Wednesday 29 July 2020

Battle of Gifhorn

End of Move 4
The first battle of our new Brunswick campaign was a really good example of how unpredictable our wargames often are.

At the end of move 4 the French had advanced onto the table and halted out of artillery range of 1st Prussian corps.    They then advanced their artillery within range of the enemy infantry.   This would allow them to fire on Prussian infantry, but the Prussian gunners could only fire on the deployed artillery.   The French would need 8 or more with 2D6 to hit, the Prussians gunners would need 10 or more.

Unfortunately I misjudged the distance of my French dragoons from the enemy artillery.   They were just within range.   I didn’t realise this until Jan pointed it out to me after the end of move 4.  It goes without saying that she is a much better judge of distance than I am!

In single corps games we roll 1D6 at the start of each turn to decide who moves first.   For move 5 this could well decide who won the game.   If I moved first I could withdraw my cavalry before Jan got a chance to fire on them.   I rolled a 4, Jan rolled a 5.   She moved first.   She needed 9 with 2D6 for a hit, she rolled 8.
End of Move 8
For the rest of the game just about everything that could go wrong the Prussians did.   Each time there was a critical dice roll, Jan rolled low.  When it didn’t matter she rolled high.

Her hussars charged my dragoons.   She won the first round of melee, with 10% casualties against my 20%.   Better still she was just disordered, I was shaken.   However on the second round I reversed the odds.  We both ended with 20% casualties, but now she was shaken and I was disordered.

The French artillery hit an infantry brigade for the second time.  With 20% casualties they needed 5 with 1D6.   They rolled 3, failed the test and joined the gunners running away

As my infantry advanced her artillery hit the leading brigade.  They made their morale and continued towards the guns.   She needed 6 to hit at close range, another 10% casualties would almost certainly rout the infantry.  She rolled 5.  The infantry charged the guns who routed with 20% casualties.

The landwehr brigade in square next to the guns had to test their morale due to the gunners rout.   They were full strength and needed 3 or more with 1D6.   They rolled 2, broke and also ran.

Finally two French brigades in column charged a Prussian brigade in line.   One round of melee is fought for each French brigade.    The first was a draw, with 10% casualties each.   But the second saw the Prussians break and run with 30% casualties.

Thus ended the game.  

Had the Prussians hit the French cavalry at the start of move 5 they would have won the game.   Without cavalry support the French would have called off the attack and retreated to avoid a very likely defeat.

As it turned out 1st Prussian corps was smashed, and will be hard put to hold their own for the remainder of the campaign.

Sunday 26 July 2020

1813 Campaign in Germany

National map showing campaign areas

There are three campaign areas in Germany

North – 1st French Army v Prussian Army

Centre – 2nd French Army v Russian Army

South – 3rd Bavarian Army v Austrian Army 

Regional map showing initial concentration areas

Each campaign area consists of three military regions

In each area the French occupy the western region, and the allies the eastern one

The centre region is where the 1813 campaign will be fought


Although Austria, Prussia and Russia have agreed a general operational plan, they have not agreed on a single Commander in Chief to coordinate the three allied armies.

The ultimate aim is to drive the French out of Germany and invade France.  However it is accepted that the invasion of France is unlikely to take place until 1814.

When they met in early January 1813 the five heads of state agreed that they would declare war on France on 1 February.

The main offensive would be in Germany, and the Austrian, Prussian and Russian armies would all march west on the same day.   This grand plan did not take into account the difficulty in preparing the three armies for operations.

Prussia had contributed a relatively small army to the invasion of Russian in 1812.  This was because France had imposed strict controls on the size of the regular Prussian army.   Prussia had tried to overcome this by creating a large reserve army of landwehr who would only serve for one year before returning to civilian life.  This gave them a large reserve of trained, but not experienced, military manpower.   The regular army did take part in the Russian campaign, but avoided being too heavily involved.

Russia had, of course, suffered massive casualties during 1812.  By the end of that year their army was almost as badly damaged as the French Grande Armee.  There were large reserves throughout Russia, but it would take some weeks before they reached Germany.

Austria has also sent a small army to support Napoleon in Russia.   They also managed to avoid being drawn into the heavy fighting, and suffered relatively light casualties.   However Austria had a large empire to control, and their corps and divisions were dispersed over a large area.   They would also require some weeks to concentrate sufficient troops and material at Vienna.

The declaration of war was issued on 1 February.  But it was followed by two weeks of delay in Germany.   Frantic efforts and movements were taking place to train and concentrate the troops of the three nations, but all was quiet on “the western front”

Prussia was the first to take offensive action.   On 20 February Blucher crossed the border from Berlin region into Brunswick region.   The campaign had finally begun.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Background to the new 1813 campaign

 National map showing campaign areas

New 1813 Campaign
This is a fictional campaign designed to produce interesting wargames.   It is not intended to recreate the historical campaign, but is loosely based on it.

The current campaign allows me to fight mini campaigns throughout Germany and Spain.   Each is a stand alone campaign, bearing little relation to those which went before or come after.

The new campaign will allow me to introduce a grand strategy element which will coordinate the five campaign areas and each mini campaign fought within those areas.

The first step is to create a new military command system throughout Germany and Spain.   This is now complete, including new maps for the whole campaign area.

The next step is to create the administration to allow me to control and coordinate these mini campaigns.

First I need a fictional historical background, a framework for the mini campaigns which will follow.   Below is the first attempt at this background      
Regional map showing start positions

In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with an army which included many nationalities, including Prussia, Austria and the Confederation of the Rhine.   The invasion ended in his complete defeat and rout.   By the end of the year the broken survivors of his Grande Armee had reached the relative safety of Germany.

In January 1813 Napoleon ordered the creation of five new armies, three in Germany and two in Spain.  There were three sources of manpower available to him.   The survivors of the Russian campaign.   The large number of experienced men serving in Spain.  And new conscripts from France, Germany and Italy.  

Large numbers of experienced men were transferred from Spain to Germany to form the cadre of these new armies.   They were replaced with inexperienced conscripts.

The threat was from the large, but exhausted, Russian army which had halted at the river Elbe.

In Germany he could rely on Prussia to hold his northern flank, and Austria the southern flank.   What was left of the Grande Armee would hold central Germany.   The new brigades, divisions and corps would be formed in France, and deployed in Germany when completed.

Allied Plans
In early January Britain held secret talks with Austria, Prussia, Russia and Spain to form a new alliance against Napoleon.   They agreed a coordinated plan of attack in Germany and Spain.

The Prussian army would concentrate at Berlin and take Brunswick
The Russian army would concentrate at Dresden and take Erfurt
The Austrian army would concentrate at Vienna and take Munich
The British/Portuguese army would concentrate at Oporto and take Burgos
The Spanish army would concentrate at Seville and take Madrid

French Plans
On 1 February 1813 the allies declared war on France.  

This was not a complete surprise to Napoleon, who had received intelligence throughout January which caused him to prepare for an Austrian/Prussian/Russian attack in Germany.

However he had not yet completed the major reorganization of his new Grand Army.   Consequently he would not be able to oppose the initial allied army advance into central Germany.

On 20 February 1813 he issued orders to his five armies

1st French army concentrate at Osnabruck and invade northern Germany
2nd French army concentrate at Dusseldorf and invade central Germany
3rd Bavarian army concentrate at Munich and hold Bavaria
4th French army would concentrate at Burgos and hold northern Spain
5th French army would concentrate at Madrid and invade southern Spain

Sunday 19 July 2020

Start Brunswick Campaign

Brunswick Region
This is the third time I have started this campaign.
It was always planned as a test campaign, to try out new ideas.

The first attempt was using all of Brunswick Region as the campaign area.   As I explained in an earlier campaign update, this would involve too large an area.   The 6x6” wargame table would cover an area from Lubeck to Goslar, which is 294 km. 

It was my intention to have an ongoing campaign on this map, with the phases controlled by the number of supplies available to each army.  This would be restricted to seven days.  When one army ran out of supplies the phase would end.   This also proved unsatisfactory in test play.   More time was spent building and moving depots than in fighting battles.

We fought two battles using this first attempt, and then decided it was not working
Brunswick District
The second attempt would stick with our tried and tested campaign phase system.   The nine districts in Brunswick Region would each be a campaign phase.   However this meant that I had to redesign the maps to create nine wargames tables out of each Region.

This map is the result.   Each of the nine sections of the District has a named town, and is also a wargames table.   The map looks very similar to our previous campaign maps, except that the nine towns/tables are outlined in red.

My first attempt with this new system has the Prussians on the left of the Brunswick Region (first map above), and the French on the left of the map.   The three towns in the centre would be the decisive campaign area.

It was only when I play tested the system that I realised this would mean that the first three battles would be for possession of the centre towns.   All three would be fighting in a built up area.   Our rules cover this type of wargame, but they allow very little tactical skill, and depend more than most on the roll of a dice.   The table is set with opposing corps on the left and right section, and the town in the centre.  Both sides make a dash for the town, and meet in the centre.   The outcome is then decided by skirmish fire (very slow) or a melee (very fast).

Unfortunately in the first two battles/games the attackers (the French) lost.   They then had to retreat, leaving the defending Prussians in an even stronger position.  After two defeats the campaign was effectively decided in favour of the Prussians.

So I have now started a third attempt.   In future corps will not be positioned in towns, unless they are under siege.   They will deploy in front of the town, resulting in a more normal battle/wargame.   The attacker will have more options, including flank attacks.

I think it will work, but it is now down to the play test campaign to see whether it does or not.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

1813 Campaign – New Maps

New Map of France
France is not yet divided into campaign areas
This will be done if, and when, the campaign moves into France

France is dived into 8 military regions
Each military region has 9 districts
Each district has 9 towns

There are 729 towns in France
Each town is a wargames table
New Map of Italy
Italy is not yet divided into campaign areas
This will be done if, and when, the campaign moves into Italy

Italy is dived into 7 military regions
Each military region has 9 districts
Each district has 9 towns

There are 567 towns in Italy
Each town is a wargames table
New Map of Europe
Europe is dived into 32 military regions
Each military region has 9 districts
Each district has 9 towns

There are 2592 towns in Europe
Each town is a wargames table

Future Map Project
All of the new maps are basic in design.   The intention is to make the military regions and districts obvious and help me to remember them all.   These are ideal for running the campaign, but not really suitable for the campaign diary blog

Current maps look more like “proper” maps, even though they are not really accurate.   In the future I hope to combine the look of the old campaign maps with the detail of the new ones.

Sunday 12 July 2020

New Blog Index

It is strange how you use something day in and day out for years and are quite happy with it.  Then one day you notice something not quite right, and cannot rest until you have put it right.

This week it was the index to this blog.   Right from the start I have used the labels function on the right of the blog as an index.  I am not quite sure, but I think it was Bob Cordery of Wargaming Miscellany Blog, Conference of Wargamers (COW) and the series of books about Portable Wargaming fame who suggested it.    Bob gave me some excellent advice when I started blogging, and I am sure that was one of his suggestions.

Anyway, it has served me well for eleven years.   But last week I was looking for an old blog and could not find it in the index.  Worse still I realised what a shambles it had become.   Each time I wrote a blog I listed it under one of the existing subjects, or else just added a new one.   Recently I have been writing a lot about my ongoing 1813 campaign, and have used the name of the current campaign phase on the index.  The result was along list of campaigns, with little indication of what the blog entry was about.

So on Tuesday I sat down and wrote a new index on excel.  I just listed each subject on the existing index.  Then I chopped and changed them about, added new subjects and put them in alphabetical order within subject groups. 

It sounds easy, but not when you consider that I have 807 blog entries.  Each one had to be opened and given a new reference number and sometimes name.   Worse still once I started opening them I wanted to read them again!

It has only taken two days to complete, but it was pretty full on.   I enjoyed doing it, and am pleased with the result.   As with most things to do with blogging, we do it for our own satisfaction.   I do not expect anyone else to actually use the index, but for me it makes the blog seem more complete.

If any of you serious bloggers are looking for a summer project, whether due to lockdown or retirement, I would strongly recommend it.

Wednesday 8 July 2020

New 1813 Campaign Progress

Brunswick Region

We have managed a lot of test play on the new campaign, and it soon became clear that major adjustments were necessary.

I had planned that the area for each campaign would be one of the military regions.  Each region has nine districts, and each district would be a wargames table.   But it soon became obvious that this was too great an area to fit on a 6x6 foot wargames table.   For example from Hannover to Hamburg was one wargames table.   But in fact this is 150km.   Much too far even for a fictional campaign.

So I decided to make each district a campaign area.  But to do so I would have to divide the district into nine towns/villages.   And each one would be a wargames table.   The map above shows how this works for the Brunswick region.

Each square on this map is a wargames table and one days movement on the campaign map.   The distance from Hannover to Hamburg is three squares, which is three days march.   50km a day is still stretching it a little, but is easier to accept than
150 km a day.

Most of them are much shorter.  For example Hannover to Brunswick is 60km, a very reasonable 20km per day.

The second problem was the new supply system.

I had planned to limit each campaign phase by restricting each corps to seven days supplies, without the option of resupply.   This seemed reasonable in theory, but did not work in practice.   Each army had to spend time to establish a depot to bring forward their supplies, then wait to issue them.   It made any advance impossible to support.

So I have planned to revert to the previous system of supply.   Each corps will start with four days, plus one day in depot.   Each depot will collect one days supplies per day.   Each army will have a reserve corps of four infantry brigades to garrison depots.  So each army can have a maximum of four depots, one for each corps.

Just completed the reorganisation, and hope to test play the first campaign this week.

Sunday 5 July 2020

Start of Brunswick Campaign

North Germany Map

The first campaign of the new concept will be set in Brunswick.   By coincidence this was also the location of the first campaign phase for the last reorganisation, back in February 2016.  

I have made a new map for North Germany, which looks a little better than the very practical one I have used to date.   It looks similar to the one I used with the previous system, but it is completely different.

There is no north coast detail, because each square on this map represents one 2x2 foot scenic square on the table.   This is the map I will use for the higher level grand strategy I plan to create.   But in keeping with my main aim of building everything from the table up, it is in effect just like a very big wargames table.   All of this map could be transposed to the table, but you would need a table 54x18 foot (27x9 two foot squares).

You can see that each corps will be represented on this map, plus the extended supply system.   The main base for the French army is Osnabruck, which is also the main supply depot.   There will be lines of supply running to each corps.   Osnabruck Region is the French rear area, Berlin Region for the Prussians.

With this map it will be possible to do any necessary post campaign redeployment, plus sieges.   I am not sure how much I will develop this new side of the campaign, but I am really pleased that I now have the option.
Brunswick Campaign Map

Because this is the first phase of the new campaign, both armies enter from opposite sides of the map on day one.   Both armies have four days supply, with a further three days in the depots of their rear area.

Both armies have occupied the towns nearest to their rear area.   If halt for one day they can establish depots in each town.   They can then bring forward supplies, continue their advance and still remain within supply range.

However 13th Polish corps (bottom left) have moved through Hildesheim towards Goslar.  In doing so they have moved beyond their supply depot at Detmold.  They have gained a tactical advantage, but have only three days supplies left.   If they do not position themselves within 3 squares of a supply depot by the end of those three days they will start to lose attrition casualties (10% of one brigade each day).

So you will see that there are interesting new tactical decisions in this new campaign concept.   The aggressive attacking player must lose in the end, unless he can also plan his supply system.

And things can only get more interesting after the first battle.    The loser will find themselves forced to retreat for at least one day, throwing all of their supply plans into confusion.

Should be interesting

Wednesday 1 July 2020

1813 Campaign – Test Campaign

Germany Strategic Map

It has taken a long time, but we are finally ready to give the new campaign system a test play.   It is about six weeks since we completed the last campaign phase.  This has been by far the longest break in the campaign since it started in 2009.

When I started I thought that it would take a week or two.  I already knew what I wanted to do, and expected that I would just have to alter the existing maps.  But a bit like decorating the house, the more I did the more I realised I still had to do.   In the end I have had to redesign all of the campaign maps and rewrite the campaign rules.

It soon became obvious that the well tried campaign phase system would not work with the new concept.  This was disappointing because this has worked so well, and is a vital part of the previous concept.   Each of the five campaign areas have a stand alone campaign in sequence.   At the start of the mini campaign both armies are full strength and fully supplied.   A complete fresh page for each campaign.

The new concept will be an ongoing campaign in each of the five campaign areas.  The length of the campaign phase will be restricted to seven days.   Each army will start the phase with seven days supplies.  They will not receive any supplies during the campaign phase.  When they run out of supplies each corps will start to receive attrition casualties (10% of one brigade each day).  

The test campaign will be set in the Brunswick region of North Germany. At the start of the campaign both armies are deployed along the border of the region.   In future campaigns they will be in the same positon that they finished the last campaign.   Or at least the positions they were in after compulsory morale moves at the end of the campaign.
Brunswick Campaign Map 
The campaign map looks very similar to the previous campaign.   However it covers a much bigger area.   In the previous campaign each of the nine towns on this map would have been a campaign phase.   In this campaign they are one wargames table.

I expect the campaign to follow the same course as the previous one.   Both armies will have to establish depots (corps must be stationary for one day) and bring forward supplies from depots off map.

The main difference will be the seven day limit on each campaign.   The objective is to defeat the other army, simple as that.   Each corps will start with four days supplies, and new depots will have to be established within supply distance (three squares) by then or the corps will have to retreat to resupply.

There will be a constant balance between trying to hurt the enemy, whilst protecting your supply chain.   The side that gets this balance right should win, providing that they can also win the critical battles.

I am really looking forward to seeing how this test campaign works out.