Saturday, 20 September 2014

Unusual Wargames

The Rout of Fourth British Corps

This game started with this British corps in rout, closely followed by a formed French corps.   All five British brigades, plus the corps artillery, were in rout.  They had varying numbers of casualties.   Those with more than 30% were very unlikely to rally.   One, the Portuguese, had no casualties and therefore stood a good chance.   This is the elite British corps, with two brigades of rifles.   Three of the four infantry brigades were elite, and would stand a better than normal chance to rally.

I often read on forums that wargamers would like to game unusual games, with a change from the normal even sided armies.   My reaction is usually “be careful what you wish for”.   This is because over the years I have fought countless wargames, and the best have always been when both sides were more or less even, both had interesting terrain to fight over, both followed a good tactical plan and the outcome was decided by a small element of luck in the form of the dice.   It sounds rather boring, but I have found it to be very true time after time.

Our PBEM often provides very challenging battles to wargame, indeed normally does  so.   However the battle of Mondragon was the exception which proves the rule.

The campaign army commander has complete freedom to do as he wants.  I have found that the “fog of war” produces more than enough problems for most commanders.   Few seem to be able to follow an obvious campaign plan.   An unexpected attack can throw even the best plan into confusion, and it is often as much of a surprise to the attacker as the attacked.

I never know the reasoning behind the orders issued by the campaign commander.   And indeed I have no feeling one way or the other who wins or how clever their battle plan might be.   Some seem to have no real plan at all, just a determination to attack whenever possible.   
Table at the start of the Battle of Mondragon

The French commander was aware that there was a British corps (top left) but still ordered one of his corps (off table top right) to pursue the routed 4th corps (centre).   He was not aware that there was a third british corps (bottom centre).   The second French corps (centre right off table) was not under orders to join the pursuit, but would “march to the sound of the guns” once the battle started.

I would imagine that many would consider this to be an “interesting” wargame.

In fact it turned out to be rather a waste of time.

11th French corps (top right) came under attack from 1st British corps (top left) as soon as they entered the table.   Part of the routed 4th British corps rallied and moved to support 1st British corps.   2nd British corps deployed to meet 5th French corps (off table right).

Within four moves 11th French corps had been defeated and retreated.   5th French corps arrived too late to make any difference.   They also retreated as soon as they sighted 2nd British corps waiting for them.

It had taken longer to prepare and set up the wargame than it did to fight it.

If the campaign commander orders a battle, then we are quite happy to wargame it.  But I am pleased that we do not often have such “interesting” ones to game.  

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