Posted by: T.A.G. | 23/01/2016

Campaign Thoughts: Looking Back at Three Years of Gaming – Part 3

In this post about the Napoleonic Peninsular campaign, I shall discuss some of the lighter moments of the campaign.

In my orders to the umpire, I always include a section for messages and letters that need to pass outside of my immediate chain of command. During the earliest stages of the campaign, my general journeyed through the French town of Carcassonne, spending a night or two there on his way to the Spanish border to join the Corps. This was not long after Mrs T.A.G. and I had holidayed in Carcassonne so I decided that “General T.A.G.” would write to “Madame T.A.G.” about being at a place (within the wargame context) we both knew and had enjoyed in real life. Included in my next turn’s orders was a response that Madame T.A.G. (aka the real life Mrs T.A.G.) wrote back. The astonished umpire phoned and set about explaining that Madame T.A.G. should not have written that letter because, for campaign purposes, he was Madame T.A.G…  Fortunately, Mrs T.A.G. overruled him!

Mrs T.A.G. is a regular blogger and published a blog post about the above exchange. In response to her post, one of her blog followers, who lives in the very same part of the Pyrenees as the campaign was set, posted a reply that offered me some really good advice on the best routes from France into Spain. Once again, the umpire was astonished!

After the battle at Riudellots de la Selva, a Spanish division surrendered and had to be disarmed by my forces. I instructed the umpire to ensure that all Spanish officers and men gave an oath never again to take up arms against France before they would be released. I gave instructions that all soldiers (not officers) giving their word should be tattooed so that any found fighting against France in future could be easily identified and dealt with as oath breakers. In a later situation report, the umpire advised that ink for tattooing had run out and that Spaniards were instead being branded. Not at all what I had intended but being some distance away by this time, there was no opportunity to send a rider to rescind the practice and so some of the Spaniards were cruelly treated.

By the time of the battle of Montcada i Reixac, my enemies’ perceptions of the French army’s quality and superiority had taken root. The Spanish commander, having fought and lost a couple of open battles, lost confidence in his army’s capability to execute the actions necessary to defeat his seemingly invincible foe. This led him to build a series of defensive earthworks that were so extensive he was given a new nickname, El Topo, which translates into English as The Mole. Apparently an area of Catalonia, just north of Barcelona was scoured for picks, spades and shovels…

The game that simulated a French supply column marching through hostile Spanish territory had its light moments. The concept was that the supply column would march the length of the table and back whilst being harried by small bands of guerrillas who would pop up at random intervals to take pot shots before melting away into the countryside. The umpire briefed the players but advised the guerrilla commander that the convoy included the French pay chest, and that it would be good for Spain if it was captured. The pay chest became the entire focus of the Spanish commander and instead of small bands of guerrillas – 8 or 10 figures – popping up and harrying the column, battalion sized groups of 20 figures would suddenly appear and charge for the wagons. This peculiar situation persisted for the remainder of the game despite the umpire’s best efforts to refocus the guerrillas’ tactics. Although they came exceedingly close on more than one occasion, the guerrillas ultimately failed to capture the French gold but slipped away to try again another day….

The pictures below are from the campaign.

T. A. G.

Next post: Battle Report of a One-off Peninsula Battle

 

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Responses

  1. 🙂

  2. I expected troops to be moved but some of the enjoyment was the other stuff going on in the background. Just shows how deep a campaign can go often outside the control of the umpire.

    • As I’ve said to you before, the players never do what they are supposed to do and instead do the unexpected and/or unpredictable.

      You are right that enjoyment was derived from aspects of the campaign that were over and above the military element.

      T.A.G.


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