Sunday, 19 April 2009

Blog Review 3



Two friends from UK came to stay with us for four days during the week, and we had a great time hill walking and wargaming. But despite that I managed to get quite a bit of work done on the blog. Mostly before they came and after they went. Apart from during their visit I have hardly been off the computer all week. Jan has been very patient, but not sure how long that will last. However I must confess she has followed the progress of the blog with great interest. She insists of checking the blog and forum first thing each morning, and as soon as we get home if we go out. Like me, she is delighted with the interest shown.
I am not sure how accurate the blog record of hits is. It has reached 700, but has not increased over the past two days. Even though I know there have been "hits". And it only seems to increase in 10s, when it does increase. Not that it really matters, and it is pretty vain to be checking in the first place.


I managed to get at least one entry on each of the three blogs.
Paul and Jan in Spain is easy, just a few captions on the photographs already taken.
Walking Napoleonic Battlefields takes the most work, but is also very rewarding. First I check what photographs I have. Then what I can use from my library. Finally I type up the story on word, download the photographs in the correct order, cut and paste the appropriate sections. It was particularly interesting doing this week, Quatre Bras. This was the first battlefield we walked, and we learned a lot - in particular do a lot of preparation! Happy memories.
And lots more work on Napoleonic Wargaming. With such a lot of information on different blogs I was becoming concerned how new readers could find their way through it all. Thanks to Clive Smithers I have managed to rearrange and index it quite well. Clive is a fellow blogger, and I would have been lost without his patient assistance and well explained solutions.
I have added the 25mm photographs of the model soldiers. One blog for each nation, showing HQ, Army Group and each Corps. It has taken a lot of work, and is the first photographic record of my 25mm collection.
Today I added photographs of the 15mm figures. Some layout as the 25mm. Again a good days work. But now anyone can quickly see what each corps looks like in 25mm or 15mm.
Only the 6mm to do now. I have already taken the photographs. I am not sure how to present them yet, a corps in 6mm would not look very impressive. Perhaps I will do them all on one blog, just show Army groups. I have also taken some close ups which I will add for interest.
Once that is done I can get down to the campaign proper. I am not very pleased with the first battle report I did, but it will need a little thinking over to decide how best to do it. We have more visitors this week, so I doubt it will be tackled before next weekend.
I have had a few enquiries about the wargame rules. They are a collection of pages dealing with each aspect of the game, for example movement. They have been done to aid Jan and I as we play the game. They do not explain how the game is played or the sequence of events. So I have prepared a Summary, which I published as a blog. When I did so I offered to send a copy to anyone interested. I have had about 8 requests, and all have been sent. I have asked for feedback when they are used, and look forward to seeing whether they are easy to follow, and whether they give a good game. They work for us, but that does not mean they will work for others.
So, all in all, very pleased with the progress.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Wargame Rules


I have had quite a few requests for more information on the rules I use in the campaign.

The present rules are designed for use with the campaign. However they have been developed over many years of intensive wargaming with a group of friends. In the current state they consist of 20 pages, each of which deals with a phase of the game, for example movement. They are not designed for general use, and therefore do not include any explanation of how the game is played.

I have recently compiled an introduction to the rules, so that the actual rules would make more sense. However if I were to scan all 25 pages I feel that they would make very boring reading. So I have scanned only the introduction. If you click on each section they will be large enough to read.It is not the complete set of rules.

If you would like to see the full rules please have a look at the blog titled Wargames Rules. Included with the rules is a demo battle report with photographs and words which I hope helps to explain how the rules work.

If you would then like a full copy of the rules, just drop me a line with your email address and I will send you a copy.

Please remember that these rules are like the campaign itself. I do not claim that they will provide the ultimate in historical refights of Napoleonic battles. They are designed to give a fast game so that multi corps battles can be fought in a single evening. But most important they are designed to be FUN.

They should not be taken too seriously.


1813 CAMPAIGN - WARGAME RULES

Introduction

The rules were developed for my personal use.

They owe a lot to the many rules I have used over the years, but in particular to my favourite commercial set – LFS. For the past year I have been involved in play testing, and they also owe a lot to some of the game mechanics I play tests.

When used for my own use there was no need to explain the game flow and the sequence of play. I have recently received a lot of enquiries about the rules, and this section is designed to help others understand how they work.

The rules are designed to be used as part of my campaign, and as such rely on an order of battle for each army group, which contains a lot of detail referred to in the rules. It would therefore be difficult to understand one without the other. I will therefore include an example.

The first part of the summery will try to explain the rules. The second part will try to explain the Order of Battle.

SUMMARY OF THE RULES

This section will try to explain setting up a game and the flow of play, plus some comments on the rules themselves.

Preparation for game

Allocate grade to each commander

A commander may be Gifted, Average or Poor
The grade must be allocated before the game starts

Allocate cavalry or artillery to reserve commander
Each army has a spare commander who may be used as a reserve commander if desired. He is allocated cavalry brigades or artillery from the other corps, and he becomes the reserve cavalry or artillery commander. This must be done before the game starts.

CinC write orders
Orders must be written for each corps, and reserve, commander before the game starts. Only CinC can change orders (except for Halt). The only orders allowed are:

Move
all must move towards objective
cavalry can opportunity charge, artillery can fire

Halt
no movement towards the enemy
may move to improve defenc
cavalry can opportunity charge
artillery can fire

Hold
may not advance nor retreat
cavalry can charge enemy within 8”.
infantry may skirmish within 4” or volley fire within 2”

Engage
must move towards objective.
cavalry and infantry as Hold

Attack
must move towards objective
artillery must move to canister range
Cavalry and infantry must attack any enemy within range

Prepare blinds for hidden movement
Each corps enters the table as a “blind”. You may use either a card or a skirmish base. It should be the 6” wide.

Prepare identity cards or chips for each commander
Each commander has a card or chip to indicate who he is. I use playing chips for each commander. They would be numbered 1 to 12 to cover both armies.

Prepare movement cards or chips for each commander
I use a second set of chips, also numbered 1 to 12. One chip is drawn each move, and that commander then takes his move. In addition you need the following chips:

Poor - the next poor commander to have his chip picked has to forego his move

French tactical – one French general, still on a blind, who has not yet moved may do so

Allied gifted – one gifted allied general who has not yet moved may do so

French gifted – one gifted French general who has not yet moved may do so


Sequence of Play

At the start of the turn all chips are placed in a hat or box.
Draw one chip each move until all chips have been drawn
Put chips back in hat or box and repeat sequence
I allow 12 moves per day, but this is optional

Draw chip for movement

Dice for command pips

If CinC chip write orders

Dice to spot enemy blind

Artillery fire

Artillery casualties test morale

Movement

Resolve combats

Test morale


ARMY ORDER OF BATTLE

The rules are designed for use with my campaign, although there is no reason why they should not be used outside the campaign. However the Order of Battle contains a lot of information needed to use the rules.

I have 10 Army Groups in my campaign, and each one has its own Order of Battle. But I will only explain one to explain how it works. I have chosen the Second French Army.

2 FRENCH ARMY – MARSHAL DAVOUT

CinC Average +2

4 French Corps Gifted +3
13 Infantry Brigade CA FB SA
14 Infantry Brigade CB FB SA
15 Infantry Brigade CB FC SB
16 Infantry Brigade CC FC SB
11 Cavalry Brigade CA Light
Corps Artillery CB 12 pounder

5 French Corps Average +2
17 Infantry Brigade CA FB SA
18 Infantry Brigade CB FB SA
19 Infantry Brigade CB FC SB
20 Infantry Brigade CC FC SB
3 Cavalry Brigade CB Medium
Corps Artillery CB 9pounder

6 French Corps Average +2
21 Infantry Brigade CA FB SA
22 Infantry Brigade CB FB SA
23 Infantry Brigade CB FC SB
24 Infantry Brigade CC FC SB
5 Cavalry Brigade CC Heavy
Corps Artillery CB 9 pounder

13 Polish Corps Poor +1
1 Infantry Brigade CA FA SA
2 Infantry Brigade CB FB SB
3 Infantry Brigade CB FB SB
4 Infantry Brigade CC FC SC
13 Cavalry Brigade CB Light
Corps Artillery CC 9 pounder

Reserve Commander Average +2


Commanders
I use two figures for CinC and 1 for each corps commander
You can use as many as you like, or any bases you wish
There are 6 commanders.
CinC, four corps commanders and a reserve commander.
Each has a grade; Gifted, Average or Poor.
To issue orders they roll an average dice and add their grade score.

Corps
There are four corps in each army group
CinC issue orders to each corps, and only he can change them
Each corps has 4 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry brigade, and 1 corps artillery
However the fighting capacity of each corps is difference

Infantry Brigades
1 use 8 figures for each brigade, so that I can show line, column of square
You can use as many figures as you like, on any bases you wish.
The fighting ability is decided by the class, firepower and skirmish grade
Class represents training and morale
Firepower represents training and volley effectiveness
Skirmish represents ability to fight in open order
Each is graded A (best), B (average) or C (worse)

Cavalry Brigades
1 use 4 figures for each brigade, so that I can show line or column
You can use as many figures as you like, on any bases you wish.
There are three types of cavalry: heavy, medium and light
Their type and class decide their fighting ability
Class and grading as for infantry

Corps Artillery
I use one gun and 4 crew for corps artillery
You can use as many as you like, on any bases you wish.
There are three types of artillery: 12 pdr, 8/9 pdr and 6pdr
Their fighting ability is decided by their size and class
Class and grading as for infantry

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Blog review 2

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Busy week on the blog, and very satisfied with the progress, and response, so far. I have had a lot of feedback and it has given me much food for thought.


So far I have been mostly concerned with getting background information on the blog. Particularly how the campaign was developed. I had not realised just how many blog entries there would be, or how difficult it would be to use it as an archive. I have had much good advice, particularly from Clive Smithers, and this has helpled me to think about presentation


During the past week I have been distracted by starting two new blogs. One deals with our life in Spain, and in particular our other love - hill walking. I have started this from when we moved to Spain in 2006, so again a lot of existing material to put on the blog. The other one is a record of our many battlefield holidays. This one is in the form of a diary, and great fun to research amongst diaries and old photographs.


Now I need to consider the best way to go forward in terms of presentation. Should I start a new blog for the 1813 campaign? This seems a good idea, as there will be a lot of entries dealing with different phases of the campaign, and battles within each phase. But then I will have to find a way to cross reference the two. No doubt this can be done, but I am increasingly aware of my lack of knowledge about the mechanics of blogging!


Then there is how best to present the campaign and the battle reports. Reading through the Campaign Diary I am not very pleased with the maps. I have no skill as a map maker, and do not wish to devote the time necessary to produce professional looking maps on the computer, even if I had the ability. They work quite well enough for me, are easy to make, and easy to maintain. But they were not designed to share with others. I am considering how to improve them to make them easier to understand and in particular easier to read. Not sure how this will go, but Jan and I are considering how we could improve the existing ones, or perhaps make new ones.


I am more pleased with the battle reports, but anxious for feed back. There are two ways to approach the battle reports. I could type up long descriptions of each battle, with details of the tactics and rule results. I am afraid that these might be rather boring, or worse difficult to understand. Or I could produce them along the lines of a comic strip, a series of photos with the minumum of text. I have chosen the latter for my first attempt. However some of the feedback has asked for more details of the tactics and how the rules work. I have asked on the forum I use for more feedback.


Finally we have friends visiting today, and staying for four days. So I will have to take a break from the blog - which is probably a good thing! Hopefully when I return there will be lots of feedback and suggestions.


If you have any ideas or suggestions to improve the blog, and in particular the battle reports, now would be a really good time to let me have them.


Thanks for visiting - and come back soon.


Paul

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Blog review 1




Its only a week since I decided to put the campaign on the blog, and I am delighted with the response so far.


I put a posting on OSW and TMP Napoleonic Discussion forum to advertise it. I was a little apprehensive, particularly about TMP, as there is often a heated response on that forum. And I am well aware that my hand drawn maps leave a lot to be desired, but I hoped that might encourage others to give it a try, on the principle that they could probably do better!


My other expectation was that it would be pretty well ignored. I have been inspired by other blogs I have visited, but now I realise that I had never left any message of support. So it was reasonable to expect a similar response.


To my great surprise I had a lot of interest. In just over a week there have been 230 visits to the site - which seems a lot to me. No doubt a lot of them are me going back to amend and correct. But there must also be a considerable amount of others just looking.


I am also pleasantly surprised at the number who have left comments. All were supportive and very welcome. And it has made me realise that I must do the same when I visit other blogs.


I have also been delighted at the amount of support I have received by email. I am not sure whether it is "the done thing" to mention names on a blog, but two in particular deserve mention.


Bob Cordey has given me a lot of encouragement and I am delighted with his comment that my poor efforts have encouraged him to get into Napoleonic wargaming again.


Clive Smithers has given me some much needed assistance with some technical aspects of the blog. He responded to me on OSW when I admitted that I did not know why some photographs would not enlarge when clicked on. He was very helpful, and it is not his fault that I still do not understand how to put it right.


This week has been a very steep learning curve with regard to blogging. I have realised that it is not a good idea to move photographs, as this apparently removes the ability to enlarge them. I have also realised that smaller blogs are probably better than very long ones.


As a result I have redone the 1813 blog. This had taken me all day on Thursday to put together. But three of the photographs would not enlarge, and I felt that the finished product was just too long. It has taken me all day Sunday to retype it as six blogs, one introduction and one for each campaign area. I have also taken the opportunity to write up each one in a little more detail.


Bob also mentioned that he uses labels to keep his blogs in some order. As the main reason for this blog is to provide a reference and history of the campaign, I have put labels on each post.


Its been a busy week, both typing the blog, replying to well wishers and trying to solves technical problems. I have enjoyed it much more than I expected, and it has given me a new interest in my hobby.


Thanks very much to everyone who offered encouragement or just bothered to look.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Campaign Objectives



Purpose of the campaign

The campaign is not meant to be a refight of an actual campaign using model soldiers.

There are two aims as follows:

First, to use all of the model soldiers in my collection. This consists of armies of each nation of the Napoleonic wars in 6mm, 15mm and 25mm. Therefore the campaign must be capable of using all three scales. It is expected that small battles will be fought in 25mm, larger ones in 15mm and the largest in 6mm.

Second, to provide tabletop battles which have a purpose and the results of which will affect the overall campaign. The campaign maps have been designed to be transferred to a 6’x 6’ table as described below. Each battle will be designed to provide a war game in which both sides have an equal chance of achieving their objective.

This is a developing campaign, and it is likely that there will be frequent changes due to game play experience.

Nations involved

The “French” include troops from the following countries:

France
Baden
Bavaria
Poland
Italy
Westphalia

The “allies” consists of:

Austria
England
Prussia
Portugal
Russia
Spain


Composition of armies

No attempt has been made to produce actual orders of battle (Orbats) from the period. Given the size of the war games table and the number of war game figures available, this would not be possible.


A battle will normally involve two armies each about 120 infantry, 16 cavalry and 4 guns. These are organised into four “corps”. Each corps will have approximately 32 infantry, 4 cavalry and 1 gun.

Each army is commanded by a CinC and four corps commanders. There are no division or brigade commanders shown on the table. Each “corps” will have 4 infantry brigades of 8 figures each. A cavalry brigade has 4 figures. An artillery battery has a gun and crew of 4.



The Campaign

The campaign will be fought in Germany and Spain.

One square on the strategic campaign map equals 10 x 10 miles, and will be one days march.

When two armies get within three days march of each other, the action will be transferred to a tactical map on which 3 x 3 squares represent 10 x 10 miles. This map consists of scenery which can be reproduced on the wargames table, and each table will be the same as one days march on the map.

There will be 5 campaign areas

3 in Germany
2 in Spain.


The War game

The wargame table has 9 scenic squares each 2 foot by 2 foot. Each table will have a town in the centre square, and each square will have an objective, either a town, farm, woods, hill or bridge. The side which controls the most objectives at the end of the game will be the winner. If both sides are equal the winner will be the one with least casualties.

Campaign Armies

Bold

Having decided how to run the campaign, the next problem was how to organise the armies. The most important consideration was to use all of the model soldiers (see 25mm model soldiers) as often as possible. I also wanted to have evenly matched armies, but to have subtle difference between different nationalities. I wanted to avoid "super armies" (for example the British) who would be so strong that they would win all battles. Or alternatively such weak armies (for example Spanish) who would automatically lose every battle. There is not much fun commanding an army that is bound to lose.

I wanted each game to give all players an equal chance of winning. This might be achieved by allowing the weaker army to start in a strong defensive position, or it might mean three weak corps against two stronger ones.

There are 9 armies (see 28mm model soldiers), and each has its own order of battle. Each is different, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. We will examine just one in detail, the Second French army.





Commanders

There are 6 commanders in each army (except the Spanish who do not have a reserve). The reserve commander is available to command a cavalry or artillery reserve created by the army commander. The cavalry or artillery are withdrawn form their parent corps and placed in the reserve. This must be done before the game starts.

There are three grades of commander
Gifted
Average
Poor.
French armies tend to be have better commanders (1 Gifted, 4 Average, 1 Poor).
Russians are less talented (3 Average, 3 Poor).
The poor Spanish are the worse of all (1 Average, 4 Poor - no reserve).

Infantry

Infantry have three fighting capabilities.
Class (C) - represents morale and determination
Firepower (F) - effective masses musket volleys
Skirmish ability (S)

Each ability is graded
A - best
B - average
C - poor

Each army has a general ability for their infantry. For example the French are average class, poor firepower and good skirmish ability. This does not mean that all of their infantry have A class skirmish, but they have a higher proportion than Russian infantry, who are only average at skirmishing. On the other hand the Russians have good class, and the French only average class.

Cavalry

Cavalry have two fighting abilities
Class - same as infantry
Type - heavy, medium, light, lancers and cossacks

Artillery

Artillery have two fighting abilities
Class - same as infantry
Type - 12, 9 and 6 pounder - different ranges

Corps Ability

Each of the four corps have different abilities, usually the first corps is the strongest, and the fourth the weakest. A corps which is strong in infantry, will often have weak cavalry or artillery.

Within the corps the first infantry brigade will usually be the best, the fourth brigade the weakest.

When planning the battle it is often a good idea to use the reserve commander to group cavalry or artillery for a particular task. However this will leave one or more corps weaker in either cavalry or artillery.