I suppose that this is a bit of a follow-up to the ‘Battle for England’ post. I have already admitted assorted conceptual issues with that wargame idea, so I will not revisit those, except to note my own reaction: ‘Conceptual problems in wargaming? Who knew?’
Be that as it may, there are various ideas floating around for similar sorts of actions/campaigns. I have already mentioned the Peloponnesian Wars as one, contingent on having a huge store of hoplites, of course. Another possibility that Nundanket mentioned was the War of Austrian Succession or even the Napoleonic Wars. However, I have neither the figures nor the expertise to take those ideas any further.
I suppose that anything that could be reproduced on a map could be transferred to a wargame table. There is, of course, the problem of scale and ranges. It might be a little difficult to reproduce World War Two on a wargames table (unless it was a very big one). Even the European theatres might be a bit tricky, although if you went for something like 1944 you could have NW Europe, E Europe, and Italy as your armies. It might work.
Moving back into my historical comfort zone, aside from the ECW and GNW, we could have a stab at the Thirty Years War – French, Dutch, Swedes, Hapsburgs, Spanish, Danes, assorted Germans, and so on. For those who like the exotic, you could also add in Poles, Transylvanians, and, at a push, Muscovites, and Ottomans. That too would require a rather large table, I think.
Moving further back, I have always felt that the board game Machiavelli could be a good foundation for a campaign. I have, sort of done it and it did work. The sort of covers the fact that I simply used the map, rather than the game mechanics to create the actions. Here, I suppose, we are at the border between a map movement campaign and a campaign on a tabletop like my ECW and GNW games.
The advantage of a campaign on a tabletop is that you do not have all the paraphernalia that a map campaign requires, first and foremost, of course, a map, but also tracking and locating issues. A disadvantage might be, as I discovered, a difficulty with what scale of game you are playing. This does not necessarily detract from the game per se, but it might from the experience of the game as a representation of the campaign. As I said before, this might bear further pondering, or at least some proper planning.
Moving further back, some of you might recall I wrote a fair bit about the Norman Conquest of England and its consequences a while ago. This could, I think, be reduced to a table-top campaign. The Normans could be across the Channel, the English would have a northern and southern army, and the Vikings would appear in the north. If the northern Anglo-Saxon army is fairly weak (or a scratch militia army) then Harold and the southern army would have to switch from south to north and back again, as they did historically. It might work especially if you had suitable ship models for the period, as both the Viking and the Norman invasions were amphibious operations, and Harold could have had a fleet.
With shorter ranges and smaller armies, it is possible that the ancient and medieval periods have a lot of opportunities for this sort of game. Alternatively, the simple campaign system in DBA could be adopted and adapted. My GNW game had sort of that concept in mind, but without as many bases for the armies. You could quite easily run something like a Hundred Years War campaign along those lines, with the English, French, Burgundians, Low Countries (they had a habit of rebelling), and possibly Spain and the Empire involved. I imagine in this case Paris would be the prize, although Joan of Arc might have something to say about that.
Moving further back still, a 'first man in Rome' sort of game might be possible. Take, for example, 69 AD, the year of the four emperors. Here you have a Gallic and German contender, the emperor in Rome, the eastern armies (big, but with a war to fight themselves), Spanish provincial armies, and so on. That would be possible, but again, strategic movement might get a bit cramped and you could need fleets, at least for the eastern army. Similarly, the Roman Civil Wars of Caesar and Pompey would need fleets, not least because Caesar got around a bit, from Britain to Egypt at least. You would somehow have to represent the general skulduggery and shameless courting of public opinion, as well as the possibility of getting generals killed as they tried to outdo each other’s conquests (Crassus, for example). Possible, but perhaps best on a map.
I suppose the general thrust here is that doing a campaign on a table in a day (or two) is fun, but not appropriate (or I cannot imagine it) for everything. Alexander’s campaigns could be done, I suppose, but he sort of fought linearly – Greeks, then Persians (several times) then Indians. This does not really require a map or a table with all the forces deployed, but a narrative approach working out what happens after a particular battle, and some thinking about what to do if Alexander loses.
None of this solves my conceptual dilemma, of course. Do I set it up as a representation of the campaign or war, or as a single complex battle and let it rip. Having landed up playing once as the latter, and once as a mix, it seems to me that the latter approach would work best, but I could be wrong. I do think, however, that a bit more preparation is required for running a campaign in an afternoon than I put into the ECW game. But that is the purpose of such pieces as this – thinking out loud about where the games should go from here.