Surely Campaigning without maps is an oxymoron? and when it comes to wargaming, maps are central to what defines wargame campaigns as opposed to say, endless rounds of competition encounter battles.
Well thats true. I have spent most of my wargaming life pursuing the mantra that the greater the detailed map the more satisfying the campaign.
Or so I thought.
I guess there have been numerous nudges away from that point of view when I think about it.
The thing is that I have applied the same abstraction that works for the field of battle to campaign maps. Out go measured marches and in comes the dreaded “outcome”. I suppose the test for some might be “does the end justify the means?” or why waste time getting a result that does not improve your hobby enjoyment.
Except “process” is what a lot of wargaming is and that means the process is the enjoyment in itself.
Moving pieces across a map at steady rates, checking the weather, accounting for ground conditions and working out where the enemy is are themselves a process to get to that almighty battle outcome – ok 6 units a side armed with One Hour Wargames – because you must go shopping or rearrange the cushions on the settee this afternoon for an evening watching the football/that latest box set/a comedy (delete /insert as appropriate).
It is not all about “outcomes ” because you could complete the abstraction and just toss a coin to find out who won that 5 year campaign you cannot seem to finish.
It is about putting your effort into those parts of the process you most want to enjoy and sacrificing others through abstration to get you to those parts that matter.
And it is not that I don’t have any maps. I just use them in certain areas. I just don’t measure movement of forces “to scale” across them.
To my mind wargame rules came to the fore in the decades when scale paper maps became something to be purchased and valued – and used. People were taught eastings and northings and also how to fold a map. Remember some Generals fought their battles on the creases of the map in the pouring rain……..
Today you just flick the “app” tap a few virtual buttons and a high resolution image appears – is that my neighbours 3rd or 4th car – don’t remember it being that red – just how old is that image anyway…….sat navs beware……
For my Twins War in Fauxterre I have a narrative map.
Fauxterre is explained here:
And I do have a means of moving forces in Fauxterre – it is an abstraction.
So here is the abstraction for my Twins War in Fauxterre.
I guess at a certain point – by the late 1990’s? the DBA wargame rules offered the most popular version of this diagram.
By version 3.0 campaigns had been quietly dropped from the title along with the diagram.
Except NO! – the diagram had been replaced by a set of words in the giant hardback tome that is now DBA post 2014: Maybe a case of more becoming less?
I suspect this diagram had in the meantime launched tens of thousands of wargames campaigns – ok maybe thats a bit excessive!
Well that’s it for now, I will explore the mechanisms that allow me to abstract the mapping activity in a way that balances my available time, the process, the outcome and most of all the enjoyment of solo wargame campaigns.
I will finish with some words from Donald Featherstone which are surprising given they are to be found in his book War Game Campaigns.
That is the challenge – making table top battles part of a narrative or simply having continuity requires effort. Effort which is not available for gaming the battles or painting the troops. Take your pick or choose your abstraction.