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Campaign Options for Wavre
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TOPIC: Campaign Options for Wavre

Campaign Options for Wavre 6 months, 1 week ago #1

  • mcaryf
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The launch of the new Wavre scenarios has enabled me to start thinking about the next stage of my campaign game that is based on using historic starting forces but eradicating the more serious errors the French commanders made. Thus I have now created scenarios for Ligny and QB where Napoleon gets to use the Cavalry and 4th Division from D’Erlon’s Corps at Ligny and Ney can use the 1st Division and Corps artillery at QB and the player can decide whether to use either or both the other two D’Erlon Divisions at Ligny or QB.

I am now thinking about the impact of eradicating the mistake that Napoleon made in not despatching Grouchy to follow the Prussians until 11am on 17th June and the mistake that Grouchy and his commanders made in not continuing their advance as early as they could have done on the 18th June. The impact of these mistakes was probably to delay Grouchy’s progress by at least 5 hours. This would mean that his forces would be ready to attack across the Dyle at Limale, Bierges or Wavre before noon.

I have not previously seen any serious analysis of Grouchy’s real options with most commentators satisfying themselves with the statement that by acting more quickly he could have disrupted the Prussian move towards Waterloo.

In fact even if he had been at the Dyle by noon he would not have been able to stop Bulow’s IVth Corps the rear of which was past the Limale area by then. The two other Corps that historically moved to Waterloo were Pirch’s IInd Corps and Ziethen’s Ist Corps. Apart from a detachment under Stengel guarding the crossing at Limale, Ziethen’s Corps was in the area of Bierges and did not actually start to move towards Waterloo until about 2pm as it was delayed by IInd Corps passing to the North of it on the way to join IVth Corps. Soon after noon the van of IInd Corps would have been passing to the North of Limale.

The main body of Thielmann’s III Corps was at La Bavette North of Wavre but with some detachments guarding Dyle crossings. He was expecting to follow Pirch to Waterloo if the French did not threaten the Wavre area.

What then would Grouchy’s options be?

1) He could attack and try to cross at Limale about noon. That would probably result in Pirch’s Corps heading down to join Stengel’s force guarding the crossing otherwise their column could be taken in flank once Grouchy thrust Stengel aside. Historically the vanguard of Pirch’s Corps reached Plancenoit at about 7pm and delivered a decisive attack there contributing significantly to the French defeat. An attack at Limale being contained by Pirch would not prevent Ziethen from moving to Waterloo where his van arrived at about 7.30pm and importantly reinforced Wellington’s left flank allowing the English cavalry there to move to reinforce Wellington’s centre. In the event of an early Limale attack, Thielmann’s Corps could probably try to reinforce Pirch by moving along both banks of the Dyle from Wavre. This might well result in a heavy defeat for Grouchy if part of his force became trapped on the wrong side. This risk would also depend on how much strength Grouchy had but he would have prevented two Prussian Corps from joining Wellington.
2) Grouchy could attack Bierges any time up to 2pm. This would engage Ziethen and almost certainly prevent his Corps from moving to Waterloo, however of the three Prussian Corps that went to Waterloo Ziethen’s was the weakest having suffered heavy losses both before and at Ligny . Bierges is closer to Thielmann’s main body at La Bavette and his Corps could potentially reinforce Ziethen more quickly than it could Pirch’s Corps if Grouchy attacked at Limale.
3) Grouchy could delay and attack Limale after most of Pirch’s Corps had passed through to the North of the village. A threat to Pirch’s rear might result in Ziethen moving to assist whilst Pirch’s van continued to move toward Plancenoit. The outcome would be that Ziethen would not move to Waterloo but as Grouchy would be fighting the weakest Prussian Corps (I), he might be able to withdraw from the battle before Thielmann’s reinforcement’s arrived and preserve his threat from the far side of the Dyle.
4) Finally if Grouchy had been assigned more of a token force, which is what the Prussians thought he had, he could just demonstrate opposite Wavre to ensure that Thielmann did not also move to Waterloo which might be significant if Waterloo went on into a second day.

I would be interested to have any comments as to whether there are more options before I start to develop the scenario. I will probably make it start at 11am with Grouchy about an hour from Limale. I will give Grouchy the units in his OOB that he actually had into which I will slot whatever strengths they have after my Ligny scenario. I will build in facilities so that the player can discard those units that he chooses to be at Waterloo which would probably be Gerard’s Corps.

These are the sort of considerations a player will have to evaluate in deciding how much strength to allocate to Grouchy after the conclusion of Ligny at the same time the player will also need to judge how much more strength the French might need at Waterloo. I had not previously thought much about events from Grouchy’s perspective. He did have more than 30,000 men, albeit recently heavily engaged, but he was following a Prussian Army with in excess of 50,000, albeit recently defeated, which was meeting up with another entirely fresh Corps with more than another 30,000 men. Perhaps his forces’ late start on the 18th June indicated that they were not entirely certain they really wanted to meet up with the 85,000 enemies ahead of them!

Regards

Mike

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 6 months ago #2

  • mcaryf
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I have been further checking the historic records and examining the way the standard Wavre scenarios play to consider what Grouchy could or should attempt to do in my campaign scenario.

The first thing to consider is the Prussian’s actual impact on Waterloo. In the standard game “all day” scenario the Prussians only have 4 x Infantry Divisions/Brigades and 3 x Cavalry Divisions present at Waterloo. I guess this is to achieve a better game balance. Historically 6 x Prussian Infantry Divisions/Brigades and 4 or 5 Cavalry Divisions actually participated before the French collapse. A further 3 or 4 Prussian Infantry Divisions/Brigades and 2 or 3 Cavalry Divisions would have arrived before nightfall. They could have fought if needed and did actually participate in the pursuit.

It would probably be fair to ascribe to Grouchy some credit for the 6 x Infantry Brigades/Divisions and 3 or 4 Cavalry divisions that could not have participated at Waterloo on the 18th June as his approach and attacks did cause some Prussian units either to stay and defend Wavre or at least temporarily delay their departure.

The actual Prussian deployment made it virtually impossible for Grouchy to prevent at least 6 Prussian Infantry Divisions/Brigades from reaching Waterloo. Thus a player’s strategy has to be aimed at both strengthening Napoleon so he can cope with the Prussians that do arrive and trying to use the Grouchy force to limit the Prussians to just the 6 rather than the 10 that might have participated historically.

There are two possible strategic approaches with respect to Grouchy – one is to strip his to a minimal force so that Napoleon is stronger at Waterloo. However, unless Grouchy has at least 6 Divisions including 2 x infantry, I will create a variant within the Waterloo scenario to penalise the French player by accelerating the Prussian arrivals in particular by allowing most of Third Corps to have moved from Wavre to support Wellington’s left flank arriving about noon and having the Prussian First Corps arriving to attack towards Plancenoit along with the 15th Division/Brigade from IVth Corps at about 2pm. The rest of IVth Corps was historically delayed by a fire at Wavre. The Ist Corps was at Bierges and waited until the delayed units of IVth Corps passed by on the road net immediately North of them but obviously could have set off 3 or 4 hours earlier than they did whilst the road net was clear during the fire.

The second strategic approach would be to allow Grouchy enough strength so that coupled with an earlier arrival he could make a real difference to the Prussian move to Waterloo.

In my post above I gave some examples of what he might have done. However, reading more of the historical account makes it clear that Grouchy’s force did not succeed in any of their attempts to overcome a defended river crossing. At Basse-Wavre the Prussians destroyed the wooden bridge. For the stone bridges in Wavre the Prussian defence successfully used barricades, several batteries of guns and many skirmishers using loopholes in buildings along the river front. The attackers also failed at Bierges. The French only managed to cross at Limale in the evening because the local Prussian commander made a mistake in pulling his force back from the bridge and river to high ground north of the village – perhaps he was expecting the French to get across at Bierges and attack him from there. Pajol’s cavalry managed to approach rapidly and get across before the defenders could get near the bridge.

As I use an artillery mod similar to the one in KS, with canister ranges more than twice the standard game, I think the French would also fail to cross the river in my Wavre scenarios. I do not want to deliberately move Prussian defenders back from the bridges earlier in the day especially as there will be even more of them in the vicinity then e.g. all of First Corps at Bierges. However, examining history reveals a solution, there was an unguarded stone bridge South of Limale that Grouchy could have used at Mousty (or Moustier). In fact it was even held by the French because a detachment of Napoleon’s cavalry (from Marbot’s Hussars) had been stationed there waiting to make contact with Grouchy as Napoleon assumed he would use that bridge!

Mousty would be just off the South-east edge of the map so my solution for the scenario is to build in a facility for some of Grouchy’s force to start on the North Bank of the Dyle in the bottom left hand corner of the map. This will either be Pajol’s Cavalry plus Teste’s Infantry Division or Gerard’s corps if the player does not choose to allocate that unit to Napoleon for use at Waterloo. Grouchy will have a centre force consisting of Vandamme’s Corps with which he can approach Limale from the South bank and a right wing and advance guard of Exelmann’s Cavalry Corps possibly augmented by Girard’s Infantry Division. If the player wants to go for the minimal option and allocate Vandamme’s Corps to Napoleon as well, then Grouchy will just have 2 infantry and 4 cavalry divisions and for campaign purposes it will be assumed that no serious fighting occurs at Wavre but Grouchy’s presence will delay six Prussian Infantry Divisions/Brigades so that the other ten will arrive at their historical times on the battlefield of Waterloo.

Thus my options plus variants for Grouchy will be:
1) No Grouchy force – all Prussian units will arrive at Waterloo starting earlier than historic.
2) Grouchy just 6 x Divisions Teste, Girard + 4 x cav. – Prussian’s have historic arrival pattern.
3) Grouchy has Vandammes, Exelmann, Pajol, Teste and/or Girard
4) Grouchy has Vandammes and Gerard and possibly plus Teste and/or Girard (i.e. historic)

Note Girard’s was the Division that suffered heavy losses at Ligny including Girard himself and was left to sort out the battlefield e.g. weapons, prisoners, wounded.
Any other suggestions?

Mike

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 3 weeks ago #3

  • mcaryf
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My Wavre campaign variant is reasonably far advanced. I have set it earlier in the day starting around 11 am when most of the Prussian army was still in the area but marching across the map to exit on the left hand edge. I am playing around with the idea that the French can cause a set delay in the movement of the Prussian Brigades/divisions by capturing various objectives e.g. some that overlook the two routes the Prussians used to travel to Ohain/Smohain to reinforce Wellington's left wing and to Plancenoit to take Napoleon in the flank.

Of course if the Prussians concentrated all their troops on Grouchy he would be crushed but the scenario assumes that the Prussian priority is to send troops off map to Waterloo. Thus limited Prussian forces are trying to hold Grouchy off so it becomes a genuine contest and if he succeeds he delays the other Prussians from exiting. he also starts with some forces having crossed the Dyle at Mousty (Moustier) south of the map area.

I would appreciate some advice as to whether there is any mechanism for feeding parameters into a scenario to change how it plays. The case in point is if my Wavre scenario indicates that particular Prussian Brigades/Divisions suffered varying delays is there any way I can feed that into a Waterloo scenario without having to mod it each time?

The only idea I currently have is that I might create one scenario which has, say, half a dozen options for Prussian arrival times and these can be triggered by the French player moving one of his units to one or more of six possible objectives each of which triggers a variant in the Battlescript that sets appropriate arrival times. This is a bit clunky but probably less cumbersome than developing many different scenarios. I would like to have a variable in the scenario.ini file that I could use if that is either possible now or could be easily developed.

One other question - the Prussians march across the map at 2.5 mph or slightly more on roads. In practice the roads running West from Wavre were really only glorified tracks and muddy ones at that so 1.5 mph on roads or open would be more historic. Has anybody previously developed a MudMod to simulate the bad travel conditions on that sort of day? I guess I can do it by adjusting the Wavre.csv file but are there any pitfalls in changing those values? At the moment I build in a delay at the map edge so Prussian units do not disappear until something like 45 minutes after both the previous unit has exited and their own General has arrived.


Regards

Mike

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 2 weeks ago #4

  • Saddletank
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The Kriegspiel group recently refought Eylau over a 4-scenario set of games. We did something very similar to represent deep snow that slowed all movement and tired out cavalry more than usual, and IIRC, even fixed some artillery in place. This was all achieved with edited logistics files and could be loaded as a mod.
HITS & Couriers - a different and realistic way to play SoW MP.

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 2 weeks ago #5

  • mcaryf
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Hi Saddletank

It is reassuring that there were no funny side effects. Thank you for that. The Wavre Map certainly gets a little full with the entire Prussian Army milling about around Wavre - probably what it was really like!!

Mike

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 2 weeks ago #6

  • Jace11
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I'm of the opinion movement speeds, especially for infantry, are a bit fast in general when it comes to Waterloo and Wavre. You can approach this in 2 ways I suppose, a generic speed decrease for all formations which you could do via the drills.csv file. You would also have slower units on QB and Ligny maps though! Or you take the Wavre and Waterloo maps and increase the move modifier for terrain (or rather decrease it / make it more negative to slow movement). You could do this pretty easily in excel, with a formula or something, test and tweak etc. You might also consider fatigue increases for ploughed fields and other off road terrains etc, just some ideas...

I recently bought the Waterloo John Tiller game, which is kind of interesting, (though it's AI is pretty appalling!), it has a number of mechanics which could work in SOW, but the most glaring difference to me was the speed of movement in general. In that game, roads are key, they get jammed up, moving off road is a big no-no. Losing tempo, and struggling to get units to where they are needed happens all the time. When I compare it to SOWWL, I see my units marching in line at speeds too similar to road columns. Column is I think a +1.5 multiplier, Line -0.2. It seems quite alot on paper but doesn't translate to anything too worrying in game IMO.

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 2 weeks ago #7

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Hi Jace11

Whilst I am tempted to agree with you about general speed in SOW for the time being I am inclined to concentrate on Wavre as in my campaign variant there is a huge amount of movement and the timing for that is critical. I have 2/3 of the Prussian army marching across the map with the French trying to cause a degree of interference.

Unfortunately I have not really taught myself anything very significant about mapping. I can view the terrain .csv file and see that there are two different Road modifiers as well as Sunken Road but I do not know how to determine to which of the roads in the Wavre map these apply. The road through Wavre to Brusselles was a proper paved road but many of the East West ones were just green tracks that became cut up and muddy as the troops moved through but I guess road deterioration might be a sophistication too far in a single scenario! One of the Road values is .2 and the other is .1 so I could just try making the .1 negative and similarly adjusting Open and others all to be -0.1 as that would I guess be a 20% reduction in speed.

Regards

Mike

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 2 weeks ago #8

  • Jace11
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105 is the cobblestone road (green) - this is also used for some town roads etc.

115 is the rest (red)

http://imgur.com/a/6lZPn

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 2 weeks ago #9

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Hi Jace11

Thank you for that. I assume your references 105 and 115 are to the Grayscale entries. Both movement values are the same at 0.1 so if I changed the 115 (Road) entry -0.1 that would result in about a 20% reduction in road movement. For completeness I guess I should also change all the other entries (e.g. Open, Grass, Dead Rye) to also be -0.1.

Would it be simple to tell me how you know which Roads use which values in the .csv file and how you generated the colours on the map? If it is too complicated to explain it does not matter as I hope this will enable me to do what I want for Wavre at least.

Regards

Mike

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 2 weeks ago #10

  • Jace11
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I opened the map .bmp in a graphics program and selected by color, RGB 115,115,115.

This will select all parts of the image of these exact RGB values, and this corresponds to the roads that are listed in the .csv file with this greyscale value. To make that guide image I posted above, I just overlayed the selected area with a color.

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 5 months, 2 weeks ago #11

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Thank you for your rapid reply.

Regards

Mike

Re: Campaign Options for Wavre 4 months, 3 weeks ago #12

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I have run through my Wavre campaign scenario a few times and I am still tweaking some of the AI behaviour and the exiting of Prussian units headed for Waterloo. The actual Prussian plan was quite subtle and designed so that even if Grouchy was able to impede some Brigades (IVth and IInd) taking the more Southerly route to Plancenoit this could be compensated by additional ones from Thielmann’s III Corps taking a more Northerly route to Smohain to reinforce Wellington’s left flank. Thielmann’s defence of Wavre would require less strength if Grouchy was already fighting Bulow and Pirch. I am still fine tuning when it would be fair to have the Prussians start doing this.

I am starting to think about how to pass the outcomes from Wavre into the play of Waterloo without giving the French (human) player too much foreknowledge of what is coming his way.

It was not such a problem for QB and Ligny as the battles took place less than one hour by courier apart and there was only one significant movement between the two battles. Historically Napoleon and Ney were not that efficient at telling each other what was happening but they could have done more if they had chosen to do so. Thus in my scenarios I have designed it so the French side plays QB for 3 hours and then sends D’Erlons newly arrived Corps to the Western map edge. The player then switches to Ligny and plays that for 3 hours before having to make a decision about how many of d’Erlons units will be used at Ligny and whether that will leave enough for the situation at QB when that game is resumed. These movements between battles are effected by the player placing units on particular objective locations which triggers them to freeze and vanish to simulate them disappearing back out of sight or, for example, by sending D’Erlons to a location on the QB map which causes one of his divisions to reappear there as if he has recalled them.

Historically 6 x Prussian Infantry Brigades participated in the fighting at Waterloo plus 3 x Cavalry Brigades and elements of 2 Reserve Corps Artillery units. There were another 4 x Brigade sized units approaching and probably within sight of the French which no doubt helped to cause the French collapse into sauve qui peu.

In tests of my Wavre scenarios Grouchy’s force has had more success in slowing down the later stream of Prussian reinforcements rather than the first few Brigades.
I am using a notional time delay of about 4 hours between a unit exiting the Wavre map and being available at the Waterloo map edge. Thus I can design it so the French player can run through until about 3pm at Waterloo as this is 4 hours after my Wavre scenario’s 11am start. Thereafter events at Wavre will have almost a real time impact on what will happen at Waterloo. I think I will just have to settle for the player doing 1 hour sessions at each battle and having to trigger a series of objective locations that will either advance or delay the arrival of the next few Prussian units. I can rationalise this as the French being able to observe the Prussians advancing from beyond the map edge as of course Napoleon did with Bulow’s Corps.

Another approach of course would be for different players to take the parts of Napoleon, Grouchy, Wellington and Blucher but I have not looked at what is needed for multiplayer scenarios so will have to leave that for another day

Unfortunately I will need to make quite a few changes before I can publish these scenarios as the mechanism I use to transfer casualties between battles is a tool I did not develop myself and requires quite a lot of casualty report manipulation to work with the standard report files. I suspect I might have to produce a series of scenarios based on 2 or 3 different levels of previous victory and let players use those based on their victory levels rather than the actual casualty results. Even using the carry forward tool I have to apply some smoothing so that whole units do not disappear or become impracticably weak. For example in a recent Ligny trial the Prussians lost about 50 guns including some complete batteries. I smoothed this result by making all the participating Prussian batteries have 6 rather than 8 guns but with full manpower for each gun for their next battle.

As before if anyone wants to give comment or suggestions on my design ideas I would be interested to consider them.

Regards

Mike
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