With the release of the Age of Sigmar General's Handbook we have been given some really nice guidelines on playing campaigns. This (at least to me) has always been one of the things that would truly make warhammer work. But from the old school pen and paper campaigns on hex maps (that tended to bleed to death), to the campaign books like Sanctus Reach (that tend to putter out after a few games) it is hard to get a campaign right. With the many forms on offer in the General's Handbook I decided to give the ladder campaign a try at my local gaming club. The result was the Conquest of Crawling Swamp.
|Don't release all the fanatics at once you gits! This is a campaign!|
Finding other players for Age of Sigmar
Finding a few players exited about starting an Age of Sigmar campaign is no problem. For me there is our local hobby club (Sword Brethren Eindhoven) and the local Games Workshop is always willing to lend a hand if you're looking for other players. With the spread of one man stores it is getting easier and easier to find opponents and keep playing.
Tree campaign preparation
With some interested players lined up the next step is preparation. The tree campaign in the General's Handbook uses a simple flow chart that assumes two factions fighting. As the first battle results in either a victory for one side or a draw the campaign flows into one three different scenarios after the first battle. From here you can get creative with lots of diverging paths or you can make players flow back to a recurring 'draw' battle if their sides loses after a win. The example campaign in the General's Handbook links six scenarios to form the Clash of Wills campaign.
Three tips for organizing and designing an Age of Sigmar (or any other wargame) campaign
I set up this first campaign to have fun (first) and see if I could learn a few things about campaigns as it went along second. As the campaign has drawn to a close I think I can distill three thing I've learned on organising and designing an Age of Sigmar campaign:
- Keep it short
- Keep it simple
- Consider mulit-player or multi-battle
|Short and simple boys, I should Waaagh and we stomp 'm good!|
1. Keep it short
Rule number one for any campaign is to try to keep it short. A long term story drawn over years is very cool, but especially as a beginner it is easy to make mistakes and as a short campaign ends quickly you can learn and move on. Aside from that with long term campaigns players are going to lose interest and leave. I call this campaign attrition and this also happens with short campaigns. The advantage of a short campaign over a long one is that it is over so quickly you will probably reach the finish line. For this campaign I opted to link three (with a maximum of four) battles. We ended up fighting three. Looking back, I might consider just linking two battles for a first campaign. It sounds short, but that is quite ok.
|The master moulder told us to start simple, but with lizards that big you need a full grown abomination to survive!|
2. Keep it simple
The trick to tree campaign design is to pick a few fun battles and connect them. I went through my stack of Age of Sigmar Realmgate Wars books to pick scenario's that looked interesting and put these in the flow chart (that is the reason my campaign booklet is not online). Have you noticed what the GW scenario's have in common? They keep it simple. A standard Battleplan has one or two extra rules, a special set-up and modified command abilities. Keeping things simple helps everyone (especially inexperienced players) keep track of the rules. Adding times of war, general specific abilities, regiments of reknown and so forth is cool, but for the start keeping it simple is better. Using (and slightly adapting) the battleplans on offer helps a lot in this. So if you plan to keep it simple, why not use these to your advantage.
|Multi-player battles in Age of Sigmar are fun if you ask me, but they are not for everyone.|
3. Consider multi-player or multi-battle
This was the big one for me. In picking the tree campaign I never considered how to factor in all the players. The example campaign uses two sides/players, my opening battle pitted ten players against each other. I balanced it out to two sides by allying Death with Order and Chaos with Destruction. But the small opening battle turned into a 5000 points to a side mega-battle played out over two connected tables. The second campaign battle featured two tables with two versus two battles. The final battle went back to one table (as was intended) with three versus three players (see the note about campaign attrition, in this case players who dislike multi-player battles left rather quickly). Looking back it would have helped to consider multiple battles joined together in the tree beforehand, giving players a choice of going for multi-player or one vs. one matches.
Campaigns are fun
The most important thing for any campaign to succeed is having fun. On that count it doesn't even matter if it dies due to campaign attrition. As far as I'm concerned having fun is actually the most important thing in playing wargames (WAAC-players (Win at all cost) please exit left and head toward the 'serious tournament' section of the internet). Forget winning, focus on having a good chuckle with you opponent. That is the reason I made the comic style battle reports. It helps everyone remember the last battle and have another laugh about particular ignominious deaths, bad die rolls and silly miscalculations. The next campaign will probably use another recipe from the General's Handbook. As I'm working on terrain for the Mighty Battles scenario's my guess is it will be a narrative one. After that (or maybe at the same time) a Matrix Campaign. We'll see.