Sunday 28 August 2016

Campaign Casualties - Part One

Since I converted the 1813 campaign from PBEM to solo play I have taken much more interest in how the campaign actually works.  The campaign was designed to provide interesting battles for Jan and I to wargame.  But I was equally concerned that the campaign would be interesting for the ten players taking part.   There were five campaign areas each with a French and allied army of four corps each.   So battles were frequent and very varied.

Wargames are often decided by the luck of the dice, and ours are no different.   The result can often be heavy casualties on one side.   This is not a problem when fighting “one off” battles, but can have a major effect in a campaign.  Casualty replacement quickly became a major concern.

Each phase of the campaign was designed to last about three or four months and provide about three or four battles.   However if the first battle of a campaign resulted in one side suffering very heavy casualties, particularly in cavalry or gunners, they would never really recover their battle effectiveness.

I did not want a campaign commander to lose because of poor dice during his first battle.   Some might argue that it should be possible, and often happened in real life.   But that would not be much consolation to a player who had put weeks of work into his campaign plan and initial movement to lose it all because of a wargame over which he had no control.

I could overcome this by campaign casualty replacement.   It is reasonable to suggest that most battlefield casualties would return to their regiments soon after the battle.   Some would have light casualties, some would have run away and later rallied.

Most of our battles were small affairs between one or two corps.   Casualties were often concentrated in one or two brigades and could be 20% or 30%.   Cavalry and gunners suffered a higher proportion of casualties than infantry.

After a battle the loser would retreat, and the winner halt and reorganise.   For each day spent “resting and reorganising” a corps would receive 400 infantry, 100 gunners or 100 cavalry replacements.   This represented 10% of an infantry or cavalry brigade or corps artillery. 

Infantry casualties would be concentrated in one brigade in each corps, always the one which had suffered the greater casualties.   So a corps would effectively lose one of its four infantry brigades.   The remaining three would be all fight at their full combat effectiveness.   So the overall effect was not too great.

But cavalry or gunner casualties would have a major effect on their combat effectiveness.   If casualties were more than 10% or 20% they would still take part in battles, but would be very fragile in combat and more of a liability than a useful part of the corps.   If they had 30% casualties or more they would be removed from the order of battle until they had received battle replacements.

During the PBEM campaign there were five campaign areas, each providing a battle every two or three campaign days.  So there was never any shortage of battles to wargame.   And because each area was at a different stage of their mini campaign, there were a wide variety of battles.

When I converted to Solo campaign I also decided to game just one campaign area at a time.  This was to make the map side of the campaign more interesting and manageable.  But it also made the problem of battle replacement more urgent.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Wargames Scenery

Coaching Inn ready for painting
After many years of scratch building wargame buildings Jan has pretty well run out of new projects.   You can only use so many buildings on the table.   We have organised our collection of buildings to provide cities, towns and villages for both northern Europe and Spain.   All built up areas are based on 12”x12” squares of material, light brown for towns and green for farms.   One square in a village, two a town and four a city.   
New walls and outbuildings
All buildings are free standing, so that they can be removed if necessary to allow for fighting within the built up area.   We made a mass of walls and hedges, both Spanish and Germanic, so that we could make different farm layouts.  However we soon found that the walls would keep falling over, or would not fit the required shape.

Painted complex (including horse shoes over the stable doors)
So this summer we have been planning a selection of permanent villages and farms.   We now have four villages, two Spanish and two Germanic, each with a church and two or three small buildings.   Very little work involved, mostly a new paint job so that each is a slightly different colour.
Finished Coaching Inn

The farms were a little more work.   We decided to make them in three sections, to make them easier to store.   The farm building is one and the walls or hedges a left and a right section.   So the whole fits together much better, and are less likely to fall over.
A 28mm Napoleon inspects his overnight accommodation
Jan make the coaching inn last year, but we never really found a use for it.   We had planned it to be part of a German style town, but it does not really fit with the rest of the medieval type buildings.   So we decided to add walls and outbuildings and make it a standalone feature.  

For the past three months our dining room table has been covered in a wide assortment of card, balsa wood, paint and miscellaneous building materials.   Our son and his family arrive tomorrow for their annual two weeks in the sun (they live north of Newcastle!).   Needless to say the whole house have to be cleaned and made child proof (children are 10 years, 6 years and 1 year).   Fortunately the building project was completed just in time, the finishing touches added this morning in fact.