Sunday, 7 June 2009

Demo Game - Summary

The wargame table at the start of the game. Helmstedt is in the centre of the table. There are two farms (on green bases) and two areas of broken ground (brown patches). The French are in position on the table. There is one corps in Helmstedt and one on the road on either side. There are two corps in reserve behind Helmstedt. All are on "blinds" and must be spotted by the enemy to discover what is on each blind. The Prussians will enter the table from the right.

Having read through the demo game I have realised that it might be a little difficult for an inexperienced wargamer to make much sense of it all. So I though a summary, plus some explanation of the aims of the game, might be useful

Campaign background
The French army are tasked to hold the line of the river Elbe, and in particular Magdeburg. The Prussians have crossed the river in two places and forced the French to withdraw to Helmstedt, where they hope to halt the Prussian advance

The Prussian army have been very successful so far in the campaign. They have defeated the French three times, and have achieved their campaign objective of capturing Magdeburg and the river Elbe. They now want to crush the French and open the road to Hannover.

French Game Plan
You will see from the photographs above that the French have five corps on the table. All are on "blinds" so the Prussian player does not know what is where. One of the corps is a reserve, and it may either contain cavalry or artillery taken from the other corps. Or it may be a blank just used to confuse the other player.

The actual deployment is best corps in Helmstedt, two average corps either side of Helmstedt along the road, one poor corps (without cavalry or artillery) behind Helmstedt together with the reserve which consists of two cavalry brigades and horse artillery. All are on Hold orders.

The Prussian Game Plan
There are also five Prussian corps. They will all enter the table from the right of the photograph. All will be on "blinds" and all will be in column of march (this means that they must deploy in order to be able to fight).

The poorest corps is on the left (nearest the camera). It has orders to move to the front of the broken ground and hold. Two average corps have orders to move to Helmstedt either side of the road, halt out of artillery range and wait for further orders. The best corps has been placed on the right (furthest from the camera) together with the cavalry reserve, which is two brigades of cavalry and a horse battery.

The Prussian intention is to hold with their left, advance and wait with the centre, advance and attack with their right.

The Game
All went well for the Prussians to start. Their right was in position to attack, when the French attacked their reserve. The French only had one cavalry brigade against two and a gun, but they were lucky with the dice. The whole Prussian reserve broke and routed! The Prussian attack came to a halt. All corps halted and took defensive positions until new orders could be issued by the CinC.

The French were slow to react. They did send the cavalry reserve forward in the centre, and this caused panic amongst the Prussian centre, who formed square and moved artillery and cavalry around to counter this threat. However the French cavalry were not strong enough to attack without infantry support. By the time the French infantry came forward it was too late.

The Prussians regrouped one cavalry brigade and the artillery of the reserve. They then attacked again. This time they were lucky, and broke the French left wing. They pressed home their attack and broke the centre left as well.

The French commander now had half of his commant in rout or shaken and he ordered a retreat, covered by his right centre and right.

Due to the early set back, it was too late for the Prussians to complete their victory. There are only 12 moves in the game, and night fall arrived before the Prussians could exploit their victory. The French withdrew under cover of darkness.

Effect of the battle on the campaign
The purpose of the campaign is to provide good wargames, not to attempt to fight a realistic campaign. It has been our experience that in most campaigns the player who loses the first battle probably loses the whole campaign, because he carries the casualties from game to game. In our campaign battle casualties are not carried forward to the next game. The result of the battle is that the winner gains ground, and eventually his campaign objective.

The winner of a battle always has to spend one day resting and regrouping. The loser always spends the next day retreating. Great care is taken to stop both armies concentrating immediately, as that would result in one big battle and the end of the campaign. The aim is to have at least four corps battles (one for each corps) the one or two multi corps battles and finally the big one with both armies complete.