Sunday, 13 September 2009

Fog of War

The PBEM 1806 campaign has been going for four weeks, or is it five? It seems like as many months!

I have never played a PBEM campaign before, so I can not compare this one in anyway. Nor can I say whether it is well run or not. I can say that it is great fun. I can also say that it is really, really frustrating.

I am playing Napoleon, but I have been given no information about the Prussians or Saxons at all. No order of battle, no opening locations and certainly no strengths. I have been given a list of infantry and cavalry brigades, but again no strength.

I was told at the start that it was not a replay of the historical campaign. I was also told that only the online map supplied by the Umpire could be used. So there is no point in reading a history of the 1806 campaign, though of course I have. But that just makes it more frustrating, because I now realise how much Napoleon knew about his opponent, and it just stresses how little I know.

We are finally getting to grips around Weimar - Jena - Gotha area, and I am starting to get some information about the enemy. I get a map each week with my formations shown and any enemy formation identified. So when I saw a Prussian cavalry brigade a few miles away I felt confident in ordering one of my dragoon divisions to engage, only to find that they were outfought because it was a Saxon brigade and they are almost as strong as a French division, and much better horsemen.

There followed a couple of days of exchange of email with the Umpire as I put the case for disclosure of numbers of enemy spotted rather than the formation. Not sure how much success I have had, and I will have to wait until next Thursday when I get my new situation map to see what has changed - if anything.

Then there is my cavalry screen. Having ordered Murat to withdraw to a position closer to the main army, I was disconcerted to find that one of my dragoon regiments had been wiped out and lost an eagle about 10 miles in advance of where he was shown on my last map. On requesting confirmation from the Umpire I was told that Murat had in fact ordered the brigade to advance, rather than retire. Another email to the player concerned resulted in a reply that he had not ordered an advance, he had ordered a retreat as I instructed. More emails, and no satisfactory reply, so I have relieved Murat of command of the cavalry reserve. And that means I have to write their orders. No more just "retreat to Jena". I spent two days trying to find out exactly where all of the cavalry actually are, and then wrote three pages of orders to get them where I want them to be. Again I will have to wait until I get Thursdays map to see where they actually are.

Its made me realise that its not a lot of fun being Napoleon. And it has given me a real insight of what is meant by the "Fog of War"

More later on my 1806 Campaign.

1 comment:

JAM said...

That sure does sound like a lot of fun. I will look forward to the day when I come more conversant with wargaming and can engage in these excellent sounding campaigns.

John