Sunday 26 September 2021

Spanish Cuidad Real Campaign

Cuidad Real campaign map

Given my recent work on orders of battle for the whole campaign, this next phase set in southern Spain has come at a very appropriate time.

Over the past week I have spent a lot of time trying to reconcile the strengths and weakness of the French and Spanish armies.   Having made the campaign maps and plotted the corps, depots and garrisons it is all starting to take shape.

The strengths of the two armies are closer than ever before.

French have 30 infantry brigades, 7 cavalry brigades and 6 artillery brigades

Spanish have 36 infantry brigades, 4 cavalry brigades and 6 artillery brigades


The French field army is six corps each having 4 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry brigade and 1 artillery brigade

There is also a reserve corps of 6 infantry and 1 cavalry brigades who provide garrisons for the French rear area


The Spanish field army also has six corps.

4 corps have 4 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry brigade and 1 artillery brigade

2 corps have 4 infantry brigades, no cavalry and 1 artillery brigade

There are also 12 milita brigades who provide the garrison of the 12 towns in the campaign.


The map covers half of two military districts

Cuidad Real is on the left, and Albacete on the right

The centre of the map is the district border


Albacete is the French rear area.

Garrisons are provided by the reserve corps

However when they occupy a town in Cuidad Real district the field army must provide the garrison

There are six towns in Albacete district, all are occupied by the French

Their Spanish garrisons are now six guerrilla bands

As soon as the French field army marches into Cuidad Real district they will attack garrisons


The two field armies are fairly even.

The French have 24 infantry brigades, six cavalry brigades and six artillery brigades

The Spanish have 24 infantry brigades, four cavalry brigades and six artillery brigades


The French infantry are slightly better quality than the Spanish

The French cavalry are stronger and much better quality than the Spanish

The French artillery are slightly better quality than the Spanish


Both sides have large numbers of C quality brigades in all three arms


One big difference is the maximum number of supplies each side can hold

The French can carry a maximum of four days supplies (if available)

The Spanish are restricted to a maximum of three days

It does not seem a big difference but it actually is

It means the French can operate away from their base for longer than the Spanish


On the other hand the French have long lines of supply

The further they advance the more of a problem they become

The more the Spanish retreat the easier their supply problems become.


The other problem, for both sides, is keeping within supply range of their depots


The French are allowed a maximum of 30 days supply

This is four for each corps, plus one day reserve for each corps


The Spanish are allowed a maximum of 24 days supply

This is three for each corps, plus one day reserve for each corps


Each day each depot forage and collect one days supply.   The balance is delivered to the army main supply base each day.


To resupply a corps must be within three map squares of a base.   But with two corps in each of the three armies, this is difficult to achieve.  If the army is concentrated they are usually only within that distance of one depot.  So supplies have to be constantly ferried between rear and forward bases.   This makes them very vulnerable to attack by the Spanish guerrilla groups.


Supply movement and guerrilla activity is not wargamed.  It would be too boring.   Contacts are decided by the roll of a dice.


Each guerrilla group is allowed a maximum of three days supplies.   They get this from any town, village or farm marked on the map.   But to attack they have to move to a French held garrison or convoy.   The movement takes two days, so they can only attack one day in three.   If they run out of supplies and cannot reach a friendly village or town they lose 10% casualties for each day they are out of supply.   This would immediately reduce their combat effectiveness and it would take one day to replace each 10% loss.

All of this sounds much more complicated than it actually is.  I plot all movement on the map shown above each day.   I have three rosters.  One is supply and movement for both armies.   One is French casualties and morale.   One is Spanish casualties and morale.   So I can easily check the current strength and morale of each of the 42 French and 46 Spanish brigades in the campaign

This system has been developed over the past 12 years that the campaign has been running.  It is quite easy to set up, and very easy to amend.   And even more simple to operate.  The roll of 1D6 decides all guerrilla combat.   Everything else is decided by a 12 move wargame.

I am very pleased with the reorganisation of the orders of battle.  And I am now quietly confident that the much different tactical problems in Spain are also ready to test run.

It should make for a really interesting campaign phase.

Sunday 19 September 2021

Balanced Wargame Armies

My 1813 campaign is designed to produce interesting battles to wargame.

My wife Jan and I wargame all of the battles, and have done so for many years.   I have written wargame rules which allow the type of fun games which we both enjoy.   They are not an attempt to recreate historical battles, and above all else each game must be enjoyable.   We both have a comprehensive knowledge of the rules, and what works and what does not.   We can also anticipate how the other will react in given circumstances.  So the only way to keep games fresh and challenging is to rely on the dice to achieve the unexpected.

In the past I have always used a form of “national characteristics”.   For example French infantry are good at skirmishing, British infantry are good at firing.   Whilst this works in general, it does create problems when using elite formations.  For example the Imperial Garde are good at everything, making it very difficult to field any other corps against them.

I have recently reorganised my armies from four to six corps each.  This has increased the number of brigades in each army group, and has prompted me to rethink combat and morale.

In my rules infantry have three different abilities.   They are class, fire ability and skirmish ability.  Each are graded A, B and C.   A get plus one and C minus one.  

I now have 24 infantry brigades in each army group.   There are three A class, 15 B class and 3 C class.   This ratio applies to all nations, except the Spanish.   So the French imperial garde could have three A class infantry brigades, but the other five corps would not have any.

Even I could not accept that the Spanish infantry should have such high performance.   They have 33 infantry brigades.   There are 18 B class and 15 C class brigades.   In addition they have 12 militia brigades, all are C class.   All skirmishers are C class.   So there are lots of infantry brigades, but they do not fight very well.   The end result should be that they do not do well in formal battles, but make up for it with their militia/guerrilla brigades disrupting the French lines of supply.

All of this works well in theory, but has yet to prove itself in practice.   The big problem will be the luck of the dice.   The Spanish can afford to be unlucky, they have to numbers to compensate.   But the results will be dramatic if the French have a run of bad dice.

 I may well have to adjust the number of regular Spanish infantry.  But to do so will mean that they stand no chance at all in formal battles.   And, of course, wargames are always formal battles.  

I may have to accept better class Spanish infantry, but then I would have to reduce their militia/guerrilla brigades.  And that is what gives our Spanish campaign such interesting problems for the French player.

It will be interesting to see how things work out.

Sunday 12 September 2021

Review of Lubeck Campaign Phase

Campaign Phases


This is our current campaign map of Europe.  

Each square is a military district, the area of a campaign phase

Each red square is a military region.

Each star shows the location of a campaign phase

The colour of the star indicates who won.

There are 79 stars

This map records the history of the campaign since it started in April 2009

Battles fought during Lubeck campaign phase

Lubeck was the 36th campaign phase in the sixth revision of the campaign.

This was the last time the campaign was redesigned in June 2020.

It was also the 15th phase fought in northern Germany since 2009

It was the sixth time that Napoleon defeated Blucher

However it is a reminder that Blucher beat Napoleon seven times

So it has not all be entirely one sided.


Napoleon won five of the six battles fought in this current phase

This would appear to indicate that the campaign was very one sided

However many of those wargames were very close, and either side could have won

It is also significant that the only battle the Prussians won was against the Imperial Garde.


There have been 403 battles fought since 2009.

At one time I did keep track of how many were won by each side in each campaign area

That has long since become too complicated, and I now just record who won each campaign.

But I do recall that when I did keep those results both sides were more or less equal

And the fact that the Prussians won more campaign phases indicates that they also won more battles


At the end of each campaign phase I update the campaign records

And this helps me to review the progress of the whole campaign

This process has resulted in many changes to the campaign over the years

Initial deployment for Lubeck campaign phase

This map shows the campaign area

Each square is a 2x2 foot scenic square on the wargames table

Nine of them (3x3) are a wargames table, and one days march in the campaign

You will note that the map is four tables wide and three tables deep


The map shows the initial deployment of each corps and depot

You will see that each side has three armies each of two corps

Each army is deployed in an area covered by a wargames table


This map and deployment results in three separate army engagements

Top, centre and bottom.   Each with two corps per side


This major change in the organisation of the campaign armies has worked well

It allows for one battle to be fought each campaign day

For example 2nd French and 1st Prussian armies (top of map)

They fight on day one, regroup on day two and resupply on day three

On day two the centre army fights and on day three the bottom one.

On day four 2nd French and 1st Prussian armies can fight again.

The main question raised by this campaign phase is relative strengths of corps

The uneven result of five French wins to one Prussian one has raised this question

On the surface it would appear that the French are too strong

However earlier comparison of total battles throughout the campaign do not support this

It is all too easy to jump to conclusions and upset the balance

However it has given me something to work on for future campaigns

Sunday 5 September 2021

Lubeck Campaign – Day 7

19 April 1813 – Northern Germany - Day 7


Blucher orders the Prussian army to concentrate at Wismar, Schwerin and Ludwigslust.   This will take them east of both the

Wismar/Lubeck border and also the river Elbe.

Napoleon orders First French army to retreat closer to the border, but to hold the border towns of Boltenhagen, Gadebusch and Fletchingen.

The French are low on supplies, and their lines of supply are over extended from Lubeck.   To ease his supply problems he must move his army west until he can reorganise his supply system.

The French have won a significant victory in the Lubeck campaign, but they are not yet ready to move into Wismar district.


This is the second campaign phase in northern Germany, and once again the French have won.

From a technical point of view this campaign area is very challenging.   This is because one of the six French corps is the Imperial Garde.   I have mentioned before how difficult it is to make the guard special, but not too powerful.   It is also difficult to confirm whether I have the balance right or not.

Because our wargame rules rely so heavily on the luck of the dice, it is easy to mistake a run of bad (or good) dice for a weakness in the rules.  

I always insist that we accept the outcome of each wargame however lucky, or unlucky, one side has been.   It is very tempting to say just ignore that dice throw or it will ruin the game.   But the whole essence of the campaign is that each battle is decided on the wargames table.   And the whole purpose of dice driven rules is to allow for those unusual outcomes.   The guard cavalry may be beaten by a line hussar brigade because the French player rolled a total of 2 with 2D6 for the melee, and then rolled a total of 1 with 1D6 for the subsequent morale test. 

But without these highly unlikely outcomes you might just as well do away with the dice and rely on plus and minus points for combat and morale.  And of course the player with the Imperial Garde is bound to defeat the player with a standard Prussian corps.

So it is important to accept the luck of the dice, however unlikely it may be at the time.

Despite the above I always spend a lot of time pondering the relative strengths and weakness when such a thing happens.  And never more so than when the Imperial Garde is in play.    And this campaign phase has been no different.   It has prompted me to review the whole balance of plus and minus throughout all ten armies in the campaign.   More of this later.