Imagi-nation gaming

Photo by Your's Truly!

In a previous post I announced my immersion into the realm of imagi-nation gaming. I quite rightly put all the blame on Henry Hyde. He piqued my interested with the Wars of the Faltenian Succession. Imagi-nation gaming is sort of like blending roleplaying games with wargaming. A wargamer, like a DM, creates the world in which their players exist. Everything is made out of the dust of the Earth. Wargames normally don’t have characteristics for commanding officers. One exception can be the imagi-nation. Like NPCs in D&D, unit commanders have values for Intelligence, Initiative, Courage, Charisma, Strength, and Health.

This article will expound some of the details for my imagi-nation campaign. Hopefully it will also answer some of your questions and maybe it will stir imagi-nation passion hidden deep within yourself.

The Dedhampton Revolution is based on the American Revolution (War of American Independence for our friends across the pond). The great nation of Dedhampton has spread its influence across the Bradford Ocean. Several colonies (based on New England and several Mid-Atlantic colonies) are thriving over a century after their founding.

Conflict arises. The colonies unleash anger at one another as resources become scarce. The mother nation also feels the pinch of limited supplies. Their mines have been exhausted. War materials are dwindling as a result of numerous combats fought with their neighbors. The colonies despise the increasing demand for money, supplies, and materials from their homeland. Beyond the frontier is a wilderness rumored to be inhabited by the original, and now displaced, natives. It is hard to tell what they are up to.

Statesmen in the New Dedhampton legislature call for support to get the homeland to cease their “unreasonable” demands. But, they’re considered nothing more than rabble rousers by the leaders of Nateekingham and Glouland. Although Glouland is the largest and wealthiest of the colonies, it borders the wilderness.

Who can say what will happen when the powder keg explodes. One thing I can tell you is that the powder keg WILL explode.

I won’t go into the details of how I created my imagi-nations because Henry covers that in the first four issues of Battlegames Magazine. You really should pick up copies, you can get them digitally, and read the articles. They’re scintillating to absorb. Instead I want to discuss the map making process. I am not graphically inclined. That disinclination has held me back for a very long time.

Several days ago I happened to come across a program named Hexographer. It is a cross-platform hex map-making program. This program has a free version that anyone can use online to create gorgeous maps. The paid version, costing $24.95, is a normal Java program that installs on your computers. The paid version is my focus since I quickly upgraded to that version. In addition to working offline, the full (aka pro) version allows users to use different icons, tile artwork, and to also expand/contract the map instead of creating a new one from scratch. On top of all that is included support and a lifetime of upgrades for this major edition.

You’ll agree, I’m sure, that $24.95 is no small sum to hand over for a map-making program. The proof really is in the pudding as you will quickly find by playing around with Hexographer. The free version does many of the things that you’ll probably want. The pro version has many solid additions, which make it a worthwhile expense.

Hexographer is a big hit as far as I’m concerned. It is very easy to create a good-looking map with the program. Just about every terrain type you can think of has its own hex type. There are icons for cities, towns, and more. The program also allows you to create lines signifying shipping lanes, national boundaries, and roads. You may also name different areas of your map. You can see what I created using the program over the course of several hours by going to Dedhampton Revolution Map. I should note that it took me so long because I read and followed Henry’s articles while I created my map. That meant rolling a d6 for each square, determining population centers, incomes, and more. It is no mean task breathing life to a world. No wonder creator deities rested after several days.

After I rested it was time for some math. I know, I know. Math sucks. BUT, it is also necessary when tabulating a nation’s income, the number of its residents, and the strength of its fighting forces. This is, after all, a wargame and we can’t have the war without troops. Following Henry’s guidelines resulted in an array of interesting numbers.

Below you’ll find a list of the antagonists and their associated annual incomes:

  1. Dedhampton-287,427.88 sovereigns
  2. Glouland-271,637.33 sovereigns
  3. Nateekingham-168,632.68 sovereigns
  4. New Dedhampton-156,299.73 sovereigns

From these numbers we can easily discern that the homeland has the most money but that the colonies are not far behind. The frontier colony of Glouland is almost as rich as the motherland. Even the poorest colony, New Dedhampton, has roughly 54% of the income as Dedhampton. Spending money to raise regiments, build navies, and construct defenses will not be a problem for any of the parties.

Here are the imagi-nations with their populations:

  1. Dedhampton-589,050 people
  2. Glouland-404,600 people
  3. Nateekingham-228,800 people
  4. New Dedhampton-208,950 people

After creating the populations I researched population values for the future United States for the years before 1790. Surprisingly, the figures I came up with are less than the real numbers. Even so, my numbers are not terribly less. The smaller numbers makes it easier to handle this imagi-nation project as it is my first. Less people results in fewer people to man the ships and join the military. That has the added benefit of allowing me to spend less money building my army of toy soldiers.

Henry suggested that a maximum of 10% of the male residents could join the military. To reasonably calculate the necessary equations for fighting strength, Henry divided the population in half by gender. That isn’t entirely accurate but it makes the book-keeping much easier. If I use the 10%, we can see the results, below, for New Dedhampton.

  • 10,448 maximum fighting men

That is a lot of people for the small colony. It may be necessary to pull that many people out of their normal lives IF the threat is severe enough. Looking at a number like 10,448 it is hard to tell how that translates to the gaming table. Luckily, I found reliable statistics for the number of men in an infantry regiment, cavalry regiment, and artillery regiment of the Continental Army circa 1776/1777. Those numbers allowed me to calculate the maximum number of regiments that New Dedhampton could potentially field. I modified this slightly by figuring that the colony would mostly have militia instead of regular infantry. I calculated that 60% of the colony’s infantry regiments would, in fact, be militia regiments. All of this produced the below numbers:

  • 541 men per infantry regiment
  • 280 men per cavalry regiment
  • 345 men per artillery regiment
  • 17 possible infantry regiment
  • 10 possible militia, 7 possible infantry
  • 2 possible cavalry regiments
  • 2 possible artillery regiments

Looking at the Contintental Army statistics I found a good ratio of infantry regiments:cavalry regiments:artillery regiments. That was altered for my purposes to create a mix of 90% infantry, 5% cavalry, 5% artillery regiments. Keep in mind that the above numbers are the MAXIMUM fighting force for New Dedhampton.

If you’ve looked at my map, you might have noticed that I excluded something from my armed forces. Yes, I left out a navy. I wish I could say that I chose to follow in the historical footsteps by leaving naval fighting to privateers. The truth, however, is that I forgot to include a navy into my statistics. There is a LOT of ocean out there and most of it is owned by the motherland. If the colonies and homeland fight, you can be sure of a few things. First, the large ocean means that it will take a long time for troops to travel from the motherland to the colonies, and vice versa. The other thing to consider is that naval combat will likely be included in my campaign. Thankfully, Trafalgar is supposed to be a good age of sale naval set of rules.

Keeping all of that in mind, means that I can either leave New Dedhampton’s navy, along with the rest of the colonies, in the hands of privateers. OR, I can alter the stats to allow for a navy. I’m likely to go the latter route. With some minor tweaking I can alter the ratio to 80% infantry, 10% navy, 5% cavalry, 5% artillery.

If the New Dedhampton’s navy is 10% of its fighting force, then that equates to 1,045 men. This turns into another research question for me. I’ll need to find the average number of crew on a Continental Navy frigate, such as the USS Constitution. Each of the vessels were slightly different, which could create a variation in the respective ship’s crews.

Using the USS Constitution‘s Wikipedia entry means that New Dedhampton could have 2 frigates of that size. Certainly that is a tiny navy. Perhaps this would be an impetus for New Dedhampton to work with its neighbor Nateekingham, which also has access to Ayer Bay, to combine forces. Maybe the mighty colony of Glouland would be willing to provide men, material, and money to outfit further ships.

It is also possible to go another route when deciding the breakdown of fighting forces. Look at the map for the nation/colony/etc and its geography. Landlocked Glouland is NOT likely to have a navy. Maybe Dedhampton, with its extensive coastline, will have a larger navy and smaller army. In that case, the homeland of Dedhampton could have 70% navy, 20% infantry, 7.5% cavalry, 2.5% artillery. Glouland could then have 90% infantry, 7.5% artillery, and 2.5% cavalry (it is tough to have a larger cavalry force with all those forests everywhere). You get the picture.

There is one other really cool bit of information from the USS Constitution‘s Wikipedia article. The entry lists the cost to build the ship as $302,718. Taking that at face value means none of my protagonists can afford a navy. Maybe the same holds true for you. That means it is decision time. Maybe you’ll start your nations off with a navy, or force them to save money over a few in game years, or maybe you’ll scale down the cost to build the vessel. My populations are about 60% of the real values and the income is about half of the real numbers. So, maybe the real world costs need to be cut in half. Instead of a 44-gun frigate costing $302 thousand, perhaps it will cost $151,000. That’s still a lot of money for two of my colonies. In fact, constructing a single one of those ships would almost bankrupt each of them.

When evaluating these aspects it is important to adjust numbers as you, and your opponent(s), see fit. If everyone has no problem cutting real world costs by 2/3, then go ahead and do it. Who wouldn’t like a frigate that costs $100 thousand? This segues nicely into my next, and final, topic.

Exactly who am I playing against? Unlike Henry, I have no Guy to fight. I’m the only person participating in this campaign as of right now. Some of my gaming buddies might join in…perhaps. Solo-gaming this campaign is perfectly fine with me. A little bit of creative license also comes into play. Battles will be fought using the Black Powder rules for land engagements and the Trafaglar rules for sea battles. When playing AWI games with my buddies I’ll consider those battles as being indicative of in campaign clashes. If I’m in a pinch I can use pen, paper, tokens etc at home.

The same holds true for Trafalgar. I don’t own the rules but a friend does. He can be persuaded, I’m sure, to break out his ships and the rules to get some age of sail combat happening. There’s no reason why that cannot represent duels on the high seas.

The possibility also exists that some of my gaming buddies will want in on this campaign. Maybe they’ll want to take command of one of the imagi-nations I created. Maybe they’ll want to create their own, which means my map will grow. If any of them want in, I’ll gladly welcome them but this campaign won’t require that others participate.

I hope that reading about the Dedhampton Revolution has inspired you to consider your own imagi-nation campaign. If you ever have the need to make wargaming maps, I strongly recommend that you use the Hexographer program. It is fantastic! I’d love to hear from you about my imagi-nation campaign, about any that you are or are thinking about running, and your experiences participating in campaigns or solo-gaming.

This is a new world for me, which I intend to oversee for many years to come. You can be sure that future blog articles and podcast episodes will share updates on the Dedhampton Revolution.

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