Friday, 8 July 2011

Breakout: Feedback on the Campaign Element

The Breakout mini campaign was run and won last weekend and Mat has already given you the photos from the event. I had a blast seeing the players have a good time and seeing the campaign evolve. Someone asked, ( Thanks Braexen ) so I figured we'd tell you our retrospective thoughts about how the campaign system we used went. 

Recapping, we ran a strict Red vs Blue Normandy Campaign written around Operation Goodwood and played over 3 days. This worked well as Goodwood was a 3 day Operation. We had 7 players a side signed up and paid but only 6 a side turned up. We adopted an 'axis of attack' campaign framework similar to what you see in Cassino. We had 4 axis and there would be two battles on each axis per round. Because we wanted to support the actual historical outcomes, we handed some advantage to the Allies. The Allies would progress on an axis where at least one win or two draws occurred. The Germans could only push the Allies back by winning both battles on the same Axis. The final tally of points was determined by the position of the forces after round 3. The Allies romped home with major Victories on 2 axis and a solid drive on the 3rd.

Frankly speaking, the campaign element added significant challenges to getting the event to ready status. Over and above a standard tournament we had to ensure that there were even players on each side. We also restricted player lists to a specific theatre. We kept it relatively broad but the Allies were not able to call on the support of their Soviet friends (?). We had numerous sign ups and drop outs in the run up to the day and we were hedging players with available models to field German and Allied lists right up to the last minute. Mat and I had gumby forces ready on both sides too but fortunately we didn't need them.

Originally we had grand plans about how the campaign would evolve. We wanted to appoint a General on each side who would position his forces for the coming battles. The type of battles to be fought would have been determined by the outcome of the previous battles on the same axis of attack. That would allow the general on each side to pick their best company to fight a given battle. However, Mat and I didn't find a robust method of avoiding Rock, Paper, Scissor abuse and we also couldn't allow the same players to fight each other more than once. The complexities required to manage this grew a bit too unmanageable given our expected time pressures on the day so we bailed out. We kept it to Swiss Chess matching throughout and Companies were re-deployed between the axis without restriction.

Campaign flavour was added in the form of an Event Card for each player to be rolled for at the start of each battle. We generated different event cards for Allies and the German side and the events were linked to the historical events of Operation Goodwood. For example we had on the Allied side the consequences of the 1000 Bomber Raid allowing one enemy platoon to be pinned at the start of the game or alternatively if they rolled a 5 they make an enemy tank platoon require +1 to hit due to their sights being knocked out of alignment. The German side had some good events too such as pre-sighted artillery. The events were written to be minor in effect but we know on occasion they provided quite a large benefit. We explained that if that happens, well, sucks to be on the receiving end. Kind of tough luck scenario. I think Wal managed to get a good leg up on Leigh, having a spearhead and rolling an allied event that allowed another Recon move. So, his 3rd Armored was able to move right up in Leigh's grill pretty quickly. Leigh's a relaxed chap, he took it well.

By simplifying the Campaign element we were able to run a very standard tournament and this allowed us to settle a winner without intervention of strange campaign rules. I think this probably led to a greater level of interest from the player base and the results will be valid for entry into the Rankings HQ system.
We're already thinking about future events. The feedback we received on the day seemed to indicate that some kind of Campaign element to a tourney is desirable and a couple of players indicated they would like more meat on the bones and more player interaction with events. The General idea was popular so we may have to work out a way of solving our issues with that while preserving the outcomes as fair for standard tournament. Otherwise, simply advertise it up front as a Campaign and not a Tournament and detail all the facts up front. 

We learnt plenty. Mat is taking the lead on the next one and we're working out the theatre at the moment. Looks like Late War Eastern Front is a favourite but time will tell. 


  1. I thought it all went great.

    Perhaps adding a "team commander" system might have worked.
    eg: winning side of last round gets to assign one player or mission match-up? A team Captain becomes the General of their whole side...

    You are right though. It would have been scissors-paper-rock games.

    The theme/campaign element was fun as it was!