Saturday 31 July 2010

Map Making Progress

Campaign Maps of Northern Europe
I have completed the four campaign maps for northern Europe.

All of these maps are best used on the computer, as it is possible to “zoom in” for the extra detail. However I want to be able to print them on A4 paper to use as hard copy maps.

To print them on A4 paper I have to make a JPEG copy of each completed map. It is not possible to “zoom in” on a JPEG copy. So you will not be able to see the full details of these maps on the computer. But it will give you an idea of what they look like.

Northern Europe
I have outlined the area of each campaign map on this map of northern Europe to show how they overlap. North, Central and South West can be joined to make one map from the north coast down to the Alps. However the South West map does not go far enough east to include Vienna, and would not be suitable for the Danube campaign. So I have added a South East map which covers this particular area.


The North covers an area from the Munster to Berlin, and in particular the corridor from Hannover through Magdeburg to Berlin. This is the area of the historical 1813 Leipzig campaign.

The Centre covers the area from Dusseldorf to Dresden. It overlaps with Magdeburg in the north. This is the area of the historical 1806 Jena campaign. This map can be joined with both North and South West.

South East
The South East covers the aqrea from Munich to Vienna and north to Prague. It overlaps with the South West and part of the Centre. It covers the historical 1805 Ulm campaign area and also the 1809 Aspern-Wagram area.

South West

The South West covers the area from Strasbourg to Munich. It overlaps with the Centre map to complete the area from the north coast to the Alps. It also overlaps with the South East map to complete the Danube valley area.

The maps have been very easy to make, though more time consuming that I had anticipated. ProFantasy is not an easy programme to master, and involves quite a steep learning curve. However I would not consider myself a competent computer user, and if I can manage to learn it I would think that anyone can. Providing that they are prepared to stick with it.

The next step will be to make the campaign maps for Spain. I have already done much of the ground work and expect to finish them quite quickly.

If you would like to make your own campaign maps, or indeed any other maps, I would strongly recommend ProFantasy. It is relatively cheap to buy, and I have found the forum to be a place where help and advice is provided in simple language which even I can understand.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Battle of Talavera

Once again most of the week has been devoted to map making. Lots of progress made, and I have almost finished the tactical maps. Being a newcomer to ProFantasy this is very much a learning experience for me. I am learning something new with each map I make, and I often then have to go back and amend or even redraw the earlier maps.

The latest such distraction was due to something which I really should have thought about earlier. The strategic and tactical maps are in different scales, and I have been experimenting with the size of roads and buildings. Having finished both of the strategic maps (Germany and Spain) I have now moved onto the tactical maps. I completed the first two (Magdeburg and Tarragona) and started work on the third (Halle). Only then did I realise that the scale for all three tactcal maps were slightly different. So I had to redraw most of Madgeburg and Tarragona.

Fortunately I had not yet started on the wargame maps, which will be a different scale yet. But I have made a note of the scales for each map so I will not make the same mistake again.

The campaign is on hold until I complete the maps and update the blogs. So for our daily wargame fix Jan and I have returned to our Wellington's Battles series. The fourth in the series will be Busaco.

I have put Part One, which deals with the background to the battle and wargame, on the blog. We will be fighting the wargame during the coming week and I will post a battle report of each days progress.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Busy Week - Little to Show

Its been a very busy week, and I have worked harder than usual on the blogs, but there is not much to report on this one.

Some of you may know that I do four or five blogs each week. One of about living in Spain, and is mostly aimed at our walking group plus friends and family in UK. A second is about our walking visit to Napoleonic battlefields over the years. A new one is about rewriting our wargame rules. There is usually one about our current campaign, but we are between campaigns at present. Then there is this one. This is a general blog about all of our Napoleonic interests, and is designed to give a brief update on what is happening with the other blogs, or sometimes to deal with a subject which does not fit easily into any of the other ones.

I have two main projects at present. First there is the map making. This has proved to be a whole new interest for me. I spend hours and hours creating the two master maps, one of Germany and one of Spain. These are a mixture of real maps and my understanding of how the strategic road system worked in the Napoleonic period. I am hoping that the result will be a series of map which will recreate the historical campaign problems of the period. For example on modern maps the road system has made new centres important, and bypassed historical ones. There is also the problem that as wargamers we are inclined to think that battlefields were important strategic places, often they were not.

My maps consist of a 20 mile grid, and each square has one city, town or village. There are three squares which cover the Waterloo campaign area. The southern one shows Charleroi, strategically as important now as then. The northern one shows Brussels, again no question what to put in that square. The centre one is the problem. On the AA road atlas which I use as the map reference Nivelles is the major town. Genappe and Fluers are the other two shown. There is no sign of Waterloo or Quatre Bras! Clearly Nivelles is the right town to show on this square.

So how to overcome this problem. The maps with the 20 mile grid are the strategic maps. But when two armies come within 80 miles of each other I make a tactical map. On this one nine wargame scenic squares cover the same 20 mile grid. So I have nine squares to show more detail. Nivelles is still shown as the major town, but both Waterloo and Quatre Bras would be shown as cross roads, each with one building to represent a farm or hamlet.

But you will see that a detailed knowledge of historical battlefields, and why they were chosen, is a great advantage if you want to make accurate campaign maps.

The second project is my wargame rules. I am really enjoying this project, as it makes me think about the rules and what I want to achieve with them. They were originally written as a sort of "idiot's guide" for Jan and I. We both have terrible memories and always need to refer to the rules. So I typed up one page to cover each phase of the game. I left out all of the things which we knew, understood and agreed. So what was left was a collection of key points. For example movement showed distances in different formations, but nothing about the formations.

I am also pleased that I have had some response to the rules blog, and all of it constructive and helpful.

I suspect that the rules, and the campaign, will never be complete. Both, and playing wargames, have taken over from the many hours a week I used to spend on painting model soldiers. I have no wish whatsoever to expand or change my collection of model soldiers. I know that this will seem strange to most wargamers, who never have enough figures. I can well understand this attitude, because it was my attitude for about 35 years. I always wanted more or better. But having worked my way through that stage, during which time I was left with hardly any time to actually play wargames, I am now enjoying the fruits of my labours.

We have never spent more time wargaming, nor enjoyed it more. Almost every day we spend a couple of hours at the wargame table. We often question a rule or a result, but we can usually agree on the outcome. If not we are both happy to roll a dice. Then long after the heat of battle I can sit down and consider whether it is important enough to change the rules. Most times it is not, and such a change would create more problems than it would solve.

Like I said at the beginning. Its been a busy week, but very little to show for it. However it has been another enjoyable week and makes me appreciate again how lucky it was when I found that copy of "Charge, or How to Play Wargames" on the library shelf in the late 1960s. That was the start of it all, and I can't imagine what our life would have been without it.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Map Making Progress

Its taken some time, but I have at last finished the map of Germany.

Now that I have the master maps of both Spain and Germany, I can start work on the more detailed campaign maps. They should be much easier as they are copied from the larger master maps.

The plan then is to replace the current 1813 campaign blogs with the new maps.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Four Days at Austerlitz

Having spent four holidays walking Wellington's battlefields in Portugal and Spain we were in need of a change. We had wanted to visit Austerlitz for a long time, so when we heard that Midas Battlefield Tours were offering a four day walking holiday of Austerlitz we signed up. This is the first of a series of visits to Napoleon's battlefields in Austria, Germany and Czechoslovakia.

The new blog is called Walking Northern Europe


Monday 5 July 2010

1813 Campaign Wargame Rules

We have been using the same "house" wargame rules for more than four years, and its more than a year since we published them as part of the 1813 campaign blog.

As we use them a lot, usually three or four times a week, it is not surprising that there have been amendments and changes. I looked at updating the original blog, but it would be less work to do a new one.

Over the past week or so I have been thinking of redoing my 1813 Campaign blog. This has been prompted by the new maps I have been making with ProFantasy, which I am almost ready to use in the campaign.

So for the coming weeks I will be working on updating and amending the campaign in general, and the rules in particular.

The first step is to review the existing rules. I have decided to do this on the new blog. I will examine each rule, what I want it to achieve and then issue new wording. Eventually the whole set of rules will be there for anyone who wants to use them. And I will then update them on a regular basis, again explaining why a rule has been changed.

If you would like to follow the review you can find it at :


Thursday 1 July 2010

Walking the Pyrenees

Maya Pass

The last walk of our holiday was a return visit to the Maya Pass. We had put this one off twice during the previous week, waiting for better weather. It did not arrive, so we went anyway. It was cloudy and overcast as we arrived, and it got worse. We spent a couple of hours walking the area, but then the light rain turn heavy, and we were forced to abandon the visit.

During this two week holiday we had lived in a gite in the French village of Sare, right in the centre of the area of The Battle of the Nivelle. We had walked the ground of the light division attack on The Rhune Mountain, the twin battlefields of Maya and Roncesvalles and the epic battle of Orthez. Unlike earlier visits, when we were on a tight schedule and could only allow a short time for each battlefield, we had as much time as we wanted to wander and explore.

The weather had been less than perfect throughout our two week stay in Sare. We had a few good days, but more often than not it was grey skies and light rain. Not what I was expecting in the south of France in July.

We do a lot of hill walking in the UK. We have walked in Scotland, Wales and the Lake District. So we are not strangers to exploring the great outdoors in dismal weather. So it would not be true to say that the weather had spoiled our holiday, though it had made it more challenging.

This was our last visit to Portugal and Spain, or so we thought. We had spent four holidays walking Wellington's Battlefields in the Peninsula, and felt we had done the job quite well. We had never been to Spain on a "normal" holiday, and when we left Sare on 5 July 1996 we quite expected it would be the last time we would see it. Little did we know that ten years later we would be living here as residents.

The next battlefield to be walked will be Austerlitz.