The Flashpoint Campaign System

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Blog, Dystopian Wars | Comments Off on The Flashpoint Campaign System

The Flashpoint Campaign System

Written by Spartan Neil |

I remember those halcyon days of wargaming when the hobby was more about the addiction to the overall experience than it was just about the pretty toys.

Now don’t get me wrong, we love the pretty toys and goodness knows we’ve made plenty of them ourselves, but one of the things we’ve always enjoyed about gaming in our groups is multi-player, multi-theatre campaigns. For years we’ve ran games, with the likes of Spartan Derek insisting that we needed to create a simple to use framework for helping players embrace Campaigns in our various game settings.

Well Derek’s incessant badgering has finally paid off and we’re excited to tell you that the new Dystopian Wars 2.5 rulebook has a number of exciting new additions to the core engine, one of which we call the Flashpoint Campaign System.

What’s it all about?
Campaigns are a very personal experience, some are played by massed groups in games clubs and can last for weeks, months and, in some cases, years at a time! Sometimes it is just two players deciding to delve into the narrative of their favourite game and world.

The challenge is therefore to is design a campaign framework that appeals to each and every gamer no matter their sized of group or frequency of play.

The Narrative
No campaign works without an exciting narrative. There needs to be a basic premise, location and ongoing motive for gameplay… otherwise you are simply playing a friendly or competitive game with a different skin on it.

Keeping the narrative going over a long period of time across the entirety of the Dystopian World would be an insurmountable challenge of course, so clearly it is easier to parcel it up into smaller stories, using what we refer to as the idea of ‘Flashpoints’ to build an ongoing narrative in specific parts of the world.

This is something we first delved into with such campaign books as Hurricane Season, Storm of Steel and Operation Sirocco. This allowed us to accelerate the global conflict, but still control the storytelling. It also had the benefit of allowing us to create detailed campaign maps that players could use to build up a ‘picture’ of the Dystopian World.

Game Balance vs Narrative
In the narrative space, it is not that important to make a campaigning system that is exactly balanced, either statistically speaking or in generalised gameplay terms. It is the STORY that matters, not if one player wins or loses.

Player Availability
One of the major issues of running a campaign is the fact that not everybody is always available to play out their games – life has a frustrating way of getting in the way of our wargaming!

So, it became clear that we needed to create a means by which to resolve games without actual gameplay, but make that resolution much harsher to all involved – we want to encourage games, but accept that not everyone can be available all the time.

How do I play Flashpoint?
Well in the brand new Dystopian Wars 2.5 Core Rule Book there is a chapter (starting at Page 212 and running to Page 233) which details how to formulate a campaign, talks about our campaign maps and presents a myriad of rules and tables which will help you take a very exciting step into an exciting world of narrative-driven campaigns!

Take a look at an image of our sample Campaign. This one is set off the coast of Africa, called Flashpoint: Harmattan. The maps are hex-based and will highlight key towns and major terrain features. The hexes will allow players to move Battle Groups and place Tile Markers which will indicate such things as Military Installations, Breadbasket Areas, Industrial Heartlands, Undeveloped and Population Centres.

Players will be able to fight over lands and towns and establish resources and ‘grow’ the campaign. Battle Groups will be able to fight in one of two ways: on the table top [which is what we hope players will be doing a lot of] and via a series of Flashpoint tables. This will allow a campaign to keep flowing.

What Flashpoint isn’t?
It is not a simplistic out-of-the-box solution. You got to put as much in as you want to get out of it. It is a framework, a foundation if you will, from which you can build your own hugely exciting campaigns. It is a good old fashioned wargaming add-on, an exciting way of stitching storytelling into your gaming sessions. I will admit, in the current market where wargaming is fuelled by a player’s need for instant gratification, Flashpoint is unusual, but I am more than happy to err on the side of our gamers being smarter that the majority of the marketplace, and so more willing to invest themselves in an adaptive and self-generating campaign system.

What about other Spartan games?
With Dystopian Wars our campaign system is tethered to the real world as we know it. Sure, it has been changed by Element 270, but continents are where they are supposed to be, as are islands and seas. What this allows us to do is create accurate, narrative driven real-world maps for you to use in your campaigns.

When we created Flashpoint we looked to such things as Firestorm Armada, Planetfall and Halo. In a sci-fi setting the campaign engine really opens up endless possibilities. This means you can expect to see it embraced by our new rules Planetfall 2.0 and Firestorm Armada 3.0 when they come out in August 2017.

 What next?
You’ll need to start with the Dystopian Wars 2.5 rulebook and watch out for our free to download campaigns. The first one will be the aforementioned Flashpoint: Harmattan and you’ll be able to grab a map and download commander briefing guides to get you started. But please remember that it is a framework for players to build their own exciting narratives in the Dystopian World.

Also as a rule we would ask player DO NOT download the briefings intended for their opponents!…. Flashpoint Campaigns require players to play without knowing at their opponent’s hidden objectives… folks who do such things will ruin the fun that others are looking to have if they ‘peek’.

The Flashpoint Campaign Kit
To assist players we have put together a Campaign Accessory Kit which includes: 50x Tile Markers (10x Military Installation, 10x Breadbasket Area, 10x Industrial Heartland, 10x Population Centre and 10x Undeveloped), 20x Acrylic Battle Group Markers (2 colours, 10 of each and numbered) and 80x dice (2 colours, 40 of each).