Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday Night Mordheim: Tuesday Night Special

Monday Night Mordheim: Tuesday Special

Well, if you are observant, then you are probably realizing that this isn't Monday, its Tuesday. You probably realized that it was the Fourth of July, Independance Day, a major holiday here in the US. Had a lot to do, parade in the morning, picnic at my sister-in-laws for lunch, and then over to my wife's aunts where we could have a big BBQ dinner and watch fire works off the back porch. Needless to say, I didn't have time to do a piece of Mordheim tacitca.

I wasn't just telling you that to make you jealous of how great my holiday was, there was a point. Mordheim is a campaign game, which means you have to play a series of games over time for it to go from an okay game to an amazing one. Today, I'm going to talk about the campaign side of things. I thought about this for two reasons, because I didn't get to post a tactica yesterday, and the fact that my normal weekly game didn't happen. So this is an excellent time to talk about it.

Most of you should be familiar with the term campaign, its one that us wargamers appropriated from the real military. In short a campaign is a series of connected battles. Which is exactly what Mordheim is, each battle represents your warband in another skirmish against different foes, but it is the same group. There are some significant differences from playing a campaign and playing a short one off battle. For one thing, your tactics have to change and evolve as your and your opponents warbands change. For the other, a campaign requires a bit more logistics and thought then just walking into your FLGS throwing down your warband and taking on all comers.

The logistics are what really keep the game going, and without proper logistics, your campaign isn't going to continue. The first part of it follows the standard journalism questions, of who, what, when, where, and how. So lets break them down a bit.

Who do you get to play? This seems like a really easy question, most of us have friends, or a constant game club to play with. However, there is a bit more then that to it, especially if you have no friends. One of the key considerations for who you want to play are not the same as who you want to play in a one off game of 40K or WHFB. The people you want to get to play are people who are ready to play the same thing over a long period of time. So many players you may otherwise enjoy playing with may not be able to participate due to the time that is required. The main thing you should do when inviting someone to play a campaign is make sure that they are aware of how much time it will take to play out the campaign. While it might not seem like a big deal now that they spend the entire month of August in a cloistered monastic retreat communing with the cosmos, when July 30th comes around it becomes a much more important thing.

What do you play? Mordheim, duh! Well, yes, but to a point. There is a lot more considerations to ponder then that. While Mordheim is in and of itself a self contained game, there are a lot of extras out there that you might want to consider. Most of them have to do with the different rules out there floating around on the internet. First and foremost, is what do you want to allow? Do you use just the main book, or do you expand it to all of the information currently available on GW's Mordheim website? Do you allow Dramatis Personae, or just hired swords? Do you allow the experimental warbands or unofficial warbands that can be found out there? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered before you can start your campaign.

When do you play? I think this is the most important of all the questions. There are really two parts to this question. First is the actual time to play, and I've found it best if you use a consistent day of the week and time. That way everyone can plan around the campaign, instead of trying to campaign around plans. Our group, we play Saturdays from 8:45 am to 5pm. The second part is almost as important, which is how long the campaign is going to last. I love to play Mordheim in the summer. For me, that's the best. I like to start right after the kids get out of school and go until school starts back up. That's me, a good 11 weeks, and at 2 games a session, its 22 games which is just perfect if you ask me. You might want to go differently, and that's fine, but the key thing is that you have to have a definitive start and end date for the campaign. Playing forever is nice, but like all things, you will get tired of it and you might want to go to another warband.

Where do you play? Ah, this is a tricky one, and almost as important as the ones above. It's great if you have someone's house to play, because you don't have to worry about anything. However, most of us aren't lucky enough to have a game room, so you might end up playing at your FLGS. This is not a bad thing, but you may have to contend with 40K Tournaments, Magic Drafts, tables being taken by Flames of War, or that creepy guy with the beard (oh, wait, that's me). So if you intend on running a campaign at your FLGS you may want to speak to the manager/owner to see if you can reserve tables or make sure that you aren't running into tournaments or the Harry Potter Re-enactment Society's annual Muggle Awards. My group, we play on an improvised table at work, but for some of you that probably isn't an option.

How do you play? With dice, models, and tape measures! Of course, but it is a bit more then that. This is the really labor intensive part for someone that wants to run a campaign. Besides taking care of everything that appears above, it also determines how the campaign is to run. There are several hard decisions to make in this phase. Part of it is to gather the decisions of the above and put them out to your players so that everyone is on the same page with the other stuff. Another important bit is to determine how the campaign is going to be run, is it a round robin where everyone faces everyone else, rinse and repeat? Or is it going to be a map based campaign and who goes to what area determining what games are being played? Or is it going to be the most labor intensive where warbands of the same rating are matched up each round? Besides just the way that the campaign is run, you also have to determine what will happen if someone can't play a game? Do they forfeit, and their opponent gets a free win? Do you re-arrange the game schedule to accommodate them? Or do you move the game time so that everyone gets to play? The last decision is either the easiest or the hardest, depending on your game group, how do you handle rules disputes? That is something that should be set in stone before the campaign ever starts. It will save you alot of headache later!

So let me show you how my group handled this:

Mordheim Campaign!

When: Saturday 8:45 am-5pm Saturdays from now, until we return to Ravenloft in September.
Where: At Work
Important Stuff: Only rules from the main book, Best of Town Cryer, and Empire in Flames are allowed. This will be a round robin campaign, with everyone facing everyone and a big Chaos on the Streets match at the end of each round. If someone is missing we will re-arrange the matches of that round. Rules Disputes will be handled with fisticuffs until the boss yells at us.
Matches Taking Place per round:
1-2: Jim vs. Tom
3-4: LAZ vs. Megan
2-3: Tom vs. LAZ
4-1: Jim vs. Megan
3-1: LAZ vs. Jim
2-4: Tom vs. Megan
Chaos On the Streets

If you notice, I did leave out a few things, like who was going to play. That's because our game group has been pretty stable for quite awhile now, with the same people. So I didn't need to think about that. However, these are just the basics of the things you need to think about before starting a Mordheim campaign, and possibly at a later time, I'll come back to something that I touched on here later.

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