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

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