I like campaign games because they allow you to have a sense of continuity between your battles, building narratives and histories, and get into battles that you might not normally want to game as a one-off but which have interest when played within a campaign context. The problem is developing a campaign system that does not fall apart after one battle goes against you. The campaigns I tend to play are:
- You start with a certain number of units, some means of restoring units lost during the game, and some means of adding new units. Play continues until one player calls it quits, usually because their losses have been so bad that they cannot win any more battles.
- Ones that run the course of years with each year (one to three campaign turns) culminating in a single, large battle. Surviving units gain experience, lost units have to rebuild, and Generals acquire a history and maybe some abilities.
- You start with a certain number of points, or each battle is set at a certain number of points, and winning or losing has consequences with the next battle(s). The Memoir 44 campaign books are like this.
In BattleLore a unit is largely undefined in terms of size or strength, but is an autonomous body with regards to movement and combat. When it is "destroyed" it means that it is no longer combat effective, but not necessarily "every man dead". Although you cannot bring units "back to life", you can bring figures back (e.g. with healing spells, healing pools, etc.). Also, loss of figures during the course of the battle results in no loss of combat power, so a "figure" in a unit better represents the loss of the unit's willingness to fight. At some point the unit simply collapses1 and is no longer combat effective.
So, it is easy to imagine a unit fighting with relatively few losses, until a few key individuals become wounded or killed, then the unit dissolving in a panic. After the battle the men would straggle back to their unit - think The Red Badge of Courage - ready to fight again another day. So, I can see two possible results when a unit loses figures in a battle:
- The unit is truly destroyed as an effective fighting unit, or
- The unit is restored, although it may take some time to recover its morale.
- Did the unit's side win or lose the battle, and
- How many figures did the unit lose?
- Destroyed Unit Check: Check each destroyed unit to determine if it is permanently lost.
- Routed Unit Check: Check each destroyed unit that passed the Destroyed Unit Check to determine if it is routed.
- Demoralized Unit Check: Check each unit that lost any figures (or a destroyed unit that passed both the Destroyed Unit Check and the Routed Unit Check) to determine if it demoralized.
A unit destroyed at the end of a battle must make a Destroyed Unit Check to determine if it is permanently destroyed. Check each unit separately by rolling a single die for the destroyed unit. Destroyed units on the winning side are permanently destroyed if the icon rolled is the same banner color as the unit; units on the losing side do so if the banner color or a Shield is rolled. A permanently destroyed unit is removed from the list of units in the army.
Routed Unit Check
A unit destroyed at the end of a battle, and which passed the Destroyed Unit Check, must make a Routed Unit Check to determine if it is routed. Check each unit separately by rolling a single die for the destroyed unit. Destroyed units, whether on the winning or losing side, are routed if the icon rolled is a Flag. A routed unit is removed from the list of units in the army for the next battle only.
Demoralized Unit Check
A unit destroyed at the end of the battle, and which passed the Destroyed Unit Check and the Routed Unit Check, or which lost any number of figures must make a Demoralized Unit Check to determine if it starts the next battle demoralized. Check each unit separately by rolling one die for each figure lost by the unit during the battle. If any of the dice come up with a Flag icon the unit is demoralized. A demoralized unit is indicated as such on the list of units in the army; demoralized units start with one figure less than the maximum number in the next battle.
I would like to hear from some of the other readers how you handle this simple, basic problem of making campaigns work. Next time I will look at maps.
1 This reminds me of John Keegan's description in The Face of Battle, which theorizes that only a few men are actually effective in combat, so the loss of a few of the non-effective men has no real effect on the combat power of the unit. It is when those effective men die that the unit tends to collapse, and rather quickly at that.