Saturday, 15 July 2017

Campaign Casualties

In my early experience of campaigns I found that the winner of the first battle often won the campaign.   When the wargame casualties were transferred to the campaign it often left the loser with an impossible task.   In the next battle the loser would start with more casualties and would be most likely to lose the subsequent wargame.  Few campaigns can last for long when this happens.  In an historical campaign this may not matter too much.   It can be claimed with some justice that most campaigns are decided by a major battle anyway.

But if the objective of the campaign is to provide a series of interesting wargames this type of result is not good.  The first battle provides a good wargame.  But all subsequent battles leave the loser with the prospect of ever more uneven battles to game.

Setting up each campaign takes considerable effort, and I wanted them to last a reasonable period and to provide a series of interesting wargames.   The secret lies in battle casualties and how they are replaced.

I wanted each battle to have an effect on the subsequent battles.   And I wanted the winner to gain some reward from winning.  But I also wanted the loser to be able to recover sufficiently in order to fight the remaining wargames with some chance of winning.

The wargame rules are designed to produce relatively small numbers of casualties.   Each game “hit” results in 10% casualties to the brigade concerned.  For infantry this is 400 men, for cavalry and gunners 100 men.   But more important each “hit” reduces the effectiveness of the brigade by minus 1 on each combat and morale dice throw.

At the end of the wargame the casualties are transferred to the campaign in terms of “men” rather than “hits”.   It is usual that the loser of the battle will have to retreat directly away from the winner.   So I had to devise a method which would prevent the winner from immediate pursuit and the subsequent “steam roller” effect.

Supply, or rather lack of it, is the main way of doing this.  I will explain that in the next blog.   In general terms a corps which is out of supply will suffer attrition casualties and cannot initiate an attack. This will usually prevent an immediate pursuit.

Having broken contact both sides will wish to regroup and replace battle casualties as quickly as possible.   To do so they must be in supply, they must be stationary and they must not be under attack.

During the first move that they meet these conditions they can regroup.  This means that all infantry casualties, less 10% for each brigade, can be transferred to one brigade.  In effect one brigade replaces all battle casualties less the 10%.   The result is usually that one of the four infantry brigades become non-operational.   This cannot be done for gunners or cavalry, because there is only one cavalry brigade and one corps artillery.

In addition to regrouping each corps received 10% of one brigade as reinforcements.   It is normal for the first reinforcements to be either gunners or cavalry.   When both are up to strength, less 10% for each, the infantry receive reinforcements.   However every brigade which receives wargame casualties will keep at least 10% for the remainder of the campaign.

This has the effect of reducing the effectiveness of such a brigade for the duration of the campaign.   If your elite infantry brigade receives casualties in the first battle, they will become an average brigade for the remainder of the campaign phase.  The same will apply to cavalry and gunners.

As a consequence each corps starts the campaign as fully operational.   But as they receive casualties they become weaker and more brittle.   This is particularly important from a morale point of view.  Because if one brigade lose their morale and rout, all friendly brigades within supporting distance (4” on the table) also have to test their morale.  And if they have casualties from earlier battles they are much more likely to join the rout.

Next time I will explain campaign supply

 You will find my campaign rules here

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