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24th November face to face game at LG. The War of 1810

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Post  Martin on Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:53 pm

Sunday 24th November k/spiel - The War of 1810

Our November game is a large late Napoleonic campaign.  If you are interested in attending, please complete the poll here: https://xoyondo.com/dp/tcBzK0T1Q6ZmPi0

Martin J



Background to the war

It is early May 1810.  Having defeated Austria on the Danube last year, the Emperor has felt free to commit large additional forces to Spain.

Seduced by English money, and the prospect of weak French forces in Germany, Russian and Prussia have re-entered the war however.  During the spring Prussia mobilised several corps, whilst a large Russian army occupied Poland and moved W through Pomerania and Mecklenburg.  There was little to oppose them, save for one Polish corps which has fallen back on Hamburg in the face of superior Russian numbers.  

Napoleon has scrambled to catch-up.  Many new French units are being hurriedly raised, and it has been announced that armies are to be formed under the Emperor and Marshal Davout.


Victory

Victory in the campaign will come from some combination of winning battles and achieving geographical and political objectives.  

We are dealing with large armies of potentially 2-300,000 men per side.  You simply cannot operate with a force of that size in one sector because the road system will not allow you to bring all of it to battle, and because geographical objectives are widely separated.


Winning the battles

Nevertheless, the most effective way to win battles is by concentrating more men than your opponent in the right place and at the right time.  The units are corps of infantry and cavalry.

You concentrate troops by so arranging marches that you make good use of the road system, and knowing when to force-march additional corps from further afield.

24th November face to face game at LG.  The War of 1810 Battle10

Players will have some input into battle itself, but this will be limited, as many battles are unlikely to involve more than 2 of the players, so must be resolved very speedily.  So the focus is on operational skill, rather than tactical decisions involving terrain etc.


Last edited by Martin on Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:57 am; edited 4 times in total

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Post  Maximilian (Punky) on Sat Oct 05, 2019 12:47 pm

Hi, I'm interested in this, can I ask how they are run time wise? I have family in Hertfordshire (and I myself am originally from Hitchin) and would love to attend this or future events. How long does it go on for in the day? Would I need to bring my own food or is there a source in the village? Can I dress up? Am I, a complete novice to historical warfare, be welcome to parttake? Do I need to bring my own models?
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Post  Martin on Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:19 pm

Hi Punky

You'd be very very welcome to join us for games. Geographically you seem to be a good fit.

In answer to your questions:

1. We start at 10.30 am and finish play at about 4 pm, normally followed by a c30 min debrief where we chat about the game. Sp close by 4.30.

2. There is a village pub, but I'm not sure is does takeaway lunches, and of course it would take you away from the game, so not ideal. We normally just bring sandwiches. We have access to a large kitchen, and provide plenty of tea & coffee for all attendees. Most folks also bring some cake or biscuits which are pooled for common use Wink

3. We don't normally dress-up, but feel very free to do so if that floats your boat!

4. Please don't worry at all about your lack of historical knowledge. We're a very friendly (and non-competitive) bunch, and there is plenty of advice and support for as long as you need it. Also, the nature of our games - which emphasise fog-of-war and communication SNAFUs - means that all players make plenty of mistakes!

5. No need to bring any models. With a very few exceptions, our games do not use figures. The November game for example will be played on a map of northern Germany, and the typical unit will be a corps of 20,000 men, or a cavalry corps of perhaps 5,000. So players will command full-size armies - and often quite large ones at that.

Hope that helps, and can make the game. But please do ask any more questions as they occur.

Martin J

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Post  Maximilian (Punky) on Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:22 pm

That sounds absolutely fantastic, gives me an opportunity to make a trip down from Sheffield and see the father the day before too Smile Budget permitting, I'll be there for this one then Very Happy
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Post  Martin on Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:37 pm

Bravo Sir!

Look forward to meeting you.

Can you fill in the poll here please https://xoyondo.com/dp/tcBzK0T1Q6ZmPi0

Martin J

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Post  Iwein on Fri Nov 01, 2019 10:36 am

Hi guys,

I am new on this forum and interested to participate in the War of 1810.
In the past I have already played a couple of megagames in London and in Belgium/Netherlands. But never a real kriegsspiel.

But first a practical question: Coming from Belgium I want to combine the game with a 4-days trip to London.
Is it quite easy to reach the venue of the game from London by train?

Greetings,
- Ivan

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Post  Martin on Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:56 pm

Hi Ivan

Welcome to the forum.  You'll be equally welcome to join us for the game on 24th November!

There are frequent trains from London, St Pancras to Harpenden.  Also from London, Euston to Berkhamsted.  Journey is about 30 minutes.  In either case you would need a taxi or lift to the village where we play.  I would be happy to give you a lift from Harpenden Station.  That's a further 25 minutes drive.

In terms of process, our games are similar to megagames, but tend to focus much more on the military side of things.  We play from 10.30 until about 4 pm, when we stop and have a debrief.

Drop me a PM with your email address if you'd like to know more.

Martin J

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Post  Martin on Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:29 pm

So far it looks as if there will be 14 of us for this game.  A most creditable performance.  

Here is some more information about the strategic setting.....

Martin J


Strategic geography of the German theatre

At the extreme west and southwest of the campaign area, the River Rhine is the ultimate source for French supplies, reinforcements and replacements.

Prussian men and materiel is much more conveniently drawn from the area around their capital, Berlin.  This of course has the disadvantage that it is potentially vulnerable to French attack.

Russian supplies and reinforcements need to transit Poland, well to the east, before reaching the front.  This has the obvious disadvantage that they take a long time to arrive, but does mean they are relatively secure from immediate threat.

A key feature is the major River Elbe, which could eventually serve as a LOC for the French, provided they hold Hamburg.  The latter is a major port, which can easily be re-provisioned by coastal craft moving east along the coast from French-controlled Holland.  This route is protected from the British Navy by the Frisian Islands.  Until Hamburg is secured however, the French must run any LOCs from the Rhine (ie from Dusseldorf and/or Wurzburg).

The Elbe is a major river, and can only be crossed at certain places, five of which are controlled by fortresses.  Hamburg is currently held by the neutral Poles, Magdeburg by the French, Wittenberg by the Prussians, and Torgau & Dresden by the neutral Saxons.

Other fortresses are variously held by the French, the Allied coalition, or by neutrals.

The region is relatively flat to the east, and also towards the River Rhine in the west and southwest.  The central area immediately west of the Elbe is more forested and mountainous, and the available roads are fewer.  

24th November face to face game at LG.  The War of 1810 Forum_10

Fortresses

Formal Vauban-style sieges in the late Napoleonic period were rare.  Commanders preferred to blockade enemy fortresses, which enabled them to run a LOC past the place, and thus allowed an advance to continue without too much delay.  

A downside was the number of troops which needed to be detached to mask the fortress – typically a corps of about 20,000 men.  If they were aware of the threat, defenders could moreover increase the garrison by adding one of their own corps to it.  In that event, attackers would require two corps to blockade it.  Such blockades could be very lengthy, frequently lasting for many months.

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Post  Martin on Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:04 pm

Neutral states, and particularly Sweden (see map in previous post)

Several initially-neutral states will feature in the game.  Most of these are small (Bavaria, Saxony, Westphalia, Duchy of Warsaw) and have previously been clients of Napoleon.  In the current circumstances however, and with the French on the back-foot, they may be reviewing their options.

Most maintain forces amounting to a corps in strength (c20,000), although the Swedes are potentially much stronger.

Austria is more powerful still, but it was heavily defeated by the French last year, and may not yet be ready to re-enter the fray.

Apart from Sweden, these will not be played by a human but, as the situation develops, some or all will join one side or the other.  They may not all join the same side.  Military success will be the most important factor influencing their behaviour .  They will be tempted to join the winning side, so victories will be a major determinant.    Additionally, it may also be possible to cajole or threaten them into joining you, by moving one of your infantry corps to a town adjacent to their troops.  A third factor in bringing them off the fence, will be the decisions of their fellow-neutrals.  If one enters the war, this may encourage others to follow in a domino-effect.

Here is a brief description of each neutral state.

Bavaria – long-standing French ally, whose troops are some way from the initial area of operations, and far from Allied support.

Saxony – traditionally wary of Prussia.   Nevertheless, their capital Dresden is not far from Berlin, and the Prussians may be in a position to put pressure on them.  They control 2 key fortresses on the Elbe (Torgau and Dresden).  

Westphalia – somewhat artificial kingdom, created for Napoleon’s brother Jérôme Bonaparte.  He is no doubt loyal to the emperor, but are his subjects?  The capital Hanover is likely to be a key point on the French LOC, and is unfortified.

Duchy of Warsaw – Polish troops have fought alongside the French in hopes of an independent Poland, free from domination by major powers, especially Russia.  French victory against Prussia and Russia in 1807 led to liberation, but there appears little sign that Napoleon is contemplating a truly independent Polish state however.  In any case, the Duchy of Warsaw has now been occupied by Russian troops, and the Polish corps has retreated all the way to Hamburg in the face of the Russian advance.

Sweden – during the past few years Sweden has fought wars against both France (briefly) and Russia.  Defeat by France meant the loss of its holdings in N Germany around the fortress of Stalsund.  Defeat by Russia two years ago meant the more damaging loss of Finland - as large in area as Sweden itself.  The real power in Sweden now lies with Prince Bernadotte (one of Napoleon’s former marshals!), who only 3 months ago was elected heir-presumptive to the sickly and childless king.  Bernadotte has worked closely with Napoleon over many years, and the Emperor gave his blessing to the new arrangement.  The Swedes have recently taken advantage of the current uncertainty to land troops at Stralsund and take possession of the fortress once more.  

Unlike the other more minor neutral states, Sweden will be played by a human in our game, representing Prince Bernadotte.  Any other player can send messages to Bernadotte, and (if provided with negotiating authority in their player briefing) can negotiate with him on behalf of their government.  The Swedes will be well aware of their value to either side, and if they enter the current war, will no-doubt be looking for something in return!

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Post  Maximilian (Punky) on Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:31 am

Tickets down booked, lift organised, hype at maximum
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Post  henridecat on Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:15 am

Loking forward to the game Martin, when are you sending out briefings?
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Post  Martin on Fri Nov 15, 2019 2:05 pm

Hi Rich

Good question.  We often do send out briefings before the game, and that does have several advantages.

However we probably won't do that this time.  A big downside of doing so (perhaps the only downside) is that problems can arise, when actual numbers don't match expected attendees.  If some folks don't turn-up, we have to reallocate roles at short-notice, which can mean some players will have an advantage having had their briefings for a week, whilst others have to absorb their's rapidly, even as the game is starting.  It can also mean that we need to reduce the number of player roles, which is a problem if a player has already had a briefing for Side A, but is now going to be on Side B.  It may also unbalance the scenario.  Conversely, if more folks than expected are there, we may find ourselves short of player roles.  Creating new roles on the fly is not always easy, and of course for every additional playing role, we also need maps, liaison umpires etc.  

The background to this is that over the past couple of years we have found it difficult to judge the likely numbers attending our games.  As an example, for the last game in October, we originally thought 10 would be coming, based on the poll.  One week before the game, we had indications that only 7 would after all be playing.  On the day 10 players turned-up.  And not exactly the same 10 as the original line-up.  That was actually great (!), and we always welcome anyone who turns-up, and find a way to fit them in.  But it does make it a bit difficult to plan drunken

Your post is very timely.  You've reminded me that I need to email all those who have registered, to check that everyone is still intending to come...........

Martin J


Last edited by Martin on Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:16 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  King_Rufus on Fri Nov 15, 2019 5:22 pm

What intelligence is there in Europe from the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway?
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Post  Martin on Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:14 pm

Excellent question.  As you imply, at this time Denmark and Norway are one state, under the Danish royal house.  The country is closely tied to Napoleon, and the formerly powerful Danish fleet has been greatly reduced by British attacks.  

It still has quite a strong army, but the Danish corps is tied down in the defense of Jutland and and the key port of Copenhagen (both N of the map posted above) from further British landings.   It is therefore most unlikely to be available for deployment in the Hamburg sector, or anywhere else in Germany.

The Norwegian corps is posted along the Swedish border, in case of attack by that country.  The rivalry for Baltic hegemony between Sweden and Denmark goes back centuries.  So again, these forces are unlikely to be deploy-able for any campaign in Germany.

Martin J

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Post  Martin on Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:39 am

As with our previous game, we will be using a bespoke orders sheet for players to complete for each weekly turn.  These sheets have a number of advantages:


    • They ensure that the umpires receive orders in a standardised and readily comprehensible form from each player ……eg they discourage unnecessarily verbose orders, which take time to read and decipher


    • They ensure that orders include the specific information that umpires need


    • They assist players by providing a suitable format, and guidance on what is needed

    For illustrative purposes, here is a marked-up copy of such a sheet for Napoleon…….Note in particular the use of the ‘Cautious’ box.  If players check this for a force, it will try and ignore battle.  Useful for a force within reach of a stronger enemy army.  It will attempt to pull back if threatened.  One risk, is that it can then be bullied out of a key position however.    Martin J


Last edited by Martin on Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:56 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Post  Martin on Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:42 am

Dang!  Doesn't seem to want to display the image.  Here's another go...........

24th November face to face game at LG.  The War of 1810 Forum_17

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Post  Charmead on Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:55 pm

I would LOVE to join one of these one day. Would be worth the flight across the Atlantic

Having said that ... how can I get a look at the type of system you use? From screenshots it Looks like it is based on Napoleon on Danube engine. I Am really interested in systems that add extra detail in consideration for logistics

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Post  Martin on Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:15 pm

Yes it would be great to have you join us for a game, Pat. 

By the Napoleon on the Danube engine, are you referring to the old Frank Hunter PC game of the 1805/9 campaigns?  As I recall, that one is corps and divisional, but we've actually taken things up a level from that, so that the smallest unit is a corps.  We did that because the armies were larger for this campaign, so we had more corps.  An additional consideration was to reduce the admin burden.

The logistical system was fairly simple but required a functioning LOC, or players got no new corps and replacements for existing ones.  For most of the game, France had two LOCs back to the Rhine.  One in support of their northern army under Napoleon (via Munster), and another in the south to support Davout (via Erfurt and Wurzburg).

Folks seemed to enjoy the game, so we will be running more using the same approach.

There were 4 battles in all, with the French winning 3 of them.  At close of play, the umpires judged that Napoleon had a marginal strategic victory, as several French corps had an open path to the Prussian capital, Berlin.

The open question was whether this would have forced Prussia out of the war.  This was not clear-cut.  Although Blucher was forced to surrender in the last battle, a few miles W of Leipzig, the main Prussian army was still in being.  The Allies had achieved a number of other successes.  These included the destruction of the Old Guard Corps, and the subsequent disbandment of the Allied Westphalian forces.  And also the late entry into the war of Sweden.

By late game the French had lost their northern LOC to a Russian advance, and were on a logistical shoestring, with Napoleon's forces sharing Davout's LOC.  This would not have prevented them seizing Berlin, but would have forced a halt to further operations.

The attitude of neutral Sweden remained unclear to all (with the possible exception of the Swedish player) until the very end of the game, when they joined the Allies.  Multiple negotiations were continuing even as military operations were underway.  Indeed the situation was so unclear that the Russians almost attacked their soon-to-be allies at one point!

Martin J

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Post  Maximilian (Punky) on Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:23 pm

on the subject of sweden I have one such comminque from Blucher to Barclay upon the nation:

"To Barclay,

No, really, I have no idea what Sweden is doing, he said he's on our side and it's all a blind, so I really have no idea. However, he is in your area of operations, so I now formally declare him to be your problem.

From, Blucher x"


(which, upon receiving this, the Barclay player burst out laughing)
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Post  Martin on Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:37 pm

Ha ha. Napoleon always said he'd rather fight an alliance than be part of one.

How much more difficult, when you don't even know you're in it..........

m

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Post  Iwein on Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:10 am

Thanks Martin & co for the amazing experience.

Most of the time I hadn't any clue where the enemy was. Great!
My cavalry was scouting everywhere but could not find the enemy. Merde. Yeah the years of La Grande Armée where long gone...

Also it's not easy only to communicate by letters. Interpretation is everything. At one time I was even thinking Napoleon was defeated while in reality he won the battle.

The "death" of Blucher was a nice thing in the last turn of the game. Very Happy

Berlin, en avant! No mercy!

Ivan aka the Iron Marshal


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Post  Martin on Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:45 pm

You're very welcome, Ivan.  Glad you enjoyed it.

I was interested in your comment re Napoleon's battle.  Because some players were several days apart, when there had been a battle, any player not directly involved would only initially be given a rumour about it.  More detailed information had to wait until the next briefing.  A painless way to ramp-up the tension.  Well painless for the umpires anyway  What a Face

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