An encounter battle is where both corps are marching towards each other, both are off table and will arrive at the start of move one. 13th French corps is on left and 4th Prussian corps in on the right. “No mans land” is the centre square.
I received a comment on last week’s blog asking how I can ensure that a wargame is completed in 12 moves without sacrificing a lot at the tactical/table top level. This is a really good question, and I should have given more time to explaining it in the previous blog. It is a little too complicated to answer in a few lines, so I promised to answer it in detail this week.
First I should remind you that there are 12 hourly moves in the campaign, and there are 12 moves in the wargame. So each move on the table is one hour in the campaign.
In those 12 hours a corps can move three map squares, providing that they are on a road.
In the campaign enemies are not allowed to enter the adjacent square, which I call “no mans land”. If they attempt to do so a battle is declared, and the wargame table set up to represent the nine squares on the map, with the “no mans land” square in the centre of the table. The battle is set up with corps located as they were at the end of the previous day.
A standard battle is where both sides are deployed and ready to attack, with just the “no mans land” centre square between them. 4th French corps artillery is limbered and the corps ready to advance into artillery range. 1st Prussian corps is in defence, have unlimbered their artillery ready to fire and positioned some of their troops behind the town.
There are three types of battle which can be fought as a wargame. An encounter battle is when both armies are marching towards each other. A standard battle is when both are deployed the day before with just the “no mans land” square between them. A defensive battle is when one side is deployed in defence and the other will advance to attack them. All three are shown in the photographs.
There are normally three distinct stages to all of our campaign battles fought as a wargame, each are four moves long. The first is the approach and deployment phase. The attacker enters at his end of the table and it takes four moves to deploy ready to attack
The second stage is the artillery combat. The centre square, or “no mans land”, is slightly more than long artillery range. So one or both, corps have to advance within artillery range and deploy. This gives an advantage to the defender. The defending artillery then has four attempts to hit the attackers. The attackers normally have three moves.
The third stage is the close combat battle. The attacker now advances to musket range, and a skirmish and volley fire takes place. As he does so the defender have two more moves to hit him with artillery fire, the second probably at short range. The battle is usually decided with combined artillery, skirmish and volley fire.
A defensive battle is where one side is deployed and have hold orders, the other is advancing with orders to engage or attack. 4th Spanish corps are deployed in the centre square to hold the road approaching the town. “No mans land” is the centre left hand square. 16th French corps will enter that square from the left at the start of move one.
In a minority of battles this can prove ineffective, or we may be reaching nightfall (move 12). Either commander can at any time decide to charge and engage in hand to hand combat, however he has to issue specific orders to do so. In a multi corps battle only the CinC (not the corps commander) can do so. This type of combat always results in casualties to both corps, often heavy casualties. It is heavily influenced by the dice throw, so it is a risky thing to order.
Normally as night nears, say move 11 or 12, both sides have brittle morale due to battle casualties. Very often one good, or bad, dice throw will cause one brigade to rout and that will often result in adjacent brigades joining them. With the result that there is a clear winner and a clear loser.
We have fought 252 campaign battles as wargames in the past ten years, and only in four or five have we had to fight a second day to decide the outcome.
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