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Author Topic: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples  (Read 725 times)

Offline Pijlie

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Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« on: March 26, 2021, 01:32:01 PM »
My blog features a lot of game scenarios from my hand and to be frank I do consider writing them one of the most enjoyable aspects of my hobby. It combines all kinds of fictional and historical background with a creative process and -if it works out well- a good gaming experience as a reward at the end. But then it struck me that I never actually wrote about writing them. So here is my attempt to make good on that. It will probably be a dynamic piece-under-construction, as I add thoughts over time. We'll see.

Do you want to know more? Look here:

https://pijlieblog.blogspot.com/2021/03/thoughts-on-writing-game-scenario.html
I wish I were a glowworm
'cause glowworms 're never glum
How can you be grumpy
When the sun shines out yer bum?

http://pijlieblog.blogspot.nl/

Offline Pattus Magnus

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2021, 03:35:32 PM »
Thatís a good look at the topic, spells out the crucial aspects to consider. I like the use of a single example to illustrate the principles, too.

Offline Billchuck

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2021, 05:08:36 PM »
I have your earlier post about terrain and scenarios bookmarked and go back to it every so often.  This one is going on that list as well.

Offline fred

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2021, 05:55:40 PM »
That is a good article - do you have thoughts around scenarios for mass battle rules vs more skirmish games? I find skirmish scenarios a bit easy / more flexible to create. Whereas with mass battle rules it tends to end up being a Ďkillí scenario in the end - as why else have both sides brought an army to the table?

PS sorry one little language thing (and I know you are not a native English speaker,) but its piquing interest, rather than peaking the interest. Trying to be helpful, not an arse...

Offline Billchuck

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2021, 06:05:38 PM »
That is a good article - do you have thoughts around scenarios for mass battle rules vs more skirmish games? I find skirmish scenarios a bit easy / more flexible to create. Whereas with mass battle rules it tends to end up being a Ďkillí scenario in the end - as why else have both sides brought an army to the table?

Nobody wants an even fight.  So if it's an even fight, there's a reason why both sides are fighting other than just to kill each other.  If it isn't an even fight, the bigger side may want to just wipe out the smaller force, but the smaller force has a reason to stay and meet the enemy or they will just avoid contact or retreat.

If you figure out the goals of each side in the battle, then you can make a scenario about accomplishing those goals rather than just killing each other. 

Offline Cholly

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2021, 06:10:30 PM »
Pijlie or Billchuck, do you have link to the terrain and scenario article, couldnít find it on Pijlieís blog and I enjoyed this article so would like to check it out
« Last Edit: March 26, 2021, 06:13:52 PM by Cholly »

Offline Billchuck

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2021, 06:24:32 PM »
Pijlie or Billchuck, do you have link to the terrain and scenario article, couldnít find it on Pijlieís blog and I enjoyed this article so would like to check it out

http://pijlieblog.blogspot.com/2017/04/better-wargames-on-grounds-of-terrain.html

Offline Cholly

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2021, 06:32:09 PM »
Billchuck, many thanks.

Offline Pijlie

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2021, 11:06:57 PM »
That is a good article - do you have thoughts around scenarios for mass battle rules vs more skirmish games? I find skirmish scenarios a bit easy / more flexible to create. Whereas with mass battle rules it tends to end up being a Ďkillí scenario in the end - as why else have both sides brought an army to the table?

PS sorry one little language thing (and I know you are not a native English speaker,) but its piquing interest, rather than peaking the interest. Trying to be helpful, not an arse...

I am glad you liked the blog. It is always great to get good feedback. Especially if it is grammar, me being a grammar nazi and all  :D Can you remember where I made that mistake? I can't find it again...

Mass battle scenarios follow the same sequence: first the narrative. Why is the battle being fought? Why have the armies met here and not somewhere else? Very few historical battles were balanced affairs. Generals usually like to attack weaker opponents, so you have to provide a context for the battle.

Perhaps one army is retreating to its home country and finds its route blocked (Nieuwpoort), perhaps it must make a stand to gain time for reinforcements to arrive (Waterloo) or allies to escape (Mons), perhaps it aims to capture an enemy baggage train. Perhaps the smaller army ambushes the larger army while on the march (Hattin). Whatever the reason each army needs to get a reason to be there and victory conditions to match.

Mass battles preferably do not last until death. Armies almost never fought to the end but broke and ran long before that. The larger number of casualties on the loser's side usually resulted from the victor pursuing a broken and feeling enemy. So you could insert victory conditions to do with morale, like killing or capturing a specific commander. On the other hand, retreating a certain part of your army in the face of a stronger enemy while still holding on for a minimum amount of turns can also be an interesting game.

Just some ideas.

Offline fred

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2021, 07:43:50 AM »
I am glad you liked the blog. It is always great to get good feedback. Especially if it is grammar, me being a grammar nazi and all  :D Can you remember where I made that mistake? I can't find it again...

Itís the heading just below the second picture


Mass battle scenarios follow the same sequence: first the narrative. Why is the battle being fought? Why have the armies met here and not somewhere else? Very few historical battles were balanced affairs. Generals usually like to attack weaker opponents, so you have to provide a context for the battle.
....

Thanks, you and Billchuck are thinking along the same lines. I think Iím too in the each pick 3000pts mode, line them up, with a very basic objective.

I think perhaps when we have tried scenarios where the defender is waiting for reinforcements, it becomes too easy for the attacker to defeat the defender in detail. Had this in the game last night, using card driven activations the defenderís reserve unitís card had to be drawn 3 times before it arrived. It came out the deck in each of the first 2 turns. But then didnít come out for the next 4 turns, by which time the attacker had won convincingly. Admittedly this was the most basic of scenarios that my opponent (who lost) had come up with in a few minutes last week, so we hadnít spent any great effort in balancing it.  But on the surface it didnít seem too unbalanced. And perhaps giving the defenders some defensive works would have even the odds.

Offline Pijlie

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2021, 08:00:33 AM »
Admittedly this was the most basic of scenarios that my opponent (who lost) had come up with in a few minutes last week, so we hadnít spent any great effort in balancing it.  But on the surface it didnít seem too unbalanced. And perhaps giving the defenders some defensive works would have even the odds.

Ah thanks! I fixed it.

I used to like random activation in the beginning, but my conclusion eventually was that, although it produced very enjoyable and chaotic games, activation is too important to leave to chance if you want to play a balanced scenario. It also leaves too little room for the player's skill and timing for my taste. I finally decided on this after a game of Cruel Seas where my opponent picked all his activation chits first and destroyed three-quarters of my fleet before I could even activate one ship. I find no enjoyment in that.

I think at least 2 out of 3 of my scenarios need thorough testing to become balanced anyway. I noticed that where I can think of 5 ways to play the scenario, the players will usually think of a 6th one that can be wildly off-kilter balance-wise.

In your example the challenge is perhaps too dependent on the reinforcements? It sounds like the defender wins if he gets them (which is fine) but always loses if he doesn't. Since acquisition of the reinforcements is based on chance so is Victory. It's a form of railroading. So your remark made me amend my blog :)

There should be a way for a skilled defender to make choices that will let him hold on longer, waiting for the reinforcements. Defensive works might indeed do the trick. You could also give him the choice to defend 1, 2 or 3 positions so he has somewhere to withdraw to in order to gain time. This will make the reinforcements having to work harder for victory but then again that is an interesting choice in itself.

Chance in itself can be fun. You could randomly determine the turn(s) that reinforcements will arrive and only give that information to one of the players. Whether that is the attacker or the defender offers different points of interest :)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2021, 08:16:44 AM by Pijlie »

Offline giles the zog

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2021, 12:17:15 PM »
I agree with the aim of the scenario, and victory condition(s).

I've been writing Rangers of Shadow Deep scenarios, and one thing one of the players wanted was a clear aim of the scenario, so I have now expressly included an item own that so she is clear as to what we are aiming to achieve.

All the best
Wandering stars, for whom is reserved, the blackness, the darkness forever.

https://thelostcityofcarcosa.com

Offline Pijlie

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2021, 01:20:02 PM »
It occurred to me that one might demand replayability from a good scenario.

What do you think? Should a good scenario be replayable and what makes it so?

Offline fred

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Re: Thoughts on writing a game scenario, illustrated by examples
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2021, 05:10:34 PM »
It occurred to me that one might demand replayability from a good scenario.

What do you think? Should a good scenario be replayable and what makes it so?

No, I donít think so. Replayability can certainly be something that makes a good scenario, but I donít think it has to be part of a good scenario.

I think the only time replay-ability is important is if the scenario requires some special Ďstuffí terrain or figures or something. Where having parts of the scenario that make it playable again - but slightly different is important.

Some scenarios are fun, or close, so the players want to play them again. But most of hte time, due to limited playing time, I think most people want something different. As a gaming group we skip from rules to rules and period to period which perhaps means we have even less patience with a thing. So will be even less likely to play a scenario again.






 

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