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How to Build a Weekend Campaign - Part 3

For what felt like an age, the rebel cell had followed in the Empires' wake; tracking, hacking and attempting to infiltrate their operations. Information was key, finding it was easy, their ships were hardly subtle but actually getting it was the hard part.

So far we've covered how to research and create a brief plan in Part 1 and how to create the overall structure of your campaign in Part 2. In part 3, we're diving further into the rabbit hole and talking objectives and how we can all do better.

Often the hardest aspects of building a campaign is making sure that your vision is witnessed within each game. That your players get the same feeling of excitement that you do and ultimately the 'Ahah!' moment when they realise how awesome the campaign is. If we look at games like Dungeons & Dragons where campaigns can often be several months long, it is clear that these moments come from an attachment to the characters and units they are playing and the challenges they face. 

In order to do this successfully, it is often key to incorporate as much of the narrative as possible into your games. In his bid to raise an undead monstrosity, does the Vampire Lord have to sacrifice one of his generals? Did the Imperial agents plant some false intelligence to push the Rebel spies off their scent? Telling the players this fantastic story outside of the game and then have some simple objectives that go against theme can really detract from your campaigns' effectiveness. That's why, we here at Wargaming Holidays are firm believers that missions should never be as simple as 'Defeat the opposition' (Unless that's what actually happened - Looking at you 'Pitched Battles').

Instead of aiming to eliminate every Spanish galleon, pirate groups would be more inclined to hit a port, steal what they could
and go back to their hideout.

For clarity, let's take a look at a Star Wars example, the Rebellion is tiny in comparison to the Empire and is very unlikely to win in a straight fight. They rely upon very specific objectives in order to achieve victory. So to plonk down two balanced forces and tell the players to fight to the death is not going to work. If we look at tactics of guerrilla forces we can see that the Rebellion would only attack if they either had numeric superiority or in a very dire situation. Territory was of no real significance to them so they would happily give ground to consolidate somewhere unknown.

With this in mind, let's look at some thematic objectives which could lead to a very interesting finale.

Game 1 - Information Gathering

An Imperial transport shuttle has had to make an emergency landing in a swamp some distance outside of the nearest settlement. Seeing this as a golden opportunity to grab some vital intelligence and capture some important personnel, the Rebellion sends a nearby cell to investigate.

Their objectives are to capture any surviving crew members and retrieve what information they can from the shuttle. Let's translate this into objectives on the board: 

  • Capture surviving crew members
    • To Capture a crew member, the Rebel players must move the crew members to either their table edge or onto a transport. If that transport is destroyed at the end of the game, any captured crew members on that transport are also destroyed. Crew members can be moved when a rebel unit within 3 inches of them makes a move action.
  • Retrieve information
    • Any unit within 3 inches of the shuttle may spend their turn attempting to 'Retrieve Information'. 
    • Information is stored by the unit that made the attempt, if that unit is destroyed by the end of the game, you lose any information stored on that unit.

From the Rebel perspective we can see that a very dynamic and fluid game has been created. Following this theme we can also play quite thematic with the Empire objectives;

  • Capture or Destroy shuttle
    • Capturing the shuttle requires the Empire to bring up a team of engineers to lock down the computer systems. For each attempt, roll a die, on a 4+, the shuttle will be locked out and no further information can be retrieved by the Rebels.
    • Destroying the shuttle requires the Empire to place a series of detonation charges around the shuttle.
  • Capture or Kill the crew members
    • Follow the same rules for capturing crew members as the rebels however, crew members can also be killed in order to guarantee sensitive information isn't handed to the Rebellion.

Creating objectives and missions that fit the themes for both forces enables better storytelling and
will typically garner more interaction with your players.

These objectives create a focal point on the table and are thematic to each faction, does the Empire simply go and destroy the shuttle/crew members and forego the precious cargo? Will the Rebels bunker down and spend several turns gathering intelligence knowing they may lose men in the process? They also offer a number of interesting ways to achieve victory. For example, what happens if the Rebels secure all the crew members but don't retrieve any information? Well, torture some crew members of course! 

After the game, for each piece of information the rebels have managed to capture, they are given clues to a secret Imperial base or plot which will they can later use to either get a bit more information or to launch an attack on the Imperial Base once sure they have all the clues. For each crew member, they roll a die and on a 4+ they gain another slither of information. 

Sounds interesting, right? Well what happens when we make things less black & white? Let's look at how the Empire can make things really cool.

Playing with Information & Bluffing

Let's put the above game into a campaign: The Empire is trying to utilise a secret base in a certain sector of space. Unfortunately, they've received intelligence that the Rebellion is onto them. The Empire have thus decided that the best way to do this is to set up a dummy base and to place false information that points to that location, luring the Rebel forces into a trap. Of course, all whilst still utilising the secret base. 

Putting this into the above context, we could say that the players have 4 planets to choose from, each with several locations. We create a series of clues to the locations, making sure that they're not too useful and each could point to a few different locations but when used in conjunction with each other can point to a single location. 

 

Let's say that one of the pieces of information gleamed from the above game highlights how the Imperials are using civilian droids to transport information under their very noses. This pushes us into the next game, where there might be a number of droids moving along a fixed path, each with a very specific clue. Depending upon how well the empire did in the last game, they will be able to place false information. Unfortunately, in this scenario the Empire cannot possibly protect all the droids and so must choose which information is the most valuable.

The rebels have been specifically told that the Empire are aware that they know about the droids. How do the rebel players interpret this information? Thus begins a game of cat and mouse and each player attempts to force them towards false information. Do they use the false information and realise that the secret base MUST be on planet X or do they realise that actually, it can't be on planet X because it doesn't fit into the picture they're already drawing?

Information & You

This interesting play pits players against each other and really adds to the overall experience. It turns what could be some fairly generic but fun games into a masterpiece of information manipulation.

Creating interesting missions such as the above is not easy but comes quickly once you've really outlined the narrative and the story you want to tell. We've used the Empire and Rebellion in this example because both already have strong stories and themes that we quickly identify thanks to the massive amounts of media surrounding them.

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