I am currently fighting an American Civil War battle on my tabletop. I have done some research and each of the units has been given the name of a real unit that was involved in the Salem Church action. My battle is fictitious, but having the names of real regiments that actually fought with and against each other, in my opinion makes for more interest.
However, I still feel that something is lacking from my games, yes I have given a bit of a back story, created personalised units and even given key areas on the battlefield names. But what happened before and what will happen after this battle? The blunt answer is nothing! There are no consequences either in victory or defeat for either side, and that is where the problem is and the very thing that is causing me to feel I am missing out on an opportunity to enhance my gaming experience even more.
I dug out my Donald Featherstone and Tony Bath books on creating a campaign, I don't believe these two masterpieces have been bettered since they were written in the 1970's. Don not only wrote how to organise a campaign but actually gave some examples of mini-campaigns. Tony took this even further and went really to town creating new fictitious continents and nations to people them. His own Legend of Hyboria, was and still is, a classic. He took the creation to the N'th degree, creating characters, cities, monetary systems, religions etc. A massive undertaking and not one I would particularly want to follow too slavishly as there would be masses of paperwork involved.
One really interesting idea Tony did introduce was that Hyboria had a mix of races and cultures, so at any one time animal skin clad warriors could end up fighting troops who looked amazingly similar to Romans or even medieval knights. It was, as he said, a good excuse to get all his ancient and middle ages troops on the table at one time, without causing raised eyebrows.
Scanning my 28mm armies I too have Romans, Gauls, Vikings, Anglo-Danes, Wars of the Roses, Arabs, English Civil War and American War of Independence troops. A perfect mix for a creation of my own similar to Hyboria. Now that is food for thought for a future project.
But returning to a more reachable goal, Don gave examples of mini-campaigns for a Viking Raid on Britain, Agincourt, English Civil War, French Indian War and American Civil War among others. It adopts a similar system to the 'Scharnhorst Campaign' system used in Sam Mustafa's 'Blucher' rules. a larger map that can be divided up into a number of gaming tables. The forces would move on the map and when contact was made, the table would be made to look like the area on the map. Simple but elegant. The large map could be ruled off into one inch squares, each square on the map would be one foot on the game table, so in my case, with 6 x 4 available, the area to be set up would be six of the map squares. Units not on the table would continue to move on the map and may arrive on the table at some point in the battle.
This mini campaign, would then give me that consequence I was looking for earlier, the what happened before and after, could now be played out. Casualties would be missing from future battles and the terrain lost by one side, would now be occupied by the other. The battles on my tabletop now really would be satisfying and include that final missing element.
Of course doing this solo, will be slightly more difficult, a system of hidden movement would have to be devised as well as one or two other minor tweaks applied to make it suitable for solo play. I feel this would be time well spent and intend to investigate this topic further.
Could all of these troops meet each other on the battlefield in a continent similar to Hyboria?
A selection of ECW, Anglo Danes and WotR. A distinct possibility I think!