I have been taking tentative steps with a Seven Years War campaign, using the fictional setting of my old 'Soldier King' boardgame. I thought about perhaps drawing a map of a real Central European theatre of war, but 'time and space, dear boy'.. To get a campaign going and see if the idea works, why not use the game's ready-made map?
The game assumes four belligerent states, but I only need two, so I have only used the eastern half of the map, depicting the little-known Prussian Provinces of East and West Argozia, and the equally obscure Austrian regions of North and South Arcadia.
Next, some forces: the game suggests starting with twelve units per nation, made up of eight 'veteran' and four 'guard'. That seemed about right, given that my table setup will probably allow perhaps six or eight units for a battlefield force. I thought I'd try to vary the makeup of the armies, so started with a 'base' of two-thirds Infantry to one-third cavalry, and rolled a couple of dice to randomise a bit. As a result, I finished up with the following:
Prussians : Guards - one Infantry, three Heavy Cavalry
Veterans - six Infantry, two Light Cavalry
Austrians : Guards - two Infantry, two Heavy Cavalry
Veterans - five Infantry, three Light Cavalry
Thus the two sides each fielded seven infantry and five cavalry units, but with different mixes of guards and veterans , and heavy and light cavalry. That seemed quite pleasing - I didn't want identical armies. The Prussian Heavy Cavalry looks powerful, but the Austrians are strong in Light horse, which seems appropriate, lots of Hussars perhaps?
Final preparatory step was the initial billeting of troops : the game system specifies that each player turn is made up of up two to six of 'marches', so why not start with six 'Divisions' each of two units? These were stationed three to a province, using the main 'recruiting cities' and fortresses. Thus the first turn or two will likely involve both sides gathering their divisions into field armies. The picture at the top shows the intial deployments - Prussian units are blue, and Austrians gold. Both sides concentrated their Guards formations in the North-Eastern corner of the map, where their provinces directly bordered each other. At which point, news reaches the respective provincial military governors from far-off capitals - 'war is declared!' and both sides begin to mobilise their forces. Let hostilities commence...
I decided to dice for first move each turn - on Turn 1 ( Spring , and let's call it 1756 ) , the Prussians won the initiative, but then rolled a '1' for the number of 'marches'. Under the game rules, a player always gets two marches, so that was the Prussian allowance. They concentrated two 'Divisions' ( 4 units ) at the Fortress of Rahden , near the hostile border and advanced their Light Cavalry into neutral Banst, aiming to threaten the Austrian left flank. A slow start, obviously some issues with getting orders out.. I decided that the protagonists could move into neutral provinces, allowing for a wider field of operations and more strategic manoeuvre, and I will try to use the boardgame's system of 'recruiting cities' - capturing neutral provinces and cities allowing increased recruiting resources. The imaginary populations of these imaginary provinces are no doubt told that this is 'for your own protection, we have to move to keep out that other beastly lot'..
The Austrians in contrast, were all action and rolled a '5' , thus could carry out 5 marches. They concentrated 6 units in their Northern city of Piesport , close to the border, and began moving 4 units up from the south in support, finally sending two Light Cavalry units westward into neutral Lower Waldow, capturing the recruiting city of Selters and covering their left.
Then Turn 2 - Summer - the Austrians' rapid start continued, winning the initiative dice roll and moving first - they again rolled 5 marches. Their light cavalry spread out over Lower Waldow, occupying both its significant cities and effectively capturing the province - meaning more recruits later. Also on their Western flank, four units used two marches advancing into Upper Waldow, occupying the city of Stauffen. Last but by no means least , the northern force of six units went on the offensive, advancing to attack the four Prussian units at the fortress city of Rahden before the Prussians could reinforce. They have a superior force for now, though the Prussians have more troops quite nearby, and Austrian supports are quite a long way away - striking now may be their best chance. So we have a battle!
|Austrian attack! But Prussians have support nearby |
The opposing forces in boardgame terms are as follows:
Austrians: 2 Guard Heavy Cavalry, 2 Guard Infantry, 2 Veteran Infantry
Prussians: 1 Guard Heavy Cavalry, 1 Guard Infantry, 2 Veteran Infantry
And here's an ( entirely gratuitous ) picture of the clashing forces
|First battle: opposing forces|
So, now I just have to translate those onto the tabletop, using the figures I have, and devise a suitable attack and defence type scenario,taking into account the 'fortification' of the city on the map, which should lend some protection to the outumbered Prussians. I'm sure Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame rules will be able to accomodate all this, albeit perhaps with a little judicious tinkering.
Finally for this time, a not entirely unrelated aside. Since we are talking about an old boardgame, here's another one - a lucky find in Sudbury Oxfam shop the other week. I must have spent a very large amount of my free time when aged about 12, on this long-lost game, and have often wondered if I might turn up a copy, so I was very pleased to acquire this for the princely sum of £2.99!
|Positively Proustian |
In very good condition, complete and maybe not used much. For any 'Campaign' nerds out there, it's a 1976 edition, I think I had a slightly earlier one, perhaps 1974. I remember that one had a potted history of the many Coalitions against Napoleon, which captured my imagination somewhat, and I also remember that in my childhood solo games one power invariably seemed to sweep across Europe defeating all others. That power was - Spain. I'll have to give it another go sometime..
So there we are, look out for the next exciting episode featuring the opening battle of the campaign. Meanwhile keep safe and well, everyone.
**POSTSCRIPT ** Many thanks to everyone, this blog's 'Total Pageviews' count has reached 10,000. I'm rather amazed, and honoured. by the response of readers ( and even followers, wow! ) over this past 9 months. Also many thanks for the supportive, entertaining and instructive comments from many of you ( though I was sadly unable to take advantage of the offer of 'Best Silage Machines Price! Silage machines for sale in Pakistan' ) , I think that's a big hint that I must be doing something right. The blog has also been a great motivator for actually getting some games on the table and even a few figures painted - quite apart from the fun of writing. I hope to continue in the same vein in the coming months - I hope you continue to enjoy it .