Sunday, 6 April 2014

Campaign Resupply

Campaign Map with corps and supply depots

Most campaigns seem to spend a great deal of time and energy on supply and resupply.  
I can understand why, most commanders also spent a great deal of time and energy on it.
And with an historical campaign it is critical to get it right.

With a campaign like mine, which is fictional and designed to provide good wargames, it is less important.  Or so I always thought.

It started as a solo campaign, and I could just fit in supply problems as and when I felt like it.
I could create an objective based on supplies without any need to justify it.

When I changed to PBEM campaign supply was not even included in the campaign rules.
Most players seemed to accept this without comment.
It made their life easier, and meant less administration for me.

As the PBEM campaign progressed and evolved I felt the need to introduce supply rules.
The first attempt was very simple, and designed to stop corps racing around the map

Each corps had to be within 15 miles (three map squares) of a supply depot to resupply
They could establish a supply depot in any town.  
It took one infantry brigade one day to do so
The brigade had to remain there as garrison.
Each such depot could resupply two corps.

At least one player found this too complicated.
I remember an email which informed me that
“commanders did not bother with supplies, they had staff to do all of that”

New supply rules have now been introduced.
The campaign starts with each corps having five days supplies
A further five days supplies are held at the main supply depot
That depot will receive two days supplies each day from “the rear”
That depot will also receive one day’s supplies from each depot with a garrison
So each army will need three depots (plus the main depot) to maintain that situation.

This seems pretty simple and straight forward to me.
But then it would – it was my idea.

It seems to be much less simple to some of the campaign players


MurdocK said...

The question of supply is always important to a campaign situation.

For a force that is 'out of supply' will do what it must to get back 'into supply'.

There is a silly idea that all of the French armies foraged for everything. They did not. There were supply needs, the French just did not get bogged down in 'long tails' at least until after the 1812 debacle. Then there were so many conscripts and other limited capability men that the needs for supply became just as critical for the French.

Before Wagram, the French might have got away with a 2-day battle without supply. As Aspern-Essling proved to Bonaparte, you could not sustain a bridgehead without adequate supply - food and fodder was not as much a problem as consistent ammunition flow an effective command and communications.

So with that long-winded opening, here are some ideas that I have used in 'supply issues' for minis campaign use.

1. Units along main roads and in friendly territory are all considered 'in supply'

2. Units outside of friendly territory, along main roads are 'in supply' until:
a) enemy cavalry or partisans cross the main road to supply depot or access to friendly territory, or;
b) enemy forces (all arms) are more than 2/3 surrounding any friendly force in greater than 1.5 : 1 strength. This is a sort of 'zone of control' issue and handles such things as Ulm quite well.

2. Forces "out of supply::
a) have three days rations and munitions for sustained action, after this they becomes depleted and can no longer initiate offensive action. Exception: fortified towns or special supply depots, such locations may have rations and munitions stored or have the capacity to manufacture, this will be a 'special circumstances' and have potential manpower limits. Most certainly any force that becomes under siege in a civil populace area will not retain cavalry after a fortnight - dinner is served.

3. Depleted forces may have all sorts of restrictions on them, not least of which is outright surrender if out in the open and out of rations and munitions and faced with greater than equal number of foes that are actively assaulting them - you may not just stand back and expect the 'so entrapped' troops to just surrender (though this did happen in Spain).

Now for running the campaign all that is needed is the road network, where the supply spots are located (or access to friendly territory) and if any troops have been 'cut off' or must be used by strategic consumption to perform garrison duty to stop partisans.

thistlebarrow said...

Hi MurdocK

Thanks for your comments

Roads are also important in my campaign, but only between supply depots. Corps can be resupplied off road, providing that they are within 15 miles(three square) of the depot.

I have used resupply to prevent the corps from racing all over the map without any consequence. Each corps is allowed a maximum of five days, and if they run out they lose casualties to attrition. They can only resupply if they are within 15 miles of a depot, are concentrated with all brigades in the same square and are not engaged with the enemy.

I wanted to keep it simple, but to have consequences if ignored. Time will tell whether I have it right or not.