For various reasons, summarized below, I’m contemplating starting a new campaign of Strategic Primer, a strategy game I’m designing. If enough players join, I expect to start the campaign early next year. In this post, I’ll briefly explain what Strategic Primer is, why you might be interested in playing, what joining the campaign would entail, and a few other topics.
What Is Strategic Primer?
Strategic Primer is a strategy game that I’m designing. Each player takes the role of a military leader of an initially small force in an imagined world and guides his or her followers into the future. What that means is largely up to you, though the world changes as a result of other players’ actions. Everyone starts in a similar, basically medieval situation, but there are any number of directions to go from there, and a player can choose any that are reasonable, even if I didn’t think of them first.
Each turn (see the “what this would entail” section below), each player submits a strategy describing the course of action he or she would like his or her people to follow for the turn, including exploration, building, training, research, industry, agriculture, or military goals. I then give the players their results: what happened in their parts of the world?
Why play Strategic Primer?
If you like strategy board, computer, or video games you will likely enjoy Strategic Primer. If you enjoy tabletop role-playing games, and particularly if you enjoy running RPG campaigns, you may well enjoy Strategic Primer. If you enjoy explaining scientific or technical ideas in layman’s or “popular” terms, there are elements of Strategic Primer you will likely enjoy.
I could name any number of games that have significantly influenced the design of Strategic Primer, but the elements I chose might not be the ones you liked best. So, instead, over the last few weeks I have been describing “distinctives,” features that this game has that others do not. (This mini-series will continue for another week or two after this post.)
- Unlike nearly every strategy game I know of, in Strategic Primer you can rely on a staff of competent subordinates.
- Unlike every game I know of that includes scientific and technical advancement, Strategic Primer does not limit you to a list of advances I came up with.
What would this entail?
In this new campaign, each “turn” would be equivalent to a week in the game-world but would last a month in real time. Each turn, each player should prepare a strategy (sending me drafts for my comments or otherwise asking for my help if necessary) and send it to me (usually by email); if I don’t get a strategy for a turn I’ll run that turn as if the strategy had been “no change from last turn.” For more experienced players—at first the few who have played before, and later any players who pick the game up quickly—producing a strategy need take no more than a few hours. (Though it can take much more if the player keeps coming up with new ideas.) Newer players will most likely take more time, at least at first, but even so it shouldn’t need to take them more than a few afternoons a month (ignoring time spent waiting for replies to emails). I will also be working at “streamlining” this process, so that eventually, ideally, an experienced player can submit a simple, conventional strategy in minutes.
I’ve been running the current campaign for nearly two years; it’s only the second campaign, and I had made rather major changes in the eight years since the first campaign. I’ve learned a lot about how the game should best be designed. Some of the changes I’ve come up with could be immediately implemented, but many larger changes have to wait until the next campaign. For example, I want to make some resources scarcer, change the game-world year cycle, and probably even change the scale of the map, none of which can be done mid-campaign.
The other matter is players. In the current campaign we only have three human players and four “AI” players. I really botched player-recruiting for that campaign, and now that it’s gotten to the seventh turn players are unlikely to join. I suspect that any of you who would be interested in playing would be less interested in joining a campaign that’s two years real time and seven turns in.
What to do now
If you’re interested, please get in touch with me—comment on this post, send me an email, write on my Wall, etc. Some of the players in my current campaign have expressed reluctance to scrap that campaign and start over, so for me to conclusively decide to go ahead with the new campaign we’ll need at least ten human players, and preferably more.
Anything other than players?
If you’re interested in the game but not in playing, I can also use consultants on game design and balance issues and help brainstorming things explorers might discover.
But what we need most is players. Any takers?