Sunday 31 March 2013

PBEM Linz Campaign

Linz Campaign Tactical Map

Made a good start with the Linz campaign, the 10th phase of our 1813 campaign.

There was a very good response to my recruiting drive.  I have not only filled the six command vacancies, but also have two reserve players.

Two of the players are veterans and four newbie’s.   Of the four new players two are very experienced wargamers and two who warned of a lack of experience.   I am delighted with the mix.   It will introduce a lot of new blood into the campaign.  It will also make the commander reaction very unpredictable.

We have completed the first move, always the most difficult.   It’s like starting a wargame.  There seem endless options before the first move, but by move four all options are suddenly narrowed down to one or two – neither what was originally planned.

The campaign is very similar.   But made more difficult because the new players do not understand either the campaign rules or the wargame rules.   So planning tends to rely on personal knowledge of the period.  

This leaves the two inexperienced wargamers at a distinct disadvantage.  I do offer advice and point out the worse pitfalls to them.   I am never sure how much this is welcomed; I often think that they would prefer to just do their own thing.   

The problem is that a mistake at this stage, often due to lack of knowledge of the campaign or wargame rules, can have significant consequences which can last the whole of the campaign.

But that is all part of the enjoyment of PBEM campaigns.

Jan and I are just as excited to start this phase as we were the first.   Each mini campaign is proving more enjoyable than the last.  I am learning with each phase of the campaign, and developing my campaign rules.   And the fact that six other people are taking part greatly adds to my enjoyment.  

I have redesigned this campaign so that there should be earlier contact and hopefully battles.

I can’t wait for orders for the second set of orders to see whether this has in fact been the case.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Blogger Problems

I have had a very frustrating week trying to sort out my blogs.

I noticed early in the week that the print size on my latest blog, the Linz campaign blog, is very small compared with the other three blogs I do.   Although I have been blogging for a few years I actually understand very little about how it works.   So I was very pleased to find that the Blogger Forum proved to be very  helpful.

To understand what I mean you should compare these two blogs:

Linz Campaign

Burgos Campaign – Oct 2012

Both blogs are typed using Arial font 12.  But on my monitor the first is much smaller than the second.   Even the headings are different sizes.

Having noticed the difference I did not, and indeed do not, know whether the problem is the Blog or my computer/monitor.  So I raised the subject of my Campaign forum and TMP, to ask if others found the same difference.

Some of the replies said they both looked ok.   Some said the first was smaller than the second, but still easy to read.

I posted the problem on the Blogger forum and received advice to check the Template to confirm that both showed the same print style and font size.   Both do.

Then I was advised that the problem might be typing the blog entry using Word, and then  pasting into the blog.  This is exactly what I have always done.  But I had done it on both blogs so why would one be larger than the other?   

Apparently the answer would be to copy all the entries, paste them in Notepad, copy them again and past them back into the blog.   

There are only about ten entries on the Linz campaign blog, but it took me all morning to carry out this exercise.   The end result looks much the same to me, but I am waiting for a reply from Blogger Forum to see what they think.

Perhaps the answer will be to just increase the font size.

This is the first time that I have typed an entry direct onto the blog.   I am using Arial and normal for the font size.  It looks ok as I type, but I will not know whether it works until I post the entry.

Next week I hope to get back to Wargaming! 

Tuesday 19 March 2013

PBEM 1813 Linz Campaign

I am looking for volunteers to take on the role of corps commanders in the next phase of my 1813 PBEM campaign.

I have started a Campaign Diary Blog.   It contains a short history of the1813 campaign, and a summary of each phase.   It also contains an introduction to the Linz phase.    Once the campaign has started I will post an entry for each move three times a week.   Detailed battle reports are also posted.     You can find it here

This is a fun campaign, designed to produce wargames rather than to refight the historical campaign.  

It started as a solo campaign in 2009 and converted to PBEM in 2010.

It is fought as a series of mini campaigns, each lasting four to six months.

This is an Old School type of campaign.  No complicated computer system to master.   

Each corps commander is given an objective.    He then has to plan how to achieve it.   Each campaign day he writes orders for his two divisions.   Will they move, and if so where and in what order of march.   What will they do if they meet with the enemy.   Should they halt and resupply.   The player is faced with the same sort of problems faced by a historical commander,  and must make the same type of decisions.

At the end of each move he is sent an umpire report.  This is a map with his current deployment, and any enemy he has made contact with.  Each square on the map shows one square on the wargames table, so he can plan what type of terrain to use and fight on.    It also shows his order of battle and current strength.   Based on this information he writes simple orders for the next campaign day.

Minor skirmishes are decided by the umpire.  Major battles are fought by my wife and I.

The aim is to achieve one campaign day each week.    Corps commanders will have four days to write their orders.  If unable to do so they have only to let me know and I will make other arrangements.

If you would like to take part you will need to join the campaign forum.   I use this as a notice board for the campaign and a place where questions can be raised and comments posted.   You will find the forum here

Summary of Burgos Campaign

Map at end of Burgos Campaign

The campaign ended on a high note with the second battle of Pancorbo.  This was similar to the historical battle of Baylen and resulted in the destruction of Wellington’s 1st corps and the loss of the campaign.

This was the second campaign in western Spain.   Wellington had won the first when he defeated Soult and forced him to abandon Valladolid.   

The six corps commanders had much more freedom of choice and movement in the Burgos campaign than in any of the previous ones.   I played the role of both Wellington and Soult, but I only issued orders when I felt either side needed a new objective to keep the campaign on track.

I feel that it worked well.   Apart from setting the objectives I had very little influence on the progress, or outcome, of the campaign.   All critical decisions were made by the corps commanders, including the French decision to abandon Aranda and move north to support Burgos.

The French suffered badly in the first three battles, and had to abandon their forward position and retreat to the Bayonne to Madrid road.   I may be wrong, but I got the impression that this early success made the allied commanders a little over confident.   Certainly it was a lack of caution which led to the loss of 1st allied corps at Pancorbo.

The fourth battle of the campaign forced the northern French corps to abandon Pancorbo and retire north.   This left the two southern corps cut off from Bayonne, and in danger of being attacked at odds of three to two.

1st allied corps sent their Spanish division, which had suffered least casualties, to occupy Pancorbo.   Their British division, which had suffered heavy casualties, were held to the west to recover.

This allowed Soult (me) to take one division from the centre corps and march north to retake Pancorbo.   The battered 6th French corps (which had lost Pancorbo) joined them in the attack which resulted in the destruction of 1st allied corps.

The progress of the campaign illustrates the advantage of PBEM rather than a solo campaign.   In a solo campaign I would have had too much information to take the decisions taken during this campaign.   The six corps commanders were all working in isolation and had to take difficult decisions based on inadequate information.   It s easy for me to sum up where things went wrong, but it was much more difficult for them to make decisions with little direction from their Commander in Chief (me).

So thanks to all the players who took part.   I hope that you enjoyed it as much as Jan and I did.   Without your efforts it would have been a much less entertaining campaign.

There are still a few campaign diary entries to conclude the campaign.   But I have already done most of the work on the next campaign.   I hope to post details of the new blog later today  on the campaign forum and will be asking for volunteers to take on the role of corps commanders.