Sunday 27 January 2013

Revised 1813 Campaign

Possible new campaign areas

We have got back into our current 1813 PBEM campaign, and are currently fighting the fourth battle of the Burgos phase.    The French have had a series of defeats and have lost the first three battles.   Unless they can reverse their luck and push the allies back the campaign must come to a close soon.

This is not a problem, because the campaign consists of mini campaigns, and Burgos is the ninth one since we started in 2009.   If I continue with the current system the next phase will be in southern Germany with the Austrians v a French/Bavarian army.   It will be the second one in Bavaria.

At this stage I always start thinking “what if”.   The campaign system has served me well, and has provided a steady stream of wargames and a nonstop campaign.   It has evolved from a solo campaign to a PBEM one, but the basis system has not greatly changed.   Each player commands one corps, with very limited options.

The PBEM has proved so much better than a solo campaign, that I am now considering allowing each player to command an army of four corps each.  Instead of one mini campaign it would cover all of France and Spain.

To see how it would work I have created a new map of Germany (above).   The three campaign areas are outlined in white.   Each player would command one of the three French armies, or alternatively the Prussian, Russian or Austrian army.   There would be another two, or possibly three, campaign areas in Spain.   So I would need a total of 8 or 10 players.

I think it would work well, and I am sure it would be more enjoyable for the players.   But it will place more responsibility of each of the players, and will create greater problems if one or more player drops out.

In addition it will make the campaign much more open ended.   Each mini campaign lasts about four to six months, and provides three to six battles.   When one side wins I just move on to the next campaign area.   I can easily adjust the rules and objectives to reflect the lessons learned in the last campaign.   All of this would be much more difficult if I change from a mini campaign to the full campaign.

So it is all very much a work in progress.   I will complete the map for Spain and then decide whether to stick with my present tried and trusted system, or to expand it to the full campaign.

Saturday 19 January 2013

A Difficult Week

The New Year has not gone well so far.

I returned from Christmas in the UK with a heavy cold, which I then passed on to Jan.  

Last Monday we were both feeling pretty rough, but we decided to join our walking group for a day’s walk in the local mountains.   It was not a particularly difficult walk, and we both felt it would do us both good to get out in the fresh air.   On the way back Jan fell and broke her wrist.

Both of us are retired, so we do not have to worry about work.   But it’s surprising how little you can do with only one hand.   Fortunately it was her left wrist that she broke, but even so I have had to take on a lot of household tasks which I have not been trained for!

Like many couple we both have our own tasks about the house.   Cooking is, and always has been, Jan’s domain.    As a result I am completely useless in the kitchen.   So this week has been a steep learning curve as prepare meals under very close supervision.

Many of our friends are also suffering from cold symptoms, and it appears that this year’s strain takes about three weeks to pass.   I am in my second week, Jan in her first.   So we have both been feeling a little sorry for ourselves, and not inclined to take on any unnecessary tasks.

However I have had to settle down to getting the campaign going again.   Fortunately I had done most of the paper work before Jan broke her wrist, so I have been able to update the map and send out the current umpire reports.  

We both miss our normal routine, in which the1813 PBEM campaign and the Campaigns of Napoleon play a large part.   We have not had a wargame since before Christmas and are both hoping that we can get one going this week.   I will have to move for both sides, but Jan can still command one of armies.

Fortunately the weather continues to be very mild here in Southern Spain, unlike poor old UK, so we can sit and read on our naya.   We have also been able to get to the coast for a walk and to meet friends, so we consider ourselves very lucky indeed.

Friday 11 January 2013

Slow start to the New Year

I had expected that by now I would be back into the campaign after my Christmas break.   But I brought a cold back with me, and it has knocked me back all week.   It must be something I caught on the plane, because I felt fine over the festive season.

So this has been another week without wargames or campaigns.

The campaign is very labour intensive, and after my long break I have to read myself back into it.   And this week I found it really hard to settle down to it.   I have finally sorted out the last set of orders I received before Christmas, and have written up the umpire reports.   This has brought the campaign up to date, but unfortunately no battles.

Hopefully the next set of orders will result in a battle.  

And hopefully I will manage to shrug off the effects of my cold and get back to normal.

At least I can suffer in the warm winter sunshine of Spain.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Time to Think

We have just returned from a two week visit to the UK to spend Christmas and the New Year with our grandchildren.   As might be expected there was no opportunity for anything to do with Wargaming, and I was really surprised that I found the enforced break quite enjoyable.

For more years than I care to remember Wargaming has taken up a major part of my life.   For more than 30 years I painted model soldiers at every opportunity.   Almost every day I would spend at least an hour, and often two or three, painting.   The result was a comprehensive Napoleonic army in 6mm, 18mm and 28mm.  

It started with 20mm Airfix in 1969, which were replaced by Hinton Hunt and Miniature Figurines 20mm.   Those in turn were replaced with 25mm Miniature Figurines, and then by 28mm Elite and Front Rank.   

My first 15mm were again Miniature Figurines, later replaced by 18mm AB figures.

The 6mm were Heroics and Ros.   This was never my favourite scale, and they were never replaced.

In 2006 I retired and moved to Spain to live.  As part of the planning for the move I decided to downsize my three collections by 50%, which involved a lot of selling on Amazon.   That in itself was a major project carried out over a six month period.  

Throughout 1980s and 1990s my Wargaming was confined to a group of friends who played on my 12 x 6 foot wargames table.

Jan and I anticipated that it would be difficult to recruit a new band of wargamers here in Spain, and so it proved.   We had already decided to reduce the size of our wargames table to 6x6 foot, which is quite sufficient for just two players.

But strangest of all was my decision to abandon painting figures and concentrate on actual table top Wargaming.   Until 2006 most of my energy went into painting model soldiers and building scenery.   One evening a week of Wargaming was all I could manage.  And even then I was usually the umpire and got very little figure handling done.

After a year trying to make suitable contacts here in Spain we finally gave up the attempt and decided to concentrate on Wargaming together.   This was to prove a good decision, and has led to the best Wargaming I have experienced over more than 40 years.

I spent about three months planning how to achieve a steady supply of good wargames.   They would have to provide wargames which would allow me to use all of my model soldiers, plus all of my considerable collection of buildings and scenery.   I decided on a fictional campaign based on 1813.    It would cover all of Europe from Hamburg in the north to Seville in the south.    From Lisbon in the west to Vienna in the east.   There would be five theatre’s, each with its own French and allied army.

It started as a solo campaign, but after a year or so I started to lose interest.  That was when I decided to turn it into a PBEM campaign.   Jan and I would still fight the wargame, but three French and three allied players would command the map movement.

As we enter into the third year of the PBEM campaign I am delighted with the impact it has had on my Wargaming.   Each phase of the campaign only lasts about 4 to 6 months, and I can then start again with a new army in a different location.   I am on the sixth phase, and am grateful that I have been able to recruit sufficient players for each phase.   The PBEM campaign rules have been rewritten at the end of each phase, and are now quite sturdy and have stood the test of time.

I enjoy the PBEM campaign more than ever, and the input from a changing group of players keeps me on my toes.  

The short break has allowed me to review the current state of play, and I am quite happy with how things are.   I now have to get back into the campaign and sort out the next move.    It’s a “pen and paper” type of campaign.   I keep the records on the computer, but it is not in any way campaign assisted.  All movement and records are manual.  So after even a short break it will take a couple of days to get back into it.