Saturday, 10 December 2016

Start of Erlangen Campaign

 Deployment at the start of the Erlangen campaign

The latest phase of the 1813 campaign is set in Southern Germany, and deals with the Austrian attempt to take Bavaria and invade southern France.   So the rather dull green Russian and dark blue French uniforms will be replaced with the light blue Bavarian and white Austrian ones.

The campaign has been running since July 2009, and has provided us with 244 battles to wargame.  

Throughout that period the mechanics of the campaign has changed very little.   We still use exactly the same figures and orders of battle that we started with.   We still use the same wargame and campaign rules, though with minor amendments in response to tabletop experience.  Jan and I have wargamed all 244 battles. 

There have been three major changes.

The whole campaign has been recorded in a series of blogs, which are still available online.   When I started I had very little experience of blogging.  Nor did I imagine that it would still be going strong 80 months later!   I designed the blog to be a reference of the campaign, and used the labels to help in this regard.  This worked quite well for almost a year, but had to be reorganised when the campaign went PBEM in February 2010.   The change from solo to PBEM required a reorganisation of the administration of the campaign, to handle the extra work load to service 12 other players.  
The most important change was when I discovered ProFantasy software to make maps.    My first maps were all hand drawn on paper, followed by photocopies of a road atlas with a hand drawn grid.   However the software allowed me to make maps designed from the table up.   Each wargames table would become a grid square on the strategic maps of Germany and Spain.   On the tactical maps each square would represent a scenic square on the wargames table.   The new maps appeared in 2010 and made the PBEM campaign possible.

The third important change was the PBEM itself.   This introduced an ever changing cast of corps and army commanders to contribute and influence the campaign.  Jan and I always fought the wargames, and I always controlled the administration of the campaign, but the players controlled what happened where and when.   It worked remarkably well for more than five years.

I had run many solo campaigns over the years, but none has lasted more than a few months.   Right from the start the 1813 campaign, then solo, was designed to last.   I started planning it just after we retired and moved to Spain in 2006.  

I knew that wargaming would play an important part in our new life in Spain.   Jan and I had wargamed together for 40 years and were agreed that we would continue to do so in retirement.   I decided that I would no longer paint wargame figures, but would concentrate on wargaming instead.   The campaign would provide a framework for all of our future wargames.

We designed our wargames room and the 6x6 foot table, just the right size for two players.   The table would consist of nine 2x2 foot scenic squares.   I then designed the whole campaign around the table.   One scenic square would be one grid on the tactical map.  One wargames table would be one square on the strategic map.

Running the campaign, and wargaming the battles, replaced the many hours per week that I used to spend painting model soldiers.  The campaign diary blog was always part of the plan, and now takes up many hours each week.   I now post an update daily, except when we are wargaming a battle.   These usually take about one week to complete.

Despite all of the above, I am still excited to be starting a new phase in the campaign.   Fortunately we have never lost our enthusiasm for wargaming, I really don’t know what we would do without it.

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