Saturday 24 January 2015

Too Much of a Good Thing

I run the PBEM campaign to provide interesting battles for Jan and I to wargame.   But you can have too much of a good thing!

The problem with running six mini campaigns side by side within the main 1814 campaign is that I have no control over when and where a battle will occur.   Each of the twelve army commanders chose when and where to fight.

Despite this lack of control on my part, it is unusual to have more than two battles to wargame at any one time.   But since our return from our Christmas break I have had six all at once.

That is not to say that all twelve commanders are fighting at the same time, one area has produced two battles at the same time.   This is because in one campaign area the four corps on each side are fighting over a very wide area.   The wargames table can only cover nine map squares, which is usually sufficient to cover all of the fighting on one day.  But in one case they are so dispersed that I have to fight two battles to cover the whole area.

Each battle usually takes one week to wargame.   Each one lasts a maximum of twelve moves, and we can usually fit a whole battle in each seven days.   Of course some end quicker, but can still take a week.

Its three weeks since we restarted the campaign after the Christmas break, and so far we have managed to wargame three battles, and have just started the fourth. So we are meeting our self imposed target.   But it is daunting to have so many battles waiting to be wargamed.

There is usually a break of two or three campaign days after a battle, that is two to three actual weeks.   As soon as one wargame is complete I can send out the umpire report and ask for the next day’s orders.   So everything does not stop until all six battles are complete.  And hopefully the next set of battles will be more staggered as a result.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Crowded Battlefields

As a result of Jan’s prolific wargame building project we now have many more buildings than we could ever use on one table.   This prompted me to redesign the size of towns on the wargames table.

We now represent a city with four scenic squares and about 15 buildings.   A town would half that size that is two scenic squares and about 7 buildings.   A village is one scenic square and 3 or 4 buildings.

About three or four months ago I redesigned all of the campaign tactical maps to make the battlefields more crowded.   The aim was to have one city or town, one village and one farm on each battlefield.  In addition I would make more use of my collection of trees and broken ground/marsh.

We have just wargamed our first major battle using one of the more crowded battlefields.   A major battle has three or four corps per side, in this case four per side.

The photo above shows the wargames table at the end of the battle.   The stars indicate brigades which have received casualties.   Red markers indicate brigades in rout.   But the interesting feature if how the various terrain channels movement.

On the right he city of four terrain squares covers all of one 2x2 foot square.   Marsh either side of the city further breaks up movement.

In the centre the farm at the top, and village bottom, both provide strong points to fight over.   The woods in the middle was the most fought over piece of scenery on the table.   Again movement is channelled between the three terrain features.

On the left the woods and a small hill channel movement, both advancing to attack and for brigades in rout.

I commanded the attacking army, and it was immediately obvious that it would be quite difficult to find sufficient space to deploy and attack all four corps.   Gone were the carefree days of wide open spaces where two or three corps could advance abreast.

It made the resulting wargame much more interesting.  Initial deployment became much more important.   Once a corps was deployed it was very difficult to move north or south.   As always one corps was deployed in each 2x2 foot squares.   The reserve corps was deployed in the centre square, and could not move either north or south without a considerable delay.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Wargame Building Project

We have not finished all of the Spanish buildings yet, but we have sufficient to make a variety of farm and town sections.   This is what a typical wargame table layout looks like.   The four town sections in the centre would be a large city, with two outlying farms.

This is a close up of the town sections, all of the buildings were made by Jan.   The 28mm model soldiers give an idea of the size.

I wanted all of the buildings to be free standing so that they could be removed to allow figures to move through the town, and to allow for hand to hand fighting.  

Sunday 4 January 2015

Review of 2014

We have spent Christmas and New Year with our family.   14 days without the computer.    14 days away from the wargames table and the campaign.   It was an ideal opportunity to review 2014, or actually 1969 to 2014.  

We started wargaming in 1969, the same year that we married.   Since then it has played an important part in our routine.   Most of that time was spent collecting, painting and replacing model soldiers.    There was not a lot of time for actual wargaming, usually just one game a week.    But wherever we went the figures came too. 

As we got older we had more time, and money, and spent many enjoyable holidays walking Napoleonic battlefields.  

When we retired we moved to Spain, and ensured that the house would have sufficient space for a wargames room.   With the extra spare time our wargaming quickly increased to fill the gap.

The major difference was the early decision to start a campaign to provide a constant stream of wargames for us to fight.   That has been a huge success.  The whole campaign was designed to use our collection, our scenery and our wargames table area.    For the first couple of years it was a solo campaign, which allowed me to develop the rules and find what worked and what did not.

In 2009 we converted it to a PBEM campaign.  That resulted in further rule development.   The discipline of a campaign involving other players, and having to adjust to the temporary nature of internet involvement, required a robust campaign system which did not rely too much on individual players.

As the campaign developed it required more and more time to administer.   The whole thing is manual, though stored on the computer.   There are six independent campaign areas, each with two players. 

The aim was to complete one campaign day each week.   With six different areas it was hoped that at least one campaign area would provide a battle to wargame all the time.

During 2014 we have had 32 campaign days and fought 53 battles.   Not quite one campaign day per week, but sufficient battles for one wargame each week.

There has been a wargame on the table throughout the year.   We manage an hour or so most days.   The campaign administration requires about ten hours per week.   So we spend about fifteen hours a week on the campaign or wargaming.

During the year we have had five weeks holiday.   Our normal weekly routine is two days hill walking, which leaves five days to fit the campaign in around the rest of our lives!

It has indeed dominated our lives during the past year, but in a most enjoyable and rewarding fashion.   Both of us missed it greatly during our recent two week break.   Both of us are looking forward to another busy and happy wargaming year.

A very happy New Year to all of you reading my latest rambling thoughts.