Sunday, 11 March 2018

Start of Nuremberg Campaign Phase

Austrian and Bavarian positions at start of campaign

Our new campaign is set in southern Germany, where the Third French Army hope to halt the Austrian advance.

This is the twenty seventh campaign phase of the current 1813 campaign which began in March 2015.   It has produced 116 battles to wargame so far.

It is also the sixth campaign phase dealing with the conflict between the Austrian army of Marshal Schwartzenberg and the Bavarian and Baden army of Marshal Oudinot.   The Austrians have won all five previous campaign phases.  Out of 16 battles fought the Austrians won 11 and the Bavarians 6.

The Bavarian army started the campaign at Augsburg on 1 March 1813 and has retreated to Nuremberg at the start of the current campaign on 1 August 1813.

There are five campaign areas and Southern Germany is my favourite.  I enjoy the sight of the white uniformed Austrians and the light and dark blue of the Bavarians and Baden armies.   Both armies are evenly matched in combat ability and should produce good battles to wargame.

However as a campaign area the poor performance of the Bavarians is a disappointment, and a cause of some confusion.   In the other four areas the allied and French armies have a more even record of victories and defeats.  Even the Spanish have won 7 of the 17 battles fought in Southern Spain.

There is no logical reason why the Austrians should have done so well.   In my armies each nationality has strong and weak fighting abilities.   But the wargame rules rely sufficiently on luck to allow either side to win.   Marshal Schwartzenberg has obviously had a five month run of luck.

I don’t have any plans to change the balance of the two armies, nor to change the wargame rules.   However I may play a very cautious campaign in my role as Marshal Oudinot!

It will be interesting to see whether the dice continue to support the Austrian cause.

You can follow the progress of the campaign on the campaign diary blog here

Sunday, 4 March 2018

1813 Campaign Diary Blog

Map of europe showing campaign areas and phases

I normally have a new campaign ready to start before I finish the current one.   But over the past couple of months I have spent most of my available time working on new campaign maps.

I had anticipated the Linares Campaign to run for quite a bit longer.   It came to a swift end with the unexpected total defeat of the French army at Baylen.   This resulted in a lot of administration to wind down the campaign, leaving me with not a lot of time to set up the new one.

However all is well.  Over the past week I have completed the setup of the new campaign and am now ready to start.

With such a wide spread, and long running, campaign there is considerable “paperwork” to keep the five different campaign areas up to date.   This is particularly so with the campaign diary blog.

I wanted the campaign blog to be a record of the whole 1813 campaign.  I wanted to be able to read how the campaign was set up and what the national objectives were.  I also wanted it to have a record of each campaign phase, a daily diary and a wargame report for all battles fought.  It was also necessary to be able to check the latest situation in all five campaign areas, not just the current campaign phase.

To achieve this I used a detailed index to the blog using the Labels.   On the right of the blog there are 27 references listed. 

The first two deal with the overall 1813 campaign.  

01 is the introduction to the campaign
02 a description of the whole campaign area.

Each of the five campaign areas then has five reference, for example for Northern Germany they are

10 Introduction to the campaign in North Germany
11 French Army in North Germany
12 Prussian Army in North Germany
13 North Germany diary
14 North Germany battle reports
15 North Germany campaign summary

The last of these, the campaign summary, is what causes the most work at the end of the campaign.    This is a running commentary on the initial campaign objectives and a short history of each of the campaign phases.   It ends with a list of the blogs dealing with each aspect of the campaign.

The whole Campaign Diary Blog has taken on a life of its own.   I set it up originally to help new players in the PBEM campaign research their own campaign area.   But when I converted to a Solo campaign I realised I would need it myself to refresh my own memory when I started a new campaign phase.  

I sometimes wonder whether anyone actually looks at this complicated and time consuming blog other than myself.   I rather doubt if many do.   However it is worth the work involved to enable me to keep the campaign on the tracks.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

End of Spanish Campaign

End of Linares Campaign

My Linares campaign has concluded with a Spanish victory.

The campaign has lasted twelve days and produced five battles.    The French won the first three but the Spanish won the last two.

It took four months to play the campaign, and proved to be one of the most interesting yet.   This is mainly because of the new campaign rules for guerrillas, which added a new dimension to the campaign.   It was also very satisfying that it had such a historical feel, and that the outcome was down to the success of the guerrilla bands.

For many years I ran the campaign as PBEM, and I loved the lack of personal control due to having ten players each commanding an allied or French army.  But after a couple of years I grew bored of the same style of wargames which the campaign provided.   The armies and nationalities might change but the type of battle rarely did.

This was because I allowed the players to make all tactical decisions, how else could they get any enjoyment out of the campaign.   But this resulted in a very limited number of wargames.   In retrospect I think that this was because most players did not last long enough to learn the necessary lessons.   Most commanders only played one, or two, campaigns.   They had a limited knowledge of the campaign and wargame rules, and could not be expected to choose the best tactical deployment to win the eventual wargame.

I converted to solo campaign about two years ago, and even for me it has been a long learning curve.   I amend both campaign and wargame rules as a result of campaign and wargame play.   This has proved particularly effective now that I play the role of allied and French commander both in the campaign and on the table top.

Most of the rule change has been to prevent me from “gaming”, both in the campaign and on the table.  

In the campaign the most important influence has been supply and resupply.   I allow each corps a maximum of four days’ supply.   It takes at least one, and often two, campaign days to bring the enemy to battle.   At the end of the battle the attacker will usually be down to one or two day’s supplies.   If he runs out he is punished by attrition casualties.  So even if he wins he is faced with the problem of immediate pursuit and loss of attrition.  Or wait to rearrange his supplies and await resupply and replacement of battle casualties.

If he loses he is in real trouble.  He still faces the problem of attrition casualties and resupply, but he has now lost the initiative to the enemy who won the battle.

It all provides an unexpected loss of control for me as umpire, commander and wargamer.  

It also provides surprisingly fun wargames.