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Questions about scenario and unit sizes

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Questions about scenario and unit sizes Empty Questions about scenario and unit sizes

Post  Daniel Krommer Wed Dec 16, 2020 10:16 am

Greetings everybody!

I am planning to run a semi-historical Napoleonic scenario using the 1824 rules and the Meckel map. This is my first game as an umpire and I am in need of advice.
First of all, what do you think would be the best size for the engagement? I am not sure of the organisation level that we should go with. The game will be played with 4 players in 2 opposing teams one being the French and the other two a coalition army (probably Austria and Russia) And what would be the ideal size of the battle map for said engagement? Even though the scenario is fictitious I would like the armies to reflect a possible engagement so I would like to use actual army compositions. (Preferably before the introduction of the corps system for the coalition, thus giving the two teams a different way of deploying and fighting)
I have a "small" obsession with detail Very Happy so I'd like the two armies to be as historically accurate as possible and introduce a bit of roleplaying. So I am looking for an extensive chart of army compositions of the era to pick from with as many details as possible.
Thanks for the help in advance!

Greetings from Hungary!
Daniel

Daniel Krommer

Posts : 7
Join date : 2020-12-07

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Post  Martin Tue Dec 22, 2020 10:22 am

Hi Daniel

Although we know that large-scale games were occasionally played by the Prussians, it appears that the great majority involved much smaller forces.  The kriegsspiel sets supplied to each regiment for training purposes in the 1820s were aimed at the 'detachments' level.  That was the most appropriate scale for the purpose of training lieutenants and captains for commands they might aspire to in the medium-term.

A typical command might be say 3 or 4 battalions of infantry, half a dozen squadrons, and a battery of guns.  There were often two or three such detachments per side.

An area of say 50% of the Meckel Map would work well with forces of that size.  Send me a PM with your email and I'll send you an example for the Meckel map.

The troop blocks included in the 1824 Kriegsspiel Apparatus was based on the current Prussian organisation.  This differed from normal practice in other armies, in that it did not include a divisional command-level.  Regiments were grouped into large brigades, and the latter into corps.  This difference is more apparent than real however, since the regiment was so large........the equivalent of a large brigade in most other armies.  So - somewhat confusingly - a Prussian regiment could be said to equate to a brigade in most armies, and a Prussian brigade to a division.  

In terms of other Napoleonic armies, you can find a lot on the web. Just search on "battle name" and "OOB".   Here is an example for Borodino https://www.napoleon-series.org/military-info/battles/Borodino/Mikaberidze/OrdersofBattle/c_MikaberidzeOOB1.html

For games at the detachments level, such differences will anyway be less relevant, as the detachments would be relatively small, and might well have been configured for the task at hand, without regard for higher organisation.  

For at least your first game, it may also be an idea to use two similarly-structured armies.  You will find you will have much to do, if you are to keep the game running at a reasonable speed.  One thing less to think about  Wink

We use a 1:1 ratio of umpires to players btw.  For your first game, I can well-imagine you might struggle to raise that number.  If that is the case, I would be inclined to make one side umpire-driven.  At the very least, it would be wise to manage players' expectations of how slowly the game is likely to move.

Good luck!

Martin J

Martin

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Post  Daniel Krommer Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:17 pm

Thank you, Martin, for the in-depth explanation. It's much appreciated. By the way, I can't send you a PM because I don't have enough posts.

Yours,
Daniel

Daniel Krommer

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Post  James Sterrett Fri Jan 08, 2021 7:57 pm

We have found - historical or not - that a force of:

4x infantry blocks
1x cavalry block
1x artillery block

Sometimes with a supply train

Makes a really good force for a player in small maneuver-driven games.  It's got a nice combined arms mix and isn't too large to handle.


Also, reading John Gills' Thunder on the Danube a while back drove home to me that many of the battle of the era have forces about that size.  Most fights, even fairly significant ones, aren't the size of Leipzig/Borodino/Waterloo.

Also - the Good Part of Kriegspiel fights is the maneuver. Any major combat tends to slow the game to a crawl *and* most or all of the player's decisions have happened. We often end the game at that point.

James Sterrett

Posts : 79
Join date : 2009-01-05

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Post  Daniel Krommer Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:33 pm

Wow! That seems like a very small force to play with... With how many players do you tend to play with such forces and on how big of a map? I suppose you use a large part of the cavalry for reconnaissance. What kind of objectives do you use for such games?
Thanks,
Daniel

Daniel Krommer

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Post  James Sterrett Fri Jan 08, 2021 10:13 pm

Often 3 or 4 players per side. (I usually have groups of 16 adult Army officers as students - half players, half umpires.) The 4rth on each team is the Commander, usully with 2x cav, 2x arty, and a supply train -- so they can influence the battle without being a complete fourth force.

We strive to build maneuver scenarios. Some of our design is driven by assuming a 2 or 3 hour class and no time for in-class planning, let alone prior planning. A current very good one, derived from the Gaddesden group's old (and brilliant) Demo Scenario 1, has:

Blue is moving a convoy from Silberberg (just offmap) to the river bridge past Altstedten & the next town to the SE. Blue's CDR is in the north, just to the north of the woods so they can't see out. Their three forces are in columns of march - from front to rear, arty, 4x infantry, cav and CDR - headed E. One is marching crosscountry towards the bridge between Silberberg and Aldtstedten. One is just crossing the central road's bridge across the creek towards Aldsdtedten. One is crossing the creek on the southern road towards Aldstedten.

Red is trying to take the same bridge that Blue will be crossing on. They have an identical force, all marching in columns heading E: from front the rear: Cav & CDR, 4x inf, 1x cav. Each is deployed so that the head of their column is just in sight of the rear of one of the blue columns. The Red overall CDR is up on the road on the central hill to the central W (forgot the name at the moment) - can't see what is going on.

So: Play starts with 6 out of 8 players in contact, and a flurry of messages to/from the overall side CDRs - what is going on! Blue is worried about setting up a defence. Red is wondering why some blue forces pull away. *Every player has decisions to make*. *No player has the ability to force a decisive engagement for a while.* What are you going to do?

Especially with students, we make a point of ending play before anybody has clearly won, which avoids sore losers in the discussion.

The students typically *love* Kriegsspiel and their most common reaction are:

1) I miss radios
2) Why don't we do this more often!!??
3) Now I understand how Mission Command* is supposed to work.

* Giving intent-driven orders - accomplish this mission - so your subordinates have room to figure out how to achieve the objective, as opposed to detailed orders of do X and Y and Z exactly with no room for reacting to reality.

James Sterrett

Posts : 79
Join date : 2009-01-05

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Post  James Sterrett Fri Jan 08, 2021 10:16 pm

Another thought:

When side A and side B are on mirrored missions - take X/hold X - are often kind of dull.

Instead, concoct situations where each is Doing Its Own Thing, but their lines of movement are going to collide. This tends to make the enemy do things that are much less predictable.

Demo Scenario 1 did this brilliantly. I have run it *dozens* of times without seeing the same outcome twice and *every time* it produced a great game. I'd post the files for it if I had them here.

James Sterrett

Posts : 79
Join date : 2009-01-05

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