Sunday, 10 February 2019

Campaign Lessons

Location of eight corps at start of battle

We have just completed the Bayreuth Campaign, which is the 29th phase of the 1813 campaign and the sixth phase set in central Germany.   The French won again, as they have done in five of the six phases.

The French won three of the four battles fought, making it a pretty one sided campaign phase.  This does not matter, became it is currently a solo campaign.

At this stage of the campaign I usually review the completed phase, so see if there are any lessons to be learnt.  

First there was the problem with Army and Corps commanders, which I have covered in the previous blogs.   They are now resolved, or at least I hope that they are.   It is usually easy to come up with a solution, but it is only when play tested for a couple of games that I can be confident that the problem is solved.   It is not unusual to create another unexpected problem by changing the original rule.   And this only becomes obvious after sufficient game play.

The second problem is more difficult to solve.   

Although there are four corps per side in each campaign phase, it is unusual for all eight corps to take part in one battle.   One or two corps per side is the norm.   Even commanding both armies it is quite difficult to concentrate all eight corps for one battle.   This is largely because of supply problems, or the direction of retreat due to losing a previous battle.

The final battle of the Bayreuth Campaign phase was fought with four corps per side.   It has happened before, but this time it highlighted the problem of transferring them from the map to the table.

On the map only one corps can occupy each map square.   On the wargames table only one corps can fit comfortably on one table square.   The table is three squares wide and three squares deep.   So at least one corps, and often one per side, will start the game off table.  

Each game lasts 12 moves (equal to 12 hours on the map).   It takes 4 moves to cross one table square.   So the reserve does not arrive until the start of move 5.   This is not a problem for the defender, but it does not allow the attacker sufficient time to move it into contact with the enemy.

This appears a simple problem, but a solution is not immediately obvious.   It upsets the whole balance of the rules, and gives the defending player a considerable advantage.

I have already given it some thought, but have not yet arrived at a solution which works well on the table and on the map.


peter holland said...

Is it not possible to start the arriving corp/reserves one square in? It would simulate bad reconnaissance. If playing against an opponent, 'a fast moving column is arriving on your flank' could be used. How fast isn't stated!

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Peter

Thanks for your comment

It would certainly be possible to change the arrival time, but it would defeat the importance of transferring the corps positions on the map to the table.

Any such flank moves or forced marches are best done on the campaign map, particularly in a PBEM or multi player campaign. I have found it is difficult enough to justify arrival times in accordance with the campaign rules when running a PBEM!



Yuri Wayfare said...


Are you sure this is a problem at all? In the final battle of the Bayreuth campaign, the French were trying to squeeze an awful lot of army into a fairly narrow front. Had they wanted to bring all four corps to full bear, they should have taken the extra day or two to march a flanking corps north along the Waldershof-Munchberg road, or swing west up the Saale. Of course that would have given the Russians time to strengthen their position, launch a spoiling attack of their own, or even slip away with their army more or less intact - c'est la guerre.

As it was, the French 6th Corps found itself last in the order of march and arrived on the battlefield in a traffic jam with no room to deploy its strength. This seems like a good representation of road congestion, which is a serious deal at this level of operations. 6th Corps was still well-positioned to respond to any serious crisis: had any of the other three corps broken during the attack, 6th Corps would have prevented an army-wide rout and could have covered the army's retreat from the field if necessary.

It seems like a fair trade-off to me and a decent representation of the historical problems of army frontage and road congestion. But that's my two cents :)

I've enjoyed following this campaign and I'm already looking forward to the next!