I’m rounding out work on the first draft of Monkeys With Guns. Since that’s taking up a lot of my focus, and since I don’t want to unit stats and cover rules as tiny fragments one piece at a time the way I’m okay with posting individual encounters of a hex crawl, I’m instead going to post some campaign ideas I’ve had. One of these is going to be written up and attached to Monkeys With Guns at release. The rest might be written up and released later, if there’s any interest. Even though each idea is only like 300 words, I’ll be spacing these across several posts, mostly just so I can get the post of the day out of the way in a hurry and go back to working on Monkeys With Guns. So this here is a lame couple of posts, but it’s going towards a much better series of posts when the full game is complete.
The Cebidae Exchange
One of the two frontrunners for being included with the game’s release, the Cebidae Exchange is about a region where a capuchin merchant network has linked together lots of towns full of valuable salvage. In the center of the map is the titular Cebidae Exchange. Winning the campaign requires taking control of most of the total value of the merchant network, but the network nodes get wrecked if you fight over them directly, which makes them less valuable and can ultimately destroy them as part of the network completely, which can potentially cause other nodes to become less valuable as well. The nodes are all primate villages with walls and other defenses, so camping on a captured trade post or market town gives a defender an advantage. At the same time, the nodes outnumber the total armies on the board, so in order to expand, sooner or later a player will have to leave a node undefended, opening up the possibility that another army will steal the undefended node. Do you leave the safety of the market towns and try to goad your enemy into trying to claim them, then attack his armies midway and rout them? Do you turtle up in the markets you claim in your initial blitz and try to taunt your enemy into attacking you where you’re at an advantage?
On top of this, capuchin currency gathered up from the network can be exchanged for new gear, new vehicles, and even a small pool of randomly generated mercenary platoons at the Cebidae Exchange in the center of the map. This requires having a clear route to the Exchange, which means one player might try to blockade the other by capturing all the surrounding nodes. This will seriously harm the network if the players end up fighting over the very valuable nodes immediately outside the Exchange, and even worse if they fight over the Exchange itself, which could end up burnt to the ground, making all the capuchin currency worthless.
The Macaca Expanse
The other frontrunner, the Macaca Expanse is a large region suitable for up to eight players with just two armies each, a titanic clash between two players with eight armies each, or it can be shrunk down for a more restrained war between two players with just 2-4 armies. The titular Macaca Clan have frequent villages and towns throughout the region, but just about every clan will have representation. The ultimate goal is to bring enough of the clans together to declare an ape council with your tribe’s alpha as the leader, which requires securing the allegiance of at least half the tribes on the map, including the Macaca Clan. The Macaca Clan is very hierarchical, so for the most part they will go the way their capital goes, but if a player can get enough macaque villages under their control, they can declare the current macaque capital invalid and secure the support of the Macaca Clan even if a rival holds the macaque capital.
I think the Cebidae Exchange is probably going to end up a more interesting campaign, but the Macaca Expanse is probably the best campaign to package with a base game. The Macaca Expanse can be scaled from two players all the way up to eight whereas the Cebidae Exchange is a two-player duel, it functions with as little as two armies per player as opposed to the Cebidae Exchange’s 4 or maybe 5 (I haven’t decided yet), and lorewise it has representation from just about every primate clan, and if I decide to flesh it out completely I might find a place to shove some of the missing clans in and complete the set, whereas the Cebidae Exchange focuses almost entirely on capuchins. In the Macaca Expanse, first-time players get an idea for each clan as each village is captured. Talapoin villages are fishing-heavy and when they militarize, it’s usually as pirates. Capuchins are mercantile and tend to have large markets where they exchange coins recognized as currency only by capuchins. Gorillas are big and relatively well-organized and disciplined. Chimps are tricksters and wicked smart (for monkeys, anyway). And so on.
The problem is that I don’t want to dedicate the effort to make both of these when only one is needed to demonstrate how campaigns work and there’s no guarantee there will be any audience to actually play Monkeys With Guns. So if this ends up being the only campaign, do I use the one that’s probably most interesting, or the one that probably serves as a better introduction to the game?