Saturday 26 March 2016

Artillery in Wargames

Our wargame rules are designed to allow us to fight large multi corps battles with relatively small numbers of 28mm figures.   Each corps has four infantry brigades represented by 8 figures each.   There is one cavalry brigade of 4 figures.  And just one gun and 4 crew.   Our largest battle would have four of those corps per side.   So a total of 128 infantry, 16 cavalry and 4 guns with 16 crew.

The rules are designed to allow for a fast flowing game with a maximum of 12 moves.   Each casualty affects morale and combat efficiency, and the winner is normally the one who can maintain their morale better than the loser.

The rules are designed to allow artillery to be effective, but not usually the game winner.   Two dice are used to determine a hit.  At long range an 8 is required to hit infantry in the open, at short range 6.  Gunners, cavalry and troops in cover are more difficult to hit.   So it is not unusual for artillery to miss their target.  However each time they hit they have a significant effect on morale and combat.

We have always allowed unlimited artillery resupply which in turn means that it makes sense to fire the guns each move, no matter how difficult to hit.

This gives a considerable advantage to the defender who usually deploys at the start of the game and then waits for the attacker to reach them.   Throughout this period their guns can fire at will on the attacker.

The attacker has to deploy and then advance and often masks his artillery in doing so.

The normal attacker sequence for a 12 move game is as follows.   4 moves to move onto table and deploy.   4 moves artillery preparation.   4 moves to advance, reach the enemy and decide the outcome.

This week we started to experiment with limited artillery resupply.  Our first attempt was 8 rounds per 12 move game.   But we found this was too much.    The attacker usually deploys out of artillery range, so the defending guns could fire each move that they were in range.

So we have reduced the ammunition to 6 rounds per 12 move game.   In the first game it did not make much difference, because it was move 6 before the attackers moved within artillery range.  

The defender did open fire during move 5, but was out of long range.   This had quite an effect, as it made the defenders hold their fire next move, so that they could fire every move until the end of the game.   The game actually ended on move 10, so they were left with two rounds anyway!

I think it will add an extra dimension to the game, and that it will make the defender consider each round fired before move 6.  This is the aim, and it will be interesting to see how it works out.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Wargaming with the Spanish Army

Spanish Army

Perhaps the most difficult Army to use in the campaign is the Spanish Army.   There are 2 cavalry brigades, 14 infantry brigades, 2 guerrilla bands and 4 artillery.

French Army

Their opponents are four corps, two are French, one Polish and one Italian.   They have 4 cavalry brigades, 16 infantry brigades and 4 artillery.  

How to maintain the poor quality of Spanish armies, yet allow them a chance of holdings their own against the French, has proved a very difficult problem to resolve.

The campaign objective is to produce GOOD wargames.  This is to say interesting GAMES.   Over the years I have found that one sided games are not a lot of fun, and indeed are pointless other than as a one off experience.

You will see from the above that the French are stronger in cavalry and infantry.  They are also much better in morale, skirmish and volley fire.  

In the current campaign I am trying to balance this by making it difficult for the French to maintain their supply system, particularly as they advance from their depots.   This was an historical problem in the Peninsula, so it would be appropriate if I can make it work.
Spanish Tactical Map

At the start of the campaign each town and city has a Spanish militia brigade.  If the French occupy a town the militia become a guerrilla band.   The French must garrison the town with an infantry brigade, and the guerrilla band can attack providing that they are full strength and supplied.   When they do so the French do not receive any supplies because they are under attack.    The Spanish roll 1D6.   If they roll a 6 the French retreat with 10% casualties.  Any other total the Spanish always retreat and the lower the score the higher their casualties. 

The more towns the French occupy the less infantry they have available for their field army, and the more Spanish guerrilla bands there are to harass them.

Providing that the Spanish avoid battle and retreat in the early part of the campaign,  they should be able to weaken the French army sufficiently to allow them to attack with overwhelming numbers.

It sounds good in theory, but not sure whether it will work in practice.

Time will tell.