Sunday, 26 May 2019

Wargame Command and Control

Fifth French Army (Southern Spain)

We only use Commander in Chief and Corps Commanders as command figures on the wargames table.    

Normally there are four corps, but in southern Spain only three.

Our wargame rules are derived from La Sacre Feu (LFS) rules, and we particularly liked their command and control rules.  

These allow corps commanders to issue orders to their brigades to move, skirmish and fire.   Brigades must remain within 8” or the corps commander or else they are out of command range, and he cannot issue orders to them.  This ensures that the corps operates in a close formation.  If a brigade is detached, for example as a garrison, and the rest of the corps moves they quickly become out of range.   Also as the game develops and brigades start to rout or are shaken and have to be rallied, the corps commander must decide whether to halt the advance, or just leave them behind.

The CinC issues orders to his corps commanders.   These restrict the choice of the corps commander.   In our rules they are Halt, Move, Engage or Attack.   If a corps is not on Attack its infantry cannot take part in hand to hand combat.   To issue orders to a corps commander the CinC must be in base contact.   The advantage of this rule is that corps commanders cannot react to what is happening elsewhere on the table.   They must issue brigade orders in accordance with the objective in their current orders from the CinC.

LFS allows the CinC to have multiple moves.  He has the same basic movement rate as light cavalry, but can move two or three times as far each move.  This is necessary to adjust the corps commander orders as the game develops.  For example to change Engage to Attack so that they can charge and melee the enemy.

I have always been uncomfortable with this rule, because the sight of the CinC moving such vast distances is really difficult to justify.   If light cavalry can only move 14” in a move why should the CinC be able to move from one three or four times as far in the same time.

We have tried to restrict his movement to 16” each move, but allow him to send orders by ADC.   So at least he can issue orders to move than one corps commander at a time.  However it may still take two or three moves for the order to arrive.   In a game which lasts a maximum of 12 moves this is much too long.

The end result is that we have had to create a complicated system which would allow a corps commander to order an infantry brigade to melee hand to hand, even if the corps was on Engage orders.
We have now rewritten the rules to change the role of the CinC and also the orders a corps commander can issue.

In future the CinC will still issue objectives and orders to his corps commanders.   But they will be restricted to Move, Hold or Retreat.  
His main role will be to create an army reserve if required
He will do this by taking brigades from one or more corps to create a new corps
He will then normally command the new corps/reserve
Brigades must remain within 8” of the CinC to receive orders

The corps commander will now be able to order infantry brigades to melee
The whole concept of Engage and Attack will no longer apply

However the corps commander will still have to follow the objective set by the CinC
So he will still be unable to react to what is happening outside his area of operations

If sounds like it will solve the problem.   But as I have learned in the past, things often work out different in practice than they appear in theory.

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