SEVEN YEARS WAS IN THE HESSIAN SALIENT
THE MAP GAME
Unfortunately due to circumstances outside all of our control the map game has had to be postponed for the foreseeable future.
The Map Game continued last night with both sides manoeuvering on the map although there has been no major clash on the map yet so therefore no major clash on the tabletop other than the ongoing siege of the French bridgehead.
In view of the size of the besieging force, the French defenders in the bridgehead decided not to attempt a sortie while the allied engineers were building redoubts for the siege guns and siege mortars. Unfortunately the allies located their redoubts too close to the French fortress guns and paid a heavy price for this miscalculation. Admittedly the allied player had the worst possible dice throws (Friday the 13th ?) while the dice were very generous to the besieged (Friday the 13th ?). Having suffered heavily the Allied player now has to consider his options particularly in view of the news that he is receiving from the main allied army to his rear.
Another story is unfolding on the map however. The bulk of the allied army is in place to protect the siege from any attempts at relief by the French army coming up from the south whereas the French have decided to trust their bridgehead garrison to hold out long enough for them to circle around the allied left and aim instead for his Line of Communication which is guarded by a single brigade. If it looks like the French will cut this Line then the allied commander must do something to protect it or withdraw completely. The photographs of the map table show the importance of these movements.
The main forces are moving closer so there is plenty of excitement to come……
As the Wargamorium has tended to focus on the Seven Years War lately I have decided to create a new page on the Wargamorium Blog specifically dedicated to our SYW games.
In February 2015 we started a “Map Game”based very loosely on the 1759 campaign in West Germany. The campaign, maps, briefings, progress, battles and eventual outcome will all be detailed on this page together with the map movement and tabletop rules.
As SYW battles are linear and less spectacular than some other periods we decided to introduce a small “mini-campaign” system in order to add context to the tabletop battles but we did not really want all the complications of running a campaign and so the idea of a “map game” was decided upon. With this system we would manoeuvre on a map representing 36 tables and then transfer any clashes onto the tabletop. Off table manoeuvres could continue while the tabletop game was being fought out and such manoeuvres could ultimately impact on the game especially through late arrivals or off-board flanking movements or even off board artillery fire.
I sat down to convert these ideas on to paper and then, as always, my wargamer’s imagination took over with images of broad rivers with a fortified bridgehead, metaled roads and picturesque villages, industrious peasants, hills and dales, woods and forests, babbling brooks and above all – decisions. A map where commanders would have to make decisions which, once committed to, would be hard to reverse. The result of all this was that the map expanded to 4 times its planned size which gave the following statistics:-
- The map measures 215cm x 107.5cm (approximately 7’ x 3’6”).
- The map is divided into 36 squares by 18 squares giving a total of 648 squares.
- Each square is 6cm x 6cm and represents a 60cm x 60cm (2 foot x 2 foot) square on the wargames table.
- The wargames table is 12’ x 6’ (360cm x 180cm approx) so the map represents 36 such tables i.e. 6 tables wide by 6 tables deep.
The idea is that players will move counters around the map and reveal them at a certain range and that when a battle is agreed the Umpire (self) would place a gridded perspex template on the map and transfer whatever is underneath onto the wargames table. An Umpire is essential in such matters.
The first thing to do was to build a map table. Fortunately the Wargamorium is quite spacious and such a table could be easily accommodated. The finished table looked like this –
A blank map was created by gluing 4 large sheets of artists paper together and drawing 6cm squares on it.
It took me a lot of agonising before the map was ready. Below is the nearly completed map.
In addition to the map I had to build some modular hills and woods each 30cm square and to ensure that I had sufficient scenery for any possible battlefield when the map is transferred to the wargames table. Next I had to make the main river which is 30cm wide and a large number of stream sections which were much narrower. The roads are cut from 3mm MDF and are all dead straight but that had to be as otherwise I would end up having to build endless combinations and permutations to suit every situation. Built-up-areas (BUAs) are also standardised squares. So although it is a little modular it looked quite good when it was completed.
To help the players to comprehend the map I raised the hills and woods to give a 3-dimensional effect and this can be seen in the photograph above. It makes good sense when you are standing beside the map. The dark green blotches you can see in the photograph above represents impenetrable forests.
Next came the counters each 6cm square and then map rules had to be devised. Frantic painting produced extra infantry, cavalry and artillery as well as a fortified bridgehead, an independent redoubt and a chateau complete with ornamental gardens. All of these will no doubt (I hope!) appear in future photographs as the game develops.
Another difficulty was the individual briefing and information packs for the players. These required a lot of thought as they set the theme and pace for each player. Both sides have to be convinced that they have a good chance of winning the game but the briefing cannot give away too many secrets about the other side. I played a solo test game on the map and found afterwards that the map needed a few amendments but the briefings had to be completely re-drafted.
The entire map represents approximately 6 miles wide by 3 miles deep so visibility is not an issue. All counters are clearly visible to both sides. Each side was given 24 counters and they had to decide what each one represented. The rest were dummy counters. As the counters manoeuvred they could be spotted by enemy counters within certain distances. The Dummy counters could spot as they represented small patrols but if they were spotted then they were removed from play.
The game proper started on 27 February 2015. The French instructions from Versailles were to strike north and destroy the army of the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick known to be in the area. The first shock came when the Allied player actually started the game and was three moves into the map before the French player could react. Armies entered from both sides of the map with cavalry and dummy markers frantically spotting one another to see where the enemy’s main force was located and which way they were heading. Shock two came when both sides slowly realised that the enemy facing them was a lot stronger than they had originally thought.
The Allied player decided that his main effort would be against the French fortified bridgehead across the river and he slowly advanced with his siege train in that direction. As the forces were so close on the map the Umpire set up the fortified bridgehead on a small side table (see photographs below). The scale and armament of this came as a shock to the allied player who wandered too close with his siege train in column and took severe casualties from the first shots of the game fired from the bridgehead walls.
The game continues………………………….
More next week……………………………..