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!