Saturday 13 October 2018

Rivers in Wargames

Bayreuth Campaign Map

In any campaign, even a fictional one, major rivers are going to play an important part.   As in real life they are obvious natural barriers which give a huge advantage to the defending player.  

When I designed my campaign I wanted to show all of the major European rivers on my maps.  But I did not want them to give too much advantage to the defending player.   To this end I gave them more bridges than might be found on a historical map.   You will see from the above map that there are bridges in nine out of eleven river map squares.   On the campaign map corps can only cross river by using a bridge.

At this stage of the campaign 2nd French corps has crossed the river Saale and cut the main Russian supply road (the red road) just above the town of Kulmbach.   The town is still held by the Russians.   1st Russian corps has been ordered to engage the French and open the supply road.   If possible they will cut the French off from the west bank of the river and thus cut their supply line.
The battle of Kulmbach

This map shows the wargame table created from the campaign map.

When I designed the campaign, and wargame rules to fight the subsequent battles, I wanted to be able to use all of the table.   As a result no square is impassable.   Infantry and cavalry can ford all rivers.  They move at half movement rate and are unformed until they have completed crossed to the far bank.   Artillery can only cross by using a bridge.

At the start of this game the French have cut the Russian supply road and are about to attack Kulmbach (walled town in the centre).   1st Russian corps will advance between the river and the town and try to cut the French off from the bridge top left.  If they are able to do so, and the French unable to take Kulmbach, they will have won the game.   They will also have cut the French off from supplies, and 2nd French corps will have to surrender.

2nd French corps are part of the Young Guard, and as such good quality troops.   1st Russian corps is a mixture of medium and poor quality troops.   However the Russians have the advantage of 17 brigade, which is the garrison of Kulmbach.  They must remain within the walls of the town, but they are stronger than the garrison of an open town.

This type of wargame illustrates the advantage of campaign driven games.   The scenario is a little unusual, as are the objectives.   The French are unlikely to lose, but if they do the consequences are dramatic.

It also illustrates how rivers can be used as a tactical, rather than a strategic, barrier.   If the river could only be crossed by a bridge it would be impossible to get the whole French corps back to the west bank.   As the first brigades started to cross the remainder would quickly be overwhelmed by the increasingly stronger Russian corps.


  1. Having more bridges than there actually were negates the "channelling" effect of the real terrain.

  2. Hi Mike

    True, but that it the whole idea

    Otherwise there would be a lot of campaign battles featuring futile attempts to force a crossing of a defended bridge.

    Obviously not suitable for everyone, but it suits my approach to wargaming




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