Sunday 25 February 2024

Wismar Campaign – Day 1

Campaign Map                                                 

The campaign opens with a surprise French attack in the south

1st Prussian Army – hold Boltenhagen
2nd Prussian Army – hold Gadebusch
3rd Prussian Army – defend Hagenow

3rd French Army – hold Ratzeburg
1st French Army – hold Wittingen
2ndFrench Army – attack Hagenow

Battle of Hagenow

The campaign opens with a surprise attack by Second French Army on Hagenow
The Prussian army is deployed just east of the Lubeck/Wismar border
Each army has one corps on the border, the other two slightly further east.
Third Prussian army is tasked to hold Hagenow

The French cross the border at the start of move 1
7th and 9th Prussian corps advance to support 8th corps
On the right 7th corps cavalry charge and rout the French cavalry
This will delay the advance and deployment of 4th French corps

Both armies have detached one infantry and two cavalry brigades west of the Elbe
The Prussian cavalry charge and rout the French cavalry
However the French infantry advance and rout the disordered Prussian cavalry
The French win the fire fight and the Prussians retreat and abandon the bridge

The French now attack east of the river, to take advantage of their success
However they lose the fire fight and retreat.

The battle is decided by 5th French corps who attack in the centre
They break and rout 8th Prussian corps who retreat to the east of Hagenow
The French then swing left to attack the hill

4th French corps advance to support 5th corps
But night falls before they can take the hill

At nightfall the Prussians still hold the bridge on the left and the hill on the right
They also have one infantry brigade in the town itself
However they have six brigades in rout and they are about to lose the hill

The Prussians retreat overnight and abandon Hagenow


For most of this game it looked like the French would fail to take the town
They lost the first two cavalry melee, which delayed their advance
Despite having more effective artillery, they failed to do much damage
Their success west of the river Elbe was not conclusive
The French supporting attack on the east bank was a complete failure
At nightfall the Prussians still held their left flank.

However the French victory in the centre had broken 8th Prussian corps. They routed between the village and the hill on the right. This allowed 5th French corps to swing left and support the attack by 4th corps on the hill. It all happened too late in the day to be effective. But the hill must fall if the Prussians fought a second day.

Although it is not clear in this summary, nor in the more detailed battle report on the 1813 campaign blog, the most striking thing about this campaign was the effect of the new morale rules. They rely on one D6, plus or minus for type of troops, casualties and the position of the corps commander.

1 – rout full move away from enemy (friendly brigades within 4” test for morale)
2 – retreat a full move shaken (no morale test for supports)
3 – retreat a full move disordered (will automatically rally next round)
4 – disordered (will automatically rally next round)
5 – pass morale test
6 – pass morale test

In this particular game a lot of routed brigades were able to pass morale and rally, even if they were routed with 10% casualties. They might still be a long way from the enemy, and not be able to rejoin the battle before nightfall. But in many cases they could.

This was particularly so for cavalry brigades. Because of their longer movement rate they were more likely to be able to rejoin the battle. Although their effectiveness would be reduced due to casualties, they would still be a threat to enemy brigades which were temporarily disordered.

The revised morale rules also mean that attacks are much more uncertain. The leading brigade in any attack would usually suffer at least 10% casualties, and therefore have to test their morale. A low dice, especially if it resulted in their rout, could throw the whole attack into confusion. If one or more supporting brigades (within 4”) also failed their morale it could be the end of the whole attack. This is what happened to the French attack along the west bank of the river Elbe.

Many wargamers might find this unfair. But I suspect that this type of thing happened all too often in all battles, not just Napoleonic. Given that the historical reports tend to be written by the winners, it would probably not get the attention it deserved. And in the confusion of battle it must be very difficult to determine what did in fact turn the tide for the winners. Given our circumstances, where Jan and I have wargamed together for 50 years, we need something drastic to counter the fact that we both know the rules and each so well.

A very interesting, and also very enjoyable, first battle of the new campaign.

Sunday 18 February 2024

Wismar Campaign

Map of Germany

The next campaign phase will be set in north Germany, where Napoleon commands the First French army against Blucher’s Prussian army.

In our campaign Germany is divided into nine military regions, as shown on this map.   Each region has nine districts, each of which is a possible campaign area.   Each district has nine towns each of which is the size of a wargames table.

Germany is divided into three theatres, each one has its own French and allied army.

North is First French army v Prussian army.   Centre Second French army v Russian army.   South Third French army v Austrian army.  The stars indicate the campaign phases fought since the last campaign reorganisation in June 2020.   The colour of the star shows which side won the phase.   The white star is Wismar.

Brunswick Region

This map covers Brunswick region.   It shows the main road, rivers, woods and mountains.   It also shows the nine military districts, with Wismar in the top right.  The stars show the location of all battles fought in this area since June 2020.   Napoleon has won nine, Blucher six.

Wismar Campaign Map

This is the campaign map for the Wismar phase.  It shows the location of each French and allied corps at the start of the campaign.   Although it is called the Wismar phase, it covers the area from Lubeck (French main depot) to Wismar (Prussian main depot.   The objective is for the French to cross the border and take the city of Wismar.   But it is also possible that the Prussians may win the opening battles and push the French back towards Lubeck.

Wismar Wargames Map

This map covers the same area as the campaign map, but it shows the scenic tiles used to create the wargames table.   You will note that it has the same towns, road system, river system, woods and hills as the campaign map.   Each square has a number in the top right corner, which is the number of the scenic tile.   This makes it easy to create the wargames table from the campaign map.


The aim of the campaign is to use all of my 28mm figures and scenery in rotation.   So I had to use Napoleon, who had to have his Imperial Guard.   He commands the French First Army, which includes the 1st (Old Guard) Corps.    The Young Guard are distributed between the other four theatres.

When I created the campaign I considered whether I wanted to have Napoleon and the Imperial Guard on the wargames table.   Everyone who is likely to look at my 1813 campaign diary blog will know that the Old Guard were only defeated once, and that at Waterloo.   They will also expect Napoleon to win all the battles he fights, because he did in real life, again except Waterloo.   Finally they will probably be aware that the Old Guard were the ultimate reserve, only to be used when victory was certain, or defeat very likely.           

This would not work in a long running campaign.   My wife and I fight all the wargames, and it would be pretty boring if Napoleon and the Old Guard were so powerful that they won battle after battle.   So in my campaign they are no better than the elite Prussian grenadier brigades they are pitted against.   And it is even possible, though unlikely, for a Prussian landwehr brigade to defeat the Old Guard.   Not very historical, and something many wargamers might find very difficult to accept.   But essential to make for interesting and enjoyable wargames for both players.

Since 2020 we have fought three campaign phases in north Germany.  They were in Lubeck, Brunswick and Goslar.   There were fifteen battles fought and as noted above the French won nine and the Prussians six.   That is just luck, but is also indicates that I have the balance about right.

Jan likes to command the defending army, in this case Blucher and the Prussians.   She is quite happy with the balance between the two armies, and certainly intends to win the Wismar campaign.  It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Sunday 11 February 2024

Review of 1813 Campaign


Map of Europe

 The end of a campaign phase, and particularly when it comes at the start of a new year, is always a good time to review the campaign to date.

 This campaign started in April 2009.   It was designed to provide a never ending series of battles to wargame.   It was never intended to bear more than a passing resemblance to the historical campaign of 1813.   I choose that campaign because covered Germany and Spain, and more important it included all of the major armies of the period. 

 For many years I had created campaigns, mostly to give a background to my wargames.   Some had been attempts to recreate historical campaigns, notably Waterloo, Leipzig and Spain.   I had always been unsatisfied with the results.  Campaigns take a lot of work to create.   Maps, orders of battle all take a lot of time to produce.   It is also necessary to be able to recreate a wargames table which looks something like the historical one.   Finally you have to compromise to make your collection of model soldiers look something list the historical order of battle.

 My 1813 campaign was an effort to overcome all of these obstacles.

 I wanted to be able to use all of my large collection of Napoleonic armies, and all of the scenery I have bought and made over the years.  So I decided there would be five separate theatres of operations.   Namely north, central and southern Germany, plus north and south Spain.

 Each theatre would have French and an allied army.   North Germany would be Prussian, Central Germany Russian, Southern Germany Austrian.   North Spain would be English and South Spain Spanish.  

 Instead of trying to keep one huge campaign going throughout all five theatres, I would run a series of mini campaigns which I call campaign phases.    Each one would be completely independent, and each would start with a full strength French and allied army.   I would start in north Germany, and work my way through each theatre in turn.   Each phase was roughly the size of the historical Waterloo campaign, both in area covered and in limited objective.   Each one would last about 6-10 days and provide 3-6 battles to wargame.

 This campaign concept was much more complicated than anything I had ever attempted before, and indeed I had never even read about such a long running project.   Despite a lot of preparation I had never expected that the first attempt would be perfect, and such it turned out to be.   But I had always planned to keep the original concept of five theatres and use each model solder army in sequence.

Wargame Map of Europe

Stage One was short lived, just April to October 2009.   It produced just three phases and 15 battles.   It was a solo campaign and was really just to test the model.

Stage Two was a PBEM campaign, and ran from September 2009 to July 2013.    It had always been my intention to involve outside players in the strategic part of the campaign, whilst Jan and I fought the battles.   There were nine phases and 52 battles in this.   In July 2013 I reached the end of 1813 on my campaign.   This was something I had not planned for, and I was uncertain whether to go back to January 1813, or move on to January 1814.

Stage Three started in January 1814.   It ran from July 2013 to March 2015.   It had 27 campaign phases which produced 138 battles.   It was also PBEM, and was by far the best for participation.   However as you can see from the number of battles fought, it was very labour intensive.  It involved a lot of work to keep the campaign running, was a constant struggle to find new players and meant that Jan and I had to play a lot of wargames to keep up with the large number of battles.

Stage Four Once again PBEM.   I decided to reset the campaign calendar to January 1813.   It ran from March 2015 to January 2016.  It had 14 phases and 56 battles.   Throughout this period it became increasingly difficult to find players who would last the campaign phase.   More and more would just pack it in when it became obvious that they would not win the phase.  I then had to take on command of their army to avoid spoiling the campaign for the player who was due to win.   I also became disillusioned with the standard of wargame being produced.  This was largely because most of the PBEM players were inexperienced, and kept making the same mistakes.   In January 2016 I decided to revert to a solo campaign

Stage Five was a Solo campaign.  I took responsibility for commanding all ten armies.   One side, usually the French, would have to take and hold the enemy city.   The defending allied army would largely just react to the outcome of each battle.   It ran from February 2016 to May 2020.   It provided 21 phases and 110 battles.   I missed the imput from outside players, but the quality of the games greatly improved.

Stage Six is also a Solo campaign.  Creating maps for such a large area has always been a problem.   Plotting the main rivers and cities is relatively easy.  But terrain features such as mountain ranges and large wooded area very hard to determine.   Historical borders were also very difficult to determine.  Each square on the campaign map has to convert to a 2x2 foot scenic square on the wargames table.  This required making at least two maps.  One large scale showing countries, cities and rivers.   I then had to create hundreds of more detailed maps to convert from the map to the wargames table.   Eventually I solved this by abandoning the concept of historical maps and creating my own regional and district maps.   This resulted in Stage Six.   It started in June 2020 and has so far provided 14 phases and 86 battles.

In all modesty I would claim that it is quite an achievement to have run a wargame nonstop for almost 15 years.   Throughout that entire period there has been a wargame in progress fighting one of the 459 battles which it is provided so far.   It has by far exceeded my wildest hopes when I started in April 2009.   It has dominated my wargame experience throughout that whole period, and hopefully will continue to do for many more years to come.

Sunday 4 February 2024

Landshut Campaign – Day 7

Campaign Map

French accept defeat and retreat

1st Austrian army – occupy Essenbach
2nd Austrian army – regroup at Reisbach
3rd Austrian army – occupy Dorfen

7th French army – surrender Essenbach
8th French army – retreat and abandon Landshut
9th French army – retreat


When news of the loss of Dorfen reached Marshal Massena he was reorganising 8th Bavarian corps following their victory at Landshut. Having saved his main depot, the Marshal was confident that he could still win the campaign. A victory at Dorfen would mean that two Austrian corps had been defeated and both retreated. This would allow him to march north to relieve 7th Bavarian corps under siege at Essenbach.

But a defeat presented a different situation. Essenbach was on the brink of surrender, with only one days supplies left for the garrison. Although he still held Landshut, both of his flanks were now unprotected. Within 24 hours Schwarzenberg could bring the best part of three armies, surround him at Landshut and destroy 8th Bavarian corps.

Reluctantly he ordered 8th corps to retreat and abandon Landshut. He was also abandoning 7th corps at Essenbach, and they surrendered as soon as they received news of his retreat.


This was an interesting campaign, and also a colourful one.

Interesting because although the Austrians won five of the six battles, they could easily have lost the campaign. Had 3rd corps failed to take Dorfen it would have had to retreat to Muhldorf. This would have allowed Massena to raise the siege of Essenbach. With his whole army within easy reach of the main French depot at Landshut he could easily resupply, reorganise and reinforce his battered army.

The Austrian army was out of supply. They would have to retreat to Ratisbon district in order to be closer to their main supply base at Ratisbon. In doing so they would suffer more attrition casualties. Fortunately there was no likehood of a French pursuit, but it would still take many weeks to rebuild their battered army.

Colourful because the 7th French army was composed of Bavarian and Baden troops. Their light blue and dark blue uniforms contrasted well with the Austrian white. The result was a colourful battlefield/wargames table.

Although the outcome was uncertain until the last battle, it would have been very unfair had the Austrians lost the campaign. Having won five of the six battles they had demonstrated that they were the better of the two armies.

Sunday 28 January 2024

Landshut Campaign – Day 6

Campaign Map

Austrians attack Dorfen
Siege of Essenbach day 2

1st Austrian army – siege of Essenbach
2nd Austrian army – retreat to Reisbach
3rd Austrian army – attack Dorfen

7th French army – garrison Essenbach
8th French army – regroup and resupply at Landshut
9th French army – defend Dorfen

End of battle of Dorfen

Both armies start the battle with campaign casualties.
The French have slightly more but both are spread between all three arms

The main Austrian attack in on their right, against the occupied village
It is a little forward of the main French battle line, making it easier to attack
The Austrian commander takes two brigades from the centre to create a reserve
The Austrians lose the initial cavalry melee on this flank, and this delays the attack

The Austrian commander switches his attack to the centre, against Dorfen itself
The French commander leads a counter attack, but is defeated and retreats
This allows the Austrians to move their artillery into close range of the town

A renewed attack on the farm has more success, and the defenders start to retreat
The town garrison have received considerable casualties, and also withdraw

The Austrian left has played no part in the battle, most due to weak artillery
They now advance, but it is too late to make any difference to the battle
The enemy rearguard hold the woods until nightfall to cover the retreat


When both sides start the game with casualties it is very difficult for the attacking side. This is particularly so when they have casualties to cavalry or artillery. In this game both sides has casualties to their cavalry and artillery.

The battle normally opens with counter battery fire, in the hope that the attacker can weaken, or even rout, the enemy gunners. Only two Austrian batteries could do so, and both needed a roll of 6 to hit the enemy gunners. They failed to do so.

Cavalry can charge enemy gunners, but they will always receive fire at short range.
The gunners will need a roll of 3 or more to hit, or 2 if they are 12 pdrs. If the cavalry already had 1 casualty, they will now have 2 and will be disorganised. They will have to roll 6 to charge home.

If both cavalry and artillery fail to weaken the defending artillery the infantry will have to attack unsupported. The artillery will get to fire twice before the infantry reach the guns. At long range they will need 3 or more at long range, and 2 or more at short range. If the infantry have casualties they will need 6 for the first casualty, and will be unable to pass their morale if they receive two new casualties. If the leading infantry brigade fails its morale and routs, it is very likely to take any friendly brigade within 4”, and particularly if they also have casualties.

However the attacker has to make it happen, or he will lost the game. The defender only has to hold the town or city.

There are 12 moves in each game. It will take 6 moves to reach the town if the attackers arrive on table at the start of move 1. It will take two moves for the attacking artillery to get within long range of the enemy gunners. The defenders will always get to fire first as the attacking gunners unlimber.

If the guns have no effect within 6 moves the attacker must consider using his cavalry. The defending cavalry will always be placed out of range of the attacking artillery. And they will usually get the opportunity to charge first, as the attacking cavalry have to move into charge range – which is 12”. If the attacking cavalry lose the first melee they will usually be of no use for the rest of the battle. Even if they make their morale and rally, they will be at a disadvantage of at least -1 to the cavalry they lost the melee to.

However once the attackers get within range of the enemy all bets are off. If they can rout just one enemy infantry brigade, there is a good change of the rout spreading to supporting brigades.

So it is quite surprising that in this campaign the Austrians, who were attacking, won five of the six battles/wargames. Some were down to a particularly good dice by the attackers, or a particularly bad one for the defenders. Most often it was the result of one rout spreading to supports. Quite often the attackers did not take the town/city, but defeated the enemy, and were a second day of battle to be fought would almost certainly crush the whole enemy army. In this situation it makes more sense for the defender to retreat, regroup and hope to win the next battle.

Sunday 14 January 2024

Landshut Campaign – Day 5


Campaign Map                                                 

Austrians attack Landshut
Siege of Essenbach day 1

1st Austrian army – start siege of Essenbach
2nd Austrian army – attack Landshut
3rd Austrian army – advance to Dorfen

7th French army – garrison Essenbach
8th French army – defend Landshut
9th French army – regroup and resupply at Dorfen

End of battle of Landshut

The Bavarian army held a very strong position between the city of Landshut and the river Danube.   The river was not fordable, and could only be crossed by using one of the three bridges available.

The Austrian CinC decided to attack the centre bridge which led directly to the city.   But to do so he would have to secure the one bridge available.   He took command of the elite division of 5 corps, and the artillery of 6 corps.   The artillery would deploy either side of the bridge and destroy the Bavarian artillery dominating the bridge.

On his left 4th corps would be ordered to attack along the narrow area right of the river, take the bridge and attack the city from the right.

The Bavarians defeated this plan by simply retreating out of artillery range, but leaving their guns within range of their side of the bridges.   Unable to destroy the enemy guns, the Austrians could not risk a cavalry assault over the bridges.

The only casualties were to 4th Austrian corps artillery, who suffered 10% casualties.   They lost their morale test and routed, taking a supporting infantry brigade with them.

An easy, but very convincing, victory for the Bavarian army.


When I created the map for this campaign phase I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to attack across a defended river line.   But once it became obvious I used the opportunity to test the rules and decide whether it was possible or not.

I only use major rivers in my campaigns, and consequently wargames.   They would not be fordable in real life, and are not so in my campaign either.   They can only be crossed by the use of a bridge, but I do allow more bridges than would perhaps be normal.   My table is three scenic squares wide, and I allow one bridge on each square.   The exception is on bends, where I consider that the current would be too fast for a bridge.

Because both armies are more or less equal in size, to take a bridge the attacker would have to destroy the defending artillery, or at least make them retreat.  This can only do done by counter battery fire.  

In my new rules 12 pdr guns require 5 or 6 to cause casualties, 9 pdr guns require 6, and 6 pdr guns must be at close range.   10% casualties to the crew reduce all of these by 1.   Therefore a crew with casualties can only hit enemy artillery at long range if they are 12 pdr, 9 or 6 pdr have to move to close range to do so.   When the defenders are behind a river the defending artillery can remain out of close range (4”) of the enemy guns, but remain within close range of their end of the bridge.

In this game four of the six corps artillery had 10% casualties.  Only two, both of which were 12 pdr, had no casualties.   Both were on the right side of the table.   22nd Bavarian corps deployed in the river bend, from where they could hit the Austrians as soon as they advanced beyond the hill.  

On the right bank of the river the Bavarian CinC commanded two brigades of cavalry, supported by two brigades of infantry.   He would be supported by the artillery if the Austrians tried to attack that side of the river.

4th Austrian corps would have to force the Bavarian gunners to retreat before they could risk moving down from the hill.   Otherwise any attack on the exposed right bank must result in heavy casualties before they even reached the Bavarian cavalry and infantry.  They would also have to reduce the Bavarian superiority in cavalry, before their own cavalry could advance.   All of this required them getting their 12 pdr artillery into action without being charged by the Bavarian cavalry.

They attempted to do so by deploying it on the far right, out of range of enemy cavalry and artillery.  They could then man handle it into range of the enemy cavalry, and force them to surrender.  They could then engage the enemy gunners, and hope to defeat them also.  This would all require a lot of good luck – which they did not have.

As soon as 4th Austrian artillery were in position the Bavarian cavalry retreated out of artillery range.  The Austrian gunners then manhandled their guns into range of the Bavarian gunners; however this allowed the enemy to fire first.   The Bavarian gunners needed 5 or 6 for a hit – they rolled 5.    The Austrian gunners needed 5 or 6 to make their morale – they rolled 1.   The gunners routed into the supporting infantry brigade, who routed with them.

I was the Austrian player, and found the game really interesting.   It was always going to be very likely that I would lose the game.   Even if I could force a crossing at one of the bridges, the French player could bring overwhelming infantry and cavalry against my bridge head.   But I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to find a weakness – even though I failed to do so.   And Jan (the French player) simply retreated her cavalry and infantry out of range of my artillery, whilst leaving her guns within range of her end of the bridge.

Great game, but I will take care to ensure this does not happen again.   In future I will ensure that my rivers do not stretch across the width of the table, and thus allow the attackers an opportunity to outflank them.

Sunday 7 January 2024

The Way Ahead



Each December we visit our family in the UK and spend Christmas and New Year with them. This enforced break in our normal routine removes me from my PC and wargame table, and allows me to have a break and appreciate how much I enjoy my normal routine. It’s lovely to spend time with our family, and especially at this time of year. But it is also nice to return to our busy and enjoyable normal routine

The end of the year is the traditional time to review events of the previous twelve months, and plans for the next twelve. Normally this would be a review of our wargame activities, but this year it has been a review of our life style.

Jan and I are fortunate to share both of our main activities, which are Wargaming and walking. For the past eight years we have run two walking groups for our local U3A. Monday is a 5-6 hour mountain walk and Thursday a more moderate 3 hour valley walk.

Blogging has also become a major part of my weekly routine. Each week I publish four blogs. One for each walk, an update for my 1813 campaign and this one. I also have a Facebook for each of our walking groups, and post an update each week

During the past year I have found that it has all become quite a chore, rather than something I really enjoy. Jan had an accident early in the year, which stopped her doing the more strenuous Monday walks. We had both already found the harder walks more challenging, and without her company I enjoyed them even less. I also felt quite guilty leaving her at home each Monday.

This commitment has grown up over many years, and has done so because we enjoyed it and welcomed each new activity. Obviously I enjoyed all of the administration; otherwise I would not have done it. It filled the long hours of retirement, and we made many hundreds of friends through the two U3A groups. They also became the centre of our social life. But as you get older you have less enthusiasm and energy, and what was great fun can become a challenge.

So in late November I decided to review our activities and to rearrange them to suit our current circumstances. Our weekly routine would be designed to suit what we wanted to do now, rather than what we had committed to over the years.

Our wargame activities had changed greatly since we started our 1813 campaign in 2009. It had always been a vehicle to provide us with an endless supply of battles to wargame. But it has grown from a solo campaign for the two of us to a PBEM campaign with ten players from around the world, and then back to a solo campaign again. As a PBEM campaign we completed at least one, and often two, wargames a week, and kept it going 365 days a year. More recently a wargame lasts 10 to 14 days. We still enjoy it and it still remains a major part of our life style. But gone is the hectic programme to keep up with updating ten players each week and Wargaming the resulting battles.

We decided that the major adjustment would be to our walking groups. We started the first group in 2015 to share our love of hill walking. We had a great response, but kept our weekly walks to a maximum of 16 on each walk. We soon found that we had more people wanting to walk and rather than disappoint we started a second group. Covid brought all of this to an end. Here in Spain restrictions were very severe, including being unable to leave the house except to shop or medical appointments. As the restrictions were relaxed we started the Monday walk with just 6, then 10 then 16 members. Eventually we restarted the Thursday group, but with valley walks in place of the hill walks.

Now that Jan could no longer to the Monday walks, we have cancelled the weekly hill walks and will concentrate on the weekly valley walks. This will remove half of the administration and give us more time for more sedate activities – such as sitting in the local square to enjoy a cold drink in the warm sunshine, even at this time of year.

About the same time that we started the reorganisation, we began watching the very enjoyable Netflix series The Crown. Last week we watched the final episode, when Queen Elizabeth is asked to review the plans for “London Bridge”, the code name for her ceremonial funeral. She was asked to do so because she was 79 and approaching 80 and the programme explored her reaction to accepting old age as a relatively fit and active person.

My 80th birthday is in June 2024.