Campaign Rules

I’ve posted a request for advice and tips on TMP; we’ll see what that flushes out. In the meantime, a brief rundown of my experience and possible options is in order. These all rely on resetting history at the close of each “campaign” so we don’t have to run entire nations for that period.

I’ve run a Waterloo campaign for our group back in the early 90s.  There is a lot written about the difficulty of running campaigns, but I did this pretty simply.  I:

  • created a map of Belgium from an atlas (not much internet back in them thar days) on graph paper, photocopied, laminated and distributed it.
  • pulled together an OB and allied starting positions from Bowden’s Armies at Waterloo.
  • decided on march rates (from memory there was a very little random variability and the rates were terrain and weather affected (I just used the actual weather for the current year and it didn’t rain much).
  • decided the campaign was too short to worry about supply.
  • asked the players to only discuss the campaign with umpire or via note through the umpire.
  • told the French they could march on where they liked subject to road capacity.
  • prevented the allies from moving until they received intelligence of the French advance.

In terms of the umpiring, it was very easy.  At our weekly gaming night, players gave me their orders and I would execute them. This just meant drawing their unit paths on the laminated map in line with the movement rates.  When forces were close enough to “see” each other I’d generate an intell report.  If significant forces met I’d asked both sides if they wanted to fight or retreat. If fight, I’d set up a battle. As players became aware of new information or completed their orders I would ask them what they wanted to do next.  There were no formal turns.

We ended up with two battles.  The first happened pretty quickly at Mons which was a French victory and a couple of days later we had another battle pretty near Waterloo.  The allies had managed to get the battered Anglo-Allies and some of the Prussians together.  The French won this battle by breaking two Prussian corps literally one turn before a Prussian force was due to arrive behind the French Army.

The whole thing took probably 6 nights of tabletop battles and another 10-15 episodes of order giving at the start of a our weekly gaming evening so about 6 months of elapsed time.  It also explains why I want to run campaigns and not just one-off battles. The players really enjoyed it and incidents from the campaign (ranging from the just failed master-stroke to funny decisions people made) still get a light-hearted run at our gaming nights 24 years after the event.

I intend to run a few campaigns in the way described above. I have more reference material to work with.  Finding an unabridged translation of On War (with the useful chapters on Napoleonic campaigns included) was difficult in 1991, not so now – it’s hereLe Vol de l’Aigle provides a detailed system and the Empire Campaign System will help. I also have all the classic miniature campaign books although they are rough guides at best.  I’m hoping to use some of Paddy Griffiths’ and Don Featherstone’s ideas for mapless campaigns in some situations.

The first campaign is Valmy and I am thinking I will devise and use a Scharnhorst scenario (the campaign system embedded in Blücher) for that.

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