Every now and again, a club or gaming group needs something, to unite the members, promote a new game system or just to use forgotten parts of our figure collections. Recently, Sub-Editor Wayne ran a campaign at his club bringing a set of rules and an old gaming supplement together to have some fun.
This online article complements the theme of the September 2018 issue of Wargames Illustrated – Gaming Campaigns.
I like running campaigns or taking part in them. I much prefer the ‘fine meal’ of a linked series of games to the ‘fast food’ of one-off encounters. So, with this in mind, and given that a number of new members had begun turning up to the club, I decided to put together the simplest laissez-faire style system I could.
PLANS AND RULES SYSTEM
One of my favourite styles of campaigns involves the use of a map. I’ve used hex maps, bought and created by hand, in the past. My faithful old Battletech hex maps have been copied and used many times in the past. I’ve also used specially purchased hex paper and coloured pens, laminating machines, coverfilm and coloured flags and pins. Whilst still working as a teacher, I ran World War Two campaigns using versions of contemporary maps, or downloaded and printed off city maps from Games Workshop so members of the school club could have a focus for their Warhammer 40,000 games.
In recent years, I’ve used Campaign Cartographer, purchased from Wargames Vault, to create maps and print them off. However, for sheer visual impact, there is one handy style of map with built in rules that I have always enjoyed using – the 2007 version of Mighty Empires from Games Workshop, sadly out of production. It comes with double-sided hexagonal plastic tiles, contoured and themed with villages, rivers, fields and more. The set also came with a selection of plug-in cities and castles, plus small flags. Best of all, there was a booklet complete with rules to use the map with the Warhammer Fantasy Battle rules. I ran and took part in a campaign using those very rules a fair few years ago, then, realizing how useful it was to have one set, I managed to buy two more back before they became pretty much ‘eBay only’ and ridiculously expensive*. Since then, I’ve adapted the rules to other settings, or completely re-written them to suit the period.
* Today’s check – £140 eBay UK, $350 eBay USA.
In terms of rules, I didn’t want to use mass combat – excluding club members with small collections. Lion and Dragon Rampant from Osprey Games are popular at the club, plus to buy a copy would be fairly cheap for those starting out, so I plumed for those. In terms of a setting, given the average age of the members of the club, and the fact that some owned companies which were producing some lovely figures (being based in the Nottingham ‘Lead Belt’ and all!), I surmised that pretty much everyone must have come up the ‘GW Way’. They would therefore have access to a number of neglected fantasy miniatures, or could adapt an army to suit as per the remarkably open and generic approach taken by Dan Mersey in Dragon Rampant. So, with map ready to go and battle rules chosen, I decided to re-write the campaign rules from the Mighty Empires set to suit the members, invited the players via our club Facebook page and created my own sub-group on Facebook, to avoid cluttering up the main page. Those rules are presented here. Feel free to use them as is or adapt them to your own needs.
EMPIRES RAMPANT CAMPAIGN RULES
It was a time of war, when despots and tyrants laid waste to the world and heroes struggled to maintain peace and justice. Warbands and armies were vying for control and the way of the warrior was king. Empires rose and fell, cities burned, and club members risked their eyesight building and painting model armies, then formulating the perfect army list to defeat that jammy bugger with the nifty dice rolls. It was a time for that rare beast to emerge, that rare creature whose name is often whispered by those whom dare – it was time for a CAMPAIGN!
Maximum Number of Players: 15
Commitment: Whenever you are challenged or fancy playing a game. (This isn’t a ‘must play every week’ situation, it’s an ‘as and when’).
TERRITORY AND WARBANDS
- Each player starts the game with ONE Home city and THREE other Territories they control. These are shown on the map using flags of an appropriate colour.
- The three initial Territories must be within TWO hexes of their home city and constitute the original borders of their lands.
- Only unclaimed hexes may be Claimed. Claiming new Territory hexes costs two Empire points.
- If a Territory hex is already Claimed, it can be Conquered through combat with the owner. A Challenge is made and the disputed territory is cited as the prize. If taken in Battle, a disputed hex costs no Empire points to Conquer.
- It costs one extra Empire point to Claim a Territory which contains a Mountain or a River.
- Each player has a Campaign Warband of 36 points and three Guard Warbands of 24 points each. Warbands must be chosen using the rules in Dragon Rampant, including sample armies. Warbands should comprise of at least 75% of one racial type (Elves, Dwarves, Tree Frogs, etc.).
- Only the Campaign Warband may claim new territory, Guard Warbands must stay within their assigned hex and act as a bulwark against invaders.
- Each time a Warband is beaten in combat, the victor may choose to spend three Empire Points to fight one of the loser’s Guard Warbands for their hex. If they win, the hex is Conquered and the original owner’s flag is replaced. Once all three of the Guard hexes have been taken, there is a ‘Great Battle’ for the city. If the battle is lost by the owner of the city, the player’s city is taken and they are out of the campaign!
- Warbands must spend one Empire point to add completely new units to their numbers. (For example, an infantry based army wishes to add a cavalry unit to their army. This costs one Empire point).
- NOTE – the cost mentioned above is only incurred when adding a completely NEW unit to the Warband. WHENEVER A UNIT IS DESTROYED IN BATTLE, IT IS AUTOMATICALLY REFORMED AND READY FOR THE NEXT ONE. Hey, you spent time planning and painting, we get it!
- No Warband may ever exceed its MAXIMUM starting points (36 for a Campaign Warband, 24 for a Guard Warband).
- Who goes first: The smallest Empire gets to act first. If two or more Empires are the same size (as they all will be in the first round), then they should ‘dice off’ to see who goes first.
- Events Phase: Each player picks one of the Events listed (see list below) and uses it against any other player, or upon himself or herself.
- Map Move Phase: Each Warband may move up to TWO hexes per turn. They cannot enter a hex that has already been claimed unless they have paid the required Empire points AND fought a winning Battle against the owner (see Win, Lose or Draw for more details on Empire points).
- Challenge phase: Players challenge up to two other players to a Battle. Note: the effects of the Event chosen in the most recent Campaign Turn may only be used against ONE of these players. Players may ally with one another to target another player’s army BUT the overall size of the joint Warband may not be larger than 36 points. Also, whatever the result of the battle, both players receive ONE LESS Empire point than usual. Therefore, if they Lose, both allied players receive NO POINTS.
In this way, those who are committed to the campaign can earn extra Empire points to use, but not so many that they can always surpass those whom only play one battle.
If a player refuses to answer a Challenge and fight a Battle within a reasonable time frame, they must forfeit two Empire points to the Challenger.
- The Battle Phase: Challenger and Challenged must fight a battle using the Dragon Rampant rules from Osprey Games. Players should roll for a sample Scenario from the book OR they may agree to one of their own devising.
The first Battle has the usual opportunities to earn Empire points at full rate. However, the second Battle earns you HALF the usual Empire points and must be against a different opponent than the first.
Campaign Turn Sequence Summary
- Events phase – Each player gets to pick one of the Events listed and uses it against any other player.
- Map Move phase – Each Campaign Warband may move up to TWO hexes per turn.
- Challenge phase – Players challenge one another to a Battle.
- The Battle Phase – Challenger and Challenged must fight a battle using the Dragon Rampant rules from Osprey Games.
WIN, LOSE OR DRAW – EMPIRE POINTS
Empire points are gained through Battle or, occasionally, through other means as described by the Campaign Master.
The results of each Battle dictate how many points are gained as shown in the table below:
Lose – 1 Empire point.
Draw – 1 Empire point for each player.
Narrow Victory (Destroy up to ¼ of the loser’s original points) – 2 Empire points.
Solid Victory (Destroy up to ½ of the loser’s original points) – 3 Empire points.
Major Victory (Destroy up to ¾ of the loser’s original points) – 4 Empire points.
Massacre (Destroy more than ¾ of the loser’s original points) – 5 Empire points.
Some of the maths:
– For a 36 point Warband battle, you need to kill 0-9 points for a narrow, 10-18 for solid, 19-27 for major, and 27-36 for a massacre.
– For a 24 point Warband, you need to kill 0-6 for narrow, 7-12 for solid, 13-18 for major, and 19-24 for a massacre.
Each player picks one event from the event chart below, starting with the player with the smallest Empire. ‘Roll off’ if two or more Empires are the same size.
You may not pick an event that another player has chosen unless all the events have been taken once each, in which case events can be picked a second time.
1 – The People Want!
Pick a player – that player must spend two Empire points to appease the people in their home city.
2 – Deserter Scum!
Pick a player. Next time they fight a Battle, that player must roll a basic Courage test for each of their units. If failed, that unit will not take part in the Battle phase.
3 – A Plague On Both Your Houses!
Pick a player. A sickness curse has been laid upon that player’s Warband. They may only move one Hex this turn.
4 – On To Victory!
You receive an additional two Empire points as long as you do not Lose or Draw in the next Battle you fight. If you do Lose or Draw, then you receive NO Empire points at all.
5 – I Have A Cunning Plan, My Lord…
During any Battle fought during this round, your opponent must deploy all their Warband before you deploy yours and you take the first turn.
6 – The Art of Diplomacy
Pick one player. They may not issue a Challenge against you this round.
7 – That’s Mine, That’s Mine and That’s Mine!
The first unclaimed hex you Claim this turn only costs one Empire point rather than the usual two.
8 – Getting Better All The Time
ONE unit in your army may receive ALL the noted upgrades for that type of unit for free during your next Battle.
9 – Divine Intervention
Pick one player. During the Movement part of the turn, they become lost in a sudden storm. You decide which direction they will move for that turn.
10 – WTF!?
A magical portal appears and a group of strange warriors step through. Your army gains a Strength 12 Heavy Missiles unit with the Weighty Projectiles option. They count as armed with muskets or rifles and can be of any origin.
Click here to download the Sample Roster Sheet.