demonstrated predilictions presents a challenge to the gamer, his/her opponents, and the referee. It can be the spice that makes a campaign that much more memorable. I suppose that the point is, a predisposition to conservative play can be exploited as well as recklessness.
Perhaps I should have developed this topic a bit more, but there it is.
04-28-2004, 11:10 AM
I have usually used the ideas that Jim has mentioned in previous campaigns. Those thoughts generally lead players in a "historical" direction.
I am recently noticing in my current campaign, if I give the players a way to replace elements more often (by using a money system instead of using the standard reserve method) during the course of the year, more battles are played. Granted that most are just sending allied contigents, but everyone is fighting in at least two battles per campaign year. There are times when players aren't fighting battles but participate in "pick up" games in between.
[ April 28, 2004, 08:12: Message edited by: Darren Buxbaum ]
04-28-2004, 09:03 PM
Originally posted by Darren Buxbaum:
I am recently noticing in my current campaign, if I give the players a way to replace elements more often (by using a money system instead of using the standard reserve method) during the course of the year, more battles are played.Another way to go about this would be to have a mechanism whereby players could trade in prestige points to raise additional troops. As in, the Roman emperor is emptying the gold out of the temples to fund new legions. Or medieval rulers raising taxes and duties to hire mercenaries, which hurts their popularity (hence their prestige).
04-29-2004, 06:09 AM
Originally posted by Chris Brantley:
Another way to go about this would be to have a mechanism whereby players could trade in prestige points to raise additional troops.This I like a lot, and will playtest in one of my campaigns sometime soon.
I can see one flaw in its use though. In general the player with the highest prestige is the one who has won the most battles with the fewest losses. The opponents that they have hammered the most will be the ones who wish to use this rule, they will use their meagre prestige to rebuild so opening up the gap between them and the leader.
Maybe it could be held back until a certain number of years (say 3) have been played out.
As I said, this is worth a good look, I will attempt to incorporate the rule in the next campaign to start up. I'll report back when it runs.
All the best
04-29-2004, 07:36 PM
I would have to agree with David, that your idea is very interesting. I think it also defines "prestige" better. I can't make the change in my current campaign, since it has other facets involved (religious indulgence, relics and random event cards) that affect the monetary\prestige system that I have in place.
04-29-2004, 10:06 PM
Or perhaps a one-time option to go into "prestige debt" to buy replacements. It was pretty embarrasing for Athens to have to melt the gold from its temples to pay for more troops. And once you've tapped out the temples, you've definitely hit the bottom of your resource well for that campaign.
05-15-2004, 06:29 AM
I've given a lot of thought to this subject, and this very issue is why I keep writing campaign rules. The standard DBA campaign has always bothered me, because players who make careful campaign moves frequently sit bored for an hour while the poor fools making bad or rash campaign moves get to play a fun DBA battle.
My first idea was Duelling Republics, a Punic Wars campaign which put everybody on just two sides: Rome or Carthage. Players resolve issues internal to their nation (such as where replacements go, and who controls which army) by very simple politics. There are only 4 armies (2 for each nation), and each campaign year they switch hands. The owner of an army pushes it around the map, and when two enemy armies meet, all the players fight the battle together. The current owner of an army becomes its C-in-C in battle, and the other players become subgenerals. Battles are fought using BBDBA. Each player has an individual prestige score, which goes up (or down) most dramatically while commanding an army. The highest prestige score wins the campaign.
My next idea, which I'm still testing, is the Age of Arthur campaign, set in post-Roman Britain. All players represent petty kings, and each has his own VP score. The campaign is played using a special card play system. When the cards indicate a war between two players, a BBDBA game is played, and all players join in and play in the same battle. Armies "heal" immediately at the end of the war, so the decision to join a war is usually a matter of picking sides, not whether or not to sit out. A player never loses his home territory, but instead becomes a vassal of his conqueror and still controls a moderately-sized army - and of course there are card events which foment rebellion.
I'm still gestating a "First Man in Rome" theme, with each player representing a Roman political faction of the Republic, again each with his own VP score. This would be another card-based game; some cards start wars, and each war is played as one or more battles (probably a short piston campaign). The player who starts the war commands the Roman army, but his political opponents bid for the right to command the opposing barbarian army. When the war starts, the players each have command of an army or act as a subgeneral for one side, and the war is fought to a conclusion. If the barbarians win, the player who started the war suffers some loss of score, depending on how badly he lost (with the sack of Rome being the obvious worst case), and the players who controlled the barbarians get some reward for "being right that the war was a mistake". If the barbarians lose, the player who started the war gets a VP reward, plus perhaps some rewards to hand out as political favors, and of course Rome gets a new province for the players to squabble over with card play. Everybody has an incentive to play in the battles, so nobody sits out. In the meantime everybody has to work together just enough to prevent the fall of Rome, but work against each other enough to win the game.
You can see my overriding theme here - give each player individual victory conditions, but gear the game so that all players have an incentive to play in every battle. Fabian tactics are best relegated to 2-player games where both players are busy the whole time anyway. As soon as there's a 3rd or further player, nobody should have to sit out and watch while other players dork around indecisively.
These concepts can apply to lots of contexts, with enough creativity. I have lots of other half-baked ideas:
- Angevin Empire: everybody's English, but bids to control a foreign power (Wales, Scotland, France, Ireland, Flanders, etc.) in a war/rebellion/raid.
- Edward Bruce in Ireland: everybody's an Irish king, and Edward Bruce's Scots and the Anglo-Irish are pawns in the political struggle.
- Ater Cyrus: everyone is a Persian satrap, and use the ruling king, the king's disinherited siblings, mercenaries, and minor territories as pawns in a struggle to control the Persian empire.
- 100 Years' War: England vs. France as usual, but each side is split into warring factions (the 2 kings, English and French major houses, Burgundy, Flanders, etc.) that may switch sides during a war.
- Panhellenica: everyone is a Greek power base between Sicily and Ionia, and vies for power with help from "barbarian" powers (various Alexandrian successors, Rome, Carthage, marauding Guals, etc.)
...and so on.
It does often take longer to play a BBDBA game, but I consider that a fair trade-off for keeping all the players involved. Also, to speed up BBDBA, I try to keep the element counts below 36 per side (which also helps to keep me from going broke buying figures!) and I add the ability to "march move" everything.
05-15-2004, 10:44 AM
Great ideas. I'm still a little fuzzy on how players -- say in the Britan game -- score VPs toward the campaign.
05-15-2004, 04:45 PM
It's too much to explain here, but the rules are free online:
Age of Arthur (pdf) (http://www.armory.com/~fathom/dba/ageofarthur.pdf)
Duelling Republics (web page) (http://www.armory.com/~fathom/dba/duellingrepublics.html)
Don't be intimidated; they're not very long or complicated. smile.gif
05-16-2004, 12:57 AM
We need to get Paul Potter to write up the rules for his WotR campaign. He makes sure that everybody is fully employed and a 4 round campaign with 6 players can be run in about 4 hours. It gives ample opportunity for back stabbing and revenge. When I played a good time was had by all. C'mon Paul, write it up.
05-19-2004, 08:06 PM
Ok Ed. I don't have a name for this. could probally call it a mini campaign. no map. Most recently ran it by having a equal number of players each of which were given 6 elements. A dismountable knight(their general), a bd (billmen) and a lbw. to this each player selects 3 additinal elements from a pool that mostly consists of bows and billmen with a few ax, ps, pk, art, and dimounting knights thrown in. Select a king. this player remains king until he is on the losing side of a battle. Select a pretender. this player becomes king if he is on the winning side of a battle. the king and pretender select players to be on their side. fight the battle. At the end of the battle if the pretenders side wins he becomes the new king. if the kings side wins he remains king and a new pretender is selected. each 6 elwment command gets its own dice for rolling pips. played on a 2x4 board but a 2x3 would have worked just as well. Durning the campaign I did not bother to change terrian. rolled to determine who picked sides and then alternated deploying 1 comand at a time.The king and pretender are the c-ib-c on their side and tell the other to players on thier side where to deploy. After the battle score points as follows: on the winning side +1, destroy an enemy general, knight or artillery +1. after the battle the winning c-in-c gets to execute 1 player. the executed player loses 2 points. the player with the most points becomes the new pretender. if there is a tie for this position arm wrestle, have a push-up contest, see who can spit the farthest or roll a dice or some such thing. Lost elements are replaced out of the pool with king choosing 1st, pretender next and then highest player to lowest player. the new pretender and king select side and fight a new battle. at the end of the night the player with the most points wins. 2 weeks ago we did either 3 or 4 battles in a 3 hour period, everyone plays in each battle and their was enough whinning, insults and macho boasting to make any wargammer happy. this basic syatem would also work with big battle where each player has a 12 element army. enjoy -Paul
[ May 19, 2004, 17:07: Message edited by: Paul Potter ]
05-21-2004, 12:33 AM
Paul, great scenario. How do you fight the battles with 6 element commands? At what point does a command break? At what point does the army lose or break?
Also, can you give a little more detail on how you earn points. Do you gain or lose points for elements killed/lost?
What about camps?
[ May 20, 2004, 22:05: Message edited by: Chris Brantley ]
05-21-2004, 02:49 PM
Chris, the way we did it most recently was that the battle is over when 1 side lost a 3rd of its elements or lost its c-in-c. Individual commands did not demmoralize unless they lost their general. We did not use camps. points were scored at the end of the battle. If on the winning side you get a point. If you are the winning c-in-c you get a point. then 1 point for each enemy knight, general or artillery that you destroyed. the only way you could lose points is if the winning c-in-c selects you for execution which results in the loss of 2 points. Next time we play this I also want to allow the winning c-in-c to award an extra point to any one player. this could be used to reward some one who fought extra hard or perhaps some one on the other side who did not fight to hard. The interesting thing about the execution rule is that it generally involves a lot of conversation concerning just who is the most deserving of this. I'm purposly trying to keep the point system simple as I prefer simple rules. One rule that we did use was that you can not attack an other player on your side during the battle but how diligently you support the cause is up to you. I hope to try this in the future with a dark age irish or scottish setting. It would also work well with saumuri or civil war rome. At the
the beggining of each battle each player gets his original 3 elements back and they select from the pool to up his total back to six. I've considered letting the player or 2 players with the most points use 7 elements. I'm assuming that each player represents a noble family so lossing your general or being executed does not put you out of te game. If you try it I will look forward to hearing what you think and about your own modifications to it. -Paul
05-22-2004, 12:14 AM
Chris, note that although Paul tends to prohibit back-stabbing, which I find shocking in a WotR game, one could still park a unit behind an "allied" unit in such a way as to prohibit recoils... (It's all in having the right attitude for WotR...)
05-24-2004, 08:46 PM
Originally posted by Paul Potter:
the player with the most points becomes the new pretender. if there is a tie for this position arm wrestle, have a push-up contest, see who can spit the farthest or roll a dice or some such thing. Won't the displaced King usually have the most points (and hence will become the "Pretender" if defeated? Or do you limit the "Pretender" to the player with the most points who is not the displaced king?
05-25-2004, 03:13 PM
If the ex-king still has the most points he becomes the new pretender. This is where execution comes in as it will knock the ex-king down 2 points which will probally allow someone else to take that position. -Paul
05-25-2004, 07:47 PM
Hey Chris, I just saw the mimi campaign write up, it looks good. One thing I would change is that the points scored for destroying a knight, general or artillery are scored by the player doing the destroying, not the c-in-c. thanks, -Paul
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