Sunday, 14 June 2015

Cavalry in Wargames

Cavalry melee during the battle of Kassel

From June to October it is too hot to meet our friends for our usual weekly mountain walks, so I have more time to sit around and consider what needs improving in the campaign.   This week map making and cavalry in wargames has been the main subject for consideration.

We use our own house rules, and they have served us very well over the past five years or so.   The big advantage of writing your own rules is that you can amend them to suit changing circumstances without upsetting the whole balance.   I always found this difficult to do with commercial rules, because I never really understood how they were written.

Our rules are designed to allow us to fight multi corps battles, using 28mm figures on a 6x6 foot wargames table.   They have to be fast, but even more important they have to be fun.  

Jan and I wargame a lot.  There is always a wargame on the table, and we usually manage an hour or so at least five days each week.   All of our wargames are battles from our PBEM campaign, so they are not often the type of game we would have set up for ourselves.   Despite this, they are always enjoyable.   However they have become a little predictable.

Recently we allowed the grouping of cavalry brigades to form divisions, or corps artillery to form grand batteries, during a game.   This worked very well, and got me thinking whether I should change the order of battle for the ten armies in the campaign.

In particular I am wondering whether it would be a good idea to remove the brigades from each corps, and group them permanently as a corps of two divisions.   This would be more historical, as most armies in 1813 had cavalry corps or reserve cavalry.  Whatever they were called, they were large bodies of cavalry.

The problem is that it will produce battles where one side has more cavalry than the other, possibly one side with a large body and the other none at all.   When this has happened in the past it has resulted in long and very boring wargames.   The side with the cavalry superiority usually dominates the whole game.  The side without cavalry cover spends most of the game in squares.

I asked on a couple of forums whether anyone else had experienced this problem, and if so how they solved it.  As often happens with wargame related questions you get a lot of historical quotes.   I already know how large bodies of cavalry operated in 1813, what I want to know is how I can transfer this knowledge to the wargames table.   So far no luck.

But at least it gives me something to think about as we sit on the naya sipping cold drinks and waiting until its time to go for a swim in the pool.    It’s a hard life being retired in southern Spain!

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