Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Monday, 25 January 2010
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Sunday, 10 January 2010
It’s partly to do with the PBEM campaign forming the core of our wargaming now. The first PBEM I ran we had a move every 24 hours, and it was quite unusual for any of the eight players to be late submitting their orders.
The second game was much more complicated, and I decided not to have such a strict time table for orders. The sequence is that the two commanders in chief issue orders to their corps for each day. The day is divided into three moves. Each corps commander sends me his orders, which I plot on the master map. I then send them a recce report of what they have spotted. They then issue orders for the next move, sending a copy to the commander in chief to keep him informed.
I thought that this would speed things up, as the general objective was decided by the commander in chief and the corps commander only had to react to his cavalry reports and say which map square he wanted to move to next. However it has not worked out that way.
With six corps commanders there is always at least one who is late sending his orders. Having sent the cavalry reports I wait for 48 hours before sending a reminder, and then a further 48 hours before asking the commander in chief to confirm what he wants his corps commander to do. I copy this to the corps commander, and have always received his reply before the commander in chief. But it still means a delay of four days. So most moves now take one week instead of one day.
Over Christmas I did not send any reminders. Even I realise that most people have more important things to do at this time of year. We were due back on 2 January, but our flight was cancelled due to the weather conditions in UK and it was 4 January before I sent the reminder. Although I have asked for a standard layout for these orders, one of them was too general in nature, and I had to ask for confirmation. That was two days ago, and still no reply.
I am quite sure that we will shortly be back into our usual routine of a couple of moves each day. However it is another thing to consider when this current PBEM campaign comes to an end and I have to decide whether to return to solo campaigning or not. The involvement of other players makes for a much more interesting campaign, but it completely defeats my original objective of providing good wargames when I want them. I am spending a lot of time trying to resolve these two opposing objectives, but without any success yet.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
For me 2009 would be the year of the Blog. Not only my wargaming, but also much of my spare time has been taken up with this project. It all started in March as a means of keeping a record of what I was doing, and allowing friends to keep updated with developments. But it grew and grew and grew. I find it amazing that the main blog has had 12,500 visitors since March.
When we retired and moved to
In fact the first thing I did was to downsize the collection. This was because we had decided to replace our 12 foot by 6 foot table with a smaller 6 foot by 6 foot. We had decided that we would no longer run a club, but would restrict our gaming to "one on one" type of games. We found by trial and error that a frontage of 6 foot was just about right for one player.
2006 was devoted to setting up the wargames room. Making the table, scenery, shelves and trays for all of the figures. 2007 found me reorganizing the armies – yet again. But this time it was all about designing the right size two player games using my new table. 2008 we experimented with different rules and finally settled on designing our own.
At the start of 2009 I had already designed a massive 1813 campaign which would allow me to fight coordinated mini campaigns from north
For the first three months we played regular games within the campaign. I ran the whole thing alone, so I could manipulate the campaign to produce the size and type of games we wanted to fight. It worked very well.
So why open it to a blog? To be honest I am not really sure. It was partly that I wanted to share what I was doing. We missed the contribution of outside influences. We did not really want to include other players on a regular basis, partly because Jan does not really like wargaming with anyone except me. I have never understood this, but when I ran a club in
I had recorded our wargames over the years by taking photographs and writing up a battle report. But all too often the campaign would fall apart after a few months. I wanted to have the discipline of “going public” to keep the campaign on the straight and narrow.
Whatever the reason I started the blog in March. The main stay of the blog would be the 1813 campaign. It took many weeks to take photographs of the figures in their corps and divisions. Then I had to make the maps again. I had developed them over the previous 10 years, but they were very rough work. I wanted to tidy them up before making them available to the public. They are still far from good, but much better than they used to be. Someday I will find a way of making them more professional.
I was delighted with the response to the blog. There was a lot of interest, and I corresponded with many of the readers. I was given excellent advice on how to organise the blog, as I wanted it to be a permanent record of the campaign. So I started a new blog to deal with the 1813 campaign, but kept the “Napoleonic Wargaming” for my thoughts and development of wargaming in general.
I enjoyed it so much that in April I started a new blog to cover the many battlefields we had visited; it would be called “Walking Napoleonic Battlefields”. This would also prove more popular than I had expected, with more than 4000 visits to date.
In May I decided to start yet another blog. This would cover our other hobby which is walking. We belong to two walking groups here in the Costa Blanca, and walk with each at least once a week. I enjoy photography, though I am not particularly good at it, and always took photographs of each walk. I sent friends copies of photos I had taken of them, and eventually was asked by other members of the group to include them. By May I was sending an email each week to each member with 10-16 photographs of the current walk. By starting a new blog there would be a permanent record of each of our walks, and they could be seen whenever anyone wished to do so. This would be particularly useful for those members who did not live permanently in
In July I started a Yahoo group devoted to Napoleonic Campaigns. Despite the success of my Blogs there was relatively little feed back. I missed the exchange of information and ideas which I had enjoyed when running the club and later on the LFS forum when I was using those rules. My particular form of wargaming is not really “main stream” and I did not feel there would be much interest in the forums I now visited, such as TMP. I hoped that a new group might be the answer. Unfortunately it turned out to be a disappointment. After a great start the contributions became less and less. Mostly they were restricted to my contributions, with little response from the 130 odd members.
However the group did introduce me to Play by E Mail (PBEM) games. One of the members started an 1805 PBEM campaign in July. I took the part of Napoleon and found it very interesting while it lasted. Unfortunately in November, when the first battle was to be fought, it just stopped dead. I have no idea why, and that is the big disadvantage of internet wargaming. I assume that the moderator lost interest, or perhaps found that wargaming the battle was too difficult. Whatever the reason he simply stopped responding to emails.
But taking part in this campaign made me consider whether I might open my 1813 campaign to other players by means of PBEM. It started in September and is still going strong. It was based on my sold 1813 campaign, and in fact refought the mini campaigns of
The biggest problem with a PBEM is that is just does not produce good wargames as quickly as a solo campaign. Worst it can take weeks to produce any wargame, and than it may well be uneven and not one you would wish to play were it not dictacted by the campaign.
But it has been interesting, and has caused me to reconsider a lot of mechanics which I had just accepted for the solo game. I am now considering whether it would be better to keep going with the PBEM concept, or just return to solo campaign. Or indeed whether it might be better to try to do both.
2009 has been great fun, has provided a lot of good wargames and has given me many enjoyable hours of Napoleonic Wargaming – whether on the table or designing elements of the campaign or updating my rules.
2010 looks like being just as challenging and I am really looking forward to it.
Good wargaming to you all in the coming year.
Monday, 4 January 2010
Once again the British won, as they did on the day. However the wargame did not follow the historical one. This had never been the intention, as I have always found it difficult to refight actual battles. The Peninsula battles covered in this series of blogs are more wargames inspired by the original battles, rather than attempts to refight the battle itself.
I wonder whether I am alone in this approach to historical battles? Certainly when I started in wargaming the prospect of refighting Waterloo was one of my main incentives. And from my casual reading of other blogs and various wargame forums this type of objective would appear to be wide spread.
The whole subject of scale of figures, buildings and terrain seems to be a major concern of may wargamers, or at least those who put subscribe to the forums. Grand projects to refight a particular battle are undertaken with lots of publicity, and then seem to disappear long before the project gets anywhere near the tabletop. The only difference between now and then (when I did much the same thing) is that it is now so much easier to make everyone aware of your project due to the world wide web.
I am sure that most find, as I long ago did, that trying to transfer a battle with tens of thousands on each side, spread over a few miles of undulating terrain is pretty well impossible to achieve on a wargames table. And that is before you try to find, or write, rules that will reward correct tactics. And were you to successful what would be the point, you would end up with the same result.
But of course its great fun to make your wargames table look a little like the original, field your model soldiers in a similar order of battle and then attempt to rewrite history. But I do wish more wargamers would admit, to themselves at least, that their game bears no more than a passing resemblance to the original epic it is based on.
I have greatly enjoyed the first two wargames in this series. Both Rolica and Vimiero were relatively small battles fought on compact battlefields. I have visited and explored both. I must confess that my wargame tables bore little resemblance to either, though both had similar terrain objectives.
The progress of the wargame was also very different from the original. This is one of the other problems with refights. Over the years I have found it very difficult to make a wargame follow the original time table. A real battle tends to be a series of small engagements, each of which leads to the next. However wargames tend to be more a matter of moving everyone forward and hoping for the best. Even when we maintain a reserve, it is usually committed much earlier than in real life.
So I have long accepted that it is, for me, more rewarding to create an enjoyable wargame than to try to recreate the actual battle. And certainly so far this series of games has achieved its aim.
You can read the whole battle report here: