Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Gaming milestones: Waddington's Campaign

Back, back in the mists of time, one of the first board games I started playing, and possibly what could be blamed for my fascination with board games of a more esoteric nature today, was Waddington's Campaign. My father is to be blamed for buying it, but he and I then indulged in many long hours of playing it when we were living in the Middle East. This was before my brothers were really old enough to be roped into serious board gaming.

Campaign was a highly abstracted simulation of the Napoleonic Wars. The board was split into six grids, each representing a different realm - France, Russia, Austria, Prussia, Spain and Italy. The countries were arranged in a 2 x 3 grid. One of these - Prussia - was only playable in the three player game, and occupied one of the middle spaces. Italy - the other middle country opposite Prussia - was always a non-player country, to be stampeded over by the others, not far from historical reality during that period!

Movement was determined by dice, but the pieces looked very like chess men. You had a general, cavalry and infantry units. The general acted like a chess queen, being able to move in straight and diagonal lines, while infantry were limited to diagonal moves. The key was to be able to eliminate enemy units by bringing enough force to bear on their square. New units could be added to the army by capturing cities.

To win the game, you had to capture the enemy capital. I used to while away hours of my school holidays directing both sides of what then seemed like monster campaigns. In reality, it was a simple and fairly abstract strategy game that a nine year old brain could get involved in quite quickly. But it took me from playing chess to playing something a little more complex, and set me on the road towards even more sophisticated fare.

It is sadly out of print now, although I doubt it could hold its own now against newer strategy games of this kind of a similar complexity level. For example, as a teen I played a lot of Stratego, which, in the final analysis, I'd consider superior to Campaign.

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