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The Chart Game (or, the Minimum Maintenance Objective-Based Game)

This is a method of running an enjoyable game for two even-numbered teams that allows for dynamic and emergent play, but requires very little (if any) administration or refereeing. I try many different things with our group, and this one is definitely a success.



This is an enjoyable game style that avoids some of the bigger issues that tend to plague most milsims and other complex games. Certainly such games can really shine, but it’s nice to sometimes have something dynamic and objective-based that’s not quite so high-maintenance. In this game, the dynamic part is separated entirely from the objectives – but in such a way that gameplay isn’t made too static (aka boring). In other words, the objectives are not subject to change, but are made in a way to present an interesting challenge that leaves the teams themselves free to do what they want to try to accomplish them. At the same time, enough structure is provided to prevent the game from floundering.

OVERVIEW

I will explain how the game functions, give a sample setup and objectives, and finally describe the concepts.

If you are not interested in the theory or in rolling your own, just go to the sample game setup – it’s ready to use. Just make some posterboard, glue on some printouts, get some pens, and you’re set. Leave out any objectives you don’t like.

HOW THE GAME WORKS

(This game uses two teams of even numbers/capabilities, but with a little extra work you can modify the objectives to work with additional teams.)

Two teams each have a base. At this base is a chart which lists off various objectives. The objectives are mostly identical between the two teams.

The chart allows for the teams to individually mark off objectives when they are completed, and optionally, to mark ones currently being attempted as “in progress” if they so wish.

At the end of the game, the team that accomplished the most objectives wins.

SAMPLE OBJECTIVES AND CHARTS

Here is a list of sample charts – one for each team. [My comments are in RED]

Each objective has an “in progress” (optional to fill this out, it’s just so you can organize yourselves) and “completed” column, and a pen on a string.

You can click the image on the left for a fullsize view.

There are a number of details that will depend on your particular group, field, and rules. The intent of the objectives should be clear, so in cases where you need some rules or gameplay clarifications (such as how to respawn, or how grenade kills should work) simply modify the objectives or wording appropriately to make it work for your group.

Objectives

1. Obtain the code posted somewhere on a structure at the enemy base. Write the code in the space provided to complete this objective.

[Notes: A code (example: “3X85TB”) is posted on a sheet of paper at each base. It should be mounted above head level (so bodies don’t obscure it) somewhere in each base where there is at least two approaches it could be seen from. The code, obviously, should be different for each base.]

2. Retrieve the guidance module from the SAM Missile deployed at GPS coordinates (xxxxxxxxx.xx yyyyyyyyy.yy).  Bring the module back here to accomplish this objective. There is only one missile with one module on the field. First come, first served. Bring your own GPS.

[Notes: Plant some sort of device or object to represent the guidance module before the game. Write the GPS coordinates of the object on both charts. Once one team has the module and achieves the objective, it cannot be completed by the other team. The module cannot be stolen back by the other team after the fact, etc.]

3. Take a digital picture of the enemy team’s commander, clear enough to make a positive ID. Check this objective off for completion, but keep the image stored in your camera as proof. (Bring your own camera.)

[Notes: Cell phone cameras work well for this. You need to designate a commander for each team at the beginning of the game so people know who to hunt for.]

4. Capture an enemy and make them sign the “confession” (sign in the space provided) of war crimes, then turn them loose to respawn.

[Notes: Here, I think that the simpler the prisoner rules, the better – but alter it to match your rules and group. If you don’t have a prisoner rule, I would suggest that when hit, people “lie where they died” for 100 seconds before getting up and heading to respawn. During those 100 seconds, an enemy can touch you and take you prisoner. They won’t search you and you can’t escape. You have to come with them and do as they say until they make you sign (then turn you loose) or the group holding you is killed.]

5. On a hill in the field to the west is a transmission antenna (it’s a flag). You must radio in to me, and HOLD it erect on the top of the hill to enable it to transmit for no less than 15 mins straight. If the flag drops (like, you got shot) then the 15 mins starts over. I will tell you when the transmission is done. Complete the transmission to check off this objective.

[Notes: Obviously, you must change “on a hill to the west” to match your field. Just pick a distinctive and visible spot. You must put the flag there before the game starts. This objective requires that you be available on the radio to hear a team radio in to you, and you count the 15 mins. Note that both teams can complete this objective whenever they want. One team doing their transmission doesn’t keep the other team from doing theirs later, though they could hold the area to prevent the other team from reaching the flag if they wish.]

6. TEAM A SECRET OBJECTIVE/ TEAM B SECRET OBJECTIVE: Revealed on game day to the respective teams only.

[Note: This deserves some special mention. Each team has ONE objective that isn’t known to the other team; as you can see, the objectives are otherwise the same for both sides. Team A’s objective was to plant a “bomb” inside Team B’s base, where it had to remain undetected until the end of the game. Team B was provided with a “demolition charge” (a small pyro charge) with which to “destroy” the satellite dish on Team A’s base.

For Team A, the “bomb” was a satchel with the following sign on it: “THIS IS A BOMB. Team A: If this bomb is inside the enemy base at the end of the game, you complete this objective. Team B: If at any time before the end of the game you find this bomb in your base, you can disarm it by taking it out of your base.

Team B was provided with a simple pyro charge to simulate a “demolition charge”. The satellite dish was just a prop that was already present on the enemy base.]

7. Bonus Objective: FRAGGER
Obtain a grenade kill! Sign the killer’s name and the place it happened to achieve this.

[Note: This is for fun, and was a hit with our group. Bonus objectives can be used for tie-breaking.]

8. Bonus Objective: GLOCKER
Obtain a pistol kill! Sign the killer’s name and the place it happened to achieve this.

[Bonus objectives are fun, and can be used as tie-breakers.]

9. Bonus Objective: KNIFER
Obtain a rubber knife kill! Sign the killer’s name and the place it happened to achieve this.

[Bonus objectives are fun, and can be used as tie-breakers.]

KEY CONCEPTS

You may wish to modify some of the sample objectives above, or make your own. I hope you do!

The keys for good objectives that work are as follows:

  • Teams should be reasonably matched in terms of numbers, skill, etc.
  • You want the objectives to be a mixture of:
    • Things that can be attempted at any time vs. things you have to beat the other team to.
    • Things the other team can’t take away from you once it’s achieved.
    • Things only one team can accomplish (i.e. mutually exclusive objectives).
    • Things both teams can accomplish.
    • Things you can keep the other team from accomplishing.
  • Objectives should:
    • be Non-dependant (have no dependence on other objectives, and make no assumptions about what either team is or is not doing)
    • be Static (objectives cannot change part-way through the game)
    • be Evenly Spaced (not clustered in one part of the field) but also not so spread out that no one runs into each other.
    • be Compartamentalized (each objective is about as important as any other objective – in other words, no “occupy the enemy base to win” objectives)
    • be able to be completed by either brute force, or stealth (as the players choose). Note that objectives can still be recon-based or assault-based, just don’t make an objective that can ONLY be achieved ONE way.
    • be “When it’s done, it’s done” (nothing the other team can steal away from you once you have done it. You don’t want players to have to consolidate winnings or hold territory. This kills dynamic play. You want them playing hard, but when something is gotten, they move on to try whatever’s next. No one should have to stand guard for or on something.)
    • Have a clear and specific goals. “Get X and bring it here” is good. “Occupy position Y” is vague.

The goals is to allow teams to attempt objectives in whatever order or combination they wish, and be free to use whatever approaches they wish.

The game itself requires very little maintenance/organization (interteam-wise) since anyone who respawns or visits the base can simply look at the chart and know what’s going on. Of course, teams that wish to take a more organized approach (and gain the benefits of being more coordinated) can do so as well.

FINAL WORDS

I hope you are able to use this game concept and structure to make your own enjoyable games! If you find something that works, or just want to let everyone know how it worked out, post in the comments below!

You can also view other Game Scenarios and Concepts.

2 Comments

  1. Moderator wrote:

    A funny story goes with objective #4 in a game we ran – one team captured an enemy and brought him to their base to sign the “confession”, but were careless about which side of the base they came in on. The prisoner got a good, long look at the Code (see objective #1) on the wall and memorized it.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 8:15 am | Permalink
  2. Sounds like a great scenario idea!

    Having sat threw a mil-sim or two as an admin I can attest that its not particularly fun. This way the game could potentially run itself if the objectives are very clear!
    Thanks, keep up with the good work!
    bastardchild

    Monday, March 24, 2008 at 9:16 pm | Permalink