Monday, 28 June 2010

Map Making Progress

Now that our visitors have left I am able to concentrate on making the ProFantasy maps for the next phase of my 1813 Campaign. This is the fifth, and final, phase of the opening moves of the campaign.

The earlier phases have been French v Prussians in northern Germany, French v Russians in central Germany, French v Spanish in eastern Spain and French/Bavarian v Austrian in southern Germany.

This phase will be French v British in western Spain. It will cover Wellington’s initial moves to drive the French from Spain, and will deal with the campaign to take Valladolid.

All of Spain Strategic Map

This is the strategic map for all of Spain. It shows the terrain features and the regional and national borders. It is possible to zoom in and put more detail on the map. But I want all of my maps to be used as A4 hard copies. This map will only be used to show the location of armies, not the detailed movement of corps. Each square is one days march.

North West Spain Strategic Map

This is the strategic map for Wellington’s campaign. It shows the terrain and borders as in map 1. But it also shows the major roads in red, which connect regional capitols, and the minor ones in yellow, which connect major towns within the region. It also shows minor towns, but not villages. The white area will be the tactical area for the Valladolid campaign. This map will be used for the daily movement of corps until they come within 3-4 miles of each other. Each square is one days march.

Strategic to Tactical map

This is still a strategic map showing the four by three mile area around Valladolid. In addition to the details shown in map 2 it also shows bridges, villages and minor tracks. This map will not be used for map movement; it is only a master map from which to create the tactical map. Each square in one days march.

Passau Tactical Map

I have not made the tactical map for the Valladolid campaign yet. But it will be similar to this one, which was used for the Passau campaign. Each square is one of my 2x2 foot scenery squares which I use to make the wargames table. Each square is one third of one days march.

I am very pleased with the progress I have made with ProFantasy. It was quite difficult to start, but I feel quite confident with it now. The maps look much better than my previous hand drawn ones, and now that I have mastered the basics of ProFantasy are much quicker to make.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Wargaming in Calasparra

Spent a few days this week with an old wargame buddy who has just moved to Spain with his wife on early retirement. They have moved to Calasparra, a small town about three hours drive south of us.

He has built an extension for his wargames room, and has just unpacked his boxes of figures and scenery. The table is not yet set up, though he has started work on it. He is using a scenery mat, so it will be completely different from my table. I did consider using a mat myself, but then decided to stick with painted scenery boards. They are not as eye catching as an expensive map and good professional roads and rivers, but the boards are very practicable and the maintenance is very simple. Mine have had pretty rough handling for more than four years, and are not showing any signs of wear or tear. If they do it will be a simple task to get some more squares cut and paint them up.

This is his first permanent wargames table and he naturally wants to make sure that he gets it right. We plan to get together for a day or two each month, so it will be very interesting to see how the project turns out.

It will be good to have someone else we can have regular games with. Jan and I have good wargames together, but it would be true to say that we are perhaps too comfortable with each other's style of play.

We are trying to get his wife interested in Napoleonic wargaming. The four of us have played one game together, which she said she enjoyed. But I am not sure whether she was just being polite. It would be great if she did develop an interest, but I appreciate only too well that wargaming is not for everyone.

It will be interesting to see how things develop.

Friday, 18 June 2010

New Spainish Campaign Map

new campaign map of Spain

Those of you who follow my other blog Paul and Jan in Spain will be aware that we have had visitors from UK for almost two weeks. So I have not had much free time for wargaming. Indeed we have not had a move for more than two weeks – most unusual for us.

I have however found time to play around with my campaign maps. My current Passau campaign is coming to an end, and the 1813 campaign will move to Spain and Wellington’s campaign to drive the French out of northern Spain.

road system from AA Road Map of Europe

My first attempt at map making using ProFantasy was a map of Spain. It was copied from the AA Road Atlas of Europe, and showed the road system as it is now. For the forthcoming campaign I wanted to recreate the road system of 1813. This has proved very difficult, as I have been unable to find a sufficiently detailed map of the period. So a certain amount of imagination was called for.

regional and national borders

I decided that I would start with the regional boundaries and capitals. Only the main regions are shown. I removed the road system from my earlier map, and entered regional borders. I used the same terrain and towns as they were the same in 1813 as they are now.

main roads in red

I then entered a road system, in red, from Madrid to each regional capital, plus two to Portugal and two to France. These would be the main military roads for the campaign.

minor roads in yellow

Next I connected each major regional town to its regional capital. I also entered roads using the geographical features such as valleys. These minor roads were in yellow.

These are the only roads which can be used for strategic movement in the campaign. Each square is 20 miles, which is also the daily march rate. Unlike the earlier roads, which allowed access to all parts of the country, these will make possession of a regional capital vital to gain access to the network of minor roads.

The next step will be to produce larger maps showing more detail. This will be done by creating four maps of Spain, all based on this new map. They will cover the top right, top left, bottom right and bottom left. The amount of detail shown will depend on how much can be seen when printed on an A4 sheet of paper.

As with most things, I am not sure how all of this will work out in practice. And I will only find out when I have finished the next stage. No doubt there will be problems, but I hope it will not be necessary to start from scratch again.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Passau Campaign Update

Austrian infantry rout from Salzburg

After three battles the Austrians were poised to move on Munich. The Bavarians had been forced to retreat in order to concentrate their army. To main control of the Tyrol they had been forced to leave one corps in an isolated position at Salzburg.

Archduke Charles concentrated three of his corps for the push on Munich, and ordered the fourth corps to pin the garrison of Salzburg and offer assistance to the insurgents.

General Klenau took advantage of his isolated command to launch an all out attack on Salzburg. Unable to force the bridge at Salzburg he left his artillery to bombard the city, and moved his infantry and cavalry south to cross the river Salach and attack the city from the south.

Despite an initial success he was unable to take the city. As night fell he was forced to retire into the mountains south of the city, cutting his links with the remainder of the Austrian army and abandoning his artillery.

It would take at least ten days to rally the shattered Austrian corps, cross the river Salach and march north to rejoin the remainder of the army at Branau.

The Bavarian corps at Salzburg was within five days march of Branau.

Archduke Charles now had to take a difficult decision. Should he abandon his march on Munich and withdraw his army to Linz to await the arrival of Kelnau and his battered corps. Or should he push on for Munich and hope to defeat Marshal Oudinot before the garrison of Salzburg could march against his left flank.

He decided to push on and attack Oudinot at Reishach. Victory would give him Munich, defeat might mean the destruction of his entire army.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Campaign Map Making

Strategic Map of Spain

The arrival of summer here in Spain means that we do not get out walking as much as in the cooler months. So I have had more time for indoor pursuits out of the energy sapping heat of the sun.

A lot of effort has gone into my map making with ProFantasy CC3. If you compare the map of Spain above with my first effort on 11 April 2010 you will see how much has changed. This is the strategic map of Spain, which is used for grand tactical planning. Once armies are within 100 miles of each other a tactical map is produced (see first attempt at one posted on 1 April 2010).

All of the major towns have now been placed on the map. Each square is 20 miles, and the towns are all in their correct square. This has left a number of squares empty, but they can be added to the tactical map as required. The map also shows the Spain and Portugal border and the major rivers. An attempt has been made to show major mountain ranges.

The mountains have proved the biggest problem. I have based my map on the AA Road Atlas of Europe. As a road map it does not show much detail of mountains. I have spent some time studying Google Maps, which at first sight appear to be a good source. However the more you try to determine the extent of hills and mountains the more confused it becomes. I have finally settled for a compromise which will show where the major terrain obstacles were, and are, but without attempting to recreate the actual terrain

Strategic Map Madrid to Bayonne

It should be possible to run the campaign on the computer, but I have not yet mastered making military symbols, importing them into ProFantasy and moving them around the map. I know it can be done, I just don’t know how yet.

In the meantime I have printed this section of the main map to see how it would work for strategic movement. I do prefer to have a hard copy of a map, and symbols I can move by hand, rather than a completely computerized map and movement. Mostly because it is just so much easier and quicker to carry out complicated multi corps movements.

I could have made this map by printing part of the larger map of Spain. However I found I could not make a copy of the exact area I wanted to print. I found that it was difficult to anticipate exactly what would print, and it was not possible to have a border. So I made a new map, based on the original one. This allowed me to tailor the mountains ranges and add minor roads (in yellow).

Strategic to Tactical Map

The next stage will be to make a new Tactical map of the fighting area. I can not really do this until we start on this stage of the 1813 campaign. I have placed the corps symbols where they will be at the start of this stage of the campaign, probably to be called the Valladolid campaign.

I have made a first attempt at creating the Tactical Map. This will show the terrain as it will look on the wargames table. However I have to first isolate the exact Strategic map squares which will become the tactical map. This is my first attempt. You will see that I have added villages to the towns, so that each square has at least one build up area as an objective. I have also added more minor roads and even bridges. From this map will be made the actual Tactical Map. However I have not started work on that yet.

Progress to Date

I am very pleased with the progress to date. It is very enjoyable creating the maps, and trying to resolve problems such as terrain features. I am also confident that each map will be an improvement on the previous one.

When I have completed my Tactical Map for the Valladolid campaign, I will start work on the far more ambitious map of Central Europe. This will cover the area from the north coast of Germany to the Alps, and from Amsterdam to Poland. I have started the initial stages, and it is clear that terrain features will be even more of a problem than they were for Spain.

But I have a long, hot summer ahead of me. It’s cool and comfortable sitting in front of the computer playing with the maps. When I get bored we have a few moves in the current wargame, which is always waiting on our permanent wargames table downstairs in the coolest part of the house. And if it gets too hot we can always jump in the swimming pool to cool off. There is a lot to be said for retirement here in Spain!