Sunday 17 December 2023

New Campaign Objectives

Landshut campaign phase day 1

Since the Sixth Campaign began June 2020 the campaign objective has been to take the enemy capitol city, which is also their main supply depot.   In the current Landshut campaign this is Landshut, which is held by the French.

The map shows the deployment of both armies at the start of day 1.   The French are deployed to the left of the Landshut-Ratisbon district border.    The Austrians are deployed to the right, their main depot is Ratisbon.

The Austrians have orders to take and keep the city of Landshut.   To do so they will have to take all six towns in the Landshut region.   Thus this campaign should provide six battles to wargame.

For this campaign to work the Austrians must take the three border towns, forcing the French to retreat to Essenbach, Landshut and Dorfen.   If they fail to take all three, or at least two and thus force the French to retreat or be surrounded, then the campaign has failed with only three battles being wargamed.

I am working on a new campaign concept.  

Once again the Austrians have orders to attack.    They will dice to decide which of the three border towns to attack.   If they lose the French will continue to hold the town, but the Austrians will have a second attempt on day four, when the other two border towns have been fought over.

If the Austrians defeat the French army, but fail to take the town, the French will leave one corps to hold the town.    The Austrians will lay siege.   The retreating French army will have two days to regroup and attempt to raise the siege.

This will require a new set of siege rules.    The actual siege will not be fought as a wargame.    But there will be an exchange of artillery fire, which will may produce casualties to either side.  The siege rules will be simple, and will favour the attacking army.    In Spain there will be the added difficulty of the French supply lines.

The objective is to allow more choice of possible battles, and thus wargames.  

As always there will be a couple of months of play testing before I decide whether this is an improvement or not.   I suspect that after just one campaign phase it will be pretty obvious.

The next campaign phase will be set in northern Germany and will play test the new concept.                                                                  

Sunday 10 December 2023

Landshut Campaign – Day 4

Campaign Map

Austrians attack Essenbach

1st Austrian army – attack Essenbach
2nd Austrian army – reinforce and resupply at Reisbach
3rd Austrian army – regroup and resupply at Muhldorf

7th French army – defend Essenbach
8th French army – reinforce and resupply at Landshut
9th French army – retreat to Dorfen

End of battle of Essenbach

7th Bavarian army are deployed in front of the town of Essenbach, which does not have a garrison. They occupy a strong position with a hill on the left and a farm on the right.

1st Austrian army arrive at the bottom of the table at the start of move 1. On the left 3rd corps has limited space due to the large inn. On the right 1st corps must advance through the large woods. The centre is open and ideal for their attack.

Schwarzenberg leads the Austrian attack in the centre. He has personal command of the 12pdr artillery from 1st corps, plus two infantry brigades. Their first objective is the farm in the centre of the Bavarian position.

On the left 3rd Austrian corps has 6pdr artillery, and are unable to counter the heavier Bavarian 9pdr guns. Their Jager and Grenadier brigades attack and capture the hill, routing the two conscript Bavarian infantry brigades.

On the right 1st Austrian corps has lost two infantry brigades and their corps artillery to the CinC. They struggle to hold the woods, and lose the first cavalry melee. However they rally and rout the Bavarian light horse. They then charge and rout the Bavarian gunners.

2nd corps is tasked with the main attack. They are supported by Schwarzenberg with two elite infantry brigades and 12pdr corps artillery. He opens the attack by taking the farm which dominates the Bavarian centre. 2nd corps then moves forward and routs 20th Bavarian corps


At first sight the Bavarian position seems a very strong one, with the hill on their right and the farm on their left. However they start the battle with 7 infantry and 3 cavalry brigades all having 10% casualties. Most of these are in 19th corps.

The Austrians have 10% casualties in 2 infantry, 1 cavalry and 1 corps artillery brigades. The gunner casualties are in the already weak 6pdr artillery in 3rd corps. This means that the Austrian left is unable to support the main attack. However their two elite infantry brigades do take the hill.

The main attack is in the centre. 2nd Austrian corps is evenly matched by 20th Bavarian corps. Schwarzenberg takes two elite infantry brigades and the strong 12pdr artillery from 1st corps to support the attack in the centre. Even with this strong reserve the battle for the centre is hard fought. The Bavarians hold a strong farm, which dominates their central position. It is only when this is taken by the Austrian reserve that the main attack on the centre can proceed.

For the first six moves the battle is slow and the Bavarians win two of the three cavalry melees. In the seventh move pressure is applied to the hill on the left and the weak 19th Bavarian corps on the right. Both break, and the rest of the Bavarian army are forced to retire.

Yet another Austrian victory, four out of four battles won so far. But this was much harder than the battle casualties on either side would suggest.

Sunday 3 December 2023

Wargame Command and Control

The welcome response to my recent blog on our new wargame rules has made me consider how best to represent command and control in wargames. As always this is a very personal response, based entirely on our wargame experience and the type of wargames which we enjoy.

When we first started Wargaming, way back in the late 1960s, we had no understanding about Napoleonic warfare, let along Napoleonic wargame rules. Our first set was “Charge, or How to Play Wargames”. This was a splendid hard cover, glossy page with lots of black and white photographs – what used to be called a “coffee table book”. The rules were pretty simple, and very easy to grasp. I remember that it was a very well written book, and very easy to follow.

Our next rules were Wargames Research Group 1750-1850. These were the very opposite, with lots of charts and very difficult to understand or use – or at least that was my impression. It was fortunate that we did not attempt our first wargame using these rules; it might very well have been our last wargame.

Then came Peter Guilder’s “In the Grand Manner”. Probably my favourite rules, certainly with the warm glow of distant memory. We used these rules for many years, including two visits to Peter’s Holiday Centre in Scarborough. These were the first rules which we adopted until they became what used to be known as “house rules”. That is to say based on the original, but adopted to overcome problems encountered due to repeated use.

Our next were Le Feu Sacre, which really caught my imagination. I really liked their approach, which seemed so fresh and new. Once more we adapted them over the years, and they became the basis of our own wargame rules used for our 1813 campaign.

Our recent rules were my first attempt to write rules completely from scratch, without any influence from a commercial set of rules. It took me a very long time to feel the need to do so, and I really wish I had done it much sooner. I had been very happy using commercial rules, but always became frustrated with what I considered failings. This was usually due to something feeling wrong in a game. I would change the rules to meet this challenge, but usually found that in doing so I created a whole set of new problems. This was, of course, because I did not fully understand the intentions of the writer of the rules.

So with a blank sheet I could create my own rules, and should be able to modify them as this time I did understand the intentions of the writer. I once read that there are almost as many Napoleonic rules as there are Napoleonic wargamers. If you could modifications I suspect this is probably correct.

First I wanted a fast flowing and fun wargame, but it had to feel like a Napoleonic wargame. This meant what used to be called “National Characteristics” However I also wanted a Spanish army to be capable of defeating a French army. Otherwise what is the point of having a Spanish army at all? However this would mean that aspects of the campaign, such as lines of supply and ambushes, would have to be taken into account.

I soon decided that the answer lay in a combination of combat and morale charts, adjusted by luck in the form of dice. For example infantry combat would be decided by the type of troops, their skirmish and their musket firing ability. This would be adjusted by any casualties and finally by rolling one six sided dice.

Morale would be decided by type of troop, supports, how close the commander is and casualties. Once more adjusted by the dice roll.

It sounds simple, and it is. But it also works really well. I keep charts to a minimum, and only adjust them after a lot of consideration and play experience. The most important aspect is the dice roll.

My objective in writing these rules was to allow the player to react as an army commander would in the Napoleonic Wars. There are three levels of command in my 1813 campaign. The theatre commander (for example Wellington) commands three armies each commanded by a commander in chief. Each army has three corps commanders. The first two are concerned with strategic planning and command, and this is confined to the 1813 campaign on the computer.

On the wargames table there are four commanders, the CinC and three corps commanders. The CinC has a tactical role on the table; he can take command of any brigade on the table, or created a reserve by taking brigades from each corps.

I believe that at this level each commander would be allocated a role or objective, and then left alone to achieve it. His main role would be to deploy his corps taking advantages of their various strength and weakness. Once deployed his role would be to direct and control each of his brigades in action. I don’t believe that any commander would rely on luck, though it might well influence the outcome of his battle plans.

So in my rules the dice roll is the element of luck. It should not win or lose the battle, but it should be capable to creating an unexpected crisis for the corps commander to react to. The player can prepare for bad luck by moving close to a threatened brigade, and making sure that they have steady supports. These will add to his dice total. Poor quality troops or casualties will detract from the total. By using one six sided dice the player can easily calculate the odds in favour of his planned move.

Total 1 – rout full move away from the enemy
Total 2 – retreat shaken full move away from the enemy
Total 3 – retreat disordered full move away from the enemy
Total 4 – remain in place, but is disordered
Total 5 – pass morale test
Total 6 – pass morale test

Sunday 26 November 2023

Landshut Campaign – Day 3

Campaign Map

Austrians attack Muhldorf
1st Austrian army – regroup and resupply
2nd Austrian army – occupy Reisbach
3rd Austrian army – attack Muhldorf

7th French army – regroup and resupply
8th French army – retreat to Landshut
9th French army – defend Muhldorf

End of battle of Reisbach

The Austrian plan was to pin the French on their left, ignore the town and attack on their right. To achieve this general Merveldt took command of 2 infantry brigades from 7th and 8th corps, plus artillery from 7th corps. They were deployed on the left bank of the river Danube.

The remainder of 7th corps was on the right bank of the river. They would pin a similar sized Bavarian force near the main bridge

8th corps would deploy in front of Muhldorf. They would not advance on the town until Merveldt had delivered his attack between the town and the river.

9th corps would deploy on the left and occupy the nearest half of the pass. They would attack in support of 8th corps.

The plan worked perfectly. The French had to keep most of 26th corps in and around the town. They held the town throughout the battle, and only retreated when 25th and 27th corps were forced to do so.

The Austrians won the battle.

The French lose 5 infantry, 6 cavalry and 2 artillery casualties (2800 men)
The Austrians lose 3 infantry, 3 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties (1600 men)

It has taken a long time to determine the best tactics to attack a strongly held town.

I soon found that with a maximum of 12 moves per game an attack on the town itself ran out of time, even if the attackers did well.

In this game I commanded the 3rd Austrian army, the attacking side. The defending army had to deploy first, with the Austrian troops arriving on the table at the start of move 1.

A glance at the table will show that the weakest part of the French defence is between the town and the river. Both the centre and Austrian left have hills which delay the attacker.

The only problem for the attacking player is the river Danube. It can only be crossed by one of the three bridges. The French had left two infantry and one cavalry brigades to hold the bridge. I did the same. But I put two elite brigades, to give me an advantage. One was a jager brigade, who could skirmish across the river and support the main attack on the left bank

As always, things did not go smoothly for the Austrians. Artillery plays an important part in the attack, and particularly with my new rules. 12 pdr guns require 5 or 6 for a hit against enemy artillery. Both the French and Austrian guns on this flank were 12 pdr. With the opening shot the Bavarian gunners killed 10% of the Austrian gunners. Worse still the Austrians lost their morale test and had to retreat shaken. It would take three moves to rally and bring them back to their abandoned guns. This delayed the attack by three moves. However the actual attack went well and the Bavarians were forced to retreat.

On the opposite flank the Austrians were less successful, but they did eventually force the Baden corps to withdraw.

With both flanks gone, the garrison had to retreat without firing a shot.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Wargame Rule Review


It is seven months since I did a comprehensive rewrite of our wargame rules. During that time we have fought almost 15 wargames, more than enough to have discovered whether they work or not.

My objective was to create a fast moving game with a distinct feel of Napoleonic battles. I wanted to remove as much checking of plus and minus factors for combat and morale as possible. But most important I wanted to introduce a strong element of chance. My wife and I have wargamed together for more than 50 years. We are fortunate to have a permanent wargames table, so we game at least three or four days a week. So neither of us make any significant tactical errors, and both can anticipate what the other will do in most circumstances. This can lead to very predictable wargames. And one error, or one bad run of dice, can determine the outcome of a game.

I wanted to retain the roles of artillery, cavalry and infantry. But I also wanted the game to be decided by the infantry. This balance can be difficult to create, particularly in the early stages of writing rules. It is often only with extensive play that the weakeness can be seen. I have found this to be particularly so when using commercial rules sets.

The key to all of this would be the use of just one six sided dice for all combat and morale tests. There would have to be a minimum number of plus or minus adjustments. This is essential to cater for class of troops, supports, casualties and command. Particularly in my order of battle where troops are classed A, B or C for both morale, skirmish and musket fire. I have taken great care to create complicated orders of battle for each of my five campaign areas. I feel it is important for all armies to have historical national characterises. But also to give all armies a reasonable chance of success, even the Spanish.

With just one dice it was easy to control the eventual outcome. A roll of 1 would mean disaster, a roll of 6 would mean Prussian landwehr infantry could defeat French Imperial Guardsmen. But, of course, it must not happen too often.

I am very pleased with how our new rules have developed. They give a distinctive Napoleonic feel to our games (at least in our opinion). Equally important they allow the battle to develop and reach a conclusion within the 12 moves (equal to 12 hours in the campaign) maximum

The result of casualties is particularly pleasing. When a brigade has a “hit”, which is 10% of its strength) is must test morale. It deducts 2 points for the hit and for being disordered. However it gains 1 point if supported by a formed brigade within 4” and another 1 point if the corps commander is within 4”. It also gets 1 point if elite or loses 1 point if conscript. The dice is then thrown and with the following consequences:

5 or 6 – pass morale
4 - disordered
3 – retreat full move disordered
2 – retreat full move shaken
1 – retreat full move in rout

However it is relatively easy to rally shaken or routed brigades, providing that they roll a good dice. But if they retreated they then have to form up and move back to their original position on the table.

The overall effect is a much more fluid wargame than we have ever experienced. An attack or defence can crumble with just one roll of 1. Using previous rules this would have resulted in certain defeat for the side which rolled the poor dice. But in these rules it is quite possible to recover, but it will take two or three moves.

It is great fun to play a wargame which is so unpredictable. It means that the outcome of a game can change right up to move 11 or even 12. We are both very pleased with the new rules.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Landshut Campaign – Day 2

Campaign Map

7th French army retreat to Esenbach
1st Austrian army occupy Dingolfing
2nd Austrian army attack Reisbach

1st Austrian army – regroup around Dingolfing
2nd Austrian army – attack Reisbach
3rd Austrian army – hold Bad Abbach and resupply

7th French army – retreat to Esenbach
8th French army – redeploy in and around Reisbach
9th French army – redeploy in and around Muhldorf

Start of battle of Reisbach

The Austrians have the advantage of all three corps starting the battle closer to Reisbach. The Bavarians have one corps in the town, but the other two are four hours (moves) in the hills behind the town.

The main Austrian attack is in the centre against the town itself. 6th corps race to secure the hills to the left of the town, and 4th corps the hills to the right of the town.

24th Baden corps arrive in time to hold the road to the left of the town, thus depriving the Austrians from occupying the high ground. 22nd Bavarian corps does the same to the right of the town.

5th Austrian corps is allowed to deploy their artillery within close range of the town, supported by their jager and grenadier brigades. Despite this formidable attack force, the garrison hold out for a considerable time. They start to withdraw when both brigades have suffered 20% casualties. The elite Austrian brigades immediately storm the town and rout the retreating garrison.

On the right 4th Austrian corps finally take the hills after considerable fighting. By then the town garrison has abandoned the town, and 22nd Bavarian corps is ordered to retreat.

On the left there is very little fighting. Both sides deploy on their own side of the hill, neither are prepared to suffer the likely casualties should they attempt to advance over the hill. 24th Baden corps finally retreats when ordered to do so.

The French suffer 5 infantry and 3 cavalry casualties (2300 men)

The Austrians suffer 4 infantry and 4 artillery casualties (2000 men)


From the battle casualties it would appear that neither side has suffered sufficient casualties to warrant a French general retreat. However 4 of their 18 brigades are in rout. The rout of the Bavarian garrison with 20% each spreads to the two intact infantry brigades in support. There is no chance for the French to attempt a counter attack to recapture the town. With the loss of Reisbach there is no point in suffering further French casualties, so the retreat makes sense.

The light casualties on each side appear to leave both armies relatively intact, however numbers do not tell the whole story.

The French have lost 3 cavalry casualties spread over two corps. One of these casualties will be replaced, but this will leave two cavalry brigades with 10% casualties each for the rest of the campaign. The Austrians have suffered no cavalry casualties, this will give them a strong cavalry advantage in future battles.

But the Austrian losses are far more significant. They have lost 4 artillery casualties spread over all three corps artillery. Again one casualty will be replaced, but this will leave all three batteries with 10% casualties in future battles. The French have lost no artillery casualties

In counter battery fire 12 pdr require 5 or 6, 9 pdr require 6, 6 pdr cannot hit at long range. The French have one 12 pdr and two 9 pdr. The Austrians have one 12 pdr, one 9 pdr and one 6 pdr. Of the three only the 12 pdr will be able to hit at long range, and will require a 6. All three French batteries will be able to hit at long range.

In this campaign the Austrians are the aggressors, which means that they have to attack and the French can sit in defence. An attacker must suppress the enemy artillery to have any real chance of success. This can only be done by their own artillery or their cavalry. The Austrians will have to use their cavalry in risky charges against the French gunners. If they fail the infantry are unlikely to succeed without any cavalry or effective artillery support.

The next battle between 8th French army and 2nd Austrian army is going to be very interesting indeed.

Sunday 5 November 2023

Landshut Campaign – Day 1

Campaign Map


The campaign opens in the north

1st Austrian army attack the northern border town of Dingolfing.


1st Austrian army – attack Dingolfing

2nd Austrian army – hold centre, east of border

3rd Austrian army – hold south, east of border


7th French army – in and around Dingolfing

8th French army – hold Reisbach

9th French army – hold Muhldorf

Start of battle of Dingolfing

Most of the French are deployed west of Dingolfing

This is for ease of supply

19th Bavarian corps in reserve the top right

20th Bavarian corps in and around Dingolfing

21st Bavarian corps in reserve top left


The Austrians are deployed out of artillery range

1st corps on the right

2nd corps in the centre

3rd corps on the left

Austrians win battle of Dingolfing

1st Austrian corps attack through the woods on the right

Schwarzenberg has taken half of 2nd corps to support this attack

They break 19th Bavarian corps and then swing left to outflank the town


2nd Austrian corps artillery fire on the town, supported by half the infantry

Only when the garrison is weakened, do the infantry advance and skirmish

No attempt is made to attack the town until the defenders withdraw


3rd Austrian corps have orders to pin 31st Bavarian corps

Their artillery are deployed on the right

The intention is to create a gap between the woods and the town

Towards the end of the battle their jager brigade enter the woods


By nightfall the Austrians have taken the town and broken the French right

With half of his army in retreat, Massena orders a general retreat.

The French have lost 12 infantry, 3 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties (5100 men)

The Austrians have lost 2 infantry and 2 cavalry casualties (1000 men)



Normally we accept the outcome of each wargame, no matter how it affects the campaign


This goes back to the PBEM campaign, when it seemed like cheating not to do so

However it does seem silly to ruin a whole campaign phase, just because of bad dice rolls


And this can happen more often with our new rules which rely heavily on the luck of the dice.


This game was a good example of how things can go wrong.


Each campaign phase is based on one side crossing the regional border to attack

It is important that the attacker wins the first three battles, or at least two of them

Otherwise he has to retreat and the campaign is at an end

The campaign should provide six battles, one for each town

So one which produced just one or two would be disappointing


Therefore the first battle of a campaign is particularly important

A defeat for the aggressor makes it hard to justify the winner retreating

If it is the third battle, and the attacker has won the first two, it retreat is reasonable


The first time we wargamed Dingolfing everything went wrong right from the start

On move three the Austrians had advanced within artillery range

The first shot fired by the Bavarian gunners (rolled a 6) hit Austrian gunners.

The Bavarians failed their morale test (rolled a 1) and they routed

A nearby infantry brigade had to test, failed (rolled a 2) and also routed

Without artillery that Austrian corps would find it difficult to continue to attack


To recover the situation they ordered their cavalry to charge the enemy guns

This is always risky, particularly if the guns have their own cavalry support

The Bavarian gunners hit the charging cavalry (rolled a 4)

The cavalry failed their morale and halted disordered

The Bavarian cavalry charged and caused more casualties

The Austrian cavalry failed their morale test (rolled 3) and also routed

The Austrian corps now had no cavalry or artillery, and only three infantry brigades


The Austrian attack moved to the opposite flank

They had a 6 pdr gun, which cannot hit enemy artillery at long range

So once more their cavalry was sent to removed the enemy gunners

They received fire at short range (rolled 5) and had to test their morale

They rolled 1, and routed without any help from the Bavarian cavalry


Meanwhile the other two Austrian corps artillery were firing on the enemy gunners

Counter battery fire requires a roll of 6 for a hit, 5 or 6 for 12 pdr guns

The Bavarian 12 pdr battery in the centre rolled 5, which was a hit

The Austrian gunners tested their morale (rolled 1) and routed


At the start of move 6 the game was half way through

The Austrians had lost two artillery batteries and two cavalry brigades

It was clearly impossible to continue to attack

It was bad enough that the aggressors had lost the first battle of the campaign

Worse still their cavalry and artillery would start all future games with 10% casualties


It is really important to accept setbacks in a wargame, particularly dice

Otherwise what is the point of Wargaming?

However this defeat would, in effect, end the whole campaign phase


We solved the problem by accepting that Jan had won the wargame

But we would ignore the rest and refight the wargame for the campaign

The battle report above is the result of that refight

The Austrians won, as they needed to do


However we both felt very guilty “cheating” the campaign!

Sunday 29 October 2023

1813 Campaign – Landshut Phase


Map of Europe

This map shows the location of the five campaign areas. 

Each square is a military region.  

The current location of each army group is shown.  

The stars show the location of previous phases.  

The colour indicates which side won.   


This is the 89th phase since the campaign started in April 2009.  

It is the 15th in the sixth revision which started in June 2020 


The white star shows the location of Landshut


Austrian corps

On paper all five of the campaign areas are very similar.

Particularly the three areas in Germany


Each army has nine corps, each of four infantry brigades, one cavalry and corps artillery


The aim of my campaign is to produce battles which result in balanced wargames

This has resulted in armies of different, but balanced, abilities

That is the reason I choose 1813, because by then all armies has similar combat abilities


Napoleon’s Grande Armee had been destroyed in Russia.

It was replaced by a mostly conscript and poorly trained army

Allied commanders had learned hard lessons, which resulted in better led armies


Despite all of this, each of the five campaign areas has a different look and feel

In the north Napoleon and his old guard is engaged with Blucher’s dark blue Prussian army.


Central Germany has the stubborn, green coated Russian army

The south with its more colourful Austrian army is my favourite, at least visually.

I know many wargamers moan about masses and masses of plain white uniforms

But half of my Austrian army are Hungarian, with their light blue trousers

And on all the white jackets highlight the varied facings


Bavarian corps

Their opponents are called “The French Army of Southern Germany”

But in fact they are entirely Bavarian and Baden brigades.


The light blue (cornflower blue?) of the Bavarian infantry stands out on the wargames table


Long before I grasped the complicated subject of Napoleonic uniforms I had admired the Bavarians

They were the first German troops I added to my French army

Long before I had corps and brigades, I had a group of them to lighten the dark blue of the French


Many years ago Jan and I spent a couple of annual holidays in Bavaria

We have always enjoyed hill walking, and it would be hard to find a more beautiful area to do so


And the fact that it was also the scene of major Napoleonic battles added to its attraction


My main interest was the main conflict between French and Austrian armies

It was then that I discovered how important the Bavaria was as a major element of Napoleon’s armies.


During our second holiday we visited the military museum in Innsbruck

I was fascinated by the diorama of the battle of Bergisel.

Bavarian troops fought in the mountains with the irregular troops of Andreas Hofer

I would have loved to collect a Tyrolean army with their pitchforks and odd collection of muskets


Very similar to the Spanish guerrilla bands who add so much to my campaign phases in Spain


But unfortunately at that time there were no suitable wargame figures available

And now that they are easily available I have long passed my painting phase

Having painted figures every day for more than 30 years, I have not lifted a paintbrush since 2006


That was when I completed my last major replacement project using mostly Front Rank 28mm figures


I have no interested in taking up painting again, and doubt that I could do so with my poor eyesight


So my battles in southern Germany will be restricted to the regular armies of Bavaria and Austria.

Sunday 15 October 2023

Campaign Orders of Battle


11th French Corps 

The detailed orders of battle on the 1813 Campaign Diary were designed to allow the ten players in our PBEM campaign to understand the combat ability of the corps under their command.   The number of corps used, and the brigades in each corps, has changed over the years.   But the basic four infantry brigades, one cavalry brigade and corps artillery have remained the same.   As have the class, firing and skirmish ability of the infantry brigades.

To illustrate how it works I have chosen a standard French corps.   Elite corps like the old and young guard would have a higher proportion of elite troops.

11 French corps – General Albert (Average)

25 infantry brigade  CA     FB      SB

26 infantry brigade  CB     FC      SB

27 infantry brigade  CC    FC      SB

28 infantry brigade  CC    FC      SC

11 cavalry brigade   CB     dragoons

11 corps artillery      CB     9 pounders

The corps commander is Average.   Were he Gifted he would be more effective, but less so were he Poor.   His main role is to issue orders to the brigades under his command, and to do so he must be within 12”.   He can also add to their morale test providing that he is within 4”.     So each move he must be positioned within 4” of those brigades most likely to have to test their morale during the next move, yet still within 12” of all of his brigades.   A difficult task and often one will have to be sacrificed to achieve the other.

Each infantry brigade has (C) class, (F) firing ability and (S) skirmish ability.   A will add plus 1 to the combat or morale test, C will deduct 1.   To melee a brigade must be in base contact, to skirmish within 4” and to volley fire within 2”.   25 brigade is the best within the corps.   If 27 brigade were an enemy they would be at a disadvantage in melee or volley fire, but would be even in a skirmish fight.

Cavalry brigades also have class types, but not skirmish or firepower.   However the type of cavalry does make a difference in morale.   Heavy cavalry are more effective than light cavalry, both against infantry and other cavalry.   Lancers are the most effective against infantry, but the same as light cavalry against other cavalry.

Artillery again have types of class.   However I have abandoned the complicated tables in most rules depending on distance and weight of ball fired.   I have 12pdr, 9pdr and 6 pdr.   All have a maximum range of 12” and all a most effective range of 4”.   12pdr receive plus one and 6 pdr minus one.   A 9pdr firing at either would a dice roll of 6, a 12pdr 5 or 6.   The 6pdr cannot hit other artillery at more than short range.  

In addition to the above, casualties have a major effect on morale and combat effectiveness.   Casualties from all combat are 10%, and these results in minus 1 on morale or combat tests.   Each additional 10% results in a further minus 1.   During the campaign corps can reduce casualties by halting within supply range of their depot.   But the final 10% remains for the duration of the campaign.   So an elite brigade which receives 10% casualties in their first battle will become the same as a B class (or average) brigade.  And they will remain so throughout the campaign.

The position of each corps on the wargames table is dictated by their location on the campaign map.  At the start of the game each player needs to consider the morale and combat effectiveness of each of his three corps.   It would be unwise to order a corps with considerable battle casualties to attack one with no casualties.   However each army commander can take brigades from his three corps and form an army reserve.  This can be used to support the corps tasked with the main attack.  Or alternatively placed in a central position to support a weak position.

It is also important to deploy each corps so that the best infantry brigade will be in the right position to lead the final attack.   It is easy to overlook these details when faced with a table full of figures when the artillery, cavalry and infantry all have to be placed in the best position depending on their role.   But the player who gets the initial deployment right in this respect will stand a much better chance of winning the game.

However, as always, the dice is master.  The best planned attack will still fail if the dice rolls a one.   A poorly planned one will often succeed if it is a six.

These rules will not suit everyone.  But they have worked well for Jan and me.   And since April 2009 our 1813 campaign has provided 459 enjoyable wargames of battles provided by the 88 campaign phases spread throughout Germany and Spain.

Sunday 8 October 2023

Campaign Orders of Battle

Map of 6 corps armies

A few months ago I decided that I would like to increase the size of the tabletop wargames from two to three corps per side.  My wife Jan and is my only wargame opponent, and games can get a little predictable given that we play a few moves almost every day.   This would give us a larger army to command and a wider choice of tactics and options.

My wargames are derived from my 1813 campaign, so the order of battle is the same for both.   There are five campaign areas, each with one French and one allied army.  So there are ten orders of battle.  

Each army deploys on a map with 9x9 squares.   Each army has an operational area of 3x9 squares, with two corps in each area.   Photo 1 shows the campaign map for the battle of Arevalo, which is the white star bottom centre.

Wargame with 2 corps per side

Photo 2 shows the same battle on the wargames table.   You will see that there are two corps per side, each corps has four infantry brigades, one cavalry brigade and corps artillery.   Each corps occupies one of the three scenic squares, so there is a lot of space to manoeuvre.

Map of 9 corps armies

To increase the number of figures on the table, I had to increase each army from six to nine corps.   Photo 3 shows the campaign map for the battle of Avila, the three white stars top right.   You will see that each army has three corps, occupying one square each.   So the new nine corps armies occupy the whole of the nine squares from top to bottom.

Wargame with 3 corps each side

Photo 4 shows the battle of Avila on the wargames table.   The whole width of the table is occupied by the three corps – British at the top and French at the bottom.   There is less room for manoeuvre, but more opportunity to create reserve under the commander and take advantage of any initial success in any of the three corps areas.

So far so good.  But I had not appreciated just how much work was involved.   The figures were already there, but the orders of battle all had to be rewritten.   There are two orders of battle, one for each campaign and a more detailed one for the campaign blog.     

It was relatively easy to add the new corps to the existing casualty sheets which are on my computer and used to record battle casualties.   These are not available to view on the campaign blog, and consequently have less detail.   

However there is also a more detailed order of battle shown as part of the campaign blog.   This is designed to explain to anyone interested how the various armies are organised and what the capabilities of each brigades are.   Given the size of the campaign there are a lot of brigades and each had to be rewritten.   This was designed to allow players in my PBEM phase of the campaign to determine the exact combat ability of each of their brigades.

In addition I like to include photographs to illustrate the complicated orders of battle.   When I set up the campaign I arranged each army of two four corps on the table and photographed them.  It would be a huge job to do the same for the new orbat.  So I photographed each corps on their storage stands.   The effect is not so impressive.  But given that I now appreciate that probably no one, or at least very few, bother to look at the campaign orders of battle I wanted to reduce the work load.  

I am reasonably happy with the result, and at least I feel that I have made some effort to illustrate the whole order of battle.   Even this limited effort took about three weeks, which I consider enough given the very limited general interest.

If you would like to see the end result you will find the ten new orders of battle here

Sunday 1 October 2023

End of Talavera campaign


Battles fought during Talavera campaign


Soult won four of the six battles fought.

Wellington won the remaining two.

Soult took and held the city of Talavera and therefore won the campaign

This was the first campaign using our new wargame rules, which rely on just 1D6 to decide firing, melee and morale.   The rules worked well and needed only minor adjustments. The six wargames fought were fast and unpredictable and very enjoyable.   I think I can now confirm that the new rules work very well and will replace the earlier ones.  

There are five campaign areas in our campaign, three in Germany and two in Spain.   Each campaign phase is fought in one of those areas.   I stick to a strict sequence as follows:


North Germany – French v Prussians

South Spain – French v Spanish

Central Germany – French v Russians

North Spain – French v British

Central Germany – French v Austrians


This ensures that all of my wargame armies are used on the table in sequence.  It usually takes two to three months to complete a campaign phase.   Each phase usually produces six battles to wargame.

The objective is to produce interesting and fun wargames.    So armies are balanced to ensure that neither side has too great an advantage.   Numbers and types of figures (ie infantry, cavalry and artillery) are the same on each side.   Each nationality has strong and weak points, so each campaign phase is very different from the others.

Campaigns fought in Germany are more equal than those fought in Spain.    This is because Austria, Prussia and Russia had all learned hard lessons by 1813, and their armies were better trained and led than in earlier (historical) campaigns.  In addition the French armies never recovered from the 1812 campaign in Russia, and were largely conscript troops.   So although the campaign is not intended to be historical accurate, I feel it is quite fair to have balanced armies in terms of morale and combat value.

However in Spain it was a very different matter.   Most writers, and wargamers, consider Wellington’s 1813 army to be better trained and led than the French.   Even the considerable Portuguese element, which was largely led by British officers, was considered on a par with average British troops.

But most would agree that the Spanish army was poor quality and poorly led.    Brigades which served under Wellington’s command did perform well, though not as well as the Portuguese.   But the vast majority of the Spanish army were not up to this standard.   This poses a real problem for me, because of my aim of making all national armies more or less equal in combat terms, to give wargame commanders an equal chance of winning the game.   Otherwise battles fought in southern Spain would be boring for the French commander and frustrating for the Spanish commander.   In northern Spain it would be the French who just lost game after game.

Over the years I have tested many combinations on the wargame table, most of which were reasonably successful.  But I am always looking for ways to make the Spanish stronger and the British weaker, without moving too far away from historical fact.

In this campaign Wellington had two British and one Spanish corps in each of his three armies.  The Spanish were allocated garrison duties, so most of the fighting was done by the British brigades.   The Spanish infantry performed much better than expected.   

In general terms the French had better artillery than the British, who had better skirmishers.   The Spanish infantry and cavalry were poor, but their artillery more effective than the Spanish.   Each corps has four brigades and they are a combination of elite, average and poor.   This would allow even the Spanish to use their best infantry against the French worse brigades.   Though, of course, that is easier said than done (on the table).

Another great campaign and one which Jan and I both enjoyed.   Part of it was fought whilst my son and his family (aged 16, 12 and 8) were staying with us.   It was a very enjoyable, though very hot and noisy period.   Our wargames room provided a sanctuary where Jan and I could escape each afternoon for an hour or so Wargaming – whilst they were all enjoying themselves in the pool!

Sunday 24 September 2023

Talavera Campaign – Day 6

Campaign Map

French retreat from Avila

French attack Talavera
Guerrilla attack Valdemoro and two convoys


1st British army regroup and resupply at Avila

2nd British army attacked at Talavera

3rd British army resupply at Torrecilla


10th French army retreat to Villacastin

11th French army attack Talavera

12th French army regroup and resupply at San Martin


12th guerrilla attack Valdemoro, garrison lose 10% casualties

13th guerrilla capture convoy from Mostoles to Maqueda, escort lose 10% casualties

15th guerrilla capture convoy from Valdemoro to Carranque, no casualties to escort

Battle of Talavera

Talavera is Wellington’s main base and the French campaign objective.

8th Spanish corps are the city garrison, with two British corps in support

4th British corps is deployed either side of the river Tagus, on the left

3rd British corps is behind the walled farm on the right


Both the British and French armies start the battle with considerable casualties

All brigades in 4th British corps have 10% casualties


The French will arrive on the table at the start of move one

End of battle

On the left the Italian corps have routed the light division on the left of the river

However they are unable to take Wellington’s reserve between the bridge and the city


In the centre the Westphalian corps have taken half of the city

The Spanish still hold the other half, but are heavily outnumbered


On the right the French corps have broken 3rd British corps

The British are in retreat, and the French are moving left to support the Westphalians


Wellington orders a general retreat – the French have won the battle.



Once more the French have won the game, but run out of time to take the city

This has been a recurring theme in recent battles.


Each game last 12 moves, which are equal to 12 campaign hours – one campaign day

Each wargame is a campaign battle, and must run to the same time frame.

Both campaign and wargame runes are designed to meet this vital requirement.


A battle always starts with one map square between the two armies

This transfers to the table as one wargame square of 24”

An infantry column moves 6” each move, taking four moves to cross a square


The attacking army normally takes 4 moves to advance and deploy within artillery range

In the next 4 moves they must weaken the defence in order to gain an advantage

They can do this by gunner casualties by their own artillery or cavalry

Or they can defeat the enemy cavalry and force their infantry to form square

The attacking infantry then have a reasonable chance of making a successful attack


However this only allows 4 moves for the critical infantry hand to hand fighting

In a town (two built up sections) this is difficult if the defenders have a reserve

In a city (four built up sections) it is pretty well impossible, even without a reserve


I have tried different tactics to allow the attackers more time for the melee

Whatever tactics are used it will always take the attacker 4 moves to reach the defenders

It will also take 4 moves to take the town and allow for a counter attack

This leaves only 4 moves to weaken the defenders before the attack


Both armies start the campaign with equal numbers of cavalry, artillery and infantry

The attacker will always have to advance into long, and then short, artillery range

So they will always suffer more casualties than the defenders during that 4 move period

To have any chance of winning, they must either weaken the defenders or roll GREAT dice


The whole campaign concept is to allow both players an equal chance of winning

Given experienced players that will always rely to a large extent on the luck of the dice

But it should also reward good tactics and punish poor tactics

In our games that is usually a minor lack of attention rather than a major mistake

For example failing to keep supports in supporting range, which is 4”

Or failing to keep the corps commander close to a brigade in danger, again 4”

Each will only be a minus 1 on the morale dice throw

But it can often start a chain of events which results in winning or losing the game


I will continue to ponder how to resolve this problem of attacking a built up area

But I have struggled with it for a long time, and cannot see any solution at present

Until I do so I will have to either fight a second day, which makes for a very short game

Or abandon a town which is still in dispute and being fought over

At present the second option is usually my choice

But it is an unsatisfactory one.


Sunday 17 September 2023

Talavera Campaign – Day 5

Campaign Map

In the north the French attack Avila

In the centre the French advance towards Talavera

In the south French retreat having lost the battle of Torrecilla


Guerrilla bands attack El Casar in the north

Also convoys in the centre and south

They lose 30% and rout at El Casar

They fail in the centre and lose 20% casualties

But they take the convoy in the south and the escort lose 10% casualties

Battle of Avila

Avila is a walled town, and as such is a tough nut to crack

It is held by the Spanish, and they need all the help they can get

British corps are on the left and right.

All three corps have casualties from earlier fighting

The French also start the game with casualties

They will arrive on the table at the start of move 1

End of battle

The French artillery are more effective than the Anglo-Spanish

However they are not as lucky with their dice throws

So they fail to soften up the Spanish garrison of Avila

The French do take the right half of the town

But the Spanish immediately counter attack

And there are two British brigades in support

Both armies suffer similar relatively light casualties

At nightfall the Spanish still hold half of the town

The British still hold the flanks, though they have had to withdraw

The French have failed, Wellington wins the battle


Only three of the nine towns in this campaign are walled, and Avila is one of them.   Normal built up area rules apply, but in addition they get a plus one for enemy artillery or skirmish fire or for melee. 

Artillery require a 6 at long range, or 5 or 6 at short range.   If the artillery have 10% casualties they have minus 1, so cannot hit at long range and require 6 at short range

Skirmishers require 6 to hit.   C class have minus 1 so are unable to hit at all.

All built up areas are difficult to attack, but walled have an additional minus 1 for the attackers.    The melee rules are complicated, but attackers normally must be able to attack two sides of the building at the same time, and even then the defenders need to have at least 10% casualties or be C class for the attack to be likely to succeed.

Normally the attacker waits until the defender has received at least 10% casualties, or they have been shaken or routed by casualties.   Only one brigade is allowed within each town section, and will often have taken casualties.  They are then vulnerable to a counter attack.

Often the battle will be decided by the fighting outside the town.   Or the battle will end with one side holding halt of the town.   A decision is then taken on which commander will order a retreat – taking all circumstances into account.

At Avila it was agreed that the French were too weak to continue for a second day.  Not only on casualties, but also because they only had one days supplies left.

Sunday 10 September 2023

Talavera Campaign – Day 4

Campaign Map

In the north 1st Anglo-Spanish army regroup at Avila

10th French army secure their lines of supply and advance towards Avila


In the centre 11th French army occupy Maqueda

2nd Anglo-Spanish army retreat to Talavera


In the south 12th French army attack Torrecilla


No guerrilla activity today, after two days of extensive attacks on French lines of supply.   All groups retreat to their safe areas to resupply, regroup and replenish casualties

Battle of Torrecilla

General Picton has been tasked to hold the town of Torrecilla.   To do so he has one Spanish and two British corps.   All three have suffered heavy casualties during the fighting at San Martin.  The Spanish hold the town, and the British the hills either side.   Picton has taken command of the two best British infantry brigades and formed a reserve behind the town.

Marshal Marmont has orders to attack the town.  He has two French and one Polish corps.  They have also suffered casualties at San Martin, but much less than the Anglo-Spanish.   Their artillery are also much more effective than the enemy.   They have however had to detach one infantry brigade to garrison San Martin.    They will arrive on the table at the start of move 1.

End of battle

Marmont has concentrated the artillery of 35th and 36th corps in the centre, and used them to weaken the town garrison.  However this has taken longer than expected.   When he does storm the town the Spanish garrison rout.  Picton counter attacks with his reserve of elite British infantry.   They rout the French attackers, but come under fire from the French artillery.  Despite casualties they both hold at nightfall.

Confused fighting on the left between the Vistula and 6th British corps ends in a draw.   At nightfall a Polish square holds the British dragoons at bay.   The remaining infantry brigade is still exchanging fire with the last British brigade.

The French have more success on their right, where they outnumber 5th British corps.   By nightfall they have occupied the British held hill.


This was an action packed game, with plenty of surprises.  

Both sides had their share of lucky and unlucky dice.   With my new rules a roll of 1 or 6 can destroy the most careful plans.   This was particularly so with the superior French artillery.   Once in range they needed 6 for a hit on artillery, or 5 or 6 to hit the town garrison.   For the first 10 moves they had very little success.   However on move 11 they hit both brigades in the town, and one on the left.  

The new morale rules had an even greater influence.   A roll of 5 or 6 (adjusted by a table reflecting morale, casualties, supports etc) is required to pass.   Any other result will mean a fail, and anything from disordered to retreat to rout.   However it also means that a routed brigade can rally if they roll a 5 or 6.  

With our previous rules most combat resulted in low casualties, both sides passing their morale tests and continued rounds of melee or firefight.   Once a brigade routed it was almost impossible to rally them.   Consequently once one side started to gain an advantage it was very unlikely that the other side would recover.

With our new rules a brigade will often retreat either disordered or shaken.  But they will often quickly rally and advance again.  However they may well have caused serious problems for their commander by this unexpected loss of morale.   On the other hand a routed brigade can rally and return late in the game to add unexpected strength to a weakened corps.

We are still struggling when we are on the end of a bad dice roll, but quite happy when it happens to the other player.  Fortunately this type of unexpected result has been evenly spread between both of us.   On balance I think we prefer it, because it removes the previous chess like predictability of our games.

Talavera Campaign – Day 3

Last week’s blog entry contained a typing error.  

The title of the first photograph was Battle of Villacastin, it should have been Battle of Maqueda.   The rest of the text was correct.   Most of you will, no doubt, have missed this error.   However Bob Cordery (Wargaming Miscellany) did notice, and was kind enough to point it out.  Bob also reads my 1813 Campaign Diary blog, which is updated the week before this blog.   Both blogs covered Day 3 of the Talavera campaign phase, and Bob noticed that the battles were different.

Thanks for pointing out the error Bob; I have now emended last week’s blog.