Sunday, 15 October 2017

Start of Linares Campaign

Linares Campaign Map

I am trying out a new type of map for this campaign.  I will use this new style to plot campaign movement and also for the campaign diary blog.  But there is also an old style map with square numbers to transfer the battle to the wargames table.

This is the fifth phase of the campaign in Southern Spain.   The French objective is to move south and capture Saville.   The French have won two of the previous phases, the Spanish the other two.   This would imply that both armies are equal, but in fact the French were quite superior in ability.  The phase results are due to the Spanish having better luck at critical dice throws.

I am still trying to get the balance right between the two armies.  So once more there will be major changes in the orders of battle.

The French have 16 infantry brigades, 4 cavalry brigades and 4 corps artillery.  Half of the infantry are C class.

The Spanish have 26 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigades and 4 corps artillery.   There are 14 regular infantry brigades, but 10 of them are C class.   There are 12 militia brigades, all are C class and are independent of the regular army.
For this campaign I am trying to increase the influence of the Spanish irregular troops.   The Spanish outnumber the French in infantry, but half are militia garrison troops.   When a city or town is captured by the French the militia garrison take to the hills and become a guerrilla band.   But they must remain close to their original garrison town.

Guerrilla attacks on isolated garrisons or supply trains are decided by a single dice throw.   They need a 6 to rout a garrison or capture supplies.  However there will be at least six bands operational and each can attack every two or three days.   

The introduction to the campaign is now on the campaign diary blog.  It includes a history of the Spanish in southern Spain, all of the campaign maps and photos of both armies.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

1813 Campaign Review

I have started work on the next phase of the campaign, which will be set in Southern Spain.   In preparation I have been updating the maps, and making some new ones.   It seemed a good time to review the campaign to date.

The campaign started in April 2009 as a solo campaign.   I converted it to PBEM in September 2009 and back to solo again in February 2016.   The campaign maps and rules have changed during that period, and it even went into 1814 for a few months before returning to 1813 again!   However the basic concept has remained unchanged.   It is a fictional campaign with a series of mini campaigns, which I call phases.   There are five campaign areas, three in Germany and two in Spain.   It is designed to provide good wargames and to make use of all of my model soldiers and buildings.

It is difficult to calculate the total campaign phases, because when it was PBEM all five campaign areas were in play at the same time.   When it is solo only one campaign area is gamed at a time, and each of the five are gamed in sequence.  This is to allow me to make use of the different wargame armies and scenery in rotation.   However I do know from the campaign records that since 2009 the campaign has provided 111 battles to wargame. 

Since the PBEM campaign was converted back to solo in February 2016 there have been 23 campaign phase, and the location and winner of each is shown on the map above.    If you click on the map it will enlarge and make it easier to understand.   The French only won nine of those phases, and the Austrians remain undefeated after five campaigns.

The next campaign will be set in Linares in Southern Spain, and is the hex with the white star.   I expect to be able to start the campaign this week, and hope to post an introduction here on the blog next week.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

1813 Erfurt Campaign

Erfurt Strategic Map

This was a very enjoyable campaign which lasted for three months and provided us with five battles to wargame.   Often our campaigns provide one or two corps battles, but this was had more large battles.   Particularly the last one, which had four corps on each side.   Our wargames table is 6x6 foot and we use 28mm figures.   Three corps fit comfortably on the table, but four per side make for interesting manoeuvre problems.   The tables tend to be quite crowded with scenery which channels movement and makes it difficult to feed in reinforcements.  The battle of Rudolstadt had both a French and a Russian corps arriving at the start of move one.  It worked well for the Russians, who were in defence.  The reinforcements arrived in the right place, and at the right time, to stiffen the wavering Russian right flank.

However the French reinforcements arrived at the far side of the table.   As they made their approach march the rest of the French army moved forward to attack the Russians.   By the time the Westphalian corps arrived and deployed it was too late to commit them to the attack.  The scenery would delay their approach to the enemy resulting in heavy casualties.  And even if they won nightfall would prevent them exploiting their success.

Although I was the French commander it was an interesting challenge.   The Russians held the town at the end of the battle, and claimed a victory.   But they had two of their four corps in rout.   And the presence of the uncommitted Westphalian corps convinced them that they needed to retreat under cover of darkness.

It is very rewarding when the campaign results in complicated wargames like this.   In a one off game I would have sent the Westphalians in to attack, as I would have nothing to lose.  But if I had done so in this campaign game, and if the attack failed with heavy casualties, the Russians would have offered a second day of battle.

We have also been experimenting with the wargame rules during this campaign.

For some time we have been trying to prevent the artillery from firing every move, even if there was little chance of hitting anything.   We restricted the number times each gun could fire, but that proved difficult to keep track of.   We have now started to use smoke each time they fire.   If they don’t fire next move the smoke is removed at the end of the artillery firing phase.   If they do fire there is a minus one on their dice throw for effect.   Mostly the gunners have continued to fire anyway, but it reduces their effect slightly.

We have also introduced this for infantry and skirmish fire.   I have often read how effective a first volley was and this has a similar effect.   It helps the attacker, who previously suffered from constant artillery, skirmish and musket fire as they approached.   Now the defender is more likely to avoid long range fire to make the short range fire more effective.

You will find the campaign diary blog here