We are well into the battle of Steinhorst, the second battle of our Hanover PBEM campaign. Again we are pleased with the problems caused by the transfer from the campaign to the tabletop.
When I ran the campaign as a solo game, I could manipulate the map movement to meet the aim of producing good wargames. This often resulted in “perfect” games, which usually followed the same pattern. The objective would usually be a town or village, and would always be in the centre of the table. Both armies would enter the table from opposite sides, with their cavalry just the right distance in front. All good wargames, but all getting a little predictable.
In the PBEM I have to set up the wargame in accordance with the latest orders issued in the campaign. This has again resulted in an uneven start to a wargame. The Prussians stole a march on the French, who were getting ready to leave the town when the game started. The two cavalry brigades were within charge move of each other, and on engage orders would have to open the battle with a cavalry melee.
This cavalry melee happens quite often in the PBEM, and is becoming a problem. The danger is that one side will lose all of their cavalry at the very start of the game. If that happens to the attacker his deployment becomes really difficult, as he can not counter the enemy cavalry. To avoid this I have amended the cavalry v cavalry rules, to allow for a skirmish type melee rather than an all out attack. So the worse that can now happen is that one side loses one casualty, rather than the previous two casualties.
As luck would have it, the attacking Prussians lost the melee, and the maximum one casualty. Fortunately their artillery inflicted a casualty on the French cavalry before they could withdraw out of danger. So most of the battle was fought without cavalry support.
Being aware that there is a vested interest in the battle report, we both tend to be more cautious than previously. A bad dice, or worse still a tactical mistake, is not easily overlooked, as we know it will be noticed, and possibly commented upon, by the campaign corps commander.
The result is a much more interesting and challenging wargame. So to date the PBEM has been well worth the extra work involved. It does mean that the battles do not always take place exactly when we want to set up a wargame. Previously I could do three or four campaign map moves in an hour or so, and have a battle ready to fight as a wargame. Now it takes the best part of a week to do just one campaign move, and there is no guarantee that the players will issue the desired orders to result in a battle/wargame.