Sunday 31 May 2020

Review of 1813 Campaign

Campaign map of Europe

When I started the campaign in April 2009 I also started a blog to keep a record of the campaign.

In October 2009 I converted the solo campaign to a PBEM campaign, and the blog became a daily diary of the campaign.   It became increasingly more detailed in order to keep the ten players updated on the progress.  It also included detailed wargame reports as so that they could understand how their campaign battles were fought.

In all there have been five revisions of the campaign.   The most recent one was February 2016, when I reverted back to a solo campaign again.  In retrospect I should have revised the administration of the campaign, and in particular the blog.

The blog takes a lot of time to update.   There is a detailed summary of each campaign area, which has to be updated at the end of each campaign phase.   There is a record of each day, and a detailed wargames report on each battle.   Photographs are taken of each wargame move, and they are then improved on the computer with direction arrows to better explain the game.

There may have been some justification for all of this work when there were ten people taking part in the campaign.   But recently I have come to suspect that very few people actually look at the campaign diary blog.   I never do, except to update it.   So there is a lot of work for very little apparent reward.

So the first object of the review will be to redesign the blog and simplify the administration of the campaign.

I also want to review the command and control of the main 1813 campaign.   The wargame part of the campaign works well, and will remain.   I like the stand alone phases, or mini campaigns.   But I want to develop the campaign above that level.

It is going to be a major overhaul and I am really looking forward to it.   But I am also aware that often these reviews do not work out in the long term.   So I will protect the current campaign until I have proved the new concept works.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Time for Change

Campaigns Phases of Fifth 1813 Campaign

During the long, hot summer months we have to adjust our lifestyle and spend much more time at home.   This results in a big increase in time spent wargaming, and I often review the campaign and consider what I might change to improve it.   

This year I have started the review much earlier due to the very strict lock down regulations here in Spain.   Ten weeks ago the whole country was confined to their homes by law and only allowed to leave to do essential shopping or for a medical appointment.   This new law was strictly enforced by the police who would impose a fine of 600 euro for any breach of the new law.   Within one month half a million people had received such fines.    So it is not surprising that most of us accepted the new restrictions, however reluctantly.

The result was that I started my review much earlier than usual. 

There have been five stages of the 1813 campaign since it started in April 2009.  

Stage 1 – solo campaign April 2009 to October 2009
Stage 2 – PBEM campaign October 2009 to July 2013
Stage 3 – PBEM campaign July 2013 to March 2015
Stage 4 – PBEM campaign March 2015 to February 2016
Stage 5 – Solo campaign February 2016 to May 2020

The basic campaign is designed to produce interesting wargames, using all of my wargame armies and scenery in rotation, and has not changed at all throughout this period.   It was designed from the tabletop up, and the whole mapping system reflects this.

The campaign rules were written to support this concept, as were the wargame rules.   Both have been revised throughout this period, but changed little.   The basic rules provide the type of wargames we like to play and have stood the test of time.   The campaign has produced 312 battles to wargame.

The campaign is a full time operation requiring updating most days.   There is always a battle being fought on the wargames table.   So it is not surprising that it is a constantly changing project.   But only in minor detail.

Each review was to update a tired campaign to meet a new challenge.  With such a full on project it is not surprising that I usually run out of steam after two to four years.  

The current stage has lasted four years.   During that period we have played 21 phases, each a stand-alone mini campaign.   We have also fought 98 wargames.   There have been relatively few rule changes, either to the campaign or the wargame rules.   However it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a fresh approach to each new phase.   So I feel that it is time for Stage 6.

Thursday 21 May 2020

End of Halle Campaign

Campaign Map on 10 November 1813
Having lost the battle of Radegast, 3rd and 4th Russian corps have to retreat.  This takes them off the campaign map and out of the campaign.   Although 1st and 2nd Russian corps had won the two day battle of Gerbstedt, they were now outnumbered by four French to two Russian corps.   They also retreated, again off the map.

So the French are clear winners of the Halle campaign.
Campaign Phases in Central Germany
This map shows the location, and sequence, of each phase of the current campaign in Central Germany.   You will see that the French have won six of the seven phases fought.

The Halle campaign lasted 9 days and there were five battles.  The French won three, the Russians two
The campaign started on 14 April and ended on 12 May 2020

Campaign Notes   
We completed this campaign a little faster than usual.   This was partly because we have had more time to wargame during our strict lockdown here in Spain.   But it was also influenced by a run of bad luck for the Russian Army.   They lost the first two battles, which forced them to retreat to the north edge of the campaign map.  

The first battle of Gerbstadt was a draw, but really a French victory which they did  not have time to complete.  The second battle was the only Russian win of the campaign.

The fifth battle, another French victory, forced the Russians to retreat off the map and out of the campaign.

It is strange that  the Russians have suffered a whole string of defeats throughout the campaign so far, reflected in them losing six of the seven phases.  

I am at a loss to explain why this should be so.  

The wargames decide the winner of each campaign phase.   Because our games are so balanced, and both Jan and I know the rules so well, the winner of each game tends to be the one who has the best dice.   As a result out of 34 games fought in this area, the French won 18 and the Russians 15, with one draw.   So the game results were fairly even. 

I am not good at working out odds, but they must be quite high against this result.   Given that the actual games won were not too uneven, the loss of the campaign might have been due to strategy or tactics.

Because I have been aware of this unbalance for some time, I have taken command of different armies for each of the past four phases.   However the luck seems to pass from Jan to me with the change of command.