Thursday 25 November 2010

Another defeat for Wellington in Spain

French held city of Valladolid

The new PBEM campaign has taken up most of my time and attention over the past few weeks. But behind the scenes my long running solo 1813 Campaign has continued in north west Spain.

Wellington has begun his advance to drive the French out of Spain. His first objective is the city of Valladolid. The first battle of the campaign resulted in the defeat of the light division! the second was another failure. At least it proves that the British do not always win with my wargame rules!!

His campaign strategy is to take Valladolid before the French can concentrate their armies against him. The first battle was an attempt to isolate the city. Having failed he has now made a frontal attack.

The failure to take Valladolid is a serious set back to Wellington.

The casualties on both sides have been light so far in the campaign, and Wellington has managed to cross the river Douro. But he has been unable to force the French to withdraw to the east and allow him to consolidate his hold on the river crossing. He will have to bring his army over the river Douro further west than he wanted.
Soult must now decide whether he is strong enough to go on to the offensive and drive Wellington back across the river, or whether to retreat to Plaencia and concentrate his army there.
It is proving an interesting campaign and anything but a walkover for Wellington.
You can read the battle report here

Friday 19 November 2010

Busy Blog Week

Being retired I have never found it difficult to keep the blog up to date, particularly as wargaming has played a much larger part in our life since we retired and moved to Spain four years ago.

Last week we were to Morocco on a week's holiday with a group of friends we walk with regularly. We hired a coach and visited Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, Marakesh and Fez. The company who supplied the coach run regular tours of Spain and Morocco, and organised the whole thing. So all we had to do was enjoy ourselves.

I thought that I would miss the computer and the blogs, but to be honest I didn't. There was so much to see and do that I only gave an occasional thought to the PBEM campaign.

But returning home last Saturday I realised that all of the blogs were out of date, and I would have to catch up on them. I say "all" because there are five which I post on at least once a week.

First, and foremost, is of course this one. This is a summary of anything that is happening and tends to cover the thing I am currently most occupied with.

Bautzen battlefield 19 August 1999
Second is "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields". I have been doing this one for over a year. It is a record of all the battlefields Jan and I have visited, and I am quite surprised to realise how many that is. The series has already covered five holidays so far, three in Portugal and Spain, one in the Pyrenees and one at Austerlitz. The current one is a visit to what used to be East Germany and includes Jena and the 1813 Campaign. The latest blog is about our visit to Bautzen.

Jan and I outside the Casablanca Mosque
Third is "Jan and Paul in Spain 2010". This series was started to keep friends and family in UK up to date and what we were doing since we moved to Spain. It is now read by many of the two local walking groups we walk with each week. This is the one which has kept me most busy this week, as I try to catch up with our holiday in Morocco. This blog is also a record of our weekly Monday Club walks, and informs all of the group of the next walk. I normally publish it by Tuesday, but I want to finish the Morocco series first. I am hoping to publish last Monday's walk by Sunday!

Table at start of Battle of Valladolid

Fourth is 1813 Valladolid Campaign. This is the latest in my ongoing 1813 campaign. Fortunately we have a battle report in hand, so I did not have to do any work on it, just publish the latest instalment of the Battle of Valladolid.

PBEM Campaign latest situation
And fifth is the new PBEM 1813 Hanover Campaign. This is a test campaign to play test the new campaign rules to transfer my 1813 campaign from solo to PBEM. The rules are working well, but there is a big job keeping track of the ten players and ensuring that their orders are in the correct format and agree with the rules. This is only to be expected with a new campaign, new rules and new players. But it does involve a lot of work. I have just finished the third campaign day, and posted the campaign diary for the second day
When I was working I remember that older friends who had already retired used to say things like "I don't know how ever got everything done when I was working". If I was not sure what they meant then, I certainly know now!
But it is, as they say, a labour of love. Its a great way to share the hobby, and it never ceases to surprise me how many people read the blogs. I was particularly surprised to find that more than half the hits on Jan and Paul in Spain are from the USA. I assume that they follow a link from this blog, or perhaps one of the campaign blogs. Its strange to think that all of those people I have never met or even exchanged mail with would be interested enough to do so.
Anyway all of the blogs are now up to date. I can take a well deserved break as Jan and I sit on the naya with a cup of coffee (its too early for anything stronger) and a good book.
Thank you all who bother to read the blog. Without your (mostly silent) support I doubt that it would still be going after almost two years.

Sunday 14 November 2010

1813 PBEM Campaign

Jan and I have just returned from a weeks holiday touring Morocco.

Before we left I sent out an intelligence update to all ten players taking part in the PBEM campaign. I asked the two CinC to send their orders direct to each corps commander, with a copy to me. I also asked the corps commanders to write their orders and send to me.

We returned last night, and I fully expected to find ten sets of orders waiting for me in my email. There were lots of email, but only three connected with the campaign! All were French, and all were wrong in one way or another. There was no sign of the Prussian CinC orders, so the Prussian corps commanders could not have done anything anyway.

A couple of email last night put the system back in order, and this morning the orders were filling my inmail.

But once again they are incorrect. Despite a reminder on the campaign forum to use the wargames map, all had failed to do so.

Those who have been following the campaign will know that there are two maps, one a tactical map showing the towns, rivers and mountains. The second is a detailed wargames map showing the same squares as are used to make up the wargames table. The idea of the second is to allow the players to set the battlefield (or wargames table) to suit their campaign plan. Jan and I will then set up the table from their map deployment and fight the battle/wagame.

All had used the tactical map. Obviously a break down in communication, but I am not sure whether I have not explained it sufficiently, or whether they have just not read the orders.

It will be interesting to see how the campaign develops now that the two armies are getting close and the first combat may well take place on the current campaign day.

Friday 5 November 2010

1813 PBEM Campaign

Its just as well that I allowed a full week to do each campaign day, because that is how long it has taken.

My role in the campaign is that of Chief of Staff to each player, whether Army or Corps commander.

At the start of each move I send each corps commander a report confirming the location and condition of his corps and any contact with the enemy. A copy of this report is sent to each commander in chief, together with a map showing the location of each corps and contact. They also receive occasional reports from agents behind enemy lines.

There are two maps in use in the campaign. The tactical map shows towns, rivers, roads and mountains. This map is used for the commander in chief report.

The second map is a wargames map. This shows the exact terrain squares which will be used if a battle is fought. This map is used by each corps commander to plot his daily moves. This allows him to choose the type of terrain most suitable to his plans.

The first week has gone well. The commanders in chief sent their orders to me, and I sent them on to the corps commanders after I had checked that they were in accordance with the rules for writing orders.

The corps commanders then wrote their orders and sent them to me. I again checked them against the campaign rules, and returned them for amendment as necessary. There were only a few minor errors, which is only to be expected with a group of players using a new system for the first time.

My rules and outline for the campaign are going well - at least so far. I have not had to change anything as a result of the first days sequence.

I am playing around with how best to record each days orders and movements. At present I plot them on two master maps, one tactical and one wargeme. I then amend the French and Prussian master maps, which show what each side would know. These are then used to write the chief of staff report for each player.

I have no idea how the "fog of war" is working for the players. This is one of the most difficult things to get right. They must know enough of the enemy locations and intentions to be able to plan their daily movement. But there has to be sufficient "fog" to allow for some nasty surprises. I will not know how well that has worked until we finish the test play and I get their after campaign reports.

Its been an interesting week for me, and I hope it has for them too.

I am also working on some way that I can publish a campaign daily diary, without giving too much information about the enemy. I have alreay done the first day, but will not publish until they have sent all of their daily orders to me and it is too late for them to react. I will publish a copy of the map on the next PBEM campaign update.