Wednesday, 12 January 2011

PBEM Test Campaign Update

Campaign Wargames Map
In the past week the campaign has resumed and all is going well. All ten players have submitted their orders for the next days move, and it has resulted in another battle.
Once more it is at Colbitz. I have found that this often happens in PBEM, where the first reaction to a defeat seems to be a counter attack rather than a retreat to regroup. In a solo campaign I tend to do the opposite, almost always retreat to regroup. Nothing wrong with either decision, but the former does seem to result in a lot of “second battle of…….” reports.
The campaign rules seem to be holding up well, and the players seem to have grasped them very quickly. I would now really like to bring the test campaign to an end, and start a new one as part of the 1813 campaign. But that would be very unfair to all the players who have taken the test campaign so seriously, and obviously want to see it brought to a logical conclusion.
This latest battle is interesting, and highlights the advantage of a multi player campaign.
In the campaign rules the winner of a battle has to remain stationary for one campaign day. This is to allow the loser to retreat one map square, or one wargame table. If the winner then pursue’s at least there will be a wargames table between them.
As a reward for not moving for one day, the winner recovers one battle casualty for each brigade affected. The loser does not; he will have to remain stationary for one day to do so. So if the winner does pursue, and the loser decides to accept battle, the winner will have a distinct advantage.
In the current battle the loser decides to attack two days after he lost the earlier battle. This means he will do so with all of his battle casualties still in place. The winner did not expect this, and is reorganizing his army, and consequently not in a good defensive position.
The attackers are French, who have good quality commanders. The defending Prussians have two Poor commanders out of four. This will make it very difficult for them to complete their deployment in time to meet the attack.
So it will be interesting to see how the battle/wargame works out.
The battle set up has been posted on the blog, and I hope to post one move of the wargame each day. You can find it at


  1. Paul,
    Very much enjoy reading your exploits especially your battlefield tours. My wife and I are considering a trip to Spain/Portugal from the states and wondered if you knew of 200th anniversary related battlefield activities.

  2. Hi Jon

    I am not aware of any specific 200th anniversary activities, though I suspect that any such celebrations would be pretty local anyway.

    I would suggest raising the subject on TMP or some such forum.

    If there is any particular battlefield you are thinking of visiting, and if I could be of any assistance, do let me know.



  3. "the former does seem to result in a lot of “second battle of…….” reports."

    Yes, and not something that happened in reality - it might be interesting to do some research to find out why the real commanders in history didn't immediately launch a counter-attack but I suspect it is because of a couple of things...

    first, do wargames come to a close too soon??? ie. because the units have hit some pre-decided break point defined in the rules, but way before the game would actually finish...

    second, I wonder if we allow enough time for troops to recover in our campaigns - battle would be a very stressful and tiring activity - I'm assuming most commanders would know that they couldn't attack immediately simply because their troops would be too tired... so perhaps some minus modifier for fighting a second battle within 24 or 48 hours of a previous one would sort the issue???

  4. Hi Steve

    The reason it happens in wargame campaigns is because there is nothing to stop it. Indeed it is usually the easy solution. Rather than consider how to retreat and regroup the players just says "attack again". And if, as in this case, there are reserves of fresh troops they do so.

    It would be possible to overcome this, but in a PBEM it would require complex rules, and I wonder if it would be worth the effort.

    I suspect that a historical commander had many things to consider, which a wargamer does not. Willingness of his troops to fight again, resupply of food and ammunition etc. It was not just a choice of whether he would like to fight another battle in one or two days, but rather whether he could do so.

    In a real campaign the purpose of each commander is to fight in favourable conditions and inflict a crushing defeat on the enemy. Not many organisers of a wargames campaign would want this to happen. It would mean that all of the work spent in setting up the campaign had resulted in only one battle/wargame, and that was a disappointing one sided afair.

    Often Napoleon turned battlefield success into campaign victory by ruthless pursuit. This is something I have never seen in a wargame campaign. It could be done, but would be a pretty joyless exercise - especially for the defeated general. How many players in a PBEM campaign could be bothered to spend week after week fleeing in disorder?

    It is interesting that despite the odds against fighting again in one or two days, that it did actually happen. Wellington at Waterloo after Quarte Bras. Or even more striking Blucher at Waterloo after Ligney.

    Its an interesting point, and one that comes back to the aim of the campaign organiser and what he wants to achieve from it. And then whether he can recruit sufficient like minded players to take part.

    My campaigns are designed to be simple to take part in and provide enjoyable wargames. They allow the players to participate with no more contribution than an hour or so each week writing orders. Despite this I have lost one of the team without explanation or excuse in this campaign so far.

    And if has provided hours of enjoyment to me, and provided more interesting wargames than my solo campaign did.




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