Sunday 26 February 2017

1813 Campaign – Cuidad Real Phase

Tactical map at start of campaign

This is the first campaign in Spain since the recent rewrite of the campaign rules for Spanish militia and guerrilla.   So it will be interesting to see how they work out in practice.

The map shows the location of the French and Spanish corps at the start of the campaign.   Normally the campaign objective, Cuidad Real, is in the centre of the map.   However this time it is down in the bottom right.

The Spanish field army consists of four corps, and they do not stand much chance of success against the French in a set piece battle.   In addition they are deployed in the middle of the map, leaving them dispersed and within easy reach of the French.   This is to allow the French the opportunity of a surprise attack to weaken the Spanish before they can retreat.

So at the start of the campaign things do not look good for the Spanish.  However the new element in this campaign is the increased numbers of militia and guerrilla brigades.

There are nine militia brigades, one to garrison each town.   When the French occupy that town the militia brigade become a guerrilla group.   However they are still tied to the area of their home town.

The French have occupied the three most northern towns.   These are Navalmoral, Guadalupe and Alcoba.   The garrisons of those town have converted to guerrilla bands and are hovering out of reach of the French corps still in occupation.

The French plan is to move south over a wide area, in order to prevent the Spanish field army from concentrating against them.   However this means that they will have three lines of communication which they will have to protect until they achieve complete victory.  Each occupied town requires at least one infantry brigade as garrison.

As the French advance south they will have to detach more and more brigades, thus weakening their own field army.   If the guerrilla can capture garrisons or supply columns the French will suffer attrition casualties until they can resupply.

If the Spanish can avoid a major defeat as they retreat, and if they can weaken the French as they advance, a victory should be assured.

The principle is historical, but how it will work in practice we will have to wait and see.

Sunday 19 February 2017

1813 Campaign - Role of Spanish Militia and Guerrilla

The next campaign phase will be set in Southern Spain, and in preparation I have rewritten the campaign rules for militia and guerrilla.

Since we started the campaign the Spanish corps have been similar in size and composition to the French corps.   Usually four infantry brigades, one cavalry brigade and corps artillery.  However a higher proportion of the Spanish brigades were conscript and have lower morale, firing and skirmish ability.   In addition the Spanish have four militia brigades who form the garrison of each town.   If the town is captured by the French these militia become guerrilla.   To balance this I allowed the French one extra conscript brigade per corps to provide their garrisons.

For the next campaign the Spanish army have been reorganised.   Two of the four corps will have four infantry brigades, one cavalry brigade and corps artillery.  The other two will have three infantry brigades and corps artillery, but no cavalry.

To compensate the number of militia brigades have been increased from four to nine.

The campaign rules for militia and guerrilla have been completely rewritten.   First, and most important, battle casualties will not be replaced for either.   Each 10% casualty reduces morale, firing and skirmish dice roll by one.

Second guerrilla carry a maximum of three days supplies, the French can carry four.

Third their effectiveness have been reduced for the four guerrilla activities.   These are observing the enemy, attack messengers, ambush supply columns and attack garrisons.

It is always difficult to predict how much a difference major changes like this will make, and only experience on the wargames table will prove whether I have made the Spanish too weak.

If you would like to read the full campaign rules you will find them here.   Click on Label 8 (top right) for the militia and guerrilla rules.

Saturday 11 February 2017

End of Erlangen Campaign Phase

Strategic map of campaign area showing location of battles fought

I really wanted Third French Army, who have three Bavarian and one Baden corps, to win this phase of the campaign.

This is the fifth phase of the campaign set in Southern Germany, and the Austrians have won all five.   At the end of the fourth phase the Bavarian/Baden Army had been driven out of Bavaria, and I needed a victory to keep them on the map!

They lost the first battle of this campaign, but won the second.   They then lost the next two, but recovered more quickly than the Austrian Army, who had advanced beyond their lines of supply.

Despite being outnumbered Marshal Oudinot ordered his four corps to attack Erlangen.   The battle covered such a wide area that it had to be fought as two wargames.   Oudinot lost both.

The campaign lasted 6 campaign days and was fought from 6 December 2016 to 2 February 2017.  

Three battles were fought on 27 May, and one large one on 2 June

Since this campaign began on 1 March 1813, there have been 20 battles in southern Germany.   The Austrians have won 12.

This is a good example of how the campaign takes on a life of its own.   I would prefer a more even outcome for the battles, and even more so for the campaign phases.   Each phase is a mini campaign lasting 5-10 campaign days.  

If one side keeps losing they keep retreating, eventually they will retreat off the campaign map!

To avoid the campaign moving into France I will now have to devise a reason for the Schwartzenberg to retreat, even though they have won all five phases.

Perhaps the fiercely independent Bavarian people will rise and retake Munich?