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A Comprehensive Wargames System

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  • thistlebarrow
    In 2006 I designed a comprehensive wargames system to provide me with interesting battles to wargame. So far it has provided 252 and is still going strong.
    Message 1 of 19 , 3 Apr

      In 2006 I designed a comprehensive wargames system to provide me with interesting battles to wargame.    So far it has provided 252 and is still going strong.

       

      It is a very simple system which can be used for any period from ancient to Star Wars, any scale from 2mm to 54mm and any size of wargames table.   It can handle any wargame from skirmish to world war.

       

      This system would be suitable for any wargamer from complete novice to jaded veterans.   The whole concept is that it is tailor made to what you want to do and how you want to do it.

       

      I use it to run a Napoleonic campaign, but it could be adopted for any period

       

      For most of the 40 plus years that I have been wargaming I have been searching for the perfect system, the Holy Grail of wargaming.  I am not saying that this is it for everyone, or perhaps even for any of you, but it has been for me.

       

      If you already have a collection of figures, a table and a set of wargame rules there is no expense in setting up this system.  If you have none, then this is a good way to plan what you want to achieve in time.

       

      The introduction is on my blog now.    You can find it here

       

       http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com.es/

       

      Over the next few weeks I will cover planning and preparation, the campaign system and wargame rules.

       

      If anyone would like to convert the system to their own use I would be happy to give any assistance that I can.  

       

      However even if the whole system does not appeal I hope that some of you may find it thought provoking and that you may be able to use parts of it.

       

    • thistlebarrow
      The first post considers planning and preparation, and in particular setting an objective of what you want to achieve at the end of the process. I suggest
      Message 2 of 19 , 8 Apr

        The first post considers planning and preparation, and in particular setting an objective of what you want to achieve at the end of the process.   I suggest how you might make a start, and use my own planning and objective as an example.

         

        There will be about 10-12 posts and each one will deal with one step in the process.   In each one I will try to explain the basic principle, and then use my own experience as an example.   I have tried to keep each post short and to the point.  The idea is to allow anyone interested in adopting my system plenty of time to absorb each step.

         

        I would welcome any comments or questions

         


      • thistlebarrow
        This week make an inventory of what model soldiers and scenery you have available, and what you need to obtain, in order to achieve your objective. I use my
        Message 3 of 19 , 15 Apr

          This week make an inventory of what model soldiers and scenery you have available, and what you need to obtain, in order to achieve your objective.  I use my own inventory as an illustration of how to tackle this.

        • thistlebarrow
          Having decided on your objective and then calculated how many figures and facilities you have, or are prepared to obtain, the next step is to decide how you
          Message 4 of 19 , 22 Apr

            Having decided on your objective and then calculated how many figures and facilities you have, or are prepared to obtain, the next step is to decide how you are going to organise them.

             

            A lot will depend on your objective and the figures available.  If you want to play skirmish wargames, even if they are in different areas and even periods, then you will probably be able to provide all the figures you will need. You may need more scenery or terrain, but that is not a great problem.

             

            However if your objective is to fight a major campaign, or worse still a series of campaigns, you will need a lot of figures.   If you are unwilling, or unable, to obtain them all then you are going to have to compromise.   However you will have to live with your compromise, so it is worth putting a little effort into how best to achieve your objective with what is available.

             

            I wanted to fight the whole of the 1813 campaign in Germany and Spain, but I only had just over 1500 figures.  Worse still they were painted and based as 36 figure infantry battalions.

             

            This week I explain how I organised them as 20 allied and 16 French corps without repainting or rebasing a single figure.

          • Simon Gilbert
            Hi, I lost count of my army strengths but they suffer from being somewhat large and unwieldy. Most feasible games are two small corps perhaps with a bit of
            Message 5 of 19 , 22 Apr
              Hi, I lost count of my army strengths but they suffer from being somewhat large and unwieldy. Most feasible games are two small corps perhaps with a bit of support vs one larger one. This is going to be adjusted somehow by changing rules chosen for larger games towards war gaming with card counters and a simple, fast-play, high-manoeuvre rule set. The plan is merely experimental at this stage.

              One way around evening games is to reduce table size and army size that is used. The last game I played pitted 24,000 vs 34,000 in a mini campaign where the two forces looked tiny on the table and due to their organisation neither side used more than 65% of its full strength. My players need more training at war games.

              Ciao,
              Simon

              From: paulleniston@... [napoleonicpbemcampaign]
              Sent: ‎22/‎04/‎2017 17:34
              To: napoleonicpbemcampaign@...
              Subject: [napoleonicpbemcampaign] Re:: A Comprehensive Wargames System

               

              Having decided on your objective and then calculated how many figures and facilities you have, or are prepared to obtain, the next step is to decide how you are going to organise them.

               

              A lot will depend on your objective and the figures available.  If you want to play skirmish wargames, even if they are in different areas and even periods, then you will probably be able to provide all the figures you will need. You may need more scenery or terrain, but that is not a great problem.

               

              However if your objective is to fight a major campaign, or worse still a series of campaigns, you will need a lot of figures.   If you are unwilling, or unable, to obtain them all then you are going to have to compromise.   However you will have to live with your compromise, so it is worth putting a little effort into how best to achieve your objective with what is available.

               

              I wanted to fight the whole of the 1813 campaign in Germany and Spain, but I only had just over 1500 figures.  Worse still they were painted and based as 36 figure infantry battalions.

               

              This week I explain how I organised them as 20 allied and 16 French corps without repainting or rebasing a single figure.

            • thistlebarrow
              Hi Simon You could try reducing the size of your tabletop armies. I found that a comfortable size wargame army and playing area for each player is about
              Message 6 of 19 , 23 Apr

                Hi Simon

                 

                You could try reducing the size of your tabletop armies.   I found that a comfortable size wargame army and playing area for each player is about 200-250 figures each and a playing area of 6 foot wide. More than that and a game gets too complicated and bogs down.

                 

                I worked out my wargames and campaign system starting with the table.   We have a 6x6 foot table and there are two of us playing.   The largest army we field is 132 infantry, 32 cavalry and four guns.   They are in four corps, but you could just as easily call them battalions and squadrons.  This gives sufficient width to deploy three “corps” with a fourth in reserve.  

                 

                With these numbers there is sufficient space to fully deploy, and the reserve can be committed as required.   This size game lasts a maximum of 12 moves, and usually takes about five hours to complete.

                 

                Give it a try for a small campaign, say two or three battles, and see how it works out

                 

                I am fortunate that my wife is my regular wargame opponent, and we both fully understand the rules.  It sounds like your opponent(s) are relatively inexperienced wargamers?   If so try to use very simple rules to start with.  Nothing worse than trying to learn new(ish) rules and handle large armies at the same time.   If your rules are simple, and rely on dice more than usual, there is a good chance that the inexperienced player will have better luck and win.   The important thing is that all the players enjoy themselves.

                 

                Once they gain in experience, and start to enjoy the game, you can always introduce them to more complicated rules.


                regards


                Paul

              • thistlebarrow
                This week the blog entry explains how the corps are organised into armies and why the 1813 campaign was chosen. The aim is to use all of the different
                Message 7 of 19 , 29 Apr

                  This week the blog entry explains how the corps are organised into armies and why the 1813 campaign was chosen.   The aim is to use all of the different nations in rotation and also to use the collection of north and south European buildings I have available.

                   

                  As the wargame is the most important aspect of the campaign, the size of the armies in relation to the tabletop space available is very important, as it the ability to be able to wargame any size battle provided by the campaign.  

                   

                  The blog contains a photograph to illustrate this point, showing an example of the largest battle possible with my campaign, which is four corps per side,

                   

                  This is the last blog entry about the model soldiers, next week I explain how I designed the wargames table in relation to the size of the armies and the campaign map.

                • thistlebarrow
                  As part of the planning for my comprehensive wargames system I realised that the size and type of wargames table would be critical. I was fortunate that I
                  Message 8 of 19 , 6 May

                    As part of the planning for my comprehensive wargames system I realised that the size and type of wargames table would be critical.   I was fortunate that I would have a new wargames table when we moved to Spain, and I would be able to decide beforehand what was necessary to complement the campaign.

                     

                    I start this weeks blog with the statement “size is not in fact everything when it comes to wargaming”, and in fact I have long found this to be true.   One player can only comfortably manage a relatively small area, and command a relatively small group of figures, with ease.   I have found that an area of about 6 foot wide and three feet deep is quite sufficient.  As there would be only two of us taking part in the wargames a table 6 foot by 6 foot would be quite sufficient.

                     

                    By far the largest problem would be transferring the map battles to the wargames table.   This prompted me to settle for a table consisting of two by two foot scenic squares.  Each map square would be one table square.  Providing I had sufficient scenic squares I could reproduce any nine squares on the map with ease.

                     

                    The original 21 squares have proved me right by allowing me to create every wargame we have fought over the past ten years.

                  • thistlebarrow
                    You can use any commercial rules with my comprehensive wargames system, just as you can use any basing system. However you will have to consider how they
                    Message 9 of 19 , 13 May

                      You can use any commercial rules with my comprehensive wargames system, just as you can use any basing system.   However you will have to consider how they will fit with your campaign system.

                       

                      I have only taken part in a couple of campaigns before I started my own, but in each case the campaign ended abruptly when the first battle had to be fought as a wargame.   I suspect that the interface between the campaign map and the wargames table causes a lot of problem for those who run campaigns, whether solo or with other players.

                       

                      The advantage of writing your own rules is that you can overcome all of these problems at the planning stage of writing the rules.  

                       

                      This week I consider the advantage of writing your own rules, particularly in relation to your proposed campaign system.  In the coming weeks I will look at what I consider the most important aspects of wargame systems to compliment the campaign rules..   

                       

                      The first is what I call “men and supermen”, in other words how to campaign with the best and worse troops.   Getting the balance right between elite, average and poor type troops is essential for the smooth running of the campaign.

                       

                      Next will be the important relationship between wargame and campaign casualties.  What works well on the table may ruin the tempo of the campaign.   Most wargame rules result in destroying the enemy.  But that would mean the end of your campaign after just one battle.

                       

                      Finally will be length of battles in the campaign and on the table.   This is essential for the smooth transfer from map to table, and to estimate when troops will arrive on the table.

                    • thistlebarrow
                      In response to last week’s blog I was asked how I can ensure that I complete each wargame within 12 moves without sacrificing a lot at the tactical level.
                      Message 10 of 19 , 20 May

                        In response to last week’s blog I was asked how I can ensure that I complete each wargame within 12 moves without sacrificing a lot at the tactical level.   This made me realise that I had not explained the interface between the campaign and the wargame as well as I need to. 

                         

                        So I have added another blog to explain how the wargame is designed to complement the campaign, and to ensure that most games reach a conclusion within the 12 moves allocated.

                         

                        Each game always starts with the two armies one scenic square apart, I call this “no mans land”.   A square is 24”x24”, which is more than long range artillery fire.

                         

                        The rules are designed to allow three phases in each game, and each phase is four moves.   The first phase is the deployment, which is done out of artillery range.   The second phase is advance into artillery range, and the artillery combat.   The third phase is the close quarter battle consisting of skirmish and volley fire. 

                         

                        This sequence usually results in a clear winner and loser.   Normally the morale of both sides is pretty brittle by move 10 or 11.   At this stage brigades start to rout due to loss of morale after battle casualties.  One rout will often have a knock on effect as nearby brigades have to check their morale and often join the rout.

                         

                        If there is still a stalemate one side can order one or more brigades to attack.  This results in hand to hand combat, which always ends in sufficient casualties for one side to break and run.   The outcome is heavily influenced by a throw of dice, so it is a very risky option to take.

                         

                        The wargame sequence and the different types of wargame are explained in this week’s blog entry.

                      • thistlebarrow
                        This week is called “men and supermen” and considers how to use different types of troops in the campaign. For many years some elite, such as French old
                        Message 11 of 19 , 27 May

                          This week is called “men and supermen” and considers how to use different types of troops in the campaign. 

                           

                          For many years some elite, such as French old guard or British riflemen, had stood on the shelf and collected dust.   Or at the other extreme poor quality troops such as Spanish had suffered defeat time after time.  

                           

                          I wanted to make it possible for the Prussians to win against a French army including the old guard.   I also wanted to make it possible for the Spanish to win against a French peninsular army.

                           

                          I explain how I allow both extremes to campaign against average line troops to ensure that both sides have an equal chance of winning a campaign.

                           

                          Link to blog

                          http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

                        • thistlebarrow
                          It takes considerable time to set up each campaign phase, including producing new strategic and tactical maps. So I wanted each phase to produce more than
                          Message 12 of 19 , 3 Jun

                            It takes considerable time to set up each campaign phase, including producing new strategic and tactical maps.   So I wanted each phase to produce more than one battle.   Each phase is similar in scope to the Waterloo campaign, so it is not unreasonable to expect more than one battle to decide the winner.

                             

                            In the past I have found that if one side lost the first battle, they were very likely to lose the subsequent ones.   The loss of artillery and cavalry in particular left the loser at a severe disadvantage in the remaining battles.

                             

                            To overcome this my wargame rules rely more on morale than numbers of casualties to determine the winner of the game.   It is quite difficult to inflict casualties, but each one then has a significant effect on the performance of the brigade concerned.

                             

                            This week I explain how I have used this device to reduce the actual number of campaign casualties.   This allows the defeated corps to rally and reorganise providing they can avoid battle for a number of days.   Not all battle casualties are replaced, and the combat effectiveness of the corps is permanently reduced. But they still have a reasonable chance of winning the subsequent wargames.

                             

                            You can find the blog here

                            http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

                             

                          • thistlebarrow
                            This week I explain the different types of maps I use in my campaign. I make my own maps, which are all designed for my 1813 campaign. Any commercial map
                            Message 13 of 19 , 10 Jun

                              This week I explain the different types of maps I use in my campaign.  I make my own maps, which are all designed for my 1813 campaign.   Any commercial map can be used, but I explain the advantages of tailor made maps.

                               

                              All of the campaign administration is handled on my desktop computer, so I do not have paper maps.  

                               

                              I started by making two large maps, one of Germany and the other Portugal/Spain.   Having plotted the major cities and towns I then added rivers and borders.  International roads (in red) connect capital cities.   National roads (in yellow) connect regional towns.   The road system is fictional, as are the terrain features.  These maps are so large that even using the computer monitor they are difficult to work on.

                               

                              So I then made five regional maps, one of each campaign geographical area.  These are north, central and southern Germany and north and south Spain.   They are the same scale as the first maps, and contain the same details and information.  But they are much easier to work on.

                               

                              For each campaign phase I make a new strategic map.   This is the same scale as the two previous maps, but covers a much smaller area and has much more detail.

                               

                              Finally I make a tactical (or wargame) map which covers the same area, but shows the wargame table terrain.  This is the map I use for all campaign movement and for transferring battles from the map to the tabletop.

                               

                              You will find samples of the maps and a description of each on my blog here

                               

                              http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

                               

                               

                            • thistlebarrow
                              The latest post is a brief introduction to my campaign rules. I describe how the rules are organised and what they are designed to achieve. I stress that
                              Message 14 of 19 , 1 Jul

                                The latest post is a brief introduction to my campaign rules.  I describe how the rules are organised and what they are designed to achieve.   I stress that they are not designed to play historical campaigns, and may not appeal to many wargamers.   They were written to provide interesting battles to wargame and to compliment my wargames armies and rules. 

                                 

                                You will find a link to the campaign rules on my blog here

                                 

                                http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

                              • thistlebarrow
                                I started my campaign in 2008 and it has run without break despite converting from solo to PBEM and back to solo. The secret of its long life is that it is a
                                Message 15 of 19 , 8 Jul

                                  I started my campaign in 2008 and it has run without break despite converting from solo to PBEM and back to solo.   The secret of its long life is that it is a series of mini campaigns within an overall framework of a fictional campaign.

                                   

                                  Each mini campaign, or “campaign phase”, is self-contained.   Each is designed to use one of my five wargame armies and located in one of the five campaign areas.

                                   

                                  At the start of each campaign phase both armies are at full strength, and have four days supplies.   The introduction sets with scene with a brief history of their earlier campaign phases within the overall 1813 campaign.   The campaign diary blog is designed so that anyone can access each campaign day and each battle fought.

                                   

                                  In this month’s post I explain how these phases work. You will find it on my "Napoleonic Wargaming" blog here

                                   

                                  http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                              

                                • thistlebarrow
                                  This week I explain how I handle battle and attrition casualties in my campaign. I wanted battle, or wargame, casualties to have an ongoing effect on the
                                  Message 16 of 19 , 15 Jul

                                    This week I explain how I handle battle and attrition casualties in my campaign.

                                     

                                    I wanted battle, or wargame, casualties to have an ongoing effect on the brigade and corps concerned for the remainder of the campaign.  But I did not want heavier casualties in the first battle to result in what I call the “steam roller” effect.   By that I mean the loser will start the next battle with a greatly reduced chance of winning due to battle casualties.  This unbalance will increase throughout the campaign.

                                     

                                    I overcome this by replacing battle casualties providing that the corps concerned is in supply, not moving and not in contact with the enemy.  However 10% of casualties (or one “pip” in wargame rule terms) remain throughout the campaign.    This reduces the morale and combat effectiveness of the brigade concerned by minus 1 on each morale or combat dice throw.

                                     

                                    I explain it in a little more detail on the blog, which you can find here

                                     

                                    http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

                                     

                                  • thistlebarrow
                                    I have found that getting campaign supply right is really very difficult. There is a tendency to have very complicated supply rules, however they become a
                                    Message 17 of 19 , 23 Jul

                                      I have found that getting campaign supply right is really very difficult.   There is a tendency to have very complicated supply rules, however they become a great burden to administer.

                                       

                                      This week I explain how I tackled this problem.   I developed these rules when it was a PBEM campaign.  I wanted logistics to play a vital role, and to punish any commander who did not plan ahead to ensure his supply lines.   However the rules would have to be easy enough for casual players to handle, and realistic enough for most (if not all) players to accept as reasonable.

                                       

                                      I explain what I wanted to achieve, and how I did so, in the blog here

                                       

                                      http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

                                    • thistlebarrow
                                      It has been my experience that the most difficult part of a campaign is the interface between the map campaign and wargaming the battles on the table. This is
                                      Message 18 of 19 , 30 Jul

                                        It has been my experience that the most difficult part of a campaign is the interface between the map campaign and wargaming the battles on the table.  This is particularly so in multi player campaigns, when the wargame decides the outcome of their strategic planning and manoeuvring.   I suspect that it will remain so whatever system is used to fight the battles as wargames.   However my system has the advantage that the whole campaign has been planned to provide wargames (not just map battles) to decide the outcome.

                                         

                                        This week I explain how I handle this problem.   It is at this stage that the real advantage of my whole wargame system becomes clear.

                                         

                                        As always you can find the blog here

                                         

                                        http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

                                      • thistlebarrow
                                        This week I give a brief history of the campaign and explain how the sequence works. This is the last in this series of blogs. I hope that you have enjoyed
                                        Message 19 of 19 , 6 Aug

                                          This week I give a brief history of the campaign and explain how the sequence works.   This is the last in this series of blogs.  I hope that you have enjoyed them or even found them interesting or useful.

                                           

                                          If anyone would like any further information, or any assistance in setting up your own system, I would be happy to help.

                                           

                                          As always you will find the blog here

                                          http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/

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