Battle of Palencia

On Wednesday I finally got to fight the game thrown up out of the latest version of the campaign system that occurred a couple of weeks ago now. Unfortunately starting a new job that week and the unavailability of gaming opponents meant we had to wait although the week before we tried out Fast Play Grande Armee with this scenario. It was not a success, although it was over quite quickly, the ruleset is not designed for playing such “small” forces rather its meant to fight Leipzig etc sized engagements.

Anyway, Mike came over to play the French of Victor’s Corps (played in the campaign by someone else) and I played my campaign role of Wellington, although Richard who should have been there to help me run the forces was unable to make it at short notice.

Mike’s already give a battle report here covering the first 10 odd turns. This afternoon I finished the battle off to the agreed turn limit, but the last turn and a half didn’t really change anything except killing a few more men on both sides. The British left attacked the French right but were repulsed almost all along the line, the only unit who got into melee ended the turn shaken along with it’s French opponent.

Here are a few pictures from the two sessions.

French left threatens and Picton forms Square

British Reinforcements march on

Overall shot midway

British view of the village and Spencer's Division

Last ditch attacks on the French Right

End of game on French Right

End result is the French lost 34 SP’s worth of troops, and the British lost 80. (Not including artillery losses from ammunition rolls).

The British and Portuguese have suffered badly from:

  • poor command dice (In retrospect, the decision to get the game underway quickly and rate all the generals the same (normal 1d6) was a bad one) meaning that few units got into contact
  • Wellington having to have 8 odd units under his direct control due to lack of their parent generals being present. This meant he couldn’t roam the field using his inherent points to help out subordinates
  • The inability to bombard the French lines prior to attacking due to the need to get on with things turn wise
  • The agreement that the game would be 12 turns long. I did this because I wanted the game done in a night, but PoW suggests that a normal day is 18 turns. The campaign is currently in late March, but to reduce the turns to 12 was IMO too extreme

The British are just getting to grips with the French line, and I think had the game been set for 14 or 16 turns instead of 12, the imbalance of losses so far would have been levelled out and a British victory might have been possible. What it feels like at the moment is we’ve done all the approach marching under fire and suddenly the day’s over.

What this and last weeks games have yet again raised is how difficult it is to port a campaign game to the table, play it and get a satisfactory resolution in a single evening. Either the rules are overly simple and bloody, and the game feels too arbitrary, or the rules play too long for the available time. This size battle was almost exactly what I’d hoped the campaign system was going to throw up, and yet it was too big for PoW and too small for Grande Armee (Or FPGA).

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Campaign System design thoughts pt1

Hi guys,

As some of you will know, I’ve been tinkering with an online campaign system which has proven quite successful so far. As we draw to a close of the current beta test I’m inclined to start some evaluation of the options in the system and how I could further open it up to allow different groups using disparate rulesets to use the same system to run their own campaigns.

Firstly, is there any interest in a campaign system at all? I notice that the campaign board on TMP isn’t the liveliest place generally anyway.

What I’m proposing would probably work for most land periods from ancients through to the advent of modern communications. Basically anytime a bloke on a horse is the messenger, although could conceivably be used to present day with messages being delivered instantly.

The system is already set up with a couple of modular options for the Campaign Umpire/Admin to set and it’s this modular approach I want to expand on. Here are the general settings and choices I’m thinking about at the moment grouped together into the modules I think I’d organise by. Essentially allowing people to pick the “best fit” options to mesh with their preferred tabletop rules and to choose the campaign rules that suit them.

  1. Geographical & Environmental
    • Maps
      • Choose from existing maps within the system
      • Add a new Map
    • Create Nodes (Towns)
    • Create Roads
      • Define Road Types
    • Create Geographical Structure
  2. Weather
    • Weather effects on/off
    • Choice of random weather or ability to have historical weather (Historical weather being either true to period, or real weather patterns from the area from another year)
    • Weather to be bound to areas or widespread.
  3. Movement
    • Road Limits
      • Road Limits on/off
      • Set Road Limits
        • No. of Men
        • No. of Units
        • No. of Unit Type
    • Set Unit Rates
    • Fatigue effects
  4. Units
    • Orbats
      • Create new Orbat
      • Use existing new Orbat
    • Attributes
      • Strength
      • Morale
      • Class
      • Type
      • Rating
      • Weapon
      • Movement
      • No Bases
        • Set Organisation level – Regiment/Brigade/Division/Corps/Army/Wing
  5. Supply
    • Depots
      • Location Parameters
      • Replacement Generation
      • Unit Creation
      • Lines of Supply
        • Distance from Line of Supply for “In supply” calculation
  6. Communications
    • Switch on/off – on being fog of war and off being instant delivery
    • Couriers
      • Movement distance
      • Interception/Capture on/off
  7. Battle Output/Input
    • Choice of rulesets
      • Tick box selection for the GM/Umpire to allow multiple rulesets
      • Battle Orbats output choice for each “allowed” ruleset.
    • Choice of Orbat generation for Umpire, players or both.
    • Input of battle results centrally or by Umpire.

    Please take some time to think if there’s anything that you might be interested in using which isn’t covered by the above, or if there’s anything you’d like to clarify, please post a comment below and I’ll happily try and expand my thoughts.

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