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Posts: 45
February 2011
  Some thoughts on scenario design Tue, 12 June 2018 15:45
Greetings all,

Over on the forum on BGG we've been having a discussion about scenario balance and design. As a result I jotted down some of my personal philosophy of scenario design. Let me know what you think.

1. Historical accuracy is more important to me than balance in the initial design stage.

2. I will always try and make the terrain as accurate to the historical battlefield as possible (I use HD scans of WW2 field maps from the University of Texas at Austin Library website).

3. I will always try and make the units positions, equipment and support as accurate as possible.

4. I will give more command cards to a side that had a good commander, high morale and was well supplied and fewer command cards to a side that had a bad commander, low morale and was low on supplies.

5. I will playtest a scenario a few times then to check the level of balanced. Usually, this is pretty easy to determine but sometimes takes a lot more playtesting. If it is really hard for one side to win, I will tweak the victory conditions (add an Objective Medal token or remove a Medal token for example), change the initial setup of the attacker to something that is a little less advantageous yet still historical or add or subtract certain special rules.

6. If it is still the case that one side always dominates, I will often scrap the scenario, even if I spent a whole day making it. That can be sad sometimes, as I love all my creations deeply haha Sad

7. As long as both sides are able to win, I will publish the scenario. The majority of my scenarios are well balanced, there are a couple of absolutely gold ones in there, but there are a few that are less so. You will need to check the AAR's to see the stats.

8. The best way to get a balanced game in is to play two rounds per scenario, switching sides afterward like what happens on the Memoir 44' Online game.

Those are just some thoughts I randomly jotted down, but I think accurately reflects my philosophy.

link to BGG forum post

[Updated on: Tue, 12 June 2018 15:46]

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May 2008
Re:Some thoughts on scenario design Tue, 12 June 2018 23:00
[quote title=secret_strategem wrote on Tue, 12 June 2018 15:45]Greetings all,

1. Historical accuracy is more important to me than balance in the initial design stage.

I agree on 1.

And would add that if you like more even 50% battles to just look into the history of hard-fought battles that could have gone the other way in history.


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Posts: 45
February 2011
Re:Some thoughts on scenario design Wed, 13 June 2018 09:04
In answer to a question by Airfix about how to determine victory conditions I wrote

There are a number of factors that contribute to the Victory conditions size.

1. If the battle I covered wasn't particularly bloody, (i.e. one side withdrew after a brief engagement) I will usually have a lower medal count. See three of my latest scenarios that demonstrate this point [Syria] Deraa 4 medals, [Desert War] Garn el Grien 4 medals & [Battle of the Bulge] Ambush at Bertogne 5 medals.

2. If the number of units on the board is small, a smaller count is needed. If you start with ten units and it is a 6 Medal game, you will be left with only 4 units by games end. That can be frustrating. More units on the board equal a bigger medal count.

3. The complexity of the scenario set up also plays a part. If the scenario will be time-consuming to set up, you will want a rewarding amount of gameplay in return. A scenario that uses multiple expansions, many terrain tiles and a large number of units will take around 15-20 mins to set up (heaven forbid any longer than that), depending on how well organized your collection is. To then play a game that is over in 10 mins is not worth the effort.

The best thing to do here is not to create complex and hard to set up scenarios, but sometimes in order to be historically accurate complexity needs to be accepted.

4. Playtesting is ultimately what decides that Medal Count. I usually estimate beforehand based on those above criteria, but this is subject to change. When playtesting, play with multiple victory conditions, keeping track of how the scenario resolves at 4,5,6,8 medals at times. So sometimes a publish a scenario that only requires 5 medals to win, but I played it further than that in the playtesting stage.

5. Finally, personal preference. I like quick scenarios for when I am in a rush, but I LOVE large slug fest scenarios with high medal counts. I like making tug of war situations by having both sides fight over the same objective. In games with multiple objectives, I will sometimes make it 8 Medals to win. The idea behind this is 6 medals from units, 2 from objectives. These are my favorites as they often have a crazy dramatic gameplay, but they do take a little longer to play.

For examples of big tug of war, brutal, high casualty, slug fests try out:

[Manchuria 1932] The Revolt of Ma Zhanshan
[Normandy] Three Villages
[Normandy] Tilly-la-Campagne
[Normandy] The Capture of Carpiquet
[China] The Great Wall
[Desert War] Tel el Eisa
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October 2006
Re:Some thoughts on scenario design Thu, 14 June 2018 01:40
I disagree with number 6 above, but think #8 is dead on. In some historical scenarios (Kursk, for example) one side outnumbered the other. You can make up for this imbalance by giving more command cards, combat cards, special units, or reinforcements to the disadvantaged side, making victory conditions harder, or not assigning special units for the advantaged side. This is what I've tried to do, especially on my later scenarios where one side has a numerical advantage.
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