We are nine moves into the campaign and no fighting yet.
This time I have allowed the corps commanders almost complete freedom of choice. I still play the role of allied and French CinC, but I have only issued general campaign objectives. They do not have to report to me each day, nor do I issue orders to them each day. If they write a report I answer and comment. If not I leave them to get on with it.
The result has been a distinct tendency to play things very carefully.
There are three corps per side, each with their own area of operations. Each corps has two divisions, and all were widely spread out at the start of the campaign. In each area the forward divisions of each side were in sight by the end of the first day.
There was a flurry of activity as both sides attempted to recce the enemy. But not one commander was tempted to risk an attack. All six commanders issued orders to concentrate their corps, and all are apparently waiting to complete the concentration before they risk an attack.
I suspect the new method of writing orders is also playing a part in this cautious game. Previously they wrote orders each move, or three times a day. Now they only write orders once a day, and I then break it down into three moves per day. So they have less opportunity to respond quickly to changing circumstances.
I have also introduced guerrilla bands into this campaign to cause problems on the lines of supply and to pose a threat to messengers. I control the bands, but ask the allied commander to make decisions such as fight, hold or retreat.
One band has cut the main French supply road by taking possession of a village, and has held it for two days. The nearest French garrison is aware of the problem, but has been asked whether they want to engage the Spanish. If they do so they run a small risk of being defeated, but the odds are high in their favour.
It has surprised me how cautious players are when they are given this greater freedom of choice. It’s understandable that they do not want to take risks, but they are also missing good opportunities. Mind such opportunities are easy to spot as umpire, no doubt much harder as a player.