I had promised myself that I would not amend the new campaign rules until we had finished the campaign, but “needs must” as they say.
The problem has arisen with the infantry brigade detachments as garrisons. I had resisted requests to allow detachments, because it weakens the corps which has always been the main building block of my wargame rules. The best wargames are when there are four corps per side taking part, three in the front rank and one in reserve.
However as each campaign player only commands one corps, I could understand their wish to detach brigades to allow them more freedom of movement. And isolated French garrisons in Spain fits very well with the historical strategy of the campaign.
As with all new rules, it all seemed quite fool proof in theory. The start brief made each French commander detach three of his four infantry brigades as isolated garrisons. The theory was that they would then call them in to concentrate their corps before taking on the Spanish mixed corps.
I was, and am, quite pleased with the rules for sieges and storming a garrison, but I had not anticipated that the French would just leave their garrisons spread along the whole length of the river Ebro. This was possible because I had not allowed any sort of attrition whilst the siege was in place.
Each town can hold out for six days, and if not relieved will then just surrender and the brigade will be taken prisoner. Six days is reasonable from a historical view point. But it is 18 campaign moves, which is about 9 week’s real time. A very long time.
Worse the commanders of the two forward French corps made no attempt to relieve their garrisons. Worse still because all of the roads were now blocked it was impossible for the Spanish commanders to advance beyond the river line.
So I have had to amend campaign rule 17, which deals with towns and garrisons. After three moves, or one day, of siege I roll 1D6 each campaign move to see whether the garrison has lost a casualty due to “attrition”. This includes enemy artillery fire, lack of supplies, skirmish and other limited attacks. A roll of 6 will result in a casualty on the second day, a 5 or 6 on the third and so on.
Not only will this prompt the French commanders to raise the siege before their brigade suffers too much. But each casualty will make it easier for the Spanish commander to storm the town.
It will be interesting to see how it affects the French strategy.
The campaign rules can be found at