When I’ve previously called for new players to join the current campaign of Strategic Primer, I’ve worked to prepare a position for them as if they had started at the beginning, including strategies that they might have written for the previous turns. But as the game has progressed, this model has become increasingly unreasonable both from the player’s perspective (having to look through that lengthening document) and from mine (having to prepare it). So in future the “prepared position” will be somewhat different.
Instead of starting back when everyone else did and “fast-forwarding” to the present, the player will start at the present with a somewhat different “starting package” of resources and advances. Some of the differences from the original Starting Package are merely changes I would make anyway if I were starting an entirely new campaign, but most are at least partly intended to ensure the new player isn’t at too much of a disadvantage.
One big change is food. The existing players started with only enough food to feed their workers for two turns if they did nothing, but started with their fields ready to harvest. In future (and this change will probably also apply to future campaigns) new players will start with a great deal more food—perhaps about a year’s rations, I’m not sure—for their population, but with their fields ready to be planted. (This ensures a definite answer to the question of exactly how much area the player has under cultivation.) The provided food is, unlike what will be harvested, gathered, or hunted, not subject to spoilage—in the story it’s the remains of the unit’s issued supply of emergency rations.
Another big change is the size of population. Existing players started with ten workers; in retrospect that’s unreasonably small, so I would provide a significantly larger population anyway, but I’ll determine how many a new player starts with based on other players’ current populations. And instead of every worker starting with a single level in some Job (profession), they’ll come from various backgrounds, some with more experience and some raw recruits.
The players who have been here from the beginning have had to develop a “chain of command”—delegate responsibility for the details of various tasks—on their own. With the increased population, I’ll also provide a tentative command structure of aides and administrators, and workers organized into units. (That last item I’ll also do for the existing players, as I’m in the process of doing for the AIs.)
The ability to build a custom fortress and dictate the shape of the surrounding terrain (within reason) remains, and in this campaign the startlingly large amount of wood available primarily for this purpose will also not change. (I may, at my discretion based on the player’s surroundings, exchange some small fraction of some of the player’s starting resources for different ones.) But while the initial players had to produce their own fortress plan from scratch, I will provide “default” plans for newcomers to start with, or even use unmodified if they see fit.
The set of advances with which each player starts the game will not be reduced in the current game, and will most likely have some advances added to it—some because they’re so basic I think they should have been in it from the beginning, and some as “handicapping” to help ensure each player has a fair start. But in future campaigns some advances (for example, probably the longbow) will be removed.
The current players began the campaign with no knowledge of their surroundings beyond the terrain of the site of their headquarters (and what they decided to put there in the plan of its grounds); newcomers, and players in future campaigns, will begin with at least some knowledge of a somewhat wide area surrounding their headquarters, ranging in detail from minimal knowledge of the edges of that area to intimate and extensive knowledge of its center. (As a tangential aside, in future campaigns the world will be smaller, probably using the original map—or one with a similar number of tiles—but with each tile being half the previous size, but speed at every scale above round-by-round combat will be reduced by at least half.)
I can’t think of anything more at the moment; any comments or questions?