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"What would you look for in a campaign system?" Topic

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hohoho Inactive Member07 Apr 2012 8:59 a.m. PST

I've been thinking about my online system, and how I could open it up so other groups could use it to have as much fun as we've been having. Making it more generic and yet more specific to different rulesets. I've posted on my blog, please take the time to read it and feel free to leave comments on the blog if there's something you're looking for or you have some decent ideas what I'm missing.


I've spent quite a long time formulating this list, and of course there's things bound to be missing.

Thanks for looking.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Apr 2012 10:09 a.m. PST

I look for a minimal amount of maps and book keeping. Making it a more-or-less linear campaign means I'm more likely to actually play it because there is some hope that I will finish it.

Brad Jenison07 Apr 2012 10:16 a.m. PST

I would be looking for a system that reliably generated battles or combat to look forward to at our weekly gaming sessions. We currently are playing the Napoleonic 1809 campaign with a good map. However the main field armies have maneuvered around each other on several occasions and we go weeks in real time and days in game time with no contact at all with each other. I believe as gamers we should have a system that ensures or drives games to play.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2012 10:30 a.m. PST

I have run and played many campaign games. The two problems I have with them is that when a side starts winning, it goes down hill for the other side very rapidly. Eventually the side having difficulty just quits, no announcement of them throwing in the towel, they just quit showing up and everyone else is left holding the bag.

The other problem is with terrain generation. There are a lot of ways to do it but you need to record each set up in case there is a battle on that piece of ground later.

I now run a different sort of campaign where we do all the historical battles in order. We do not carry casualties over to the next battle. We just use the historical scenario OB. I have found the historical scenario route to be much easier to run and is more fun for the players. If someone has a way to get around the two problems I mentioned above, then please share it. I have consider adding reinforcements or have some way of generating them.

I have also considered a point system of some kind based on the out come of each scenario, a game score. Points for capturing terrain or causing casualties, killing Generals etc. Then at the end of the campaign add up the score and the highest wins.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Apr 2012 10:35 a.m. PST

I look for people other than myself to provide armies, but that never happens.

hohoho Inactive Member07 Apr 2012 11:13 a.m. PST

@Pictors, thanks for the reply. I'm not sure that any system I can build will increase your or any players resolve to continue. However, removing all the admin overhead from the GM/players would seem to me to give the best chance of continued interest and participation.

@Brad, Again, I suspect that that isn't something I can influence unduly. Its about victory conditions and intelligence driving players to make sensible decisions which ultimately lead to battle. Additionally, the campaign I'm running at the moment, we're processing a turn per day, which means there's a fairly good chance that turns tick over quickly and then we get a battle which we pause for (usually after our wednesday session of course!)

@Rallynow, Terrain Generation is a good point and something to add to the list. You mention "a lot of ways to do it", Can you elaborate and list what you mean? Obviously there's the "look at google earth/paper map, translate to tabletop" type of situation, in which case you'd not really need to record anything since it'd be the same process the next time, or the randomly determine/pick from a list route, a bit like DBM method? Any more?

@Darth, I'm currently providing both sides and the campaign system for our group, although we do have some reinforcements available from another member. Maybe you should move? :)

Darkoath07 Apr 2012 11:21 a.m. PST

A good system for hidden movement, fog of war, and using cavalry as scouts to learn of enemy positions etc.

vtsaogames07 Apr 2012 12:10 p.m. PST

A way to resolve some contacts by the system, when players do not want to put the fight on the table.

It might be that the fight is too small or so one-sided that the outnumbered side won't play a table game.

Grizzlymc Inactive Member07 Apr 2012 12:20 p.m. PST

or so one-sided that the outnumbered side won't play a table game.

I look for a certain type of player, one who will fight a battle to his disadvantage because that is what he setup in the campaign – the rest, dump them.

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Apr 2012 4:03 p.m. PST

Definitely hidden movement and fog of war.

Logistics, in a simplified manner.

The ability to run Age of Sail and WWII naval/air games, pirates in the Caribbean, and WWII or modern air games.

Lion in the Stars07 Apr 2012 4:35 p.m. PST

I'm a big proponent of KISS as a design principle. If it's something that would affect your decision-making, it should be considered for inclusion (and should have a good reason for not including it).

I'd want scouting rules, logistics as simplified as possible (because logs is one of the big limiters on army operations), and something to push armies towards battles (like a pay chest that only lasts for so many campaign turns).

I remember the 'Commodores Game' from Star Fleet Battles, where you had a set of 'fields' you committed forces to, without knowing what the other side was committing there. If you were the only one committing forces, you 'won' that scenario, but you might get clobbered at another point. It works OK for naval or Air gaming, not so well for ground.

The WarmaHordes campaign system is also based on map areas, and the distance from territory you control determines how quickly you need to win.

MadDrMark07 Apr 2012 5:20 p.m. PST

I'd look for a scenario and system that forced me to make the same kind of operational decisions that a general of the period would make. Spotty intelligence seems a given. I prefer meaningful objectives (capture a crossroads to disrupt an opponent's supply rather than grabbing for abstract victory points). I also want a game that makes me consider logistics (but without going overboard to account for every last bullet). And finally, I would want a game where the outcome of individual battles has a marked outcome on the campaign and future tactical engagements.

Honestly, I can't imagine how to accomplish this without a skilled, thorough, and fair referee.

JJMicromegas Inactive Member07 Apr 2012 6:44 p.m. PST

I like all of your ideas and I am interested in this type of system. The only thing I can add is to make it pretty. A nice graphical interface with an intuitive UI could make or break the system.

Steve64 Inactive Member07 Apr 2012 11:24 p.m. PST

Hiya Gavin,

Really excited about the work you are putting into this, its looking great. Lots of good ideas there.

I started writing a reply on this thread … but it got a little long, so I turned it into a blog post.

I completely agree with the level of detail you are looking at there, nothing much for me to add to that. I did make some comments though on looking at some of the game management aspects outside the simulation realm.

Here is my thoughts anyway :


Handling the logistics and fog of war is one important aspect, and that is all covered quite well by best practices in this area.

Its the 'game' aspect that is a really hard call. A campaign that is done with full realism would tend towards becoming pretty dull pretty quickly, as a couple of decisive battles turn an even contest of a campaign into a simple mopping up and exploit operation. Not much fun in that.

Here are some psuedo-historical, but gamey ideas that might be worth playing with for a campaign system :

I think the rule of 3's might be a good starting point.

Have the campaign track 3 different type of 'Victory Points' for each player, so there are 3 leaderboards for the players.

To win the campaign, you need to achieve a clear win in at least 2 categories.

This leads to some simple rock-paper-scissors strategic considerations, that can get beautifully complicated and immersive.

.. blah blah blah
.. another TMP post from me turns into war and peace

so, full blog post here :

Steve64 Inactive Member07 Apr 2012 11:44 p.m. PST

Having said all that – for dealing with the nitty-gritty details, I think the truly definitive work on this subject is brilliantly covered somewhere in between the covers of the original Kriegspiel document.

10 pounds sterling for the PDF download from 2fatlardies – I think I will hit the button on that purchase soon. Just wish I had the time to read and digest all this information in 1 hit.

Will get around to it soon.

Kriegspiel PDF for download :

hohoho Inactive Member08 Apr 2012 3:03 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the replies here and comments on my blog. Thankfully there's nothing that's shot out of the discussion so far that I've not really considered in some way,shape or form. There's definitely a few things I'd omitted or forgotten to include in the original list so I'll be adding a pt2 to the blog at some stage in the next few days.

vtsaogames08 Apr 2012 5:16 a.m. PST

"I look for a certain type of player, one who will fight a battle to his disadvantage because that is what he setup in the campaign – the rest, dump them."

I run campaigns with the players I have, not the players I want.

hagenthedwarf Inactive Member08 Apr 2012 9:29 a.m. PST

Whilst your system has much potential I should have no interest or use for such a system: it is too intricate and is best yoked with Kriegsspiel style gaming.

I find players want a to fight club style battles but in a linked format and my campaign designs reflect that goal.
(1) To ensure 'equivalence' in a battle the armies have to be constructed in such a way that you both sides get appropriate sized forces and do so for each and every battle in the campaign yet the outcome of each battle is important
(2) Logistics and manoeuvre are kept simple so that busy club members need to put a minimal effort into them
(3)The campaign finishes after six to eight battles for each player without discouraging any player from giving up through lack of interest

Simulation is not important (for me) yet much of your detail is designed to reproduce that. An example of a good design (not mine) is here:
or review the DBA campaign system.

I wish you success but your system will cover only a sub-part of wargaming campaign interests and is but one approach.

hohoho Inactive Member08 Apr 2012 11:08 a.m. PST

hagenthedwarf, thanks for your reply. I don't expect it to appeal to everyone. I do find your suggestion that my system is too "intricate" rather odd. True, what I'm discussing at the moment is quite complex in nature, but the intention is that for the player it is so so simple.

Admittedly no true campaign system can ensure equivalence, and personally I'd steer away from one that did. Again, what appeals to me wouldn't be the same as what appeals to you or your players.

Gonsalvo08 Apr 2012 2:40 p.m. PST

"Theater of War"


by Brent Oman offers a system to generate tabletop battles in a campaign setting which should resolve within 3-5 battles. It is very light on paperwork. if you're looking for detailed logistics, diplomacy, or true hidden movement it won't be the direction you'd choose, but if you want a campaign that will reach a definite conclusion in a reasonable period of time and generate interesting scenarios that won't wind up needing more troops than you have, it is well work a look. Although designed to use with Piquet supplements of any era, there is no reason it cannot be used with different rules for the tabletop actions.

Mark Plant08 Apr 2012 2:57 p.m. PST

I have run and played many campaign games. The two problems I have with them is that when a side starts winning, it goes down hill for the other side very rapidly. Eventually the side having difficulty just quits, no announcement of them throwing in the towel, they just quit showing up and everyone else is left holding the bag.

Surely the solution is to make sure the players don't know they are losing?

That means a campaign where each side only has limited knowledge of the enemy, including starting strength and positions.

I've run some e-mail Kriegsspiel games which were not just battles, but included the run-up as well. That gives you the sensation of "campaigning" without the tiresome worry about supply that a full campaign gives. They were all played to suitable conclusions, since it was not clear to the loser that they had lost until very late in the piece.

Gonsalvo08 Apr 2012 3:12 p.m. PST

For the level of system you're designing, your list of considerations certainly seems reasonable.

Lion in the Stars08 Apr 2012 4:53 p.m. PST

The reason I mentioned the "Commodore's Game" is because it gives you *very* limited intelligence on what the opponent has. You literally only know the total forces available, you have no clue what is being sent to any given field of battle.

I'd like a little more information than that, especially since the computer could handle the fog of war (as well as the possibility of the enemy killing my scouts). Just make sure there's a difference between 'nothing to report' and 'the scouts have not reported back'!

Caliban Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2012 5:01 p.m. PST

Nodes that consist of terrain rather than towns, so that, for example, an attacker might have to fight through several areas to simulate steppe warfare, or maybe large woods (Teutoburgerwald).

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member08 Apr 2012 6:13 p.m. PST

Regular FtF play. The campaign portion shouldn't be more intricate than the battles themselves.

hohoho Inactive Member09 Apr 2012 2:30 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the replies. As I expected, some people seem to have missed the point of the question a litle bit but that's OK because it's shown that I am basically on the right tracks.

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member09 Apr 2012 3:56 a.m. PST

Apologies, Peterborough. I think your list is very comprehensive. I would think about adding one section "Victory Conditions". If people had flexible options to load or set victory conditions, they might be more inclined to run campaigns. I think Rallynow hit the nail on the head. Campaign game balance is important. Maybe have an input for weights or points, and have an option for basic campaigns. Why not mini-campaign games too ? I've always liked the idea of fighting linked scenarios or short campaigns over a few weeks at the most. Often I think people can get too involved in the "campaign" itself, rather than keeping the campaign limited to basics like strategic mov't.

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP09 Apr 2012 9:48 a.m. PST

However it is modelled, however elements are abstracted, a system that requires the player commander to consider what his counterpart 2 centuries ago had to consider, to use his troops in the fashion they would have had to be used, and to communicate and make decisions within the fog of war is most desireable.

Communications and movement considerations must model the variables of time, distance, terrain, infrastructure, and human and animal fallability.

Supply and logistics considerations must model the need for troops to be sustained and maintain combat integrity in the field by maintaining proximity to a viable flow of material and forage.

Intelligence gathering must model all of the communications and movement considerations as well as the strength, doctrine and efficency of the system that gathers it.

With a computer, the level of detail this requires is no longer impractical. What is paramount is that the player commander must consider all these factors, to greater or lesser degree, during oplanning and operations. If he has to, any campaign length, any victory condition, any scenario at all is a struggle against the conditions of the game as well as the enemy.

Fairness is a dubious concept at best in war, and should be in wargames as well. The challenge of finding a way to be successful (relative to the possible) under the constraints of one's circumstances is what kreigspeil is designed to teach, and victory does not always provide the most valuable lesson for the next campaign.

I think that all sorts of campaign games are fun, but that a workable computer system that can challenge the player with the above considerations is the computer system I am persionally looking for to take my Napoleonic gaming to PBEM and the web.


Bottom Dollar Inactive Member09 Apr 2012 10:00 a.m. PST

Well, GQG, I wouldn't want to play a campaign game against you ! I would need to get a Ph.D. in military operations before I could keep from getting my tail kicked. Either that or maybe I'd get lucky and the GM would put me on the "they're going to win for certain" side :)

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP09 Apr 2012 10:24 a.m. PST

Not true! Ideally, in fact, you would just need to read up a bit and play by principle and consideration, rather than rule immersion or micromanagement. Then give the orders, and let the chips fall- which is pretty close to what the real thing was…then you learn from your mistakes, and then you learn how to position yourself to take advantage of the other guy's mistakes. Both sides will always have failures if the model is good- which is where luck will meet preparedness and circumstance!

Ratbone Inactive Member09 Apr 2012 6:21 p.m. PST

Greatly limit the ability to collect intelligence by the players. This goes to the players NOT wanting to fight because they know just what it will turn into and they'll keep manuevering for more advantage.

If you have a problem with players manuevering too much, take away some of their all-powerful control by creating a chance that they will get drawn into battle (even if both sides are avoiding or unaware).

Make logistics and supply as simple as possible. It's crucial in reality but utterly lacking in fun. It only rewards accountants sitting at calculators, not guys who want to push minis for fun. It also usually leads to another form of min-max powergamers squeezing whatever rules are provided.

Make sure that every battle has a meaningful impact. By this I mean several things:
1) losses count, period, even if replaced
2) victory can be overshadowed by losses
3) keep morale in mind, as a loss will drag the army's morale down even if it doesn't cause too much casualties

Allow active deception to be valuable to a player. Make scouting crucial but not all-knowing, and don't allow a simplistic counter-scouting. Sometimes scouts get info without the other side knowing. Sometimes both sides get info and neither side is aware of whate they got.

Force "unrealistic" rules that will encourage meetings instead of encouraging people to ridiculously circle. Make it so that you can apply it either way to satisfy the player base.

Elenderil10 Apr 2012 7:12 a.m. PST

I have also struggled with the issue of players "resigning" from campaigns when things were not going their way. This pretty much kills the campaign for everyone else and will bring a campaign crashing to it's knees no matter how well everything else works.

As a way to get around this issue I have used two linked mechanisms (with mixed results if I am totally honest). Firstly I set interim victory conditions and targets and tailor these to the relative strengths of the players campaign strength. So someone running a small principality with limited resources will have an easier set of victory conditions then someone running a superpower. They will gain and keep victory points (or whatever measure of winning you are using) at regular points throughout the game. The victory conditions for a player will change to reflect changing campaign realities. For example if you are commanding a force of rebels your initial concern is to keep the rvolt alive and not be wiped out, later it becomes defeating the powers that be and if you do that you are concerned with hanging onto power and expanding. The second technique is to allow players multiple bites at the cherry. So if your running a minor principality that gets steamrollered into the dust you get to rejoin the campaign as an ally of another player, or as a rebel faction or a sub commander (and perhaps a rival for the throne/presidency/theocracy or what ever). Players who are recycled like this keep their victory points from previous lives. The trick to all of this is to have a means of calculating victory points relative to the starting strength. so a powerful player gets lower returns for a small terrain gain or battlefield win then a weaker player would. Kind of a return against your resources thing. The players should not have to calculate this it should all be done by the umpire (or their computer).

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2012 9:36 a.m. PST

Re Scouting (Ratbone)

I concur- scouting should be done by report and not by counter (though the proximity of counters can iniate the reports)and I think this means that a computer moderated system still needs a human umpire unless it is very very sophisticated. The system tracks the information, but the umpire weaves it into communication(s, or, I suppose, the computer produces a sheet of information for a commander to sift through.

Checking A F DeBrack (link to below) there are a number of descriptions in the section covering 'Indications' that suggest methods of communicating information to the players that may or may not tell them something of value- meaning they may not know what they have. A number of small reports with various facts, accuracy generally determined by a umpire's method that factors relative strength, doctrine, experience etc.-or, better, one report wih many small facts on it- requires the player commander to sift information, and make decisions in the face of sometimes conflicting information as well. I myself call that FUN! Anxiety producing, but fun!

hohoho Inactive Member10 Apr 2012 11:05 a.m. PST

Your Brack links don't work for me. I just get the book cover?

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2012 12:25 p.m. PST

Hmm, working from this end, but try this, which should get you there…then you are at the E book


le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2012 12:30 p.m. PST

Does Google Books have accessability problems from your end? I seem to remember a recent post on the Napoleon series message board alluding to something of this sort…

Lion in the Stars10 Apr 2012 2:33 p.m. PST

Force "unrealistic" rules that will encourage meetings instead of encouraging people to ridiculously circle. Make it so that you can apply it either way to satisfy the player base.
I don't think you need to use 'unrealistic' rules. You need to pay the army, so including some system to represent that puts a clock on operations. Each infantry or cavalry unit takes one 'pay chest' every (however often). Maybe make it a little random, so that you can push a little beyond the literal end of the money (morale roll to see if the unit is combat effective?).

Similarly, you need to feed the army, so either pushing supplies down from your logistics chain or capturing them from the enemy is important. So say each infantry or cavalry unit also takes a supply wagon every (however often).

Now, you not only have a limited time to use the forces under your command, but you also can 'seed' the campaign map with pay chests and supply wagons (equivalents). This gives players a reason to fight. Not just control of territory, but they need to fight for the very things that keep the army in the field at all!

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2012 9:33 p.m. PST

Soldiers will march and fight in the Napoleonic period for weeks even months on end without proper pay, but shoes only last so many miles.
Many factors limited the contiual strategic movement of forces, making any prolonged such marching as described by players in some campaigns prohibitive, unless falling back upon ones own resources and supports was an option, such as the Russians did in 1812.

Campaign rules that model the breakdown of humans and animals under march conditions are very realistic, and prevent the aforementioned issues with players in the game, as the combat power and effectivness of their units wilts daily from such tramping about. Hence the need many real commanders faced to bring the enemy to battle relativly quickly. This is most pronounced for an army on the offensive, presumably maneuvering 'away' from main sources of support.
Campaign rules have to model march attrition from fatigue and disease (esp the latter) to keep a player using his forces the way period commanders had to use them. A great deal becomes clear about why commanders made the decisions they did regarding offensive & defensive moves, halts, etc when the circumstances and fallibility of human and animal flesh are understood. Getting caught out in several days of rain does much more than get everything wet!
Prior to the computer, this modeling was and is tedious and impractical at best for wargamers. Now, all we need are programmers to do it.
"To understand the campaign is to understand the battle"

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2012 9:05 a.m. PST

Some more stuff on why campaign design has to require the player/commander to consider the destructive influence that marches have upon an army…
Clausewitz wrote: "it is so great that it may be regarded as an active factor in (an army's) destruction, just as much as combat might be." One single moderate march does not wear down an army, of course, but a succession of even moderate marches is certain to cause increasing attrition and a succession of severe ones will quickly take a severe toll.
On campaign, imperfect availability of food and shelter, bad broken-up roads, and the necessity of being in a perpetual state of readiness for battle (mental/physical fatigue), will be the factors creating an excessive strain upon the player's forces, causing "men, cattle, carriages of every description as well as clothing to be ruined."
In the Napoleonic period, common assumption was that a long rest was not good for the physical health of an army, because there was more sickness than during moderate activity. No doubt sickness did occur exponentially if soldiers were packed too close in bivouac or confined quarters; but the same thing occurred when de facto close quarters were taken up on the march, which by necessity they often were, and the supply of dust free air and clean water behind the head of a column was infrequent in movement or at halt. Units at the head of a march tended to suffer from these effects less than those that followed.. Weather, another necessary variable to attrition, producing extremes of condition, wet, dry, or cold, exacerbates the problem and its effects.

" Only think for a moment, when the organism of a human being is in a disordered and fainting state, what a difference it must make to him whether he falls sick in a house or is seized in the middle of a high road, up to his knees in mud, under torrents of rain, and loaded with a knapsack on his back; even if he is in a camp he can soon be sent to the next village, and will not be entirely without medical assistance, whilst on a march he must be for hours without any assistance, and then be made to drag himself along for miles as a straggler. How many trifling illnesses by that means become serious, how many serious ones become mortal. Let us consider how an ordinary march in the dust, and under the burning rays of a summer sun may produce the most excessive heat, in which state, suffering from intolerable thirst, the soldier then rushes to the fresh spring of water, to bring back for himself sickness and death."

The point of this is not to recommend less activity in a campaign; the army is there for use, and if the use wears away the army "that is only the natural order of things." The player/commander simply needs to understand and plan that the more rapid and prolonged movements, the more incessant the activity, the greater the cost to the effectiveness of his forces. No movement at all will have its own problems of supply and disease related attrition, as it becomes more protracted as well. An army is a tool worn away by use, and rusted away by inactivity. A good model for computer aided campaigning factors these variables to greater or lesser abstraction by preference, but necessarily does account for them.

Clausewitz also explains: On long marches outside (to get to) a theatre of war, the conditions under which the march is made are usually easier (until the urgency of impending operations becomes a factor) and the daily losses of the army smaller. However because of the distances, men with the slightest sickness are generally lost to the army for some time, as it is difficult for convalescents to overtake an army constantly advancing. Amongst the cavalry the number of lame horses and horses with sore backs rises in an increasing ratio, and amongst the carriages many break down or require repair. It never fails, therefore, that at the end of a march of 100 miles or more, an army arrives much weakened, particularly as regards its cavalry and train, as these are the ‘machines' most difficult to repair on the move. If such marches are necessary in the theatre of war, that is, within the potential reach of the enemy, then that acute need for readiness and its attendant fatigue is added to all the other forms of attrition, and from the two combined the losses with large masses of troops, and under conditions otherwise unfavorable may amount to something incredible. A couple of examples to illustrate:

" When Buonaparte crossed the Niemen on 24th June, 1812, the enormous centre of his army with which he subsequently marched against Moscow numbered 301,000 men. At Smolensk, on the 15th August, he detached 13,500, leaving, it is to be supposed, 287,500. The actual state of his army however at that date was only 182,000; he had therefore lost 105,000. Bearing in mind that up to that time only two engagements to speak of had taken place, one between Devout and Bagration, the other between Murat and Tolstoy-Osterman, we may put down the losses of the French army in action at 10,000 men at most, and therefore the losses in sick and stragglers within fifty-two days on a march of about seventy miles direct to his front, amounted to 95,000, that is a third part of the whole army.
Three weeks later, at the time of the battle of Borodino, the loss amounted to 144,000 (including the casualties in the battle), and eight days after that again, at Moscow, the number was 198,000. The losses of this army in general were at the commencement of the campaign at the rate of 1/150daily, subsequently they rose to 1/120, and in the last period they increased to 1/19 of the original strength.
The movement of Napoleon from the passage of the Niemen up to Moscow certainly may be called a persistent one; still, we must not forget that it lasted eighty-two days, in which time he only accomplished 120 miles, and that the French army upon two occasions made regular halts, once at Wilna for about fourteen days, and the other time at Witebsk for about eleven days, during which periods many stragglers had time to rejoin. This fourteen weeks' advance was not made at the worst season of the year, nor over the worst of roads, for it was summer, and the roads along which they marched were mostly sand. It was the immense mass of troops collected on one road, the want of sufficient subsistence, and an enemy who was on the retreat, but by no means in flight, which were the adverse conditions. Of the retreat of the French army from Moscow to the Niemen, we shall say nothing, but this we may mention, that the Russian army following them left Kaluga 120,000 strong, and reached Wilna with 30,000. Relatively few men were lost in actual combats during that period.
One more example: from Blucher's campaign of 1813 in Silesia and Saxony, a campaign very remarkable not for any long march but for the amount of marching to and fro. York's corps of Blucher's army began this campaign on the16th of August about 40,000 strong, and was reduced to 12,000 at the battle of Leipsic, 19th October. The principal combats which this corps fought at Goldberg, Lowenberg, on the Katsbach, at Wartenburg, and Mockern (Leipsic) cost it on the authority of the best writers, 12,000 men. According to that their losses from other causes in eight weeks amounted to 16,000, or two-fifths of the whole."

Campaign rules that do not reflect basic non combat related attritions can't be considered to be properly representative of warfare in this time. In a good model, a player/commander must have to expect, and take into account great wear and tear of his forces in movement, and a weakening in inaction. Both mean that commanders should have to consider the requirements for rest, repair, rehabilitation and reinforcement as well as the attritions themselves. This is the sort of record keeping that the computer system is ideally suited for; to take the place of the ‘staff' work that bogs the player/commander down, and allows him to simply plan for these considerations and focus on the more ‘fun' aspects of the campaign!

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member12 Apr 2012 10:23 a.m. PST

GREAT blog GQG ! Actually, calling it a "blog" is sort of wrong. And what a miniature collection !

As a possible alternative to strategic campaigns, why not operational campaign games which take place over just a few days using maps which have hexes approx. 1 square mile ? I think they could make a nice supplement to miniature war games. I think the concept that is missing from most table top war games is the feel of corps level, i.e. non-tactical, operational maneuver before a battle. Create a hex based map of say 40 miles x 40 miles (or greater) and make each operational turn an hour. Obviously, a narrower table top time scale should be used. If grand tactical rules say 20 minute turns, tactical rules 10 minute turns. Therefore, 3 table top turns will equal 1 operational turn for a grand tactical game and 6 table top turns will equal 1 operational turn for tactical games.

Historical OB's and operational deployments say 5 days before Waterloo or Leipzig could be used. No, you're not guaranteed to fight a battle at Waterloo or Leipzig, but you might. I feel like that's a major component missing in table top war games which have already picked the ground, i.e. the historical battlefield. All of the operational, i.e.non-tactical, decisions have been made or are plotted in which is why trying to re-fight Borodino with an operational feel is sort of … I don't know… why bother ? One may as well focus on the tactical component, not the operational component if that's the case.

Anyway, just my amateur two cents.

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2012 1:40 p.m. PST

That is a superb idea, and modeling it will be a cool challenge. Especially scouting. I'm thinking that its the germ of the solution to the real challenges of deciding where and when to fight while interfacing between the strategic map and the table top!

Lion in the Stars12 Apr 2012 2:38 p.m. PST

@GQGeneral: Hrm, I must have missed the places in my (admittedly *very* limited) readings where troops fought for months without pay.

That allows you to simplify the supply model even further, however. Instead of fighting over a town for the gold to buy supplies, you're fighting over the town for the 'supply points' (which could be anything from gold to actual supplies).

Then the question becomes one of 'how fast do you use up your supplies?' I'd assume that a supply point gets used every week to two weeks, but if you're losing up to 1/6 of your army every month just by marching back and forth, that would serve to put a decent clock on the players.

Evil question: Are you going to make players spend supply points to move supplies to the front, or are you going to assume that the player's quartermaster/supply corps will handle that detail? I can see arguments either way, especially if your campaign movement system includes size of group moving as a variable. With a computer to keep track of all the details, *I* would make moving supplies cost supply points, but not if I had to do it all by hand.


Another related question is "how do your losses on campaign relate to your tabletop game?" I mean, many modern games (Lasalle and Black Powder, to name a couple) don't even bother with a specific figure ratio. You have your battalions, whatever size they happen to be right now. That's great if both sides have been marching around for about the same length of time, but doesn't really represent the situation of one side falling back to supplies and the other side advancing away from them.

Also, how does your tabletop game represent being poorly supplied? For most historical periods, I can see that as mostly a morale effect. (For modern periods with rapid-fire weapons, I'd also include a reduction in the volume of fire the unit puts out).

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member12 Apr 2012 2:48 p.m. PST

I'm sure people have created similar CG's for their personal games, but it would be great for someone to market them. The clincher would be the maps. If you used oversized hexes you could include a lot of the tactical detail that would be present on the table top, but which doesn't factor directly into the operational game. In that way a commander can still keep eye on the tactical terrain while maneuvering operationally. Researching historical operational areas could be fun and I bet a person would learn A LOT about what the actual commanders saw and why they made certain decisions.

If the operational turn is an hour you can even start to factor in march times and how many hours of marching and how far before you've got to give them a rest and let them eat a little and sleep. You also get to factor in Reveille. Fatigue, more so than attrition would play a role. Weather could improve or saddle movement rates. Supply would of course factor in, but if the troops are carrying 3 days rations, you can be responsible for making sure they get refilled. Hunger would be a factor rather than outright starvation. I wouldn't even factor in straggling all that much over a few days. Sure it happened, but did it happen to such an extent that it should be factored into a 7 day micro-campaign?

Scouting/reconaissance would be important and I don't know enough about how it was done to even say, but elevations are going to give you better long range visibility in good weather. One could have very limited non-tabletop actions like between cavalry units. You could probably get away without even inflicting casualties, but still reaching a decision as to who has pushed who off their mark.

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member12 Apr 2012 5:15 p.m. PST

Tactical maps could be produced in 1/2 mile square hexes/increments.

Grand tactical maps could be produced in 1 mile square hexes/increments.

Using a 40 yard to 1 inch ground scale, a mile would be 4 feet in length rounded up a 4' x 4' table. 1/2 mile 2' x 2' table.

The tricky part would be resolving near encounters or minor skirmishes/actions without actually setting a table up ! Both commanders would have to be resolved to actually fight a large battle I suppose. Would help if one had a good system for resolving minor battles/skirmishes, but that produced results which reflected the tactical table top system in use. Cavalry running down retreating armies or samll delaying actions would probably be best handled at that level. So, I guess one would need to have an official board game system of combat as well as a way of translating casualties into the table top system. I've heard of War & Peace serving a similar role in strategic campaigns with miniatures. Operationally perhaps Napoleon at Bay would work well? I can see how running a solid campaign game can be a lot of work ! :)

The main thing I take away from thinking about campaign games and operational and strategic maneuver is that every table top miniatures war game I can think of is really a TACTICAL game. Yes, there is strategy, but its a tactical strategy, rather than operational or grand strategy.

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member12 Apr 2012 8:45 p.m. PST

Napoleon at Bay uses a map with hexes of 2 square miles. I tested 4 turns (4 hours) as if they were ˝ mile hexes using divisional counters as brigade. Basically, two corps of infantry and cavalry versus two smaller corps of infantry and cavalry which were contesting a river crossing along a 10 mile front (yes, somewhat extended) Infantry units moved 3 miles per hr on roads (6 hexes) while cavalry moved 6 miles per hr on roads (12 hexes). I think those are fairly accurate. One major battle developed in the center and it was possible to fight the battle while continuing to move units operationally to determine arrival times on the table top. So, it's possible to run operational CG's with miniatures. Off the top of my head I would guess a grand tactical game such Age of Eagles would work best. I determined the table top would've been 6 x 4 for 4 divisions w/ cavalry attacking 2 division with cavalry. Both sides had reinforcing units in route. Having a 12 x 5 table with a table leaf available would be best :)

Aldroud13 Apr 2012 8:03 a.m. PST

A campaign technique we played years ago was one I thought was sheer brilliance. We used a world map broken up by territories, each player then had a set number of the old Risk Roman numerals pieces. You set out on your little plot of dirt all your pieces, then the game begain. Each I was worth 250 points. Typically, the big blobs represented the big armies that would stack up against each other and become the basis for the actual table top battle.

Quiet sectors would see two sides with one I on each territory. Sometimes you'd have a III territory attack a smaller I territory and we could play that out as a skirmish, a raid, or convoy ambush scenario or something such. The idea being it allowed for smaller, quicker games to generate.

If, for whatever reason, players didn't want to play out the tabletop battles (too many battles to deal with during game night, lack of a player, lack of beer, whatever), players could dice it off just using the Risk rules instead.

For the table top games, for every I, you got 250 points to contribute to building your army.

Different territories would provide various levels of support. Territories cut off from your capital contributed nothing.

Simple, I know, but fun.

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member13 Apr 2012 9:16 a.m. PST

I agree. Simple can be a lot of fun, and often it seems to work better too.

I think a lot of stuff can be shed from a CG while keeping the focus on battle creation and operational maneuver. I could see a good simple CG getting boiled down to operational maneuver and intelligence. What do you know and when and how much do you know…. just that AND a great operationl map ! :)

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member13 Apr 2012 9:29 a.m. PST

For instance, at the start of a campaign a player might know the approximate strength of his opponent's army and its basic force structure at the corps level, but not necessarily the strength or internal disposition of each corps. That might be something that a player could set beforehand. Double-blind, of course. And then a graduated system for revealing information about opposing forces, light cavalry formations being the critical component. Perhaps have "spy" component as well with a chance that a side will land an important but generalized piece of information. Attrition and straggling could be done away with, and it could even be assumed that supply is always full and the weather great :)

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2012 9:47 a.m. PST

Hi BD,
Agree with everything above as a good idea but one:
No system that dosent model attrition and straggling, supply and weather can be considered to be a Napoleonic campaign system, can it? It might be a fun vehicle for producing unplanned tabletop encounters, but that is really just a model for creating uncertainty, rather than simulating the conditions driving Napoleonic decision-making in the field. Nothing wrong with that at all, absolutly, but not really using the technology the way I myself am hoping to see it develop :)

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member13 Apr 2012 11:58 a.m. PST


Perhaps there was something exceptional going on during the Russian campaign which made Napoleon's attrition rate explode ? I wouldn't consider the kinds of rates Clauswitz is citing for that campaign to be typical, especially for a veteran army in good morale. How many of Blucher's men were conscripted without a proper physical exam ? In essence, is what Clauswitz is describing a typical attrition rate or the weeding out of men from the ranks who were unfit for duty?

I agree that march rates and supplies were very important though. Horse and musket generals paid very close attention to both of those things. Forced marching long distances seems to have been kept to an absolute minimum and was only used at critical moments, IMHO.


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