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Discussion on Cyberboard Management of Army Level Kriegsspiel

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Discussion on Cyberboard Management of Army Level Kriegsspiel

Post  henridecat on Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:55 pm

Discussion copied from Yahoo group, which somehow turned into a debate about troop dispositions at Waterloo!
====================================================================

You may recall that some time ago I uploaded a cyberboard implementation of the
Marzell map along with unit markers based on the Reisswitz rules.

I'm now considering doing a similar version (maybe with a different map) for an
Army Level Kriegsspiel based on Martin James' army level rules on the website.
My question is in what form anyone running KS at this level of abstraction has
represented brigades, detatchments and movements on the map? Half-batallion
markers seem inappropriate for a game run at this level of abstraction (this is
based on my experience running a divisional level PBEM game using the Reisswitz
markers (not rules), which is quite enough work even at this level!).

Bear in mind that I'm looking at this for PBEM play, so the more useful
information that the markers convey the better! Any suggestions gratefully
received.

- DANIEL WILKINSON

====================================================================
Hi Daniel

Glad someone is trying the army level rules.

I use one of two methods for representing troops on the map:

1. The simplest is to simply use one or two half battalion blocks to represent a brigade instead, depending on the size of the brigade and the scale of the map.

2. My preferred approach is to use bespoke counters, which includes the actual number of battalions or squadrons in the unit. I find this both more informative and aesthetically pleasing. The result looks a lot like detailed battlemaps in a good book.

The easiest way of producing the counters is to download & install the Napoleonic fonts from Tom Mouat's website at http://www.mapsymbs.com/ (Tom also has fonts for a variety of WW2 and NATO troop symbols.)

Once you have installed the fonts, you can simply type them into a Word document which has been set up in the form of a table. You can priint the counters out on card, but I find it's even better to print them on acetate, which you can then laminate to give them a chunkier feel.

To give you an idea of the result, I have pasted some examples below (via MS Paint):
<image>
The originals actually look a lot better in Word, but the formatting seemed to go haywire when I tried to paste into the email.

Hope all that helps.

Martin James
====================================================================
Hi Martin,

Thanks for the tips - very useful. I still wonder how you deal with situations in which a brigade is deployed variously in a linear, column or a non standard formation however.

I can see that the Army Level rules appear to leave brigade level formations below the abstraction layer, but you must have had requests from players to deploy a brigade in a particular formation (for example to defend a ridgeline in linear fashion, or to represent troops in extended column of march).

Obviously when the umpire is face to face with players much of this can be done with a gesture over the map - however I was wondeing if you employed any graphical mechanisms - which would be of great utility in a PBEM game.

Cheers,

Dan
====================================================================
Hi Daniel

As you say, the detailed deployment of brigades is normally handled in an abstract manner. We normally assumed that the brigade commander will adopt whatever formation is appropriate in the circumstances. However the counters are sized so that they occupy the correct space if the battalions are deployed from column to line.

When umpiring a game we do indeed simply describe the current deployment verbally if the brigade is not in column. This would normally only be if it is engaged or about to be. Nosworthy's analysis suggested that battalions spent most of the time in one type of column or another (columns of attack, waiting columns, columns of route).

In the past I produced brigade counters for brigades with battalions formed in line or square, and in both one and two lines of battalions, but the admin of switching between counters (and maintaining the correct unit IDs) during a game is more than you need if you want to keep things moving.

This may not be such a problem for you in an email game. If you like I can email you a sample counter sheet to play with. However you will need to have installed Tom's Napoleonic fonts if you are to make sense of it.

Regards

Martin
====================================================================
Martin,

Being thick here but which part of the site are the Napoleonic fonts under?

David Commerford
====================================================================
It actually took me a while to find it again! Click on 'Other Fonts' from the link I gave, then navigate to bottom of page. It's quite a long way down so you can easily miss it.

Martin
====================================================================
Thanks again for the suggestions. Luckily when using an electronic map as implemented on cyberboard one can design the counters such that they can be flipped. The background can also be transparent. This allows one to modify the formation of the unit by clicking on the counter and flipping it, so on one side you have a brigade in line, and on the other in two lines. I normally specify the unit id by attaching a text field to the counter which appears when you 'mouse-over' the counter on the map. So in this way I can accommodate a two-state formation display per unit without creating undue work.

What does create alot of work is if maps need to be sent out to the players, since I must manually remove all markers that they cannot see. This also brings up the point about how players mark on their own maps their interpretation of umpire feedback with respect to enemy units they can see - presumably they don't have an enemy brigade marked as '14th Uhlans' on their map, when what you really need is a marker that denotes 'cavalry regiment'.

How do you deal with this - what resources are players provided with to mark enemy positions?

Thanks again,

Dan
====================================================================
Sounds good Daniel. Can I participate when you get your game organised Wink

In our army level games we give each player a display consisting of the section of the map on which their own corps is operating, together with a set of unit counters. They will normally also have access to a map of the whole battlefield - possibly less detailed depending on the scenario.

The player's own troops are represented by counters with the unit IDs. Friendly units not under his/her command, together with enemy units, are represented by generic counters. Units within LOS of uncertain affiliation are represented by counters with black unit symbols.

Each player will also have their own liaison umpire, and it's the umpire (rather than the player) who will place troop counters on the player's map to replicate what is on the umpire map.

Does that all make sense?

Martin
====================================================================
Yes, thanks. I have one final question - this time regarding the artillery! The army level rules make a lot of reference to artillery bombardment as a (normally) necessary precursor to launching an assualt. I also notice that what look to be artillery symbols are on the brigade counters (mixed with infantry or cavalry units) you showed me.

I am wondering how you actually resolve artillery in the cases where a player wishes to combine guns from multiple brigades, or guns which begin grouped into batteries to concentrate fire on a particular target brigade or position prior to making an assualt? There also seems to be no real provision in the result tables for differentiating between the number of guns involved in an attack. Obviously counting to the last gun is below the level of abstraction considered here but I can still forsee large discrepancies in actual numbers.

Would you mind expounding in a bit more detail on the philosophy behind the treatment of artillery in the army level rules? This will help me get the cyberboard components right.

Many thanks for all the feedback so far.

I'll upload the cyberboard when it's ready - and it will incorporate many improvements to ease the umpiring workload from the last one - based on my experience of running my current PBEM using the current, half-batallion scale version. When I get round to organising a new game all comers will be welcome :-)

(and hopefully someone else will try umpiring a PBEM game using these tools so I can get a chance to try my hand at playing rather than umpiring!).


- Dan
====================================================================
Hi again Daniel

You're correct that the brigade counters include artillery symbols. Unfortunately some of the detail on the originals has been lost when they were pasted into the email.

You're quite right re the artillery rules. In the games we have run previously, I intentionally steered players away from using the Napoleonic-style massed-batteries, because that was not appropriate for the particular scenarios. This was one reason why I allocated most artillery to some of the individual brigades, although there were also a few separate batteries.

Of course there is no reason why every battery should not have its own counter, and if you wish you can allow players to mass it. The rules will need to be adapted to cater for the more severe effects on defending troops. You can experiment by increasing the artillery die-role modifiers in any subsequent combat and/or give some more permanent direct effect on the units under fire for any length of time - such as a loss of their 'fresh troops' bonus.

As an idea of the sort of concentration needed, Napoleon massed 80 guns against 2-3 allied brigades in preparation for d'Erlon's attack. Incidentally this mass of guns, horses & caissons created considerable problems for the deployment of d'Erlon's infantry.

Not a black & white anser for you, but hopefully something to work on.....

Regards

Martin
====================================================================
> Of course there is no reason why every battery should not have its own counter

When designing the CB counters its useful to make something generic that caters for most possibilities so I'll make some pure artillery counters too.

> The rules will need to be adapted to cater for the more severe effects on defending troops. You can experiment by increasing the artillery die-role modifiers in any subsequent combat and/or give some more permanent direct effect on the units under fire for any length of time - such as a loss of their 'fresh troops' bonus.

OK. I'll see what I can come up with...

> As an idea of the sort of concentration needed, Napoleon massed 80 guns against 2-3 allied brigades in preparation for d'Erlon's attack. Incidentally this mass of guns, horses & caissons created considerable problems for the deployment of d'Erlon's infantry.

Once again, this begs the question of how to represent these issues visually on a PBEM map. Something to think about.

However having said that I think the army level rules are an excellent starting point and will help to streamline my future games - currently I have four divisions engaged on two sides and have by necessity regressed to a level of resolution similar to that set out by your article!

Cheers,

Dan
====================================================================
Does Cyberboard not have a hide function? I've done a bunch of mods
for VASSAL and have been toying with doing a VASSAL mod for KS. I
would simply set the sides as Red, Blue and Umpire and let only the
Umpire have the ability to move, place or hide pieces. Then it is as
simple as selecting the units, and hitting whatever button you chose
for the hide feature. They stay visible for the Umpire, though shaded
to show hidden status, but are completely invisible to the players
when hidden.

lugnakh
====================================================================
> "What does create alot of work is if maps need to be sent out to the
> players, since I must manually remove all markers that they cannot see"

When we ran an email game for the Russo-Japanese War, we sent out the
maps, without positions, and then sent out a text description of the
battlefield, roughly in the manner of a written report from the
period.

This worked better for some people than for others. Most seemed to
have no trouble, while at least one player consistently located
himself about 30 miles from his actual location (despite the messages
referring to a river to his south when he thought it was to the
west.... Smile )

James Sterrett
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henridecat

Posts : 133
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The Waterloo stuff..

Post  henridecat on Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:55 pm

====================================================================
Best of luck with your project.

Have been thinking further about the effects of massed artillery, and I wonder whether my initial suggestion is rather too limited in its effect.

I was thinking of the example of Bijlandt's brigade at Waterloo, which retired in some disorder at some point after suffering bombardment from the grand battery. That is not a clear cut case, as the circumstances of their withdrawal are not clear. Was it during the bombardment, or later whilst engaged with d'Erlon's infantry? Was it due to poor morale, or the artillery fire? Many of the Dutch-Belgian personnel had served with the French in previous campaigns, and the brigade had lost heavilly at Quatre Bras. OTOH it has been estimated that up to 12,000 allied casualties at Waterloo were caused by artillery fire, although obviously not all by the grand battery, so maybe it was mainly the guns after all?

My feeling is that such unordered withdrawals were not usually caused by artillery fire alone in this period, however heavy, but I would be interested to know if anyone has other examples. It's not good practice to base rules on just one example from just one battle Smile

Martin
====================================================================
It's not good practice to base rules on just one example from just one
battle Smile

...EXCEPT when you're trying to recreate that one battle!

Sorry - couldn't resist it...

Arthur Harman
====================================================================
I see what you are saying however as the current rules stand an artillery bombardment must be followed up by an attack immediately otherwise its effect is lost. Maybe all you need to do is work in modifiers for bombardment lasting longer than 30 minutes into the result tables.

Another option could be to add a new bombardment table which can cause R results on a brigade without necessarily following up with an infantry or cavalry assualt. And perhaps these R results count as a hit but don't include the requirement to retreat - at least not with the first bombardment induced result. It could be weighted such that while a first bombardment hit result is achievable with sufficient concentration or duration of fire, the second hit that causes a retreat is alot more difficult to achieve - which would push players to follow up with an assualt, but still give them the option of pounding away if they prefer. This would seem to tie up reasonably well with the historical cases that come to my mind.

- Dan
====================================================================
> Does Cyberboard not have a hide function?

Good question. My use of the tool to date has been rather simple minded - so I'm
not entirely sure. I know it has a mode in which counters can only be turned
over and examined by their owner however I'm not sure you can actually make the
counters invisible to certain players. I'll ask in the CB group.

Dan
====================================================================
Yes, your second option sounds like a reasonable solution.

One other aspect to consider is the effect on the artillerymen of lengthy bombardments. Serving the guns was probably the most physically demanding job on the battlefield, and the law of diminishing returns would set in after a while as the rate of fire slowed. And at some point the men would be too exhausted to carry on.

I think it was mainly for this reason that some commanders maintained a sizeable artillery reserve.

Keeping track of this adds to the game admin of course Wink

Martin
====================================================================
Ok, when I get closer to being ready to start this game I'll try extending the results tables in this way. I'll submit the details for comment when I have a first draft. Thanks for the feedback.

Meanwhile I think I'll keep the artillery counters separate from the cavalry and infantry.

- Dan
====================================================================

Martin,

There is some doubt about Bijlandt's brigade actually being under fire from the Grand Battery. Some suggest the they were pulled back before being shot to bits, or were there for a limited time.

Adkin for one suggests a quite reasonable view, that if they had been under fire from that number of guns at 500 meters, they would have been so cut up they would never have been able to resist the French columns for any real time, which eye witness accounts say they did.

He presents a very convincing case that the volume of fire in no way equated to the casualties inflicted due to the state of the ground and the bulk of the units being on the reverse slope.

Although he does not say so, there is an 'Allied' perspective that says Bijlandt's brigade suffer in history at the hands of British writers who popularised the view of them legging it.

Having been to Waterloo one of the things that struck me most was the very short distance between the Allied line of battle and the position of the Grand Battery. I tend to concur with Adkin that if the bombardment took 30-40 minutes at the closest point, Bijlandt would have never been there when D'Erlons various divisions came to musket range.

David Commerford
====================================================================
The map in Siborne's Waterloo Letters gives over 1000 yards from the
French ridge to the English ridge. Cotton shows the french batteries
forward of their ridge so as to be around 800 yards.
The Warton map (republished by Bill Leeson in 1982) seems to show a
mound between the French ridge and the English ridge at about 700
yards from the English ridge)

In Gareth Glover's publication of the unpublished letters no. 175
(Gore) includes a sketch showing the Belgians (Bylandt) behind the
hedges on the road rather than exposed on the front slope. Glover in
his footnote refers to The British Army Review 129 Spring 2002 pp 78-
86 John Hussey 'Bylandt's Brigade at Waterloo' . Does anyone have
access to a copy?

Tim Carne
====================================================================
Thanks David.

I think Adkin's account is (of necessity) somewhat conjectural, but it's certainly plausible. I was really just trying to alert people to the different views out there about how things all unfolded. Esposito & Elting for example say the grand battery was about 1,000 yds from Wellington's line and that this limited its effectiveness.

I suspect you're right about some of the Anglo-centric views of the battle. One wonders how reliable some of the negative accounts of the Dutch-Belgian cavalry are too.

Martin
====================================================================
Martin,

"Esposito & Elting for example say the grand battery was about 1,000 yds from Wellington's line and that this limited its effectiveness."

Do they really? I must look it up!

All I can say is they are right. If it had really been at 1000yds the rise that the battery was actually placed on would have been in the way! Surprised)

Makes you wonder what kind of Kreigspeil players they would have been if they couldn't work out spot heights on their own maps! Surprised)

Both Army men too!

David Commerford
====================================================================
It's in their West Point Atlas. It more of less ties in with their maps.......but of course that could just mean their maps are wrong Wink

Martin
====================================================================
Martin,

Yes I knew where it was. Its just a long time since I read it ! Surprised)

You've got me at it now, I'll have to dig it out tonight and compare with the maps in Adkin.

David
====================================================================
Excellent. Save me doing it Wink

It would be nice to have this sort of comparison for other engagements. Esposito & Elting cover all the emperor's battles, but I have nothing as detailed as Adkin on any of them. I seem to recall Duffy's book on Borodino had something on the French grand battery there, and will go and look as my contribution. I also have a Naffzigger book on the Leipzig battles somewhere I think.

Martin
====================================================================
Well so far its a tough call.

In the blue corner is a not very good map in Esposito & Elting and in the red corner is Adkins who drifts between 500 and 700 meters although both are well short of 1000 yards.

Obviously, Adkins more modern presentation looks clearer and is bigger to view anyway. On personal observation, as I said, the answer when you are stood there is 'too bloody close'.

Both books agree (superficially) on the same peice of ground, so on Adkins scale my smart arse remark about "If it had really been at 1000yds the rise that the battery was actually placed on would have been in the way!" works but I guess its question of of what maps both sides were working to.

Adkins gives the appearence of being based on modern surveys which given this part of the ground hasn't moved (unlike the part that is now the Lion Mound) he still gets my vote!

One other thing that occurs to me. How should we deal with the Wagram style massed battery?

OK we can allow 30 mins pre attack bombardments, easy to do but what about:

'Oh Gawd, I'm in the Merde here.'

'Lauriston, take few guns, nip over there and blow the face off that Austrian Corps, there's a good chap'

Then we are into a - time taken to assemble and deploy v ground covered over a closing range, problem.

David C
====================================================================
All excellent points David, and thanks for the research. Isn't it odd that both are in broad agreement where the battery was positioned, but can come up with such different 'facts'.

The thing I like about Adkin is the thematic analytical approach. He picks an issue, such as artillery effectiveness, and then explores it. I can't think of another horse & musket battle book like it. Most just produce a more or less detailed narrative.

Looking again at Duffy on Borodino, reminds me that he is very much in the usual mould. Not enough detail to draw conclusions.

Nafziger on Leipzig at first sight looks more promising, or more detailed anyway. I find Nafziger's prose a bit heavy for some reason, but will try and get into it Wink

Re Wagram, Borodino, Leipzig etc, what we need I think is the following:

(a) How many guns?
(b) How long it took to deploy them?
(c) How wide was the defensive front they pounded (measured in brigades?)?
(d) How long did they do it for?
(e) What was the effect?

That all sounds rather First World War!

Martin
====================================================================
Martin,

"The thing I like about Adkin is the thematic analytical approach. He picks an issue, such as artillery effectiveness, and then explores it. I can't think of another horse & musket battle book like it."

Ah but there soon will be another! A 'Gettysburg' by him will be out in October.

Its available on pre order at Amazon already!

David

If you measure on the Sibourne maps you are left with the conclusion that either he was a rubbish surveyor or Esposito and Etling were talking out the back of their heads.

On General Plan 1 it shows Bijlandt's brigade about 100yds in advance of the road that traverses the Allied line. This is of course at the very start of the battle - Adkins contention being that they were pulled back either as, or just after the Grand Battery came into action.

If you then measure the nearest point of the Grand Battery shown in place in Plan 2, their position would be around 600yds/500 meters from it and the road therefore around the 700yd mark. The Battery deployment curves away from the Allied line at the Brussels road end but still doesn't make 1000yds at any point from the road.

You will note that the gun symbols are at the extreme rear of the 'Battery Ridge' and could have been closer to the Allied line. Adkins places them nearer the centre of the projection. I would see this as reasonable, as you would not want the individual guns rolling back down the slope on recoil, making it harder for the gunners to roll them back after each round.

To reckon the Grand Battery to be 1000yds away from the Allied road puts it in middle, rather than in front off, D'Erlons deployment. As a comparison, on Sibourne's map the distance down the Brussels road from the cross roads in the centre of the Allied position to La Belle Alliance is around 1,000yards!

Finally, pretty much all I have read would lead me to believe that you really would not want to use artillery from that kind of distance to get an effect, particularly when some of them were 6pdrs.

David
====================================================================
In a message dated 25/07/2008 20:58:28 GMT Standard Time, timcarne@... writes:

In Gareth Glover's publication of the unpublished letters no. 175
(Gore) includes a sketch showing the Belgians (Bylandt) behind the
hedges on the road rather than exposed on the front slope. Glover in
his footnote refers to The British Army Review 129 Spring 2002 pp 78-
86 John Hussey 'Bylandt's Brigade at Waterloo' . Does anyone have
access to a copy?

I saw the Hussey article some years ago and it is certainly worth looking at - indeed I have been trying to find a copy in another source. I will keep looking.

To Martin James: Martin, Paddy used to review for BAR and he might be worth approaching.

Andy Grainger
====================================================================
Good idea Andy. I'll forward him all this stuff and see whether he has any comments.

We might even find he looked at French artillery at Wagram 20 years ago!

Martin
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