Sunday 30 July 2023

Talavera Campaign Phase

Map of Europe

As I explained previously, the 1813 campaign has continued uninterrupted as we play tested the new wargame rules.   We devoted the Bayreuth campaign phase to that project.   We have completed the play test and the rules have replaced our previous wargame rules.

The next campaign phase will be set in northern Spain and feature Talavera.    Most of you will be aware that this is not a refight of the historical battle on 28 July 1809.   No attempt has been made to recreate the historical orders of battle or the terrain it was fought in.

This will be the 88th campaign phase since the campaign began in 2009.   It will be the 14th in the sixth revision which started in 2020.

The campaign map shows battles fought in the sixth revision.   Talavera is the white star.   Each square is approximately 30x30 miles, is a military region and the area of a campaign phase.

Map of Spain

This map shows the military regions in Spain.   British v French in the northern half, Spanish v French in the southern half.  Talavera is the white star.  The other stars record which army won the previous five campaigns fought during the sixth revision. Each square on this map is approximately 10x10 miles and is a military district.   Each square is also a wargames table.

Madrid Region

This is a more detailed map of the Madrid region.   It shows major towns, main roads, rivers and mountain ranges.   This is used for strategic planning, and to decide what sort of terrain each campaign phase should have.   For example in the Talavera campaign the river Tagus flows between Talavera and Madrid.   The north of the river there is a mountain range, but flat ground south of the river

Talavera Campaign Map

Note that this map does not show the entire Talavera district.   It shows the area between Talavera and Madrid, with the district border in the centre of the map.  This is because the French are attacking Talavera.   The French base and main depot is at Madrid.   This will be subject to attack by Spanish guerrillas during the campaign.   Each square on this map is also a 2x2 foot square on the wargames table.  This map shows all of the terrain which will appear on the table, including towns, villages, farms, woods and small hills.  This map is used to create the wargames table and transfer a campaign battle to a wargame.


The new wargame rules have upset the balance between the national armies, and particularly between the British and French in northern Spain.   All armies in the campaign are designed to have national combat advantages and disadvantages.  For example Russian armies have more effective artillery, but less effective skirmish ability.   The aim is to make both armies more or less equal in combat ability, but require the wargamer to make use of their strengths, but guard against their weakness.   Nowhere is this truer than in Spain.   I am currently working on an order of battle which will balance the historical strength of the British army against the less effective French.  

More about this next time.

Sunday 23 July 2023

Wargame Rules Review – Bayreuth Campaign

Bayreuth Campaign Map

Over the past sixteen weeks I have used the Bayreuth Campaign Phase of our 1813 campaign to play test the new rules.   Rather than set up one off wargames, I have run the Bayreuth campaign as a normal phase of the ongoing campaign.   Bayreuth was the next campaign due to be run, and it has in no way affected the running of the campaign on the computer.  

In fact I planned this when I first decided to rewrite the wargame rules.   In March 2023 I started work on a new set of rules.   At that time I was nearing the end of the Merida Campaign Phase of the campaign.   I expected that it would take at least weeks, and possibly months, to write and play test a new set of rules.   So rather than put the campaign on hold, I decided to use the battles from the next phase to wargame the new rules.  

When I started work on the campaign map for Bayreuth I took care to ensure that as wide a variety of terrain as possible was available.   This is quite normal because the regional map, in this case Erfurt, only shows major terrain features such as roads, rivers and cities.   These are transferred to the district map, which is the one used for the campaign.  

On the campaign map I have freedom to choose where to put hills, woods, villages and farms.   It is these minor terrain features which determine the wargames table and the flow of play. 

The rules worked well playing the wargames provided by the Bayreuth campaign.   There was no need for any major rewrite.   It was only during repeated Wargaming that I could determine how well firing, melee and morale worked.   For example in this campaign the French had a big advantage when skirmishing.   This is because the Russian infantry have good morale, average musket fire but poor skirmish ability.   The French infantry would move to skirmish range (4” from the enemy) and skirmish.   The Russians would then have to advance to musket range (2” from enemy) where they would be on a par with the French musket ability.

On the other hand the Russians have very effective artillery.   I have simplified artillery fire so that all guns have a maximum range of 12”, which is the same distance as cavalry charge range.   In counter battery fire guns need to roll 6 at long range, or 5 or 6 at short range.   However 12 pdr guns have plus 1.   6 pdr guns have minus 1.   9 pdr guns fire par.   The Russians have 2x12 pdr and 1x9 pdr guns.  The French have 1x12 pdr and 2x9 pdr.   It does not sound like a big advantage, but on the table it often proved decisive.   As the French advanced the Russian artillery always got at least one chance to fire before they could unlimber.   One hit would reduce the French fire ability by minus 1.

These changes were deliberate, but they still took a little getting used to in the fast ebb and flow of a wargame.   Cavalry was used to threaten enemy artillery, or at least force them to redeploy to counter the cavalry.   For example if the French artillery were deployed on the left of the corps, the cavalry were placed on the right. The Russian guns could not cover both targets.   They could, of course, use their own cavalry to counter the French horsemen.     But half of the Russian cavalry were Cossacks, who were at a disadvantage against the better trained French horsemen.  These were factors which had to be taken into account before the game started, and would take a little time to adjust to.

There was only one major change in the rules.   All combat is decided by using 1D6 dice, plus or minus factors such as casualties, training, supports etc.   The side with the highest total would be the winner, the other the loser.   This was my first draft:

Total 1          Winner lose 2 casualties    Loser lose no casualty

Total 2-5       Winner lose 1 casualty       Loser lose 1 casualty   

Total 6          Winner lose no casualty     Loser lose 2 casualty

I quickly found that this gave too much advantage to a roll of 1 or 6.   The side who lost the two casualties would often fail their morale and rout.   The winner would have no casualties and could continue to attack.   This gave winning cavalry in particular a very strong advantage.

I only have to make a minor change to remedy this unexpected result.   The second draft was:

Total 1 or 2   Winner lose 1 casualty       Loser lose no casualty

Total 3 or 4   Winner lose 1 casualty       Loser lose 1 casualty

Total 5 or 6   Winner lose no casualty     Loser lose 1 casualty

This still gave a decided advantage to the side that rolled 6, but it still gave the losing side a reasonable chance of winning the resulting melee check.

I am still working on towns, and particularly walled towns.   I am looking at different options to either storm or lay siege.   At present sieges are a paper (or rather computer) exercise.   The garrison can hold for as many days as they have supplies.   But this is often 2 or 3 days, which is a long time is the usual 6 or 7 day campaign.   I would prefer the storm option, but getting the balance right between attacker and defender is difficult, particularly with the high or low dice throw problem

But I am confident enough to have replaced the printed rules with the new ones.

Sunday 16 July 2023

Wargame Rules Review – Seventh Wargame

Start of wargame

It is very unusual for us to fight a seventh battle in a campaign phase.   Normally we fight one battle for each town, and then decide the winner based on casualties, routs and supply situation.

In this campaign, possibly due to the new rules, it was really hard to decide the winner at the end of the sixth game.   So I decided to fight a seventh game, mostly because I wanted to see if I could resolve fighting for a large built up area.

I used a little artistic licence to rally routed brigades at the end of the sixth battle, and also to redistribute battle casualties within a corps.

The French started with 9 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigades and 2 corps artillery

The Russians has 10 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigades and 2 corps artillery

The Russians put 4 infantry brigades in the city, and divided the remainder on either side

End of wargame

The French had a formidable task.   They had similar numbers to the Russians, and most brigades on both sides had 10% casualties.   The sheer size of Bayreuth made it very difficult to attack with infantry.

However the attacker does have the initiative, and can reinforce the corps tasked with the main attack.   This is done by taking infantry, cavalry or artillery from the other two corps and putting them under the command of the CinC.   He can then commit this reserve at a critical time and in a critical place.  

In this game he supported 10th (Young Guard) corps on his left.   However this did not work as well as expected, mostly due to the very effective Russian gunners.

It also allowed 1st Russian corps to attack his right flank.   They routed the French cavalry, artillery and half the infantry.   But a determined counter attack by the remaining two French infantry brigades held the Russian advance.   The result was a draw.

In the centre the French did force the Russians to abandon the southern half of Bayreuth.   But the Russian artillery prevented them from occupying the two sectors, and they were never able to attack the northern half of the city.

At nightfall the Russians still hold half of Bayreuth

They have three infantry brigades and two artillery batteries operational

The French have five infantry brigades, but no cavalry or artillery

The Russian gunners prevent the French infantry from holding half of city


The French have lost 5 infantry, 4 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties (2500 men)

The Russians have lost 13 infantry, 5 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties (5800 men)

The French have 5 brigades in rout; the Russians have 9 brigades in rout

The Russians were declared the winners.


The Russians had a considerable advantage in their artillery.   Both batteries had 12 pdr guns, which gave them a plus 1 advantage.   Neither had any casualties, unlike the French artillery who both had 10%.  Repeated attacks on the Russian guns were driven off, mostly because the French cavalry had casualties from previous battles.

The French advantage was their superior skirmish skills.   Most of their infantry were B class; most of the Russian infantry were C class.   The French required a roll of 5 or 6 to inflict a casualty on the garrison.   The Russian infantry required a 6, and if they had 10% casualties could not hit the French at all.   It was this advantage which forced the garrison to retreat from the southern half of the city.

At nightfall both sides had fought to a standstill.   The French infantry still outnumbered the Russian by five brigades to three.   However they had lost all of their cavalry and artillery, and the Russians still had two artillery batteries.   Each had 10% casualties, but still prevented the French from entering the city.   Without cavalry or artillery the French had no answer to the Russian guns.

So despite an apparent French win, having caused more Russian casualties and routed more brigades, the Russians won because it would be near impossible for the French infantry to attack in the face of such effective artillery.

The French were also running very short of supplies.   Normally they would have regrouped and resupplied after the first day of fighting at Bayreuth.   By attacking again on the second day they used up their final supplies and would have to withdraw in order to resupply.

Another very enjoyable game and a fitting one to decide the winner of the Bayreuth campaign phase.   It was also a real test of our new rule system, with all forms of combat taking place and extensive morale testing.

Sunday 9 July 2023

Wargame Rules Review – Sixth Wargame

Start of wargame


Another strong defensive position for the Russians

The French advance is constricted by the farm, pass and woods

And the area directly in front of the Russian army is very exposed.


The French start with 10% casualties on 8 brigades

This includes all three of their cavalry and artillery brigades

There are also three infantry brigades absent on garrison duty


The Russians start with 10% casualties on 10 brigades

All three cavalry brigades have casualties, but none of the artillery

One infantry and one cavalry brigade is missing due to casualties

End of wargame

The Russian gunners routed two artillery and one cavalry batteries

Despite this the French pressed home their attack and won the day

This was largely due to intense infantry skirmish and melee fighting


Almost all of the Russian infantry were C class skirmishers

In addition they lost one point when deployed in buildings or woods

This is because only one quarter of the brigade could skirmish on each edge


Almost all of the French infantry were B class skirmishers

When attacking woods or buildings they needed 5 or 6 with 1D6


Both armies started the battle with considerable casualties

This meant that they were likely to fail a morale test for further casualties

This in turn meant that supporting brigades (within 4”) often failed their morale test.



In all of these test games I have deployed the defending Russian army in front of the town which is the objective of the battle.  

This was to test the various combat rules in a relatively open battle. 

 However it does mean that even if the attackers win, they will not reach the town before nightfall.


The obvious answer would be to fight a second day for each battle.  

However this would not allow sufficient time for both armies to rally their routed and shaken brigades.  

Nor would they be able to concentrate their surplus casualties in one brigade. 

This allows brigades with 20% or 30% to replace all but 10% of their casualties.  

This results in one, or more, brigades taking on all of the surplus casualties and being removed from the game.  

Where there are infantry, cavalry and artillery casualties it can result in one of each brigade being affected.


During this game I resolved this problem by creating a siege.   However this was not fought as a game, but became a paper exercise.  

The number of supplies held in the town at the end of the game would determine how many days the siege would last.


I will give some thought to deploying the defending army either side of the town.  

This would mean that the town would be in the front line, and each game would be a combined siege/battle. 

I think it might make the defenders too powerful, because attacks on the town could only be done from one side, giving the defenders a big advantage. 

Normally the attackers must attack at least two sides at once, and thus reduce the defence factor of the garrison.

Sunday 2 July 2023

Wargame Rules Review – Fifth Wargame

Start of wargame

Good defensive position for 2nd Russian army

The woods on the left, and the inn on the right, help the defence

The French have to cross hills in the centre and right

This will greatly slow down their advance.


Both armies start the game with heavy casualties.

5 Russian brigades have 10% casualties

There are also one cavalry and one infantry brigades missing

This is due to concentrating surplus battle casualties


8 French brigades have 10% casualties

One infantry brigade is missing due to surplus battle casualties

End of wargame

The French have captured the woods on the left and the inn on the right

However they have failed to attack the Russian centre

This is because they lost both cavalry brigades trying to capture the Russian guns

The Russian cavalry were also routed by French artillery fire

But the delay halted the French advance in the centre


The Russian centre and right withdrew closer to the town in good order

The woods delayed this withdrawal, and resulted in the main Russian casualties


At nightfall the Russians were redeployed around the town

But they had suffered 4 infantry, 3 artillery and 1 cavalry casualties

They also had five brigades in rout

The French suffered 1 infantry and 2 cavalry casualties

They had two brigades in rout



At this stage of the campaign all corps have suffered battle casualties

This makes their brigades morale very brittle, and more likely to rout

It is particularly difficult to attack when this happens

The defender can fire on the attacker as they move into artillery range


The attacker must weaken the defending infantry with artillery fire

Or he must take out the defending artillery with his cavalry

Both are difficult if his artillery and cavalry start with casualties


At long range 9 pdr guns require 6 with 1D6

12 pdr guns require 5 or 6 with 1D6

The Russians had two 12 pdr batteries

The French had only one 12 pdr battery.


The French had better cavalry, but both brigades had 10% casualties

They charged the left and centre Russian artillery

Both received casualties, both failed their morale

One brigade routed, the other was shaken

The shaken brigade was counter charged by a Cossack brigade and routed.


Once more dice played an important part in this game

The French had better dice and rolled four sixes

The Russians had poor dice and rolled four ones

This added to the “ebb and flow of the game, but did not dominate play


We are now comfortable with the new rules and the game flows much better

However we are also very nervous when rolling dice!


We both feel that the new rules add a lot to our enjoyment of our wargaming