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Warhammer Campaigns - why do they fail?

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05 Apr 2009 08:12 #25229 by hancock.tom
We are about to start another warhammer 40k campaign, and as I was looking over the rules lovingly crafted by my buddy for the strategic parts of the game, I was thinking of all the warhammer campaigns I've played in over the years and why they have failed. We definitely need to build things into the game that prevent this one from collapsing.

Anybody played in a campaign of warhammer fantasy or 40K? Any rules suggestions? Why did yours flame out, if it did?

Nearly every one I ever played in flamed out due to a player getting discouraged and quitting due to being hopelessly behind/beat on/etc., thus leaving a big section of map open and messing with the balance. We are going to try to prevent that through the rules we are using.

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05 Apr 2009 11:31 #25236 by Sagrilarus
Maybe you could require a deposit.

Sag.

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05 Apr 2009 12:09 #25238 by hancock.tom
That is one option, although involving money usually makes people take things too seriously, and go to the opposite extreme, fielding the most abusive armies possible.

One thing we are doing is using a % of your total forces maintenance cost, which will of course hit the players with more total points harder than it will hit the players who have taken some losses. I'm basically looking to see if anyone has any experience with this sort of thing

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05 Apr 2009 12:14 #25239 by jur
First of all, is it a campaign or a competition?

is it just a set of games where the points values are added up in the end, or is it a real campaign, where recruiting, strategy and diplomacy are involved? In the latter option, weaker players can join alliances, lose battles but retain strategic areas.

One thing always helps: a set deadline. If you set it up to run a few months, people can see the end of the race and will hold on until then.

These kinds of problems are not limited to WH campaigns. It affects all forms of campaigns and competitions (historical etc)

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05 Apr 2009 13:27 #25241 by hancock.tom
It is a real campaign as you put it. We are still working on the rules for alliances (tough to balance), but what you say makes sense to me - it could keep people interested even if they aren't doing well.

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05 Apr 2009 15:00 #25245 by jur
in this way you use the campaign as a battle scenario generator. This may be a bit of a change from competition games as most of the WH players in my club tend to just run out of troops at the end. In a campaign, that should be discouraged (a bit).

It may help to keep the map so that players are not too dependent on each individual player showing up. If somebody drops out, it doesn't mean somebody now has an open flank or an area where he can easily walk through. You might keep it a bit abstract

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05 Apr 2009 15:14 #25246 by Matt Thrower
As someone who has been involved in my own share of these things myself - being a WFB veteran since 2nd edition - I can offer you two concrete suggestions for success.

One, keep it short. A single battle is usually an evening affair, assuming 2,000 point armies. You want these things to run a month or two, no more, with one or two games a week max otherwise people hit burnout and get bored. Vast-open ended campaigns are a sure-fire route to failure.

Two - and your friend might not like this - keep whatever homebrew campaign rules that you're going to employ short, simple and ensure they don't have a massive impact on the actual battles. Complex campaign rules which leave a heavy footprint on individual battles are rarely balanced and rarely as interesting as the individual fights (which is what the game was designed for in the first place). Making it otherwise leads to annoyance and frustration - the campaigns I've found to work best are those more focussed on generating a story than some mad civilisation-style rules.

Did you know GW have re-released Mighty Empires? Was orginally a WFB product (and far too long and complex to actually use as a campaign system) but the new version might be more streamlined and might be tweakable to 40k.

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05 Apr 2009 15:36 #25248 by hancock.tom
Thanks Matt and Jur.

Haven't looked at Mighty Empires but I will. Our campaign is going to incorporate battlefleet gothic with 40k, so I need to start reading BFG rules too.

The key to this is going to be tweaking the homebrew campaign rules until they are simple enough to not unbalance the game but not so basic that our "campaign" is just show up and play a game a week.

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05 Apr 2009 15:52 #25249 by jur
Go for the old edition of mighty empires, it has the better stuff. If you can get it second hand it is much better value for money than the new one!

agreed with Matt. Found out through my own disappointing experiences: use the campaign rules as scenario generator, not as a game for its own sake

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05 Apr 2009 15:57 #25250 by jur
what you want is:
a reason to fight the battle
asymmetric battles (ie not balanced in point value)
a couple of things that make the players think twice about wasting their troops:
such as units that cannot (easily) be recruited and
other players that may be threatening their rear


you can encourage some players to act as mercenaries. that should make them think of fighting as a cost-benefit enterprise. If you can make them act as renaissance Italian condottiere, so much the better!

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05 Apr 2009 17:51 #25251 by MattFantastic
Depending on the campaign set up, if you are playing things out such that battles are on different planets rather than territorial control of a single planet, it's easy enough to make up some fun bullshit about a dropped out player getting nuked/hopelessly corrupted to the point of insanely destroying themselves/whatever other worldchanging event that you think is fun and makes their territory totally worthless/untraverseable/whatever. It's a decent enough way to deal with a drop out if it does happen such that it won't ruin the campaign.

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