After much preparation we are now ready to begin the Stalino campaign! But how will it work? Basically we are playing a home-brew expansion of the published campaign rules for Chain of Command, At the Sharp End. We used the official rules pretty much straight out of the box for our first attempt at a multi-player campaign. That campaign took place in Glykhova two months earlier than the Stalino campaign, in August 1941. We quickly noticed a few quirks of the campaign system that we were not completely happy with.
How to do campaigns with friends (many friends), in CoC
The Stalino campaign is pretty much a playtest of these campaign rules, and we're far from finished. Even before setting up the first battle we were already discussing the ramifications of some of the rules, and after the battle we ended up re-thinking even more! But that's what playtests are for.
The "beta" rules will be published on this site once we have ironed out some more issues, but a short explanation is in order for you to be able to follow the campaign once it gets started.
The first step was to divide the campaign into three "columns" - left, centre and right. Imagine it as a cut-out of a battle frontline, with about 2-3 platoons operating in the area of each "column". Each such column works like a standard At the Sharp End campaign in themselves, with both sides meeting at the neutral middle "0" point at the start of the campaign.
A win means that the victor moves the battle one step along the column towards the opposing side, and the campaign is won when one group on one column has pushed the opposing forces off their edge.
Campaign Rounds and Support Pools
The first big difference is that for each "campaign round", you will fight one battle on each column. This opens up for a situation where one team could be winning on one front, but get pushed back on another. This is important because of the second major change: you now buy and manage your entire force, including the support available to you.
This kind of army management is meant to remove the issue of disposable support options, and also add a level of overall campaign logistics and management. Each Group in the example above gets a number of points to buy platoons and support options with. Platoons are priced according to a table, and the support options are bought for the normal cost listed in your army list.
For example, we gave the German players 88 points to spend on each group. A +3 platoon, such as a normal rifle infantry platoon in 1941, costs 23 points. If the Germans buy two such platoons for their Group 1, they can spend the other 42 points on a pair of StuGs, some anti-tank guns, a HMG team, etc. These all go into Group 1's Support Pool.
... or they could buy three platoons, and have plenty of warm bodies to soak up losses, but be strapped for beefier guns from the get-go. As you see, you're already making tough decisions before the first game even starts!
Now, once you have bought your groups, that's what you'll get. For the rest of the campaign. Your fancy StuGs get blown up in the first game because you got careless? Now you'll have to work around it.
There are still some ways to get around bad losses: you can transfer platoons and support options between columns inbetween campaign rounds for a small cost, and some options (extra SMGs, satchel charges, fortifications etc.) are "free" in that you don't need to buy them for your Support Pool to be able to use them. But overall, we think that this alteration will mean that you fear losing your support options as much, or maybe even more, than your "normal" infantrymen.
Sharing Campaign Control
And did you notice that I mentioned "group 1", not "player 1"? The idea is that you play each side together, so that you can jump in to play a platoon for any column as the campaign turn dictates. The idea behind this is to avoid a common problem with multi-player campaigns - player availability. If your campaign relies on Dave and Ben being able to find a day to play next week, and then for June and Andy to be available the weekend after that, your campaign is bound to get bog down sooner or later. By making everyone take collective decisions and manage the campaign, you also take some of the bad feelings of someone else jumping in and playing "your" platoon for a battle or two. It's also a lot of fun to discuss how to design the various groups and support pools, and how to juggle the available resources once you have started to take some substantial losses.
This is just a brief description to give you an idea of how the campaign will work. There's also event cards, purchasable tactical bonuses, and all heaps of fun stuff. Hopefully we'll be able to get the rules out soon, and make the necessary changes as we run into bumps in the road along the campaign. But for now, sit back and relax, and watch us sweat blood over the mounting casualties as we're likely to run out of our favourite support options real soon!
WW2 Campaign Blog
This blog follows the second Chain of Command club campaign, set in the intense fighting over Stalino in October 1941.