Friday, 31 July 2009
This weeks offering from the archive is a Spanish v French battle fought in May 2008 using 15mm figures.
This was part of an earlier 1813 campaign which covered Germany and Spain, just like my present one. It was not as well documented as the one I am playing now, and because it was not being published as a blog, I could rearrange the whole thing if anything went wrong. Which it did - often. But I learned a lot from the exercise, and the lessons have been incorporated into the new campaign.
The full battle report can be read by selecting "Wargames in Spain" on the right.
Thursday, 30 July 2009
I thought that we had solved the old problem of Spanish v French on the wargame table, but unfortunately not. In fact Jan and I have already restarted the current large game twice, and are about to do it again.
The problem is how to make the Spanish armies strong enough to stand a chance again the French, but still retain some of the historical characteristics.
In our rules there are six aspects which decide how well an army performs:
1 - Command and Control
2 - Training
3 - Artillery fire
4 - Musket fire
5 - Skirmish ability
6 - Morale
There are three grades in each of the above, and we add national characteristics by adjusting them. Some armies are average in all, for example the Prussians. Some are above average in some, for example British musket fire. But I then make sure that they are below average in another, for example British artillery fire. This means that if you use tactics which make use of their higher than average ability you are a little more likely to win.
However the Spanish were average at best, and below average in many. Even in 1813 when the Spainish army was at its best, the command and control was very poor. The rest was average at best, but it can be argued that many of the others were poor also.
To overcome this I tried using larger Spanish armies against smaller French ones. When it was one French corps against two Spanish it worked ok. The French would defeat one, but that would allow the other to escape. However in a large battle that just does not work.
The current battle involves three French corps on the table against three Spanish armies also on the table. The Spanish must hold the line until a fourth Spanish army arrives. I had hoped that the numbers would work in the Spanish favour.
The problem we have encountered is that once the French rout one Spanish brigade, it leads to many more joining the rout. This is because the morale of the Spanish is also poor. So the extra numbers of Spanish brigades never get a chance to even the balance.
Jan normally commands the Spanish, but after the first game we switched sides. And I found exactly the same problem. The Spanish break and run as soon as the first brigade fails its morale.
To stop this I will have to increase the morale of the Spanish. I will therefore have to reduce the size of the armies, otherwise the French will not be able to win. So it looks like we are moving towards pretty well even fighting ability between the two.
I will aim to keep the Spanish feel by keeping the command and control very poor. 3 out of 5 Spanish generals will be poor, which means they stand a chance of missing their go each turn. 1 out of 4 French will also be poor. So there is SOME chance of the French having to miss a go.
But the main difference will be in the generals ability to issue orders. At present each corps commander rolls an average dice each turn, and adds pips depending on his class. The best possible result would be 8 pips, the worse 4 pips. He has to use 1 pip for each order, providing he is within 8" of the brigade, or to move himself. He has 6 brigades under his command. So he is unlikely to be able to do everything he wants to do.
We have made it even more difficult for the Spanish generals. They have to be in base contact to issue orders to a brigade. So they have to use 1 pip to move to a brigade and another to issue the order. This makes a Spanish army very difficult to respond to changing circumstances, and gives a very good "Spanish" feel to the game.
To see whether it all works we will have to restart our large game, yet again. And of course that means a futher delay in the Tarragona Campaign. So if nothing appears to be happening at least you know why.
I will keep you informed about whether this latest change works or not.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Yesterday I did my daily check on TMP, and found one about blogs on the list. It asked why people blog and there were many of the usual reasons given. Then I found one by an appropriately named "Shagnasty" which said "I feel they are one of the worse manifestations of the Internet."
I should, of course, have ignored it as I usually do. But I fell for the bait, and responded. What I put belongs here rather than TMP, so I repeat it below:
"I have three blogs, and different reasons for each one.
My main blog is a record of my 1813 campaign. I have always kept a record of my campaign, including battle reports. I put in on my computer so that I could email club members what the next game would look like and keep them up to date on the campaign. It was a short step to starting a blog.
As others have said, a blog is a very good discipline and makes me keep my records straight, and gives me an extra reason for photographing the battles and writing battle reports.
Now that I live in
My second one is Walking Napoleonic Battlefields. This one is mainly to encourage others to get out and enjoy them. I had wanted to walk battlefields for a long time, but was put off by how to research, find locations etc. When I did it, it proved to be not so difficult. With the success of my first blog, I thought it would be a good idea to share, and hopefully inspire others, my enjoyment of walking battlefields. So this one would be mostly for others.
My third one is a record of our move to
But the important question is why advertise them on forum such as this. I have not, and would not, mention my third blog, the living in
However when you see a comment like Shagnasty "I feel they are one of the worse manifestations of the Internet" you do wonder whether you should continue or not. I respect the fact that Shagnasty does not like blogs, and I respect his right to say so. I just wish he could have found a slightly nicer way of doing so. And are they really "the worse manifestations of the Internet"? What harm or offence can they possibly cause to anyone on this Forum. Providing they deal with the subject of Napoleonic history/wargaming surely they have every right to be posted here?
I personally feel that one of the worse manifestations of the Internet are the negative and unhelpful comments of people like Shagnasty, who seem to take delight in slighting other peoples efforts and always in a "nasty" sort of way.
I visit this forum at least twice a day, and take much enjoyment from it. There are a few subjects I have no interest in, and I simply do not select them from the list. I would never dream of putting a response such as he did. If you don't like them Shagnasty, don't select them"
I have repeated it, because if I am to defend, or explain, why I do a blog, it should appear on the blog.
Mr Shagnasty did make me wonder why I do keep a blog, so it was not a bad thing that I read it. It made me consider what my motives were and on balance I think it is a worth while exercise.
Anyway I enjoy it, so I shall continue. Presumably Mr Shagnasty will not be a regular reader.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
The battle of Cambrils is the latest in the Tarragona Campaign. Half of the Spanish army are safe behind the river Ebro, the other hand desperate to reach them. They are driven away from the river by losing the battle of Cambrils. However just as the French achieve victory, Marshal Suchet arrives and orders them to hold their pursuit. To find out why click on the button 1813 Tarragona Campaign button on the right.
Monday, 27 July 2009
This is the tactical map for the battle of Cambrils which is the third wargame in the Tarragona campaign. The tacticl movement is done on this map, and when a battle takes place the appropriate squares put on the wargames table and the battle is decided.
The Spanish have abandoned the siege of Tarragona, and are in full retreat west for the safety of the river Ebro. 4th French corps have been ordered to Cambrils to cut the road and prevent them reaching the river.
The wargame has been fought, but I have to type it up. So todays offering is the movement orders and the campaign diary. You can read both by clicking on 1813 Tarragona Campaign button on the right.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
This week it is the bridge on the river Coa, near Almeida, where Crauford almost lost his famous light division. This lovely unspoilt spot is really well worth a visit. Click on "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields" to see my visit.
Saturday, 25 July 2009
The Tarragona campaign still has a way to go, including a major battle. But it is time to start thinking about the next phase of the 1813 campaign. I have decided that it will be Central Germany, Napoleon v Kutuzov. Napoleon has to do something to reverse Blucher's success at Magdeburg.
So far I have only completed the strategic map, and that has taken me about three days. It looks so easy when it is finished, but checking google maps for villages or towns in the right places along took me all day.
I usually work on the maps in my office, but it was so warm yesterday that I took it outside on the naya. You would think that drawing a graph and plotting rivers and major towns would be a fairly simple matter. But I always seem to forget something, and back and forth it goes. Then Jan brought me a cup of coffee, and spilt a little as she put it on the table. I moved the map aside to drink my coffee, and put it over the spilt coffee. The first I knew was when this dark brown stain starts spreading over my lovely new map!!
I will keep you informed of progress on both Tarragona and Central Germany
Friday, 24 July 2009
4th French corps are marching through the mountains to raise the siege of Tarragona. As they approach Prades they find the village held by the Spanish. The batle of Prades opens the road to Tarragona. To read the battle report click the button "1813 Tarragona Campaign" on the right.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
As a result of the Campaigns of Napoleon Forum I have become involved in my first PBEM (Play By EMail) campaign. I foolishly volunteered to be Napoleon, without any idea of how the camapign would be run or how much time my part would take. The campaign is based on 1806 but is not historical. Apparently there are Austrians involved! When I queried this I was told that all would be revealed in due course.
That was two weeks ago. Yesterday I received a short camapign brief, an order of battle and a map of central europe with few cities and no detail. No mention of where I was, or my corps, and no objective or winning conditions. The brief told me I could move 15 miles a day, and that each phase would be one week. Oh, and that I should submit my concentration orders by Sunday!
My first reaction was to withdraw from the campaign. Obviously the organiser is one of those chaps who likes to keep everything to himself, and let you have bits of information as he deems fit. Whereas I am one of those chaps who likes a comprehensive set of rules and all the dots on the eyes and crosses on the tees.
I have replied that I can only do it if we do daily moves. 15 miles is enough to plan, never mind 105. And I must have a detailed map to prepare the nexd days orders.
I will keep you informed of how it progresses.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
After the battle of Reus the 5th French corps have withdrawn into Tarragona, and the Spanish have laid siege to the city. There are no stocks of food in the city, and it is expected to hold out for only 10 days.
You can discover French and Spanish intentions on the Campaign Diary by clicking the Tarragona Campaign button on the right.
Monday, 20 July 2009
It has been quiet on the blog of late, because I have posted all of the background information for the campaign, posted all of the previous activity and am pretty well up to date. Jan and I are at present wargaming the second battle of the Tarragona Campaign, so there is nothing to report on that front at present.
So all of my efforts have gone into developing the Forum. It has been a huge sucess, something like 130 members in 10 days. I have decided that I will look at each application before I accept them, and then write to welcome each one. So that has taken up A LOT of effort. But it will be worth it to keep out unruly elements. So many good Forum are ruined because of disruptive elements whose main interest seems to be creating "flame wars". Not on MY forum they won't!
I am reasonably confident that anyone who finds this blog interesting will also like Campaigns of Napoleon Forum. If you would like to have a look it can be found at:
Sunday, 19 July 2009
Click on "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields" on the right to read about our visit.
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Friday, 17 July 2009
Thursday, 16 July 2009
We are very pleased that the wargame went well, and the new rules worked very well. At last the fighting between Spanish and French is beginning to feel like it should. Large ponderous Spanish armies, difficult to control and hard to react to new circumstances.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
When I set them up a few months ago I entered a set of photographs for each army. There should be one of the HQ, one of the army together and one for each corps, together with th orbat. It takes a lot of time to upload the photographs, and I did not check them all afterwards - until yesterday.
I have now checked each army, and added phtographs where missing. So the whole thing is complete now.
Copons is approaching Tarragona and issues orders for an attack on the city.
Lets hope that Jan and I can finish the wargame so that I have a battle report for you all to read!
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Yesterday was a quiet day for the blog. I had to take a break to visit the local town with Jan to find some chemicals for my pool, which is causing me problems and costing me money. So we did not have our daily wargame move. This is a pity, because the campaign diary is catching up with the first battle, and the campaign will grind to a halt if we can not get the game finished.
Those of you who have been paying attention will recall that we have experienced great difficulty balancing the Spanish v French and at the same time giving it a flavour of Peninsular experience.
Last week we had fought the first two battles of the campaign, and were about 10 days ahead on the diary. The first game did not work well, but I left it and put the problem down to Jan rolling good dice and me rolling bad. However a very similar thing happended in the second game, and the campaign was in danger of becoming a shambles. Even though the campaign is only a framework to produce wargames, I always take the result of wargames direct back into the campaign, and refuse to refight a game because it gives me a problem with the campaign.
We seem to have sorted out the balance now, and this game is going well. But we are out for lunch today, which means we will not game this afternoon either. Its quite hot here in Spain now, and the heat means you have to really slow down. Normally our afternoon wargame is just what we want to pass the hottest part of the day before a swim to cool off. But if we have to fit something new into the day, we have to drop something else off. And this week it has been the wargame.
MInd it could be a lot worse, I am complaining because we have to go to the coast, have a nice meal with a bottle of wine with two friends, and go for a stroll along the seafront at Calpe afterwards. And there was me three years ago, wondering what we would do with all of our time when we retired!
Monday, 13 July 2009
The forum seems to have been well received, with 68 members in just three days. There have also been more than 100 postings on the forum, mind almost half of them were mine. Trevor does the acceptance procedure, and once a day puts on a welcome message to the new members. I try to respond to any posting on the forum.
The introductory postings have been interesting, and it is clear that most have a considerable experience of napoleonic campaiging. So the prospects for a lively forum are good. There have also been a few good, and thought provoking, postings. However they have not received the attention they deserve. So I am trying to devise ways of getting more members to respond to subjects raised. If there is no response then people will stop posting.
So far it has gone much better than I had hoped. But I am aware that the difficult part is still to come.
If you have not seen it yet, do have a look
Menwhile the two Spanish armies draw closer to their concentration area just north of Tarragona.
These two parts of the rules determine how well a poor army, like the Spanish, perform. To make up for this the Spanish usually have two armies to the French one. So it is important that the Spanish command penalty works. And it didn't.
Due to the change the Spanish get the same pips, but they now have to be in base contact to issue orders to a brigade, while the French only have to be within 8". So in effect the Spanish take 2 pips to issue an order, the French only 1.
Its working well in our present game. The two Spanish armies are having great difficulty co ordinating their advance as one of them keeps getting the Poor Card. Now the French have attacked the nearest one, and they are having difficulties reacting to the attack. Correct tactical problems for the Spanish in my opinion.
The battle report should be interesting.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Full details here
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Read about it at:
Now that the campaign has moved to Spain, Jan and I have play tested the rules to confirm that the balance is right between Spanish troops and French troops.
When designing a wargame I always strive to make it possible for both sides to win. It is not a lot of fun to have to command an army that is doomed to failure. To maintain some sort of historical accuracy it is necessary to make the Spanish quite weak compared to the French, and then to give them the benefit of superior terrain or overwhelming numbers.
In each of the games we played the French rolled poor dice, and the Spanish good. Given that the French had to perform really well to stand a chance of winning, this highlighted the problem of relying on dice. I did not want to have to write a whole new set of rules for the Spanish, so we had a long talk about how we could solve the problem.
The result is that the rules remain the same, except that a Spanish commander must be in base contact with the brigade to issue orders. Other commanders must be within 8". We are now play testing this new rule, but it seems to work ok. It relfects that one major problem with Spanish armies was the command and control. This change means that any in effect it takes twice as many pips for a Spanish commander to issue orders as a French one.
One other change to the rules is that we no longer allow the CinC to issue orders direct to a brigade. I was reluctant to remove this, because I like the idea that Wellington can ride up to a brigade on Hold orders and order them to charge the enemy. However the rule is always being abused. Most moves the CinC does not have anything to do, and it is just too tempting not to order the nearest brigade to do something.
All the amendments can be found at
I am not sure that I have got the balance right with the campaign movement and the campaign diary, and printing both on a daily basis. I think I might offer it on the new Napoleonic Campaign Forum and see what others think.
Look in tomorrow for day three of the campaign
Friday, 10 July 2009
I have to resist the urge to keep clicking on to see if there are any new members! Trevor set it all up and by the time I logged on there were already another two new members. Not sure how they found out about it, but all are welcome.
This is the link
I had a lot of trouble finding it on Google. But when I put it on a forum just now I used the link and connected straight away. If anyone has any problems please let me know.
The forum is to exchange experiences about napoleonic campaigning. To pass on what works, and what doesn't. It will not replace my blog, but I hope it may be a means of getting some feedback on what I am doing. That is the one big disadvantage of a blog, the lack of feedback.
Do have a look at the forum and let me know what you think.
I was really surprised that there was such a good response. And quite a few already run campaigns, some very complicated some quite simple. I have decided that there is no existing forum for this subject, and will start one.
I have never created a forum before, and had no idea how to go about it. I asked for help on the excellent Old School Wargaming forum, and Trevor Wheble was kind enough to offer to set it up for me. For the past couple of days we have been corresponding by email sorting things out.
I wanted to call it Napoleonic Campaign Forum, Trevor thought that was very dry and (thought he did not say so) uninspired. He came up with some suggestions, but I didn't like them. I am one of those people who like live by the principle "it does what it says on the lapel". I wanted the two key words "Napoleonic" and "Campaign" in the title so everyone would know what it was about.
Over dinner last night Jan and I discussed it at length. She is much more clever than I, certainly better able to "think outside the box". We could not come up with a good name, but she suggested that we stick with Napoleonic Campaign Forum and then ask members (when we get some) what name they would like. I think this is the ideal solution, but I am not sure whether you can change the name afterwards or not.
Then I had my version of a brainwave. I would call it "Campaigns of Napoleon". This has the virture that it contains the two key words "Campaigns" and "Napoleon" - as close to "napoleonic" as makes no difference. It has the added advantage that it is the title of David Chandlers excellent study of the period.
It does of course have the disadvantage that it sounds like it would only cater for Napoleons campaigns, and not those of Wellington or any other commander of the period. However "himself" did take part in pretty well all of the campaigns of the period, even in the Peninsular for a short time during 1808.
So "Campaigns of Napoleon" it will be.
I have just had a mail from Trevor confirming that he has set up the forum. However I cannot get it on my browser. So he is patiently working on the problem. With any luck I will be able to enter it later today.
I will then have to work out how to present it, before I post on the forum that it is now ready for use. I want it to look good before anyone else sees it. I think initial impressions are very important, and I don't want possible members put off by a badly presented first impression.
So that looks like being todays challenge - both for Trevor and for me. Wish us luck!
The Campaign Diary will be a day by day account of the campaign. It will be a short description of what happened each day, similar to a personal diary. There will be one paragraph for the French and one for the Spanish. Battles will be notes, and the outcome recorded. But the action battle report will be in a seperate section.
The Map Movement is a day by day account of the movement of each corps. This is for anyone who wants to follow the campaign in detail. It is also my personal record of each days march.
Both of them will have a Strategic Map at important dates to make it easier to follow the progress of the campaign. For example both have one for 14 May 1813, the day the campaign starts. There will also be one for each battle.
If you want to follow the campaign, drop by each day and see what is happening. If you just want an update, have a look at the Campaign Diary.
You can find them by clicking on the link My Blog List "1813 Tarragona Campaign" above right.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
All of the preparation is now done, and today I hope to start on the map movement and campaign diary. They should appear on the blog tomorrow.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Reading through Old School Wargaming, one of my favourite forum, this morning I read with interest about an 18th century imaginary country. Or rather a blog about a series of such countries. I have been aware of these fictional wars and nations for many years, indeed I first read about them in "Charge, or how to play wargames" in the last 1960s. I was tempted to try one, but could never generate the same interest in Seven Year War period as in my old love Napoleonic's.
I am not really interested in creating a fictional country, but I am always playing with the idea of fictional Napoleonic campaigns. Usually based on a "what if" idea. And it made me wonder whether there might be a forum or discussion group devoted to Napoleonic Campaigns. And if not, why not.
This is not the sort of thing that could be done on a blog. The idea is to exchange ideas and discuss them. There may be such a group out there somewhere. If not I would consider starting one, providing that there is sufficient interest.
I put the question on the half dozen forum to which I belong, and asked if no such forum exists would there be any interest in creating one. I am quite staggered, and very pleased, with the response I have received already - in less than 12 hours. In particular I have received a lot of interest from Old School Wargaming, and that is just the sort of forum I would like to set up. It is very polite, very helpful and seems to avoid the sort of flare up so common with internet forum!
If anyone reading this knows of such a forum/discussion group I would love to hear about it. If not, if anyone would be interested in joining such a group please let me know.
For a week or so most of my attention has gone to the new mini campaign. Its set in the east coast of Spain around the city of Tarragona. Yesterday I posted the first blog, which is the background to the campaign. It can be found at http://1813tarragona.blogspot.com/
Today I will start work on the French and Spanish orders of battle, and hope to publish them tomorrow.
Monday, 6 July 2009
Finished playing the Battle of Magdeburg during the week and it then proved to be the last battle of the campaign. It was one of those games which seemed to go on forever. In fact we started it in mid June, and we have been in
I had a very clever strategy which involved me loading my right flank at the expense of everywhere else. Just as I was about to smash Jans left flank with my cavalry division, supported by a full corps, she charged my leading cavalry brigade with her solitary one. I threw two dice, 1 and 3, and lost the melee. Not only lost, but routed. The supporting cavalry brigade and horse artillery had to test morale and also failed, and also routed! The infantry made their morale, but dared not advance without cavalry support. My very clever plan had just fallen apart. Then, out of the centre where they had been hidden behind
You can read all about it at
In addition to the battle report, I have also tidied up the whole campaign blog. This battle proved to be the end of the campaign, and a very satisfactory one. After great initial success the Prussians were driven back over the river
Walking Napoleonic Battlefields
The coach trip has left Albuera and started the long drive north to Cuidad Rodrigo. On the way we stop at the subject of this weeks blog – the roman bridge at Alcantara. Not one of the most famous locations during the Peninsular War, but an important one in 1809 (when Wellington destroyed it) and 1812 (when he repaired it). It was vital to the French during this period as it was the only crossing of the river Tagus in western
But I am looking forward to next weeks offering, which will be Cuidad Rodrigo itself. This was one of my favorite locations of the Spanish battlefields, both during our 1991 Holts Tour and also later on our own.
I feel that there is a good chance of this blog being overlooked entirely due to my creating a new blog for each phase of the campaign. This means that there is not much work done on this blog, and when there is it is to an existing blog, such as the Campaign Diary, and is not obvious to a casual visitor. This is a shame, as this blog contains the nuts and bolts of the whole campaign and is, to my mind, the most interesting part of the whole thing. Furthermore it is constantly updated with what is happening on the mini blog (for example Magdeburg Campaign).
To make it a little easier for new visitors to find their way around this blog I have added a new Summary of 1813 Campaign. This is the first page anyone will see, and I hope will tempt them to try the links to find out more about how the campaign was created or look at the photographs of the campaign armies or how the map movement works.
If you are interested you can find it at http://1813campaign.blogspot.com
This blog is not about wargames set in
What’s Happening Next Week
The major job is to set up the next mini campaign of the 1813 Campaign. It is set in eastern
I will be starting the new blog early in the week, and will put the campaign background, campaign diary, campaign movement and orders of battle on as I type them up. I also hope to start the first wargame from the campaign during the week.