Sunday 23 June 2013

Commanders required for 1814 Campaign

 Battles fought in the Linz Campaign

The Linz campaign has come to an abrupt, and rather unexpected, end with a French victory.  It is a natural end to the campaign, but it came a little earlier than I expected.

The campaign ran very smoothly and produced nine wargames for Jan and I to fight.   Most were unusual, all were very enjoyable.  None were the sort we would have planned for ourselves.  Sometime the odds were very uneven, and the result certain.   Most arrived on the table in an order of march I would not have selected.   Reserves were often not very well placed to support the battle.  But all of this led to different and challenging wargames.  And that is the whole aim of the campaign.

So a successful campaign.  And a fitting end to our 1813 campaign, which has run for four years.

Work on the 1814 campaign is almost complete.  I had hoped that the 1813 campaign would run for another two weeks, and the next one would then have been ready to start.

The next campaign is much more ambitious in size and content.   It will include six different campaign areas all running at the same time.  There are twelve command posts, and each one is an army commander with four corps under command.

I have started a new blog for the campaign.  So far it includes an introduction, details of the allied plan and a map of the initial campaign areas.   Next week I hope to post detailed maps of each campaign area and photographs of each of the twelve armies.   You can find the blog here

Recruiting commanders is going well.  I asked for volunteers last week and have filled eight of the twelve posts.  I can start without the full twelve commanders, but it would be better if I could fill them all.  If you would like to take part you would be very welcome.  No previous experience is required.  The initial commitment is for about three months and during that time you would have to write orders once a week.  

If it appeals and you would like to take part the first step is to join the campaign forum here

Wednesday 19 June 2013

The Next PBEM Campaign - France 1814

The planning for the next campaign is going well, despite constant changes in plan.

My first plan was a fictional 1812 campaign, based on the Austrians and Prussians joining with the Russians to prevent Napoleons invasion of Russia by attacking France in January 1812.   I did a lot of work on maps and orders of battle before deciding to abandon the project.

I wanted to keep some link with the current 1813 campaign, and clearly that would not be possible if the next campaign was based a year earlier.   So instead I decided that the next campaign would be based on the 1814 campaign in France.

The link works well.   Napoleon has suffered more defeats in my fictional 1813 campaign than victories.   He has lost both Hannover and Gera in the mini PBEM campaigns.   So it is not unreasonable for him to call an armistice in late 1813 to allow him to build up his armies.   The allies demand that he retreat to the river Rhine before they accept a cease fire.   That is the background for the 1814 campaign.

The big job is to make new maps, in particular a new map of all of France.  

My first draft of the map is above, and shows my initial thoughts on the proposed campaign.

There will be six armies on each side, so the orders of battle will be another big job.

It’s a very ambitious campaign, much larger than any of my previous ones.  

Each player will be an army commander and will command four corps.   There will be twelve command posts, which is a lot of players to find.

There is a forum for the campaign which you can find here

As the planning progresses I will post updates on the forum and put documents and maps in the files section

Saturday 15 June 2013

Infectious Rout

Six French/Baden infantry brigades break and run as the 7th Austrian division advance.   The routs are marked by the red markers, which also show the number of casualties.   The Austrians have suffered 20% casualties on the jager brigade, who have however made their morale.

The Linz PBEM campaign is providing its fair share of battles/wargames.

It is only 10 campaign days old and already has produced nine battles, well above the average for one of the campaign phases.   This is partly due to the campaign map, which was designed to produce more battles.   But it also owes a lot the “gung ho” attitude of the corps commanders.

Right from the start most appear to have worked on the principle “if in doubt – attack”.  This provides lots of battles.   It can also provide very brittle formations.

In our wargame rules each battle casualty resulted in 10% casualties to the brigade concerned.  To anyone who does not understand the rules, this may not seem very drastic.   However each casualty results in a minus on morale and combat tables.   So even one “hit” will reduce the effectiveness of the brigade.

At the end of the battle each division will receive casualty replacements providing that they are not in contact with the enemy and do not move.  These replacements are the same as one cavalry or artillery hit, or two infantry hits.   The corps commander is notified in the daily umpire report how many replacements each division has received, but he has to confirm which brigade he wants them to go to.   Surprisingly more than one player has failed to do so.   He gets another reminder next umpire report, but if he has to fight a battle the next day the division will do so without the replacements.

In addition it is possible to concentrate all infantry casualties in one brigade in each division.   Despite a reminder of this rule on the forum, most players have failed to do so.   Most casualties are spread between brigades, and failure to concentrate them means that all such brigades will be affected.

For example four brigades with one casualty, or 10% casualties, will all suffer a reduction on morale or combat tests.   But were all four casualties, or 40% casualties, concentrated in one brigade this would greatly increase the morale and combat effectiveness of the division.   One brigade would be non operational, but the remaining three would be normal.

In our most recent wargame this has happened.  

Four infantry brigades in one division started with either 10% or 20% casualties.   All went well until one of them received artillery casualties.   They immediately failed their morale, broke and routed.   All brigades within 4” have to test for the rout, all failed and also broke and ran.   The rout spread across two divisions and the whole French attack broke down.

The nine battles which the campaign has produced so far have proved an interesting and varied lot.   Not a single one was of “line both armies up on the side of the table and charge each other” type.   Each table is laid out from the campaign map.   The armies start in the order of march decided by the player, and with his declared reaction on meeting with the enemy.   This is often changed immediately by Jan or I, but that in itself imposes a delay and allows the opponent time to react.   It is not unusual for one side to spend 8 of the 12 moves in a game/campaign day just marching towards the enemy.  

Often the two divisions of the corps will be out of supporting distance of each other.   The leading one may have orders to attack the two enemy divisions on the table, whilst the supporting division may not arrive until the start of move 5, or even move 9.

It all adds to our enjoyment of the resulting wargame.   Neither of us mind much who wins and who comes second.   The only disappointment is when a game is decided by too strong a run of good, or bad, dice.   An element of surprise adds a lot to a game, but a long run of bad luck spoils it for both of us.

On balance no complaints at all.  We have enjoyed all nine wargames, even the two where the outcome was obvious from the start.  I refer to the two games where a player insisted on fighting at odds of two to one.   The game can be enjoyable given the luck of the dice, even though the end result is never in doubt.

I suspect the campaign will not run for much longer, but it is already one of the more memorable.