Sunday, 23 November 2014

Wargames Building Project

Jan has been busy making her first farm complex.   This is the farm house itself.
Large barns don’t look quite right with a Spanish farm.  We live in rural Spain, and walk a lot in the surrounding hills.   We have been taking photos of farms, both occupied and abandoned.   Most seem to have small outbuildings similar to these two.
This is not meant to be a wood store, but it looked very empty when finished.   So we added bundles of wood to add interest.
This is what the whole complex looks like.   The intention is to have sufficient suitable buildings, and wall sections, to be able to make at least two farms.   In our wargames we usually have a town section of two to four sections, plus one or two villages or farms with just one section.

Sunday, 16 November 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.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Unusual Strategic Battle

tactial map showing area of battle 

Our PBEM campaign is designed to provide interesting battles for Jan and I to wargame.

Each phase of the campaign is designed to be similar in scope to the Waterloo campaign.  To this end the tactical map covers an area of just 45 square miles.  This is approximately the area from Charleroi to Brussels.

The map is designed to look like the wargames table, and each square on the map can be reproduced as a 2x2 foot square on the table.

This has resulted in some complaints from campaign players that there is not sufficient space to allow for outflanking movements.   I have always felt that this was unfair, and that a tactical outflanking was possible, though not the grand strategic type of movement often found in more historical campaigns.

So I was very pleased when the campaign called for the battle of Oberstein.   The Russian commander has sent one of his four corps to take the French main supply base, and cut their communications with France.  

The main French army has won three of the four battles in this campaign, and is concentrated around Bad Kreuznach, ready for the final push against the main Russian army at Oppenheim.

The French commander becomes aware of the threat late in the day.   The nearest French corps is the 2nd Young Guard corps.   However they have suffered heavy casualties and were in reserve trying to regroup and reorganise.

the rout of the French Young Guard

Because of the terrain, and their superior numbers, the Russians were able to take control of a ridge overlooking the flank of the French position.   Their longer range artillery routed a French square, and their cavalry and infantry were poised to finish them off.   Two more Russian brigades were in position to storm the town.

The French commander ordered a retreat before he was surrounded and forced to surrender.   This resulted in the loss of the main French supply base, and their main road to France.

The Russian commander was rewarded for his daring flanking movement

Better still, next day the isolated French army would abandon their lines of communication and attack the Russian army at Oppenheim.   But that is a different battle and a different story.

If you would like to read the full battle report you will find it here