Running a game at a gaming event
Any tips for running ESR at a game con? Our local one happens in May, and I'd like to see if I can run something. I think the customary time slots are 4 hours, though they may allow a game to run across two time slots. That said, I'd rather keep it within the basic time. I'm looking for things like tips for managing a half dozen players who may have never heard of ESR, let alone played. Suggestions for extra play aids to help the players. Recommendations for scenarios that will engage six or so players, but without using the more complex rules.
Keep in mind that I'm also a rookie with ESR (though this won't be my first gaming rodeo). In the coming months there will be a few opportunities to playtest any scenario with some members of my local club, so I won't be going in cold.
Running ESR can be a lot of fun. I'd strongly encourage planning to stay in the convention's 4-hour time slot as it isn't difficult to run an ESR game inside that timeframe and longer than that you have to worry a lot more about player fatigue.
Our introductory games are setup for four players and scheduled for 3-4 hours.
Fictional scenarios are *much* easier to run in this sort of setting than a historical one. A fictional scenario allows you to guarantee all the players are involved quickly, while using nominally similar Armies for each side, and prevents the need of a set-piece battle where all the cool decisions have already been made.
Four players is a good number of an introductory game. There will be a lot of questions and more than four players can make it difficult to both give the players the necessary attention while keeping the game moving. If you need to go larger than four, I'd strongly discourage going above six.
Ground scale will play a role in how large a table you'll need and this also impacts the number of players easy to handle. With four players a 5x8' table is perfectly ample for 1"=150 yards (recommended for 6mm and 10mm). This is large enough there will be plenty of maneuver if you have players begin marching in via the roads. If you are going with 15mm, then a 1"=75 yards (or 100 yards) would generally be recommended, and then I'd recommend a table at least 6x10'. With more than four players you may want a yet larger table, and that will make it more difficult for you to be heard speaking to the players, and further for you to work your way round when assisting during the game.
As to Forces for players, 2-3 Formations per player is a good way to go. It gives them enough they can each lose something without being cut out of the game, and they can get a sense of feeling how to coordinate multiple elements. Keeping Formations in the 9-12 Units of infantry with an attached artillery battery, or 3-6 Units of cavalry, are manageable sizes.
I'll post some more followup on specific areas soon as well.
Thanks David. That gives me a place to start from and as questions arise I can ask. I plan to do 15mm, on 40x30 bases(30x30 for 6-8 gun batteries), so 100 yard scale. I hope to keep the table no larger than 5x12, as I find 5 feet to be a bit of a stretch to reach in the centre of the table, but I can play with that some. Some of the table size may depend on what's available at the venue - I'll have to check.
Fortunately your formation size recommendation is about what the historical numbers were, so that should fit.
Thanks again, and I look forward to more specifics. One concern is how much the players will need to know outside of what's on the QRS. I could provide a sheet with a few explanations such as how a formation looks ployed and deployed, with appropriate distance indicated.