Sunday 25 February 2018

End of Spanish Campaign

End of Linares Campaign

My Linares campaign has concluded with a Spanish victory.

The campaign has lasted twelve days and produced five battles.    The French won the first three but the Spanish won the last two.

It took four months to play the campaign, and proved to be one of the most interesting yet.   This is mainly because of the new campaign rules for guerrillas, which added a new dimension to the campaign.   It was also very satisfying that it had such a historical feel, and that the outcome was down to the success of the guerrilla bands.

For many years I ran the campaign as PBEM, and I loved the lack of personal control due to having ten players each commanding an allied or French army.  But after a couple of years I grew bored of the same style of wargames which the campaign provided.   The armies and nationalities might change but the type of battle rarely did.

This was because I allowed the players to make all tactical decisions, how else could they get any enjoyment out of the campaign.   But this resulted in a very limited number of wargames.   In retrospect I think that this was because most players did not last long enough to learn the necessary lessons.   Most commanders only played one, or two, campaigns.   They had a limited knowledge of the campaign and wargame rules, and could not be expected to choose the best tactical deployment to win the eventual wargame.

I converted to solo campaign about two years ago, and even for me it has been a long learning curve.   I amend both campaign and wargame rules as a result of campaign and wargame play.   This has proved particularly effective now that I play the role of allied and French commander both in the campaign and on the table top.

Most of the rule change has been to prevent me from “gaming”, both in the campaign and on the table.  

In the campaign the most important influence has been supply and resupply.   I allow each corps a maximum of four days’ supply.   It takes at least one, and often two, campaign days to bring the enemy to battle.   At the end of the battle the attacker will usually be down to one or two day’s supplies.   If he runs out he is punished by attrition casualties.  So even if he wins he is faced with the problem of immediate pursuit and loss of attrition.  Or wait to rearrange his supplies and await resupply and replacement of battle casualties.

If he loses he is in real trouble.  He still faces the problem of attrition casualties and resupply, but he has now lost the initiative to the enemy who won the battle.

It all provides an unexpected loss of control for me as umpire, commander and wargamer.  

It also provides surprisingly fun wargames.

Sunday 18 February 2018

New Campaign Map

Strategic map of Spain
I seem to spend most of my life making new campaign maps.   I enjoy doing it, it’s a little like basket weaving.    There is a lot of repetitive work, very similar to painting model soldiers.   In fact I seem to have replaced painting with making maps.

Above is my current Strategic Map of Spain.   Each square is 15 miles and shows the area covered by one days march in the campaign.   Each square has a named town or city, which becomes the objective of the campaign phase.   This map is only used for planning purposes.
Tactical map for Linares campaign
For campaign movement I make a tactical map which covers the same area as three squares on the strategic map.   Each square is 5 miles and is a scenic square on the wargames table.   This map is used for campaign movement and to transfer battles to the table top

The problem with these maps is that apart from town names and rivers, all other terrain has to be made up.
Malcolm Map of Spain
Many years ago I discovered the campaign maps produced by Malcolm McCallum, which I think were called Murat Maps.   I contacted him and he confirmed he was happy for me to use them for my campaign.    These maps covered the same area, but unfortunately not the same scale.   His maps use one campaign day to move from town to town.

They had the great advantage that they showed the terrain I was missing, though not sure how accurate it was.   Even more important they showed national borders, including the minor European states.
 Malcolm map with strategic grid

To use this map in my campaign I had to use a grid system.   I started by using three of the bars on the map surround.   Each of these would become one square on my strategic map.   I highlighted one town in each square to be the campaign objective.
Malcolm map with tactical grid

I then drew a second grid, using each of the bars on the map surround.   Each of these would become one square on my tactical map, and also one scenic square on my wargames table.

New Strategic map of Spain

This is my new strategic map.   This is copied directly from Malcolm’s map.   I will now have to add towns in each of the empty squares, so that each square has a campaign objective.   I will then have to compare it with my current map to ensure that all towns used in previous campaigns are still named.

Using this system I will eventually be able to cope all 21 maps created by Malcolm, or at least as many as I need to cover my campaign area.   I will then be able to create a map of Europe with the same detail as each of the strategic maps.

Should keep me busy for a couple of months at least.