Saturday, 16 June 2012

Campaign Rivers

We have just returned from a nine day visit to our son and his family who live in Rothbury in the north of England.   Our visit coincided with the Queens Jubilee celebrations, and it was really pleasant to join in the festivities in this lovely little town.    Everyone seemed to have taken part in the preparations, and they were rewarded with thousands of visitors.   The traffic and parking were a nightmare, but fortunately my son lives within easy walking distance of the town centre.  Despite the poor weather in southern England we were fortunate to have mostly dry, and even sunny, weather.   Mind you we found it VERY cold.   I think we have gotten too used to the Spring and early Summer temperatures in sunny southern Spain!

This enforced break from wargaming gave us, and me in particular, time to reflect on the current campaign. We have played countless campaigns over the past 40 years, and it is the seventh phase of our current 1813 campaign, so we have had considerable experience of organising and playing them.   

I remember reading once that the British army always trains for the last war.   I take this to mean that they learn from their mistakes in the previous war, but do not really plan well for the next one.  Well I have found campaigns to be very similar.  After each phase of a campaign I amend the rules to overcome the problems encountered.   But as soon as I start the next campaign I find a whole set of new ones.   This campaign has been no exception.

I designed it to allow each commander to have much larger corps, thinking that they would develop their campaign tactics to manoeuvre their divisions.  I quite expected a large number of smaller battles, one division v one division.  I had not anticipated that they would all march all of their divisions towards each other at top speed.  The result a massive battle on the second move of the campaign involving all 18 divisions and spread over the whole width of the campaign map.  This will resolve three battles/wargames being fought at the same campaign time, but in fact three consecutive wargames all fought at the same campaign time.   This in turn means a long gap in campaign order writing whilst Jan and I fight the three wargames.   And, of course, our nine day break in UK came in the middle of it all.

But to get back to my pondering on the campaign.   

The campaign map is divided by the river Saale, which enters on the northern edge of the map and exits on the southern edge.   Where a road crosses the river there is a bridge shown on the map, and movement over the river on a road is move penalty free.   

However I did make it clear at the start of the campaign that there would be hidden river crossings, either fords of minor bridges.   To discover them a division would take one full day to explore the river in each square.   So far no one has ordered such a recce.

This may be because they are in too much of a hurry to get to grips and fight a battle.   Or it may be that they have forgotten that it is possible.  Or it may be that they did not want to waste a full day carrying out a recce which might be fruitless. Whatever the reason, not a single commander has ordered such a recce.

So I have decided to make the task easier.   I have amended the campaign rules to allow the recce to be carried out by a single regiment in one move (four campaign moves).   A regiment of infantry or cavalry will have to be detailed to carry out the recce in the current orders.  If there is an enemy already in the square, or if one moves into the square during the same move, then there will be a skirmish and only the winner will be allowed to complete the recce.

It will be interesting to see whether anyone take up the challenge.

The campaign diary of the current campaign can be found at

The campaign rules can be found at

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