Sunday 28 July 2013

Most Difficult Wargame – Ever

The 1814 campaign has presented me with the most difficult wargame I have ever had to organise.

Both the French and British commanders write orders for their four corps based on incomplete information supplied by me.   The map above shows the position of each corps at the end of the previous day.  They are aware of any enemy corps within two squares (10 miles).

The previous day was a battle between 1st British and 7th French corps.  

The British won, with light casualties and one of their five brigades in rout

The French lost, have orders to avoid the enemy for 24 hours and have suffered medium casualties and have three of their five brigades in rout.

Marshal Soult ordered 19th and 25th corps to attack St Jean (the square with 1st British). 
7th corps was ordered to retreat to Bayonne.   17th corps to halt and resupply

Wellington ordered 1st corps to attack 25th corps.   4th corps were ordered to move into E03.
3rd corps were ordered to rest and resupply.   2nd corps was ordered to attack into I04.

You will see that the British orders do not really make a lot of sense.   The weakest corps, 1st corps,  is ordered to attack.   2nd corps is ordered to attack on their own.   3rd corps are ordered to rest.   4th corps are sent east instead of north.

Under the terms of the campaign Jan and I take command as soon as a battle/wargame is declared.   All corps on, or within supporting distance, of the table come under our control.   We can change the orders for each corps as soon as their turn comes on the table.

First I had to decide which parts of the campaign combat was worth fighting as a wargame.

If one side is outnumbered two to one I calculate casualties as a paper exercise.   1st British corps would have come into this category.   2nd British corps is one to one, so that would be fought as a wargame.

I decided instead to fight a large battle involving all eight corps and covering two wargame tables.  

I then had to decide whether 19th corps should remain with 17th corps, as the latter would face odds of two to one at Cambo.   I decided that the French player wanted to have odds of two to one at St Jean, and he would not have done so had I cancelled 19th corps orders.

It took a whole morning of working on the orders and maps to decide how best to tackle the battle.   We have set up the first wargame, the left hand square on the map above.   In the very first move we have had a huge upset when one body of cavalry charged and routed the enemy cavalry, blocking the column behind. 

If the remainder of the two battles work as well it will have been well worth the effort of setting it all up.

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