Tuesday, 11 September 2012

PBEM Campaign Dilemma

Campaign map at start of battle

The campaign has gathered pace, and presented me with two battles and a difficult decision.

The corps commanders are responsible for map movement and strategic decisions.   Jan and I are responsible for fighting the battles/wargames.   We must start the wargame with the corps commanders campaign orders, but can change them as soon as the commander figure on the table is activated.   We have command of all figures on the table, or who enter it during the wargame.

The commander of 2nd Russian corps has three divisions, and has orders to attack Jena.   He is aware that there are two French divisions defending Jena.   He orders his 4th division to attack square B06, his 5th division to hold D05 and his 6th division to support the attack on Bad Kosen.

There is a ford in square C06, but the Russians would have to cross in column of March and would be disordered during the move in which they cross.  They would be within artillery range as they did so.   The French could attack with two divisions as 4th division was still in disorder crossing the river.

 Table at the start of the battle

It was clear to me on the map that the Russian attack was doomed to fail.   It was also clear that the Russian commander should have attacked Jena with all three of his divisions, as ordered by his CINC.   And when you look at the table at the start of the battle this is even more clear.

However these decisions are taken by the corps commander, not by me.   But I have to fight the wargame, and I would not sacrifice a division to no good purpose.   To do so would have a serious effect on the campaign and at the very least would result in the Russian Army losing its current advantage.

1st French division (left) and 13th Polish division (right)

When I put the figures on the table I realised that the French division holding the ford was in fact the Imperial Grade!   The Russian commander was not aware of this when he ordered the attack.

I have asked for confirmation of the orders, pointed out the odds of two to one and advised that the attack is almost certain to fail.   He wants to carry out the attack to support his fellow commander who is attacking Bad Kosen.

The two alternatives are to put 4th division on hold and abandon the game, or use my initiative and move the attack to the south.    The Russian commander is not aware whether there is a ford in C04, but he can see that there is a French cavalry brigade doing a recce to find out.

My dilemma is how much I should influence the outcome of the campaign.   Given the often casual approach to the campaign by some players I am reluctant to allow one of them to ruin the whole campaign, and the other players enjoyment, by insisting on an attack which is at best ill considered.


MurdocK said...

Allow the players to act!

Minor tactical actions are possible - yes. MINOR!

If the commander is not aware of the ford then neither are the troops.

The subordinate formations will follow the given commands, accepting the outcome per the tabletop action(s).

I feel that this shows a weakness in your overall game concept. It would be better to *NOT* also be the French and Allied command for you. The best situation is to have NO HAND AT ALL in the strategic decisions and let the chips fall where they may...

Otherwise, why would the players even care what happens?

daveb said...

As a *cough* invested party you may want to reject my suggestions....

The Russian commander appears to be willing to sacrifice one division in order to pin the french forces to the west while the russians mop the floor up north at bad kosen. It's probably a reasonable exchange. He loses one division and probably takes out two, plus the Russians secure a toe hold on the west bank of the saale.

It would be interesting if you could table both battle simultaneously. It would give a chance for the french to counterattack from Jena and/or require the 6th division to be pulled to assist the attack/extraction.

I suspect it's not really an option however....