One of the participants in this year’s Ayton imagi-nations campaign has asked a question that is so screamingly obvious that I kick myself for having made the assumption that he knew what was required. An old grognard such as myself, with a love of campaigns, needs to be aware that not everyone understands or can easily make the leap from controlling units of miniatures on a battlefield to commanding armies in a campaign that, for most of the time, are just dots on a map. So, here’s what I replied:
You need to read the campaign rules you were supplied with, look at the map you were also supplied with, and decide what you want to do in the campaign, i.e. either sit on your arse and wait for the war to come to you, or get off it and get stuck in!
You are in command of your own contingent, so you don’t have to obey anybody, but you (in your case) are in the pay of His Majesty King Raoul of Grenouisse, and his Chief of Staff General E Pickled of the Gateway Alliance is issuing orders on his behalf.
So, when a message arrives, respond to it, either by moving yourself and/or your troops or by sending a message back. All this goes via me, so if I judge there to be any delay or cock-up due to Fate, you will become aware of that – but not necessarily immediately. It might not become apparent that a message hasn’t got through until you realise that several hours/days/weeks have passed and you’ve had no reply or nothing has happened. Just like in real life, in other words! (Just think of the famous “the cheque’s in the post…”)
If you feel completely lost, lean on others who have campaign experience or, in effect, hand over command of your contingent to Iain or Peeler to do with as they will and you can just sit back and then shove the pieces around the battlefield and roll dice when it comes to the weekend.
Much campaign stuff consists of messages to and from me, asking questions like “Can I send out a reconnaissance to X and find out if Y is up to Z” or “I want to question the locals about X, what do they tell me?” and “Please dispatch the following message via courier to General X asking him to this, that or the other”.
What I’m doing is co-ordinating the whole thing, keeping track of who is doing what, to whom, with whom and where, and at what time, including calculating journey times, the difference a change in the wind and weather can make, judging loyalties and subterfuge and manipulating forces about which the players know very little indeed for most of the time. Which is why, by the time the weekend comes along, I am completely knackered.
But the bottom line is this: if you and your troops are nowhere near the fighting by the time the weekend arrives, and aren’t even within marching distance to provide reinforcements at a critical moment, you’re going to have a very dull weekend, perhaps just helping someone else to fight with their troops.