Monday 31 August 2009

The Battle of Neustadt

Marshal Kutuzov has finally reached the river Saale in the Halle campaign. Neustadt is a small town on the east bank of the River Saale between Saafeld and Greiz. It is unoccupied at present, but both sides are racing to take possession.

This first wargame of the campaign was a hard fought one, with the town changing hands many times and the game in dispute right to the last move.

Despite my best efforts, Jan (and the Russians) won and the French lost their best chance of outflanking the Russian position from the south.

You can read the battle report by clicking on 1813 Halle Campaign on the right.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Campaigns of Napoleon Fourm

The Campaigns of Napoleon Forum has been very quiet for a few weeks. The membership is pretty good, but no one seems to want to post. It was very busy for the first couple of weeks, then it just seemed to dry up.

I did a poll to see what experience members had of campaigning, hoping that I might find an aspect which would interest them. However less than half even bothered to vote! In fact the one response I got was from someone who said that they never took part in polls which were intended to create new subjects!

I started the forum because doing a blog can be a lonely business. For me, the blog is similar to keeping a diary - which I have also done for many years. With the big difference that you are inviting strangers to read it. In the nature of a blog, there is little feedback. And when there is there is no opportunity to expand it into an exchange of views. That is the reason that I started the forum.

Most of the forums that I look at are about a rule system, or general subjects like TMP. There seemed to be a gap in that campaigns were seldom mentioned. On the rare occasion when I did raise it on TMP, it might get one or two replies and then disappear. And when I suggested starting a forum just for Napoleonic campaigning there was a lot of support. And indeed the membership if 160 plus, which should be plenty for an active exchange of views.

The problem is that they are mostly "lurkers", meaning members who read the posts but do not contribute. I did try to encourage them, but met with no response.

I hope that it will not just die from lack of interest, but I feel it easily could. I have put five or six posts on recently about starting a campaign, and used my own Magdeburg as the example. There has not been a single response on the forum. Yet each day I put one on, with a link to the Magdeburg Campaign on the blog, I get about 20 hits on the blog. So I assume that most of them have come from the forum.

I have checked the other forum I use, and find that most of them are also going through a quiet patch. Perhaps its the time of year. But I know that if I visit a forum each week and find nothing new, I give up and move on.

I guess that time will tell whether there is enough interest to keep it going.

If you would like to see what it is all about you can find it at:


Thursday 27 August 2009

Battle of Luneburg

The French counter attack in last years 1813 campaign has failed at the battles of Horst and Buckholz, but now it is the turn of the Imperial Garde, and they win the day. But at heavy cost. And due to the earlier defeats the Garde will also have to retreat towards Hannover.

You can read the battle report by clicking on "Wargames in Spain" on the right.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Last day of Holts Tour

The last day of our Holts Battlefield tour to Portugal and Spain was spent in Madrid. For a brief description and a summary of the weeks tour click on Walking Napoleonic Battlefields on the right.

Monday 24 August 2009

1813 Halle Campaign

The Russian army under the command of Marshal Kutuzov has finally agreed to take the offensive and are marching from Dresden to the river Saale to support the Prussians in the north.

Napoleon only has two corps on the river Saale, with a third in reserve. However the Imperial Garde is now fully up to strength and he is ready to take the offensive.

The Halle campaign is about to start.

Starting tomorrow the daily march orders and daily campaign diary will be updated each day.

You can read the campaign background, plus photos and orbats of both armies by clicking on the 1813 Halle Campaign button on the right.

Saturday 22 August 2009

1806 Email Campaign

Life as Napoleon is proving much more difficult that I had imagined. The campaign is now three weeks old, but only three campaign days old, and already the "fog of war" is threatening to overwhelm the French war effort!

The first day/week was uneventful. I sent out orders and assumed that they would be obeyed. The campaign routine was that I send Napoleon's orders to the umpire, who then sends them to the wing/corps commander players. They write orders for their corps and send them back to the umpire, with a copy to me. The umpire sends back to the players a summary of what they have learned, and they send me a report based on that summary. A day later the umpire (in his role as Berthier) sends me a map showing approximate corps locations at the end of the day and a summary of any intelligence received.

On the second week/day I issued orders for the next campaign day. When I received the wing commanders orders to their corps commander it was obvious that they were not where they should have been according to the map I had received from the umpire. A flurry of email between players and umpire resulted in a change in the reporting system. In future I would send orders direct to wing commanders.

Another week/day and the confusion had become worse. The umpire informed me that two of the cavalry corps were unfit for service for 48 hours. When I asked the cavalry corps commander why, he did not know! Another flurry of emails.

I have no idea how life like all of this might be. Certainly it recreates the "fog of war", but it produces such a lot of frustration. Three days into the 1806 campaign would Murat really have told Napoleon that he had no idea what was wrong with his two unfit cavalry divisions because their commanders had not informed him?

Anyway an interesting, if very frustrating and time consuming, exercise in Napoleonic command and control. And it has made me appreciate my own simple campaign system which is designed to give me nothing more than good wargames.

I will keep you informed of how the 1806 campaign proceeds.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Battle of Horst

The latest battle report is another in the 1813 campaign which we played last year. The Prussians are moving on Hamburg and the French are making a series of local counter attacks in a futile attempt to stop them.

You can read the battle report by clicking on the "Battles in Spain" button on the right.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Tarragona Campaign ends in Stalemate

The French campaign in eastern Spain has failed to destroy the Spanish armies of Captain-General Compons. Marshal Suchet has had to retire to Barcelona to open his communications with France, leaving his garrisons of Lerida and Tarragona cut off and surrounded by the Spanish Armies.

Despite fighting four battles Suchet has failed to destroy the Spanish armies, who now roam at will and prevent all communications between the French garrisons.

The Spanish have achieved their campaign objective of preventing Suchet from sending reinforcements to Burgos to help Soult in the looking campaign with Wellington.

To read about the campaign, including the final movement order, campaign diary and campaign summery, select "1813 Tarragona Campaign" on the right.

Monday 17 August 2009

Visit to Talavera

This week's "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields" is our visit to Talavara.

Not one of the easiest battlefields to visit and explore, especially since they built a motorway through the middle of it. Many of the best sites are now very difficult to find, or on private land.

Jan and I were fortunate to travel there with Holts Battlefield Tours, who seem better than most at taking you to the places which you might find difficult, if not impossible, to find for yourself.

Click "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields" button on the right to find the report.

Saturday 15 August 2009

1806 Email Campaign

Its been a very busy week for me. My son, wife and 3 year old grandson Jack are here for 10 days, and the house have been converted into a very large and very untidy play pen. Fortunately the pool is 30 degrees, so they have spent most of each day swimming. Its too hot to do much else during the day, but they all go into Calpe in the evening to let Jack play on the beach.

So my wargaming activities have to be fit in between family responsibilities! Which means that we have not done any wargaming at all this week, apart from a couple of moves of the latest wargame just before they arrived. And next week looks like being more of the same.

The Campaigns of Napoleon Forum was also very slow at the end of last week, and I posted a letter asking why. There was a good response, and of course I then had to answer them all. So that will teach me!

Most of my spare time has been spent on the new 1806 Campaign which I have become involved in. It is an email campaign being run by one of the Forum members, and I have volunteered to be Napoleon. It is the first time I have taken part in an email campaign, and I was not sure what to expect. It reminds me a lot of when I was in the army - a of rushing around followed by a lot of doing nothing.

There are four French players and about the same Prussian. There are very few rules for the campaign and it all seems to be very Kreigspeel (is that spent right?). By that I mean that the Game Master tells the players only as much as he wants them to know.

It took me about a week of emails to and fro to get a handle on what was expected of me. The plan was that each "go" would be a campaign week.. I asked if each "go" could be one campaign day, as I did not see how I could plan a week in advance. I seemed to have very little information, and a map which did not seem to show a lot of detail, so it was very difficult to arrive at any sort of plan. Eventually I decided to follow Napoleon's own plan and asked the GM to set it up.

There was then a gap of more than a week, as the GM had an accident and was taken to hospital! Eventually I got an update, but it told me that a fire had delayed some of my corps, and on the updated map they were all over the place. None of that fancy moving in a giant square like formation where each could support the others.

The campaign is now about three weeks old, and we are writing orders on a daily basis. Until yesterday everyone sent their orders to the GM and he sent updated maps. But I gather some of the players have not been sending in orders/reports. So yesterday we were told that a new system would take effect immediately. The most important change was that we would now send orders and reports direct between players, with a copy to the GM. Seems like a much better system, and hopefully easier for him too.

So yesterday was spent trying to get updated reports from my three wing commanders, as I then had to write new orders for day three by last night. Only two players responded, so no reports from one wing. I issued the orders anyway, and now I await some feedback.

Its been hard work so far, and not a whole lot of fun. But I have great hopes for the new system. The only problem is that each campaign day will take a week of real time to exchange orders and reports. I am just hoping that the long gaps inbetween action will not mean that I lose track of what is happening.

Either way, you will be the first to know.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Tarragona Campaign

It will not be obvious from the index, but the daily movement orders and campaign diary for the Tarragona Campaign are being updated each day. Because this update is done as an amendment to an existing blog, it does not show as updated for the whole blog (if you see what I mean??)

Suffice to say that if anyone is interested in what the Spanish and French armies are doing they can read about it by clicking on the 1813 Tarragona Campaign button on the top right. Of if you don't really care, I can tell you that they are both marching around a lot trying to gain an advantage over each other.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Battle of Bucholz

The latest in the Wargames in Spain is a battle report from September 2008.

Again it is one of the campaign we were fighting at that time, but the action has moved to Northern Germany.

You can read the full report by clicking on the Wargames in Spain button on the right

Monday 10 August 2009

House Fighting Rules

Jan and I have just finished a 12 move game, almost all of which involved fighting for a town. I am really pleased because it is the hardest test so far for our rules for this hardest of wargaming tasks. And they have come through with flying colours.

Under our rules each general has a maximum of 8 "pips" to issue orders and a minimum of 4 "pip". If he has two infantry brigades within 4" of each other, he can swop them around for the loss of 3 "pips" - quite a high cost.

If infantry are on Attack orders when they assault a town, there is one set of rules. If they are on Engage orders there is a different set . In the latter each side needs a total of 6 to kill an enemy, and they must then make their morale. So house fighting is likely to go on for longer. That is what happened in this game.

You can't read the battle report yet, it has not been typed up. But I was so pleased that I wanted to tell you all!!

Saturday 8 August 2009

Visit to Salamanca Battlefield

This weeks "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields" recalls our visit to Salamanca in 1991. This is one of the easiest, and most rewarding, battlefields to visit. You can see more photographs, and read about the visit, by clicking the button on the right.

Friday 7 August 2009

Tarragona Campaign

The second battle of Cambrils was epic in more ways than one.

First it was the biggest wargame of the campaign so far, with all three French corps and all four Spanish armies taking part.

More epic still, we fought it FOUR TIMES as a wargame. The first time we have ever done so. It was all because we were not happy with the balance between French and Spanish. Jan commanded the Spanish for the first game, and lost. I commanded them for the second and lost. And changed the orders of battle to make the Spanish stronger. In this second battle it became clear that there was no point in having more Spanish, is they all broke when the first one did.

Third game Jan commanded the Spanish and won. Fourth game I commanded the Spanish and again won. In both cases only just. And by winning I mean that they were still holding their position at the end of the game, not that the French had been defeated.

Strangely all four games were enjoyable. Because of the rules we use, the dice throw is very important. So it is easily possible to play the same game, with the same troops and in the same opening positions, but have a completely different result each time.

You an read the full battle report by clicking 1813 Tarragona Campaign button on the right.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Visitor Time

It may be quiet on here for the next two to three weeks. We are now into the visitor season, and living in Spain most come to us rather than we go to them!

We have two good friends arriving today. They have bought a house further down the coast, but are not living here full time yet. Paul is an old wargaming friend, and I have set up a game to keep us occupied whilst the ladies keep cool in the pool or get up to date on the the latest news on the naya with a glass of wine.

Next week my son and family arrive. We have a three year old grandson and when he is here there is no time for anything else. The house is converted into one big three year old play area. From first thing in the morning, until he goes to bed at night, all is bedlam and noise and dashing about and his favourite dvd on the TV. We love it, but it does not leave any spare time, or energy, for the blog.

Will post when I get a chance.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Fuentes de Onoro

This weeks "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields" remembers our visit to the sleepy little village which was the scene of one of Wellingtons hardest fought battles. To read more, and see more photographs taken at the time, click button on the right.