wargamer coffee break 13

‘These Accursed Solo Wars’ segments are a compilation of personal notes on how I go about creating the campaign so I can play wargames with friends and by myself without needing a continuous decision making human factor at the strategic level and have a reliable generator while creating a credible narrative to wargame by.

In sum it is nothing more than putting together pieces of games and ideas from games and even more ideas from people that play games and then use all that soup into my own campaign. Inspiration came from different corners of the hobby but first and foremost from other players, either in person or by the content they provide through the various platforms online in the internet.

It is of note that this idea of running a strategic campaign to generate battles that can be played is as old as wargaming itself and while the simplest form might be a simple map and a chess board it reaches grandiosity when it congregates multiple systems and possibly multiple people submitting battle results. In “my hobby” corner and has been done in the past with varying degrees of interest and dedication and almost exclusively from the side of the player that acts as one of the commanders, or simply takes over in whatever battle needs to be fought. 

Picking up William Silvester, Donald Featherstone, Tony Bath, Paddy Griffith and others, and using their books to guide me and put up several ideas for wargame campaigns and generate in a semi autonomous way most of the strategic layers and operational movement of forces, considering the weather, the attrition, the various forms of disease that keep company with troops on the march; is in no form different from what many wargamers have done all these decades before and let’s be honest with the hobby we enjoy so much – it didn’t start with Featherstone nor Tony Bath nor pink paper battles of Tactics II, it started as soon as Well’s Little Wars opened wargames to the civilian circles and it never stopped ever since.

A bit of personal history…

The first time I experienced a semi regulated campaign was during the height of Warhammer 40k second edition and sister Warhammer Fantasy. From there it rolled into my favourite Mordheim and Necromunda when smaller actions were conducted, and let’s be clear about what we are talking here – a league of Blood Bowl is nothing more than a campaign and that may also have a “strategic layer” of very funny rules devised by the game masters to add spice and continued interest. Example: rules for press, for out of stadium fans, star players assassination plots – and all these can be played in different systems as they are the “down time” in between the action but really needs to be down time without play ? Of course not.

Fast forward and a fairly prolonged hiatus that barely saw any tabletop proper being played, the spark for this series came in April 2021 – in parallel with another one but using a complete different setup, like a “choose your own adventure” book but with tabletop skirmish wargames – when I discovered a cardboard wargame system released by Worthington Publishing named Dawn of War and designed by a person I already ‘knew’ from other games namely one of my favourites, Flying Colors, and I immediately felt it was going to fit perfectly in the project. 

I can use Dawn of Battle ‘agnostic’ pieces as representations of the forces – pretty much as cardboard miniatures replacements – and the rules are open enough; in fact the rules are, in my opinion, welcoming enough to be adapted, played with and adjusted to specific scenarios. Maybe my background of a mix of all the great three genres of wargames – miniatures, hex and counter and rpgs –  helps with having no issues with moving between the genres and experiencing the best and the fun and then trying to see how the styles can coexist and be used together, so the use of a game to guide something it is not popularly intended for  and working it out to adjust, would be considered blasphemy by many a “puritan grognard” – how many times we read and hear the statement – “You can’t do that!”

Guess what, dear grognard wargamer – I can and I do it and it is not a strange concept at all for me to use a cardboard strategic and operational wargame to guide a campaign while ignoring any of the combat rules is totally valid in my notebook. I rather play the battle out in glorious fashion with a full table of troops, be it miniatures or cardboard, that just throw a die and face the judgement of a CRT.

I do like to make the hobby my own and use pieces from different ‘boxes’. I always imagine untold stories and recreate what could’ve been IF, and think about worlds that may well come to be, and while History is one of my loves, wargaming is one of my passions.

To adapt, adjust, experiment, mould and ultimately enjoy the hobby in all its potential. The creations, how small they might be, are invaluable and the one thing I like more in the hobby is the creation, the pre game, the scenario setup, the possibility of moulding the credible into the imaginary and lending realism to a setting that never was.

The ‘imagiNations’ portrayed in the First Triarch Wars are not Historical but are based in History. The world doesn’t exist, but it does exist on my notes and games table. The game box can’t be bought but the pieces needed to play can be purchased. To play it you just need to have fun creating the ‘world history’ as it happens as you shuffle pieces around and throw dice and pull cards to spark events and battles and discover a lot more every time you sit and play.

Thank you.

– NM

an e-booklet will be available with all the guidelines to run your own Caligo wargames

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