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WILL EAT YOUR SOUL
A Successful Battlegame
[05/17/2006] [Brennon]

Too often we see older players unwilling to play in battlegames, quests, and wars. They would rather ditch. Is this their fault? Are they somehow being lazy or apathetic to full-class battles? No - they are bored. I've got a solution to boring battlegames. Read below for a synopsis of the 'dos' and 'do nots' of successful battlegaming.

The first thing a battlegame needs is conflict. The normal 'default' in battlegames is Mutual Annihilation: the goal is simply to shatter-out the other team. This is a boring game that is inherently prone to mounting imbalance and lots of standing around. When a team starts losing, they keep losing. Then you've got to constantly wait for the now-losing team to come back to life so you can crush them again. It isn't interesting, it's repetitive, and it needs to stop.

Instead of Mutual Annihilation, you should stick to games with differing goals. Goals that inherently cause you to come into conflict with your opponents as you both strive for success rather than simply maneuvering around each other the field for an interminable amount of time for advantage. One of my favorite goals is to move a Very Heavy Object (VHO) from a starting location to the opposing team’s base. With only one VHO on the field, both teams come into conflict over controlling it and the conflict continues as they attempt to advance it down the field towards one another. Since points can be scored in short order, there also is a minimum of downtime. Simply advance the death count between each point and you're good to go.

Other interesting goals for providing conflict are: Hold a location for a period of time, Capture the Flag, and Ring the Bell. These all serve to breathe new life into the humdrum old Mutual Annihilation battlegame.

Battlegames should be simple and well thought out. Objectives and rules should be clear-cut and announced in advance. Any odd relics or rules being used should be thought out thoroughly beforehand and explained multiple times before any play takes place. A little extra effort on the front end will cut down on arguments and gray areas during play and give everybody a much more enjoyable experience.

Something to pay extra attention to is how magic interacts with your scenario. Running a Castle Siege scenario? Make sure you consider Teleport and Force Wall. Shatter the Captain? You need to outline that he's a game item and can't be placed into a Circle of Protection. You can't think of everything beforehand, but you should outline the goals and intent of the scenario clearly to all players before they ever step onto the field. This way, if anybody finds a loophole, they know ahead of time that they aren't supposed to do that.

Have good reeving! I can't stress this enough. Bad reeving can be the death of an otherwise great battlegame. As a rule of thumb, you should have a reeve for every important game item, one reeve for each team on the field, and one head reeve who makes final calls on disagreements or questions. This cuts down on the cheating, hard feelings, miscommunications, confusion, and conflicting calls from differing reeves. Only your head reeve really needs to have a great knowledge of the rules. The team reeves should have a rulebook and be competent in their own right. Your item reeves can be morons only capable of following the item around and saying 'Don't do that'.

Keep games fast-paced. If one entire team is dead, go ahead and advance the clock a few minutes. Keep things moving. The entire point of being on the field is to fight, so if the fighting stops, it's your job to get it started again. Games should be intense, fast-paced scenarios that keep you busy for about 30-45 minutes. Don’t worry about trying to make games last a long time; it's a far better idea to simply run fast, high-energy games one right after another than have a single long, boring game.

Balance! Balance, balance, balance! Nothing makes a battlegame worse than poor balance. It makes it hopeless and pointless for the screwed side and boring and uninteresting for the screwing side. Balance is a fine thing and it rarely relies on numbers alone. If you've only got one really strong company, split them evenly on both sides. If you've got two sword knights, put them on opposite teams. If you've only got one sword knight, give the team without one a couple extra players. Also be mindful of projectiles and magic. You must balance not only the level of magic and number of bows on a side, but you must balance the skill of the players using them as well.. Keeping the teams fair and balanced as possible is crucial to maintaining enjoyment and good attitudes for everybody

If you follow these simple, straightforward principles you can craft and run battlegames that are fun for newbies and old ditch monkies alike. Good luck!

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