Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Starting in a Napoleonic wargames campaign

Gerhard von Blucher
I'm recovering from severe bronchitis, so was not able to run the third part of my Tour of Darkness game this week, which was disappointing. Apologies to anyone awaiting an update on that. Instead, I've finally got around to something else I have had in the pipeline, namely a Waterloo strategic campaign in which I have enlisted. I have landed the role of one of the Prussian generals, none other than Blucher himself! Hence, I'm spending a somewhat wet weekend in Sussex working out my initial deployments.

The campaign is being managed by a neutral umpire in Canada, and I am assuming that hidden movement plays a big part in the whole process - i.e. just like the historical commanders in 1815, you don't have the benefit of satellite recon! Given that this blog is publicly available, and there is every chance that the French players may be reading this, I will have to be deliberately vague on some aspects of my operations. Indeed, much of the information you see on this blog will be common knowledge to the French players.

I'm quite excited about getting this campaign started. My familiarity with the Waterloo campaign (as opposed to the actual battle) is somewhat limited. Hence, I've done a little bit of reading up. Lack of communications between the Prussians and the Anglo-Dutch army seems to have been one key concern in the early stages of the campaign. Given I've had no contact with Wellington so far, this seems to be evolving along historical lines!

When looking at a campaign like this, you are tempted to review the historical deployments first. In my case, I had a look at the geographical situation in the first instance, then at the available Prussian forces. I immediately came to some conclusions about where my corps should be, and saw that they were very similar to Blucher's. However, I may also make some alternative deployments that the great man did not, largely because I can, and there may have been practical operational considerations for his dispositions that I can happily ignore!

The great thing about playing in a game like this is having no idea what the opposition is up to, or which direction they are going to come from. It is the classic double blind situation, which makes everything all the more exciting. Hence you need to be quite cautious in your initial dispositions - at least, I am. Luckily, I've got some knowledge about the practicalities of Napoleonic warfare, and what is possible for the French army and what is not.

The Prussians begin with four army corps in eastern Belgium. At this stage I am able to detach individual brigades and divisions to other locations. I'm being prudent, keeping detachments within easy reach; for the main part I'm using advance detachments to cover key river crossings and approach routes, but in some areas they have been deployed so that they can react quickly to fast-moving situations.

One must also bear in mind the fact that, in this simulation as in history, the French could move more quickly, and this was a key operational aspect of the success of Napoleon's armies. Hence, my Prussian commanders will need to choose wisely to avoid being outflanked. More on this as and when I have further news. I would go into more detail on my strategic thinking, but at this stage don't want to disclose too much to French spies!

The Prussian army on the march!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I'd like to know more about this. Is there a map? Is there a ruleset, or is it more improvisational?