Friday, 13 June 2014

A Mapless HOTT Campaign

You won't need this.
For a while now we have been discussing how to run a simple HOTT campaign that isn't the one in the book. Whilst it is a useful campaign mechanism, it suffers from two issues that makes it unattractive to some members of our group. Firstly if you take heavy losses early on it's very hard to get back into the game. Secondly the battles are fought one at a time, which means that on an evening players find that they aren't necessarily involved.

So our aim was a campaign mechanism of sorts that kept players viable, despite losses, and involved all players in every round.

Bear in mind that, at its simplest, a campaign is really a way of generating battles where the results of previous battles affect the setup in some way. Nothing more. At the end of the day, we want to play great games of HOTT.

We've discussed ideas back and forth for couple of years, but a few weeks ago we bit the bullet and decided to force the issue. We arranged a HOTT campaign night, thus leaving someone - me - the job of coming up with a set of rules.

And here they are, in a very draft format:

Mapless HOTT Campaign

Each player has a 24AP army. The makeup of this remains fixed for the campaign.

Each player starts with four Province Tokens (these could dictate particular terrain settings)

Each player starts with a national Morale of 12. Morale cannot be greater than 12 or lower than 2.

There should be an even number of players (or some system whereby a ‘ghost’ player is used, so there are an even number of factions).

A deck of cards is required, with a number of cards equal to the number of factions. Half of them should be numbered from 1 to half of the number of factions. The others are blank. eg If there are six players the deck would be numbered 1,2,3,blank, blank, blank. You could use black and red playing cards to run this - Red Ace, 2, 3 etc and Black counting as blank.

A year consists of two campaign seasons and a Winter season.

In each campaign season do the following:

Deal one card to each player. Those who have cards with a number on are attackers. The other players are defenders. In numerical order, from one upwards, the Attackers choose which Defender they want to fight this round. A Defender already under attack cannot be picked. The last Attacker will obviously have no choice. This will pair off all of the players.

eg. A campaign has Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Barbarians, Treemen and Hobbits. The cards are dealt as follows: Elves - Blank, Dwarves - 2, Orcs - 3, Barbarians - Blank, Treemen - Blank and Hobbits - 1. So the Hobbits, Dwarves and Orcs are the Attackers. The Hobbits choose first, and can opt to fight the Elves, Barbarians or Treemen. They opt to fight the Treemen. The Dwarves are next, and can choose the Elves or Barbarians. They choose to attack the Elves. This leaves the Orcs attacking the Barbarians. So the games would be:

Hobbits attacking Treemen
Dwarves attacking Elves
Orcs attacking Barbarians

If the Province Tokens correspond to particular terrain, then the Attacker can choose which token they are attacking.

They now fight their battles. Victory remains the same, except that an army loses at the end of a bound if it has lost AP equal to or greater than its current Morale (so long as it has lost more AP than its opponent).

If the Defender loses, they must give one of their province tokens to the Attacker. If the Attacker chose a particular token then it must be that one.

After the battle, players must determine their new Morale.

-1 if the army’s general was lost
-2 if the army’s general was destroyed

-2 if the army’s stronghold was captured

-1 if the army had 7AP or fewer AP destroyed
-2 if the army had 11AP or fewer AP destroyed
-3 if the army had 12AP or more destroyed

-2 if the army defended, lost and couldn’t give the Attacker a Province Token.
-2 if the army attacked and lost the battle.

+2 if the army won the battle.

‘Lost’ refers to elements that were ensorcelled or left the field, voluntarily or otherwise.
‘Destroyed’ refers to elements which were destroyed.

After two campaign seasons have been played, resolve the Winter season. An army gets +1 Morale for each Province Token they currently hold.
Any army with no Province Tokens is not knocked out of the game, but suffers a morale penalty if it loses a battle to an Attacker (see above). If it wins a battle as an Attacker it gains a Province Token as normal.

Everything was shaping up nicely. We had a few players interested, and had set the terms of the campaign. We would use 15mm armies, humanoid and of 24AP, but with no more than two elements of 'unusual' elements, such as Heroes, Magicians, Aerials and so forth. A proposed 'theme' was Game of Thrones, and people steered in that direction. The HOTT army I briefly previewed on this blog a couple of weeks ago can now be revealed as GoT-inspired Wildlings.

So, as I say, it was all shaping up nicely. Until my daughter revealed that she had made the finals of her school talent contest, and that they would be held on the campaign night. This meant that I had to drop out and trust that the others could interpret and implement the rules I'd hastily cobbled together.

I got this mail from Caesar this morning, which suggests that they did:

"A good evening of gaming last night saw us relegated to our first floor retreat due to exam week at uni. Ralph and Austin had a FOW Eastern Front encounter which the Russians (Austin, of course) got the better of, despite plenty of burning T34s. Great models and, although being armour heavy, it was nice to see hordes of Russian infantry and only one Tiger tank.

Speaking of hordes, the rest of us (Peter, Bryan, Geoff, John, Dave and myself) played a HOTT mini campaign, which saw two rounds of battles between various Game of Throne inspired armies. Bryan sportingly played his first games of HOTT as the Dothraki (fantasy Mongols), losing both battles but gaining much glory. After regaling in my victory over a rank beginner (Bryan) in the first round, my Ironborn clan (fantasy Viking types) was soundly defeated in the second round by Geoff’s army of Lannister (high medieval) who managed to out manoeuvre me at every turn. I won't take so many Blades next time!

We thought the campaign morale was a neat mechanism, allowing defeated armies to fight future battles at full strength, albeit with a lower break point. However, the current morale point losses are a trifle harsh and need some moderating to produce a sustainable campaign system. If you lose badly in the first match you have a VERY brittle army for the second. Otherwise though, the campaign system has great potential and I would certainly like to play it again to develop it further.

I applied a few minutes' thought to the issue of low break points, and came up with this possible solution:

Keep the Morale values the same, but fix the Break Points. So:

When two armies fight, compare their Morale values.
The army with the higher Morale value has a Break Point of 12
The army with the lower Morale value has a Break Point of 8, unless their Morale value is half or less that of the other army, in which case the Break Point is 6
If both armies have the same Morale value, then they both have a Break Point of 12, unless their Morale value is 8 or less, in which case the Break Point is 8.

Thanks to everyone for being good sports and trying out the mechanisms. I was disappointed not to have been able to try them myself, but it sounds like people might give them another go at some stage.

1 comment:

  1. Neat idea for a campaign. I'll have to see if I can talk my local guys into trying this out.

    As an alternative to drawing cards, you could have everyone roll dice (rerolling ties, of course), with the highest rollers being the attackers.

    Also, doing some math, with six players, you could expand it from two to three campaign seasons, so that each attacker plays each defender (if you have time for three games).


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