Saturday, July 9, 2011

Missing Matches

Well, two weeks in a row, and it looks like it will be three weeks next week that I miss my normal Mordheim game. See, I have a unique position, on Saturday the boss is out of the building, and we are just waiting for calls to come in. So we play. Usually its D&D, but right now, I've convinced some of my players to give Mordheim a try.

It works out well, except for two things. If work gets busy, that's it, no Mordheim. Gotta put food on the table and paint in the pots. Second, if someone is sick, they call off and we have to scramble to figure out what's going on.

Two weeks due to busy. Next week I have to pick up the Elder Children from Boy Scout Camp. So three weeks without Mordheim.

Which brings me to the topic on my mind. How to deal with missing matches. It is a common problem with Mordheim that doesn't necessarily come up in other games. Since Mordheim is a campaign based game, those missing games cost dearly.

There's a few problems that need to be thought about in the grand scheme of things when talking about handling a missing game or match.

Single Person Missing;

Now, from what I've been able to tell, there's really two ways to handle it.

The first is just like in Little League, the team that doesn't show up forfeits. The winner gets to roll on his exploration phase as normal, but the loser doesn't. This can be a huge advantage, since the person who gets to do the exploration phase gets all the benefits of winning, but without the potential causalities. This can cause a moderate warband, or one with cheap troops (ie Giant Rats, Zombies, etc) to expand exponentially (or is it geometrically, I get them confused). This sometime isn't a bad thing, necessarily. If the one who misses a game has a very high warband rating, and the other has a very low one, then a missing game can be a great equalizer. However, I suggest using this method sparingly, if at all. It can be done, and over the course of a campaign, it will probably happen to everyone at least once.

The other way is to re-arrange the schedule of matches. This one is often the best of the options, but sometimes harder to pull off. It takes a well defined schedule to being with, and a group that doesn't mind changing what is happening. As long as you don't let it happen too frequently it should be fine as long as everyone stays at roughly the same amount of games. In our campaign, the first week, Megan was unavailable (I think she had a longer night then expected), so we re-arranged all the matches so that she wouldn't have to play that week. However, the next week, she had to face the rest of us. Each one of us had played at least two games, and were pretty pumped up from it, but she was on the short end of the stick for the first two games. Fortuitously, Megan's Orcs & Goblins warband was up to the task and she handled herself well in all of them. However, that was just luck.

Missing An Entire Session:

My this shouldn't happen, but it does. Work gets in the way, the kids get sick, and Bill's dog bit the mailman. Sometimes you don't have enough players or time to make it worth playing. There's a real problem. The good thing is that it doesn't upset the schedule of games, or create monster warband ratings. However, missing a whole night of gaming can cause problems.

The main problem is that one missed session can lead to a second, and then well, you've already missed two, so what's a third? That's when gaming inertia sets in. Its easier to keep going if you are going, but once stopped, its hard to get going again. The main problem with gaming inertia is that it can end a campaign faster then anything else. Once gamer inertia sets in, then the often dreaded gamer ADD picks up and people want to move onto another game.

There is a solution, by no means is it an easy one. The main thing is to make them keep thinking about the game, maybe you can show them this neat blog you found dedicated to Mordheim. You have to keep the interest alive. Keep telling people about what is happening in your campaign. Let them know that you are still figuring out how you can whup their Reiklanders, or marvel at how bloody the last fight between the Possessed and the Witch Hunters was. However, just keeping their mind on the game is more then just the obvious like the above. Sometimes its more subtle. Like showing off the beautifully painted minis that you happened to have time to do, or showing them a neat little rule that can help them in their next match (much like I showed the Dwarf player that starting in the upper floor of buildings protected his thunderers against the Undead Zombies!).

So lets say you beat the dreaded gamer inertia. Then you face the other problem. People forget what is going on. This really shouldn't be an issue, but unsurprisingly it is. The main thing you need to do is keep everyone on the same page. That can be as easy as starting a blog/forum post/email list, just to keep the tallies of who beat who. It can also be as indepth as doing your own mini Town Cryer. What you want to do is keep the information spreading. Even check in with a phone call before the game to make sure that the other person is well aware of what is going on.

The last problem is sometimes getting people to come back. Even if you avoid the gaming inertia, and you keep people up to date, they might not feel like coming back. The great thing is that this is the simplest solution. Food and drink. This works especially well if you've missed a few sessions. Pizza and beer for the night brings most gamers running. If you are a bit cheaper, or a bit more chefy, a spaghetti night can be a great way to welcome back the club. Its cheap and easy, and it looks like a real meal! An hour or so to eat and enjoy each other's company and then you'll be ready to vivisect each other in no time flat!

Well, I think that I've run my mouth off enough for now. I think that I'm starting to repeat myself and my ideas. I just realized that I brought up a lot of jargon that might only apply to me, and how I structure campaigns. So I think that maybe Monday I'll do a post on that sort of thing. Tomorrow, I'll be busy, so I probably won't be posting new stuff, probably just something from the the archives. Needless to say, I've been posting at least one thing a day here, and sometimes more, but right now everything is new. Chances are that it will slow down fairly soon, right now I just want to get everything set up and ticking over before I suffer from my own gaming ADD.

1 comment:

  1. Everything you said is pretty accurate Laz, addressing only one of your many points - I would say you are dead on with the 'news letter' and keeping people involved that way. Free food also helps, but I think build the narrative will bring them in more and get them more involved.