There have been several attempts for modified multiplayer games made in the ACWGC over my twenty years of involvement in the club. I had played in one and acted as a moderator in two others some years ago. Recently Gen. David Mallory asked me to assist him in learning how to run such a game. I eventually agreed help him and handle the Union turn while he handled the rebel side of the game. You can find more information on that game here.
In the process of doing that game I had the opportunity to go over some of my notes from the previous games I ran and found some things that worked well and others that I felt could be improved. Between that and discussions I had with David over how and why I did certain things I thought it would be a good idea to put these things together as sort of an outline or a primer on how to run such a game for those foolish enough to consider doing so.
A Major Commitment
The first thing you want to consider is whether you have the time to spend to run one of these games. This is a major commitment of your time. You may need to answer several emails a week as the players send their orders to you. Then you will have to play the turn, I normally played the game turns on the weekend and gave the players all week to get any new orders sent to me. Depending on the size of the scenario this could mean 1-3 hours to play both sides of a turn and send out messages.
The most recent game was a single day scenario of 38 turns, it took us 9 months to complete although we did skip one week due to David having internet
problems due to weather. My previous two games were a two day scenario of 87 turns and a three day scenario of 147 turns each taking about 18 months to complete.
I took some shortcuts in the three day game that I would highly recommend in any game like this as it speeds things up.
If the two sides do not start within sight of one another in the early stages of a game I would do three turns, an hour of play until the two sides got within sight of one another then switch to single 20 minute turns.
If a multiple day scenario I would do the night turns in one week to speed the game up going back to single turns on the last night turn before dawn.
After playing this last game with David and I splitting the duties of moderator I would highly recommend that style if you can find a second person willing to do so, it cuts the workload in half.
Now What ?
OK you've decided you want to run a Tessier style game. The first thing you will need to do is determine what scenario you want to use. You could of course just use one of the stock scenarios from one of the more popular games. With the unlocking of the oob's and maps you can create a custom What If scenario using your own oob file for your game if you are familiar enough with the Scenario Editor and comfortable with creating an OOB file. Or you could move a stock oob from one game to another to use a particular map if you are so inclined using an existing or custom PDT.
How many players ?
Once you have settled on a scenario you need to figure out how many players you will need.
The CSA is pretty easy, most of their armies had divisions of 3-5 brigades. In my first game I set up both Union and Confederate sides with players as
Division, Corps and Army commanders. I found several Union players who after their two brigade division was heavily engaged and damaged quickly lost interest in
the game while their Confederate opponents with their larger divisions seemed more inclined to continue after their first engagement.
So for the second game I elected to have the Union players as Corps Commanders as each Corps had 6-8 brigades which was comparable to the Confederate 4-5 brigade divisions.
I then acted as Division Commanders for the Union. I sent the players replies to messages/orders to the Divisions and handled their order execution during game
turns using a list of options and a dice roll when I wasn't sure what to do. This was similar to what I did acting as the Brigade commanders when I used Divisions
for both sides. In addition to giving the Union players more units to handle it reduced the number of emails I had to handle.
If you plan on using a custom OOB you can design it with this in mind and keep the divisions for both sides about equal, and some early war scenarios for the eastern
area do have larger Union divisions.
In any case you will probably have little trouble finding players for the lower commands, ordering brigades/regiments/guns around is where the fun is, the problem is usually finding the Corps and Army CO. These players have to make decisions based on what they see in the replay or in the case of Corps CO on the orders of the Army CO and then discover that their units are not able to react immediately to the changing situation. Also occasionally orders are delayed or lost and their subordinates may interpret their orders differently than they think they should. Although they will usually have some units attached directly to them they may decide to detach them for use by their subordinates during the game.
Now that you have your scenario selected and the number of players you will need figured out you will want to provide the players with a description of the situation and an intelligence report on the enemy strength and intentions. This was the one complaint I got from the last game. I took a stock scenario and modified it removing some objectives in an attempt to force a fight at a particular location and leaving some possible rebel reinforcements listed in the scenario but setting them so they wouldn't arrive. This kept the two sides nearly equal which was what I was trying to do. Unfortunately I used the scenario name and description which the CSA commander felt did not adequately describe the situation and the Union intentions. In looking over my first two games I believe he had a point as my Intelligence reports for those two games were a little easier to understand than the scenario description I sent both sides. So keep this in mind when putting together your description of the situation and enemy intentions.
Set rules for messages and make sure the players are aware of how you will handle the game turns.
By this I mean how you will handle the messages, how you will move the units during the game turns and how you intend on handling the combats. You want to create a set of rules for yourself and make sure the players are aware of them. This will allow the players to understand how things are going to be done and that you will not be affecting the outcome of the game. Below is a copy of the tables I used to the last game I ran. You can use it as is or modify it as you are inclined. `
Orders and Messages
Players will send orders to their units and each other via the moderator.
Orders should be in the following form to make it easy on the moderator.
Couriers will cover 36 hexes in one turn. It is possible for a courier to be killed and the sender not become aware of
it. They may also get delayed or lost on the way.
All messages are Sent at the START of the turn.
Messages/Orders Arrive at the Start of the turn.
Orders will be rolled on the Execution Table at the START OF THE TURN an order is Implemented.
Order File Example
It is possible to send messages or orders to a unit
outside of your chain of command. However it is very likely to do more harm than good. Plus
it is a dubious use of command points at best.
In Person Verbal Messages
When two officers end the turn in the same hex they can send In Person Verbal Orders or Messages which I will forward to the receiving player immediately to give him a chance to reply. IPVO to NP officers will be immediately placed in that officers file and acted upon in the next turn. In Person Verbal Orders or messages are permitted to use specific hex numbers. This is assuming the officer is pointing at the location either directly or on a map. If there is a large number of messages between such officers their MP for the next turn may be reduced at the moderators discretion.
I have no objection to an officer sending me
orders like those below with IPVM's for each location.
Since the two sides start out of contact and out of sight of one another we plan on running 3 turns at a time.
When an order is given to a brigade or a division all of its various parts will move with it unless units have been detached for special
Courier Success : rolled for every Message and Order sent by any officer or unit.
Order Implementation : rolled for every Order received by a Non-player officer or unit.
Order Execution: rolled for every Order received by a Non-player officer or unit.
Panic means retreat a hex if ordered to stand or advance.
Panic outcomes are treated as Blunder if no enemy is in LoS.
Blunder is just that, officer will do something other than follow his orders.
Moderator will create several possible mistakes and roll a die to choose one.
Waiver means the officer hesitates and will only use half his MP in following the order.
The Order Execution Table will also be used at the moderators discretion whenever an opportunity arises for a non player unit to take initiative.
If a good move is available the Moderator will roll on the Order Execution Table to determine if the unit/officer takes advantage of it.
|Courier Success||Order Acceptance||Order Execution|
2 x 1
|Courier is lost unbeknownst to sender.||Order is ignored.||Leader/Unit Panics and blunders.|
|Courier is lost, sender informed 1 turn later.||Order is sent back for verification.||Leader/Unit Panics.|
|Courier arrives 2 turns late||Orders is implemented 2 turns late.||Leader/Unit Blunders.|
|Courier arrives 1 turn late.||Orders is implemented 1 turn late.||Leader/Unit Wavers.|
6 - 11+
|Courier arrives as scheduled.||Orders is implemented as written.||Order is executed as written.|
2 x 6
|Courier arrives 1 turn early or this turn.||Order is implemented now +1 on Execution table||Leader/Unit aggressively seizes an available opportunity.|
|-5 Sender or receiver is isolated.||-2 Leader/Unit is isolated.||-3 Attack order and formation at 50% loss.|
|-1 Each additional turn Courier must move.||-1 Replacement leader.||-2 Attack order and formation at 35% loss.|
|-1 Receiver moved during the current turn.||-1 Complicated order, 20 words or more.||-1 Attack order and formation at 20% loss.|
|+1 Sender and receiver in LOS of each other||-1 Leader is Detached||-2 Leader/Unit is isolated.|
|+1 Sender and receiver in adjacent hexes.||-1 Sender not in chain of command.||-1 Leader is Detached.|
|+1 Receiver has not moved for 2 turns.||+1 Leaders is In Command.||+1 Leaders is In Command.|
|+2 In Person Verbal Order.|
Modifiers are cumulative, they add, so if the receiver has not moved for two turns but the courier will take 3 turns to get there the modifiers would be -1-1+1 for a net modifier of -1.
Note that 2x1 and 2x6 are special cases. Modified rolls below 3 or above 11 do not result in these outcomes and are treated as 3 or 11.
If a 2x1 roll is made for a Courier arrival time roll again, if 2x1 is the result of the second roll the opposing side receives the message, courier has been killed or captured.
I have provided a basic outline of how I ran three Tessier Style MP games. I do not profess to be an expert nor am I foolish or stupid enough to think my way is the only way or even the best way to run such a game. It is my current method and if I ever decided to run another game it may change. If you decide you'd like to try running this type of game feel free to use anything I have noted here or to change anyting to suit your own idea of how it should work. Like a lot of what is on this site it's provided as a service to the ACWGC members, my way of giving back for all the enjoyment I have gotten out of the club. You'll find a zipfile below containing the information provided on this page in Word and plain text format along with copies of the tables I used.