Strategic Primer: Sample Strategy

A few years ago, when the current campaign of Strategic Primer was first beginning to get underway, I posted what I thought of at the time as a “sample strategy.” Since the scope of what a player has to deal with has expanded dramatically since that time (and the level of detail of his or her involvement required has, correspondingly, diminished), it’s long past time for a revision to that model.

The format is essentially the same, starting with the header:

[Player: Major General Stanley
Country: Penzance
Turn 11]

As before, our model player is the “I am a very model of a modern” Major General. And instead of the first turn, which has a couple of additional requirements over any other turn, we’ll look at what this current turn’s strategy might look like.

After the header is where I tend to put the Advances section. As I said in the earlier “sample strategy”:

The first section of your strategy consists of scientific, technical, or other such information you would like to explain to your scientists. If you can explain a technology, technique, idea, training regimen, or idea in terms that they can understand and use it, you “discover” it and can use it in future strategies. Domesticated animals are handled in a way similar to more ordinary scientific progress: after a specimen is captured a worker working as a Herder spends time trying to domesticate it, and eventually succeeds, and after that you have a stock of that animal you can use.

For further discussion of what such explanations should, ideally, look like, see last year’s post on “ideal advance design.”

The bulk of the strategy consists of instructions for the player’s workers. Some players prefer to write them as descriptions of what the workers will be doing; I find phrasing them as commands to be more natural, but either works just as well as the other.

While all that’s really entirely necessary is a clear designation of who is to do what that’s different from the previous turn, I much prefer for any orders that have not changed from previous turns to be repeated (perhaps phrased beginning “Continue …”), since when I “run” a strategy I generally have the previous turn’s results, the strategy, and that strategy’s results-in-progress open in my editor.

The first few turns, everyone’s strategies gave instructions for workers one at a time. There were few enough workers that that was reasonable. Now, however, with five times as many (or more) workers, the recommended procedure is to group them into “units” of workers collaborating on some task, as you’ll see below.

In the earlier “sample strategy,” I recommended having a summary block, in which each worker’s (or now unit’s) orders are briefly listed in single-sentence bullet-point form, followed by more detailed explanations below. I’ve gone back and forth on whether this or a more unified format is better. But in either case a clear organization is paramount.

The following is the format produced (as a “proto-strategy”; players should use it as a starting point, not as the final project they can immediately submit, but for cases as simple as this still is it’s not bad) by the worker-management program. I generated fifty workers (the closest round number to the average population at the moment among players in the current campaign) at random and assigned them (somewhat haphazardly) to tasks; if I hadn’t been in quite as much of a hurry, I had meant to show off some ideas that most players haven’t shown any interest in, like looking for wild fields to gather from, or searching ruins, etc. But this post has been planned, only to slip, several times now, so I limited the number of units.

If anyone’s interested, I can provide the map files (containing the workers; all “assistive programs” operate on map files) I used for this, from before generating the workers, before assigning them to units, and after writing the orders.

The only changes I’ve made are to convert the ASCII nested-bullet syntax to HTML bullet syntax, to get the paragraphs to nest properly, and to remove the empty “miscellaneous to-assign” unit, which contained all the newly-generated workers before I assigned them.

Workers:

  • mining:
    • iron miners [Baptist Bellinger, Marnie Hice, Morgana Osterweiss, Carry Sherlock, Shannah Mang, Sonia Martin, Chloe Pershing, Joetta Jowers, Christy Thomas]: Mine iron ore.
  • explorer:
    • explorer [Holly Neely]: Explore the surrounding area.
  • agriculture:
    • wheat farmers [Deven Rhodes (farmer 1), Cedar Larson, Ariella Jewell, Divina Orbell, Laurel Batten, Louise Whittier]: Plant wheat.

    • potato farmers [Charlotte Siegrist, Peppi Swarner, Krystal Pawle, Lea Birdsall]: Weed potatoes.

    • woodcutters [Bernard Merryman, Christmas Blunt (iron worker 1), Alma Sealis, Joanne Mench, Georgiana Dimeling, Kalyn Archibald]: Cut and split wood.

  • messenger:

    • messengers [Tye Lazzo (messenger 1), Paget Bode (messenger 1), Robbie Geyer (messenger 1)]: Keep HQ in touch with explorers, surrounding villages, etc.
  • industry:
    • cooper [Tyrese Elsas (cooper 1)]: Make barrels.

    • smith [Leigh Stern (bladesmith 1)]: Make swords.

    • fletcher [Bryony Mcloskey (fletcher 1), Chile Harding, Kathy Southern, Lovel Lowry]: Make longbows and arrows.

    • carpenters [Pete Surrency, Gage Garry, Ritchie Robertson, Josceline Eisenmann, Christie Hooker, Kae Aultman, Thad Hatcher (iron worker 1)]: Build new barracks, warehouses, and industry buildings.

  • diplomacy:

    • diplomat [Hebe Hall (diplomat 1)]: Visit Sir Joseph and negotiate treaty.
  • military:
    • training [Isabel Garneis (warrior 1), Alys James, Jefferson Rice, Derren Berry, Booker Shotts, Debby Tireman, Zoie Crissman]: Train with swords and bows.

This hierarchical organization, by the way, is produced in the worker-management program by giving the upper level as the “kind” of the relevant units, and the lower level as their “name” (“industry” and “fletcher” respectively, for example).

After these orders comes anything else—“standing orders” and items that the player thinks the Judge should bear in mind while running the strategy (or, to take the Watsonian rather than Doylistic view, that all the workers should bear in mind while carrying out the orders), more lengthy explanations of something only touched on briefly in the overview (provided there’s a “see below” or some such), or ideas for future plans that the player would like comments on, for example.

The strategy should not contain comments about or replies to something I said in a previous turn’s results (except mere citations in passing to support new orders); such comments should be sent directly, and at the current pace of the game should especially be sent long before the player sends his or her first strategy draft to the Judge for consideration or to run.

Here are what Major General Stanley’s standing orders might be:

  • Everyone venturing outside the walls of a fortress shall be armed with a weapon he or she is at least minimally proficient with.
  • Every torch, campfire, fireplace, oven, etc., shall have at least one and if possible several buckets of water nearby, to guard against the spread of fire.
  • If an explorer comes upon a servant of another player, or an independent party, the explorer shall seek to make peaceful contact.

And that’s essentially it. Header, advance-blueprints section, orders section, commentary. While the intent conveyed by a strategy can get somewhat complicated, especially as the fortress populations head up towards one hundred or more, the format itself isn’t.

I hope this brief, but somewhat more extensive, example of what a strategy might look like has proved helpful to both players and prospective players of Strategic Primer.

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