Sunday 27 January 2019

Composition of Corps

Austrian army of four corps

Some weeks ago I commented that some bloggers get a lot of comments, whilst others seem to get very few.   I went on to place myself in the latter category.   Since then I have received more comments than previously.   All were very positive and supportive. 

Last week I received a comment on “Role of Corps Commander” suggesting that the four infantry and one cavalry brigades in each corps should be divisions rather than brigades.   Mike was obviously not satisfied with my initial reply and wrote a further two posts.   I don’t think he was satisfied with my replies to those either.   However there is only so much you can do in a comment section.   So I thought I would explain the reasons I choose brigade rather than division in a full blog.

I have explained in the past that the concept of my 1813 campaign was to create a fictional campaign whose purpose was to provide interesting battles for Jan and I to wargame.   I wanted to use all of the figures and scenery already in my collection to create all of the major armies which took part in the actual 1813 campaign.   I did not want to have to collect or paint any new figures.   Finally it all had to work for 28mm figures on a 6x6 foot wargames table.

It was clear from the start that there would have to be a lot of compromise to achieve this objective.   My existing collection of model soldiers had been designed for use with “In The Grand Manner” rules.   However before I left the UK I downsized the collection by about 50%.   This was because I knew I would be using a 6x6 foot wargames table, and I only wanted enough of each nation to “fill” the table.  

My existing reduced figures were organised in divisions of 4 infantry battalions of 32 figures each, two cavalry squadrons of 8 figures each and 4 guns with crew.   Each battalion had a mounted officer, plus four divisional command figures.   This gave me a total of 10 mounted, 128 infantry, 16 cavalry and 4 guns per division.

As planned this number of figures would fit comfortably on each side of a 6x6 foot table.   I wanted to field four corps per army, and to be able to fit all of them on the table.   However I planned that the initial deployment would normally be three corps in the front rank and one in reserve

Because I now wanted to field multi corps, rather than single divisions, a considerable amount of compromise would be necessary.

Each infantry battalion would become a corps, with 4 cavalry and one gun.  This would give me a corps of 32 infantry, 4 cavalry and one gun with 4 crew which is 40 figures.

The average Napoleonic corps was 20,000 to 30,000 strong.   This would give an approximate ratio of 1 figure to 500 to 750 men

The average Napoleonic infantry division was 10,000 and cavalry division 4,000
I decided that each corps would be approximately 20,000 men.   This would give me a ratio of 1 figure to 500 men.

I decided to organise my model soldier collection into ten army groups, five French and five allied.    Each army group would have four corps.

I wanted each corps to have six sub elements, four infantry, one cavalry and one gun.

This would give me a strength of 4000 per sub element.

My initial intention was to have four infantry divisions, one cavalry division and corps artillery.   However 4000 men was too small for an average division of 10,000.   I decided that the elements would be infantry brigades of 4000, cavalry brigades of 1,000 and corps artillery of 1,000

My wargame rules are based on Le Feu Sacre, and I particularly like their command and control rules.   So commanders would have to be reduced to 1 army commander and 4 corps commanders.   The corps commander figure would represent the division and corps commanders.   Each corps would have 6 brigades. 

Had I decided on a corps of two infantry divisions, one cavalry brigade and corps artillery I would have had four commanders per corps.   this would have made command and control too easy.

I fear that many of you will have found this post to be complicated and long winded. But it is the only way that I can explain why I finally opted for brigades instead of divisions.   It is quite possible that I have still failed to convince anyone, but that is not the intention.

The whole thing is designed to provide Jan and I with the type of wargames we enjoy.  They are not a commercial set of rules, so I don’t have to convince anyone else.

The whole concept took a long time to work out and implement, but has proved to be well worth the effort.   We have had about ten years of enjoyable almost daily wargaming and it has all stood the test of time.

I don’t envy commercial rule writers who do have to justify every aspect of their rules to a wide range of gamers who will all have their own prejudices and preferred rule systems.

Sunday 20 January 2019

Role of Corps Commander

Second French Army with four corps

Current Role
Carry out the objective and role ordered by the army commander

Issue orders to each of the brigades in his corps.

To do so they must remain within 8” of him

Command Points (CP)
At the start of his turn he receives 1CP for each Formed brigade under his command.
He also receives 1CP if he if Poor, 2CP if Average and 3CP if Gifted
He gets no CP for Unformed, Shaken or Routed brigades

He can move a maximum of 16”, and must use 1CP to do so

Each CP allows him to issue one order to a brigade
These include move, change formation, skirmish, volley fire or hand to hand combat

He can use 2CP to issue orders to a brigade
Half move and change formation
Half move to limber and move, or move and unlimber

He must wait for orders from the army commander to change from Move to Engage, or Engage to Attack.   This greatly restricts how he can fight his battle.   For example a brigade on engage cannot move forward to hand to hand combat.

New Role
He will be allowed to change his corps role from Move to Engage, Engage to Combat and vice versa.

He will not be allowed to order his corps to Retreat or to Move or Engage from Hold

This will allow him to increase, or decrease, the tempo of his battle. 

But the army commander will still control the increase from a defensive Hold to an aggressive Engage.   He will also have to issue orders for a corps to Retreat.

Sunday 13 January 2019

Role of Army Commander

Russian and French Army each with four corps

Current Role
Issue orders to each corps commander at the start of the game, and amend them as necessary during the game

There are two parts to each order

First state the objective, for example “take the hill in the centre”
Second confirm how he should do so, for example Hold, Move, Engage, Attack or Retreat

Only he can change either the objective or the role, and to do so he must be in base contact with the corps commander

Command Points (CP)
At the start of his turn he rolls 1D10 and adds 1 if he is a Poor commander, 2 if Average and 3 if gifted.   The total determines how many orders he can issue that turn.

He can move a maximum of 16”, and must use 1CP to do so

The number of CP required to change corps orders depends on the ability of the corps commander.  1CP if Gifted, 2 if Average and 3 if Poor.

It takes too long for the army commander to reach the corps commander and change his orders.   This in turn slows down the game and makes it difficult to increase the tempo from Move to Engage to Attack.   Even if ADC are used it can take two or three game moves to reach the corps commander

New Role
He will continue to issue objective and role at the start of the game

He will continue to change both if in contact with the corps commander

However the corps commander can now change Move, Engage and Attack.  Only the army commander can change Hold and Retreat.

The army commander can take command of any brigade within 8” and can form a new reserve or group.  For example he can group artillery to form a Grand Battery, or cavalry or infantry to form a new reserve.   However these brigades must remain within 8” for the remainder of the game.   This will reduce his ability to move around the battlefield, but will give him a new tactical role.

Any brigade within 4” of him will receive plus 1 on their morale throw.   This will allow him to influence the morale of a particular corps by his presence