So, you want to play a miniatures campaign? As Mark Twain once said, “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” This applies to miniatures campaigns as well. It’s my observation that many, if not the majority, of campaign games end without a sensation of success. There are many possible reasons for this and I intend to talk about a few.
The single most important element of success is the referee. If the referee is not organized, then things seem to slowly descend into chaos.
The referee must be a diplomat; he needs to convince all players that he is not biased. Left to their own imagination, many players can easily believe the referee favors their adversary. The referee must be prepared to deal with inconsistencies in the rules. These inconsistencies always happen and how this phenomenon is handled goes a long was to success. The referee needs to determine which rules he will change by fiat and which rules he will change with consensus. Not many events can slow a game down more than arguing about a rule. If the referee doesn’t have leadership skills or have strong character he will eventually be bullied by most.
Campaigns need reasonable players. If players are unreasonable then the campaign is doomed. Doomed! I hope I don’t use this term too much.
This might be a shock, but not all of us have been properly socialized. It seems like Mom or Dad didn’t do a very good job teaching some of us polite behavior. One way around this is to have at least two players per side. This can solve many ills, like attendance and each partner exerting a calming effect on the other I am fairly convinced that the rule of at least two players per side cannot be overstated.
Campaign rules need to be uncomplicated. We can argue about what this means but if the campaign rules are significantly more complex than the miniature rules themselves, then trouble will soon follow.
Complicated rules, by their nature, will have flaws, more flaws than most people can reasonably handle. If the referee is constantly adjudicating some inconsistency in the rules then the game is probably doomed to failure. Now for an observation that might be shock: if the complicated campaign rules actually succeed in their design goals, player will want to spend most of their time campaigning and forget about the miniature battles.
Campaign rules must have specific victory conditions that include a time limit. These can be just a certain number of game scenario turns until side A needs to complete their objectives, or side B wins, that sort of thing. Or it could be simply that the game ends on a certain date.
I’ve started many campaigns and at some point I began to wonder, “When will this end? Don’t they know I’ve won? At the very least, my charm deserves some kind of recognition!” Having a campaign end on schedule and within the guidelines of the rules is not something to mourn. When this rare occurrence happens, have a party! Celebrate, you just did what most of us ‘twitchers’ would relish.
Successful campaigns will have the war-gaming materials needed to fight the miniature battles.
If you are going to start a campaign without the majority of troops and terrain I must ask, “Why?” No, you don’t need every last soldier or every type of terrain but you better have most of what is required, or the group does and you need to have access to it. Remember, the campaign is about the little army men. Specifically, it is a means to get them into some interesting battles. For example, why would you want to play a Napoleonic campaign without a French army? Count me out. I don’t want to play your game. Yes, substitute troops are allowed, but not for the majority of the troops needed.
A good campaign starts with a lot of planning, and a few test games. It ends within a reasonable time and with limited goals, timings and objectives. Keep it simple, and you’ll have a great time.