Sunday 17 December 2017

Spanish Campaign Army – Basic Campaign

Tactical map for Linares Campaign

This is the tactical map for my current Spanish campaign.   The Spanish are yellow and the French blue.   The Spanish objective is to hold the city of Linares (centre bottom).   The French main depot is Probete (centre top) and their objective is to defeat the Spanish regular army and take Linares.

At the start of the campaign the French have one depot (Probete).   The Spanish have four, including the main depot at Linares.

There are Spanish militia brigades in 8 of the nine cities/towns.   Because Probete is occupied by the French, the garrison has left the town and become a guerrilla band (top right).

The French plan is to send two corps down the main road (red), engage any Spanish they find and take Linares.   A third corps will move through the mountains on the left, and a fourth on the right.   They will protect and support the main army as they move south.  

The Spanish plan is to avoid a formal battle as long as possible, and to rely on their guerrilla bands to disrupt the French communications and supplies.

Each French corps starts the campaign with four days supplies.   For each depot they hold they will collect one day’s supplies each campaign day.   If they have less than four depots Probete will receive the balance.  To resupply a corps must be within three squares of a depot, not moving and not in battle.   The French can move a maximum of four days supplies between depots each campaign day.

Each Spanish corps, and militia brigade, starts the campaign with three days supplies.   Supply rules are the same for the Spanish Regular Army.   A militia garrison will always supply.   A guerrilla band must be in a town or village to resupply.

So a French corps must either remain within three squares of Probete, or must establish depots as they advance.  To do so they must detach a full strength infantry brigade to become the garrison.  The garrison will forage sufficient supplies for one corps each campaign day.

A guerrilla band can attack an isolated garrison or a supply train.   To do so they must be in the adjacent square.   They may not attack either if there is a French corps within one square of the garrison or supply train.

You will find the campaign diary blog here

Saturday 9 December 2017

Spanish Campaign Army - Introduction

Campaign map of Europe

My 1813 campaign has five allied armies, one of which is Spanish.   They have proved the most difficult to fit into my campaign, and have changed the most due to play experience.   I thought it might be interesting for anyone contemplating a campaign in Spain to hear about my experiences.

It is important to understand that my campaign is fictional, and is designed to provide interesting battles to wargame.   The original background to the campaign was roughly historical, but has changed out of all recognition over the past nine years.
Campaign map of Spain

I wanted the Spanish Army to be able to hold their own against a French Army.   But at the same time I wanted the Spanish player to experience the same sort of tactical problems his historical counterpart would have had.

As the campaign is set in 1813 I felt it reasonable that the Spanish troops could be similar to the French.   By this time the best French troops had been removed from Spain and replaced by low quality conscripts and foreign allies.   On the other hand the Spanish commanders, assisted by Wellington, had started to learn from their earlier mistakes.  

Fifth French Army

There are two French, one Polish and one Italian corps.   In total there are 16 infantry brigades, 4 cavalry brigades and 4 corps artillery.   Half of the infantry are average and half conscript.   You will find a full order of battle at Label 51 here

Spanish Regular Army

There are four corps, but only two have cavalry.   In total there are 14 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigades and 4 corps artillery.   Four of the infantry are average and the rest conscript.   You will find the full order of battle at Label 52 here
In addition there are 9 militia brigades, who provide the garrison of the nine cities or towns in each campaign phase.  They do not come under the command of the Spanish CinC, and may not be moved from their town.  If the town is attacked by an enemy brigade they will fight.  If attacked by a corps they will leave the town without fighting and become a guerrilla band.  They may only operate close to their original town.   They have the same combat ability as a conscript brigade.  

So the Spanish have 23 infantry brigades against 16 French, two cavalry brigades against four and the same number of artillery.

Saturday 2 December 2017

Our Spanish Adventure – Part Six

When we moved to Spain in 2006 I knew that most of our leisure time would be taken up with hill walking and wargaming.  I did not realise that I would find a third interest which would take up just as much time as the other two.

I cannot remember even reading a blog before I retired, let alone writing one.  Nor can I remember when I did discover them, but I know it was after we moved to Spain.   I suspect that I found them through TMP.

I have always been one of those strange people who keep a daily diary.   I also used to make an album of holiday photographs.   So it is not surprising that blogging appealed to me.

I believe Napoleonic Wargaming was the first blog I wrote.  The first entry was May 2009 and the aim was to write one entry a week about all aspects of my wargaming activities.   I have kept to that objective, and have posted at least one a week since then.  I kept an index of each subject by using the Labels function.   I always wanted them to be a source of reference, and have continued to do so with all of my blogs.

About the same time I started Jan and Paul in Spain.  This was to be a record of our life in Spain and our regular hill walking.  It was intended for friends and family in the UK, but quickly became popular with nor only our walking group and also walkers throughout the world.   I have one blog for each year and usually post twice a week during the walking season.   Pretty well every walk we have done in Spain since 2006 is recorded in words and photos.   Each blog has an index and it is quite frightening to compare the same walk over the years, and to see how everyone has aged.

The third major blog was my 1813 Campaign Diary.   Started in April 2009 it is a series of blogs covering the countless phases of the campaign.  It would be difficult to count the number of posts over the many blogs, but on average I have posted about 3-4 time a week.

The fourth major blog was Walking Napoleonic Battlefields, also started in 2009.   Over a period of years Jan and I had spent summer holidays walking most of the major Napoleonic battlefields.   I had compiled an album of each holiday and I used these to write a blog about each holiday.   Again they are indexed so that I can find each individual battlefield visit.   I wrote the last entry in 2011, but still get 10-20 visits each week.

These are the major blogs, but I have also written a number of minor ones

Wargames in Spain was a collection of the early wargames we played when we first moved here.   It was also started in May 2009, but covered wargames played over the previous three years.   It lasted less than a year and was replaced by my 1813 campaign blog.

Wellington’s Battles recorded my wargames of his battles.   Started in November 2009 and the last entry May 2012, there were only 14 battles fought.  I used maps and OOB researched for our battlefield visits to plan each wargame.

And finally Napoleonic Wargame Rules and Campaign Rules.   Both started in May 2009 so that anyone could follow my campaign diary blog.   They both received some interest, but really came into their own when I converted my solo campaign to PBEM in September 2009.   The Wargame Rules still receive 10-20 visits each week.

I am really surprised how involved I have become in writing the various blogs.   I am a creature of habit, and always have been.  I have always enjoyed writing my diaries, so I am a natural for writing blogs.  I have always done them for my own enjoyment, but have been greatly encouraged by the comments I receive, and by noting the number of visitors weekly and monthly.   As I write, this blog has had 191950 individual visitors over the years, and has 104 followers.   I would like to thank you all for following my journey and assure you that knowing someone out there reads what I write has been a great encouragement to continue to do so.

And that is enough of my Spanish Adventure, at least for the present.  Next week I will look for something more current to post about.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Our Spanish Adventure – Part Five

Our first wargame in Spain

We both worked full time until we moved to Spain.  In fact I finished work on the Thursday and caught the boat to Spain on the Friday.   So not only did we have to adjust to retirement, but also to leaving behind our social life.   Whilst working we found that one evening a week devoted to wargaming was sufficient, though I did paint most days for an hour or so.

I found the most striking adjustment was having every day completely free of commitments, and being able to fill them up with whatever you felt like doing.   For a couple of weeks I felt quite guilty for “having” to do anything.

We quickly joined the Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers, which accounted for one day.   What I used to call “personal administration” when I was in the army took another two days.  That left us four days free.
Our new kitten helps me rebase figures

In those early days I still hoped that we might be able to either join, or form, a wargames club.  That would allow us to wargame and make new friends at the same time.  Unfortunately that did not develop.   So we started by allowing one full day for wargaming.   This worked quite well for a couple of months.   But we found that we did not want to spend a whole day wargaming, and gradually changed to an hour or two most days.   We found this suited us much better and continued to do so.

Having so much time to game we found it increasingly difficult to come up with new ideas.   One early solution was to refight historical battles.   In 2009 we started with Wellington’s battles in the Peninsula, and wargamed each of his battles, concluding with Waterloo.   I started a blog to record these games, as I hoped they might prove useful to other wargamers.   

When we finished Waterloo I tried to do something similar with Napoleon’s battles.  But they were much larger and required too many figures for my wargames table.   I did experiment with his Italian campaign, but it never developed.

In April 2009 I also started my 1813 campaign.   This was designed to provide an endless supply of interesting battles to wargame.  It proved much more successful than the refight of historical battles.   We are currently gaming the 269th battle in that campaign.

I have written quite a lot about that campaign on this blog, and I will not repeat it again.  However if you would like to know more just select Label 04 on the right and look through the posts.

I always knew that wargaming and hill walking would play an important part in our retirement.  But I had not anticipated how important blogging would become.   To conclude this series about our life in Spain I will outline my introduction to blogging next week.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Our Spanish Adventure – Part Four

Salisbury Journal 1984

We arrived in Spain on 18 March 2006.   We had travelled by boat from Portsmouth to Bilbao.  This meant we spent St Patricks Night with a mass of Irishmen wearing green top hats and knocking back gallons of Guinness.   As I was born in Dublin myself this was a very appropriate way to start our new life.

On arrival we had three priorities.   One sort out the house.   Two arrange to join a walking group.  Three sort out our wargames room.   Number two proved the easiest to solve.  This area is very popular for walking, and there are many small groups.   The most popular is called Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers.   It is very similar to the Ramblers Association in the UK, but is free to join.  They walk twice a week and offer two or three walks each time.  So they cover all abilities.   We joined in the first month and soon after moved to a smaller private walking group.  We have walked with them every week since.

First walk with Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers

Sorting the house would take a year or so.   The unpacking was completed in days, but with a new house there are a lot of small, and not so small, jobs required to make it a home.

The wargaming packing boxes were stacked in our brand new wargames room and we set about planning just what sort of wargames set up we wanted.

The first decision was what sort of wargames table and shelfing for the model soldiers and buildings.   We knew the size, but were not sure what sort of playing area we wanted.   Our table in Salisbury was inspired by our visits to Peter Guilder’s Wargames Holiday Centre.   He used 3x3 foot scenic squares to create his terrain.   We had much less space, and settled for 2x2 foot squares.  That size has served us very well for 20 odd years.

First Wargame in Spain

We considered getting a mat cover and using flexible road and river terrain.   But eventually I decided it would be too much trouble setting up each wargames table, and we would need a lot of terrain sections to be able to create the wide range of games I anticipated playing.   So we decided on 2x2 foot squares.  But these would not be covered in pollyfiller as our previous ones.   They had required constant repair as the paint chipped off.   The squares would be painted, but only hill sections would be built up.   The end result was more basic, but I liked it much better.

We had brought three armies with us.  6mm Heroics and Ross, 18mm AB and 28mm Elite figures.   As the roads would be painted on the squares we settled for a compromise between 18mm and 28mm.   Our broad plan was to fight small battles with 28mm, medium with 18mm and very large with 6mm.   All three armies had the same order of battle, so this would not be a problem.  

I was aware from research before the move that there were no formal wargames clubs or groups in our immediate area.    There was a Spanish group in Alicante, but that was too far to travel regularly, and there would be the language problem.

When we moved to Salisbury and formed our first group we did so by asking the local newspaper to publish an article.  They were happy to do so, and we had a good response which got us started.   There are two English language newspapers here, and we approached them to do the same.  One sent a reporter to take photos and did a full page write up.   The response was promising, but none of the ten who contacted us had any experience of wargaming.   None had sufficient interest to commit to a weekly wargame either.   Two of them had a casual interest, and we arranged a couple of games.   But it did not achieve what we wanted to do.   We wanted to be able to wargame on a daily basis, and could not do so if we had to set up a different wargame once a week.  So we decided that the answer was to restrict it to just the two of us.   This would allow us to have a game set up permanently on the wargames table, and we could play an hour or two whenever we wanted.  For the first time we would wargame daily, rather than weekly.

Next week I will explain how we adjusted to daily wargaming