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"Wargaming the Campaigns of Napoleon" Topic

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1,819 hits since 19 Aug 2012
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thistlebarrow219 Aug 2012 5:06 a.m. PST

I have recently completed a solo campaign based on Wellington's battles. It was not an attempt to refight the actual battles with the historical orders of battle. It was rather to provide a series of wargames based on the actual battles fought.

I ran this solo campaign at the same time as my PBEM 1813 campaign, and the aim was to provide interesting wargames to fill the time between campaign battles. It worked well, and both Jan and I were sorry when it finished with a game based on Waterloo.

The obvious next step would be a campaign based on Napoleon's battles. But the more I worked on it, the more I realised it would not work. The battles are too big, and the terrain too well known. They are best tackled by a project to recreate each battle. This would involve making special scenery and painting new armies.

I want to use my current armies on the terrain I already have. I want to provide interesting wargames without a lot of effort to make new scenery or paint more figures.

The solution is to wargame the campaigns, not the battles, of Napoleon. Again it will not be an attempt to refight actual campaigns. It will be similar to my PBEM 1813 campaign, though to start at least will be solo and not PBEM. Each campaign will be stand alone. They will be staged on the historical terrain, with the historical objectives. The opposing armies will start in similar locations. But there the attempt to recreate the historical campaign will end.

I have long ago abandoned any attempt to follow the standard approach to Napoleonic Wargaming. Having spent more than 30 years following the usual pattern of trying to find the ideal rules and constantly rebasing and painting new figures I finally came to realise that I, at least, would never find the ideal set of rules.

Eight years ago I decided that I would restrict my Wargaming to a table 6x6 foot. Just big enough for two of us to comfortably move figures around. I then worked out how many figures I would be able to fight on that size table, with enough room to manoeuvre. I wanted to use 28mm figures, though I also have 15mm and 6mm. My calculation was 128 infantry, 16 cavalry and 4 guns per side.

I then reduced my collection to five allied armies and five French, each of the same number and type. Each would provide four divisions of just 32 infantry, 4 cavalry and one gun each.

I then wrote my own wargame and campaign rules based on this model. They would not suit all, perhaps not even most, but they do suit me. They give me quick and enjoyable wargames with enough flavour of the period to suit my needs.

So these are the tools with which I aim to fight all, or at least most, of Napoleon's campaigns. No huge collection of model soldiers or scenery required. Something that would be possible for almost any Napoleonic wargamers to aim for, even a newcomer.

It's a daunting challenge, and one I am really looking forward to. As far as I know no one has attempted such a campaign before. I plan to publish a blog of the progress of the campaign. I would like to think that it might encourage other gamers to attempt something similar, or perhaps just one of the campaigns.

I have already published the first few entries on the blog. A short introduction to the whole campaign. Then a slightly more detailed introduction to the first campaign, which will be the Italian campaign of 1796.

If you would like to have a look, and hopefully follow its progress, you can find it here

This campaign will take second place to my long running 1813 PBEM campaign. But I hope to publish a move at least once a week on the blog.

alphus9909 Oct 2012 12:30 p.m. PST

Looking forward to hearing more : )

Whirlwind Inactive Member09 Oct 2012 12:36 p.m. PST

Read all about it here:


thistlebarrow210 Oct 2012 5:25 a.m. PST

The campaign has reached move 7, and so far is following the historical campaign.

Bonaparte has fought the first battle of the campaign, defeated part of the Sardinian army and forced them to retreat towards Turin. This has prevented them from joining forces with the Austrians at Alessandria.

He now has to defeat the remainder of the Sardinian army, which has concentrated in front of Turin. He can then concentrate the remainder of his dispersed army to tackle the Austrians.

The Austrians have entered Alessandria and La Harpe's division is outnumbered and in a very exposed position.

This is a campaign I knew very little about before I started this series. It is proving great fun and very educational, even though it is not really a refight of the historical campaign.

Phil Dutre23 Oct 2012 8:38 a.m. PST

Good stuff.

I always applaud a wargamer who designs his own approach to wargaming, rather than slavishly following commercial publications.

thistlebarrow217 Nov 2012 4:47 a.m. PST

The Piedmont Campaign, the first part of my Campaigns of Napoleon, has drawn to an end after just eleven moves and two battles. It took just twelve weeks to complete.

It followed the historical campaign in that Bonaparte attacked and destroyed Colli's Sardinian army first, and then turned on the Austrian army of Beaulieu.

Because this is a fictional campaign the battles were not fought in the historical locations. But the general outline of the two campaigns were similar

This was a campaign I had read about, but did not really understand. Having fought this campaign I feel I know it a little better.

We now move onto more familiar ground.

The Second Italian campaign will deal with the repeated Austrian attempts to raise the siege of Mantua. My wife and I have spent two weeks at Lake Garda studying the campaign and walking the battlefields, so I know the campaign much better.

This might be a difficult campaign to refight as a fictional campaign. It involved four separate attempts to raise the siege, each one countered by Bonaparte in a series of quite "near run" battles. He won each battle, and consequently the campaign continued. But had he lost one, the rest would not have followed.

I am not sure how to handle it if the Austrian's do win one of the attempts. They would then raise the siege of Mantua and any subsequent campaign would not have been fought around Lake Garda.

Let's hope that my 28mm Bonaparte has the same run of victories.

You can follow the campaign here


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