Sunday, 14 September 2014

Hills in Wargames

This subject has been raised a few times over the past few months.  

If troops “behind the crest” of a hill cannot be fired upon by artillery, but are themselves allowed to fire at close range on attackers climbing the hill, then they create a big problem in a wargame.

This has proved particularly difficult in our PBEM campaign battles.   The two armies are pretty even at the start of each campaign phase.   There are a lot of hills on all of the campaign maps.   Most battles have similar types and number of troops on each side.

Since we reintroduced hidden movement the attackers have a good advantage.   We use a card to indicate the location of each corps.   When they come within 16” of each other they are “spotted” and must replace the card with figures.   The defender has to deploy with one corps per scenery square, but the attacker can concentrate.   Then the attacker can spot using his cavalry, and react to the defenders deployment.  In this way he can concentrate and hope to smash one of the defending corps before the others can react to the attacker.

But hills make this impossible.    The defenders cannot be spotted, but can easily spot the attackers.   The concentrated attackers cannot inflict casualties on the target corps.   In fact the opposite happens.   The defenders are hidden, except for their skirmish line and artillery.  So they can pound the attackers before they reach the crest of the hill.

In a recent game this brought the whole problem into sharp focus.   There were three hills across the width of the table, each with a defending corps.   There were no open flanks.   So we finally had to grasp the nettle and sort out the rules.

Our first solution was to allow artillery to fire on defenders behind the crest, but within musket range of the crest.   So the defenders would not have the advantage of firing on the attackers as they reached the crest.

Our second solution was even better.   Any troops behind the crest of a hill, but within musket range, would have to roll 1D6 when enemy come within sight.   Plus 1 for British or class A.   Minus 1 for class C.   Total of 4,5,6 would be OK.   But 3 would be disordered, 2 would be shaken and 1 would rout.

The second solution, the dice throw, had a greater effect.   Although none actually routed, and only one was shaken, the threat was enough to convince the defender it was better to move to the crest just before the attacker reached musket range.

We fought the game twice.  Once under the old rules, which raised the whole subject.   Then under the amended rules.   The difference was dramatic.   The defender was no longer confident to wait for the attack.   One shaken brigade was sufficient to make him bring forward the remaining infantry and a normal firefight decided the matter.

Not only a good solution from a wargame point of view, but also a model which was quite historical from a tactical point of view.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Wargame Building Project

We have quite a lot of commercial larger town buildings, but they are so large we can only use one on each town section.   We wanted to be able to place three or four smaller buildings on each section to shown a small town.

We wanted them to look Spanish, so we used different roof tiles, and introduced rounded farm doors.   We live in Spain, and we took a lot of photos of older farm buildings when we were walking in the surrounding hills.
These are our first attempts, and we are quite pleased with the overall effect.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

PBEM 1814 Command Vacancy Filled

Filled indeed, and then some.   The response has been really good, the best ever.  Not only have I filled both vacancies, but I also have three reserves.

I had pondered whether it might be better to wait another month or so to allow everyone to recover from the holiday season and settle to the darker nights.   Glad I didn’t do so.

The campaign, in one form or another, is now in its fifth year.   The campaign has grown and changed during that time, but is basically the same.   That is a long time to keep the command posts filled, especially as there are now twelve of them.

During that time there have been 68 changes of commander, though quit e a few players have taken part in more than one campaign.   In fact a total of 48 different players have held a command post, including the current eight.

So it’s not surprising that I sometimes have difficulty keeping the posts filled.   Last time I asked for volunteers I only got one commander.   For this response was a surprise, but a very pleasant one.

It’s been a very quiet time on the campaign and wargaming front.    My son and his family have spent two weeks with us, as they do every summer.   The arrival of the four of them, including his 7 year old son and four year old daughter transforms our usually quiet house, and even quieter routine, the minute they arrive.

There is very little time for working on the campaign, and even less for wargaming the battles.   Our two grandchildren, like most young children, are full on and wear us out. 

This morning they all left early for the drive to Alicante airport and the flight back to UK.   The shock of their departure, and the overwhelming quiet of the house, is even more difficult to adjust to than their arrival.   We have spent the morning returning the house to its normal appearance.   Ornaments are back on the shelves and containers filled with holiday toys. 

But the silence is overpowering.   We are off to Calpe, our nearest coastal town, for a taste of hustle and bustle and to get away from the silence of the house.   No doubt by tomorrow we will have settled back into our comfortable routine and forgotten the enjoyable chaos of the past two weeks.

And if that proves difficult to adjust to, there is always Christmas with the family to look forward to.