Gentle reader, from time to time it takes someone to ask a really obvious question before we realise that we have either explained something badly, or perhaps not at all!
So it was that earlier today, Battlegames reader and new horse-and-musket campaigner Mark Ashley emailed me, asking for clarification regarding that moment when opposing forces have met on the large, strategic map, and the time comes for a more detailed, individual hex to be drawn.
I have got to the stage where my forces have met on the strategic map and we now swap to the ‘big’ hex which we split into two 2.5cm squares and we take the nearest primary features on the overall map and rolled the dice.
Now I take it, it’s for both squares? And any towns which result in that dice throwing are new ones? And they need to be named in order for the battle to have a name?
I would be grateful if you could clear these up for me as I have had great fun just on the strategic map and my forces are only just coming to grips. I dismissed your idea of giving people characteristics as a waste of time. I then found that it would greatly assist me in their ability to make decisions so I went back and did them all. See, you do know best, well done for putting it in.
First of all, I was troubled that Mark thought the large hex should be divided into just two squares. Not only do I not recall ever writing that, but I couldn’t work out how it would be possible, and felt awful thinking that he had wasted time attempting such a thing! So, this is what I wrote in reply (don’t forget you can click on any image to zoom in, except the chart, which is already full size):
Hello Mark, and thanks for your email.
Okay, turn to Issue 4, page 28, second column, halfway down.
“The hex was divided into 2.5cm squares, with overlaps beyond the boundary. I took the nearest primary features on the overall map, such as hill hexes, wood hexes, town hexes etc and for each small, 2.5 cm square, consulted the table below. So, for example, if there is a wood hex three hexes distant, then there’s a 70% chance they will occur in any of your 2.5 cm squares. This is designated as a hill hex itself? There will definitely be at least some elevation in each little square. Then, it’s just a matter of artistic license and a few additions, such as marshes, ponds, streams, tracks and so on, to make your hex ‘feel’ just right.”
Now see the images below, which I shall also be adding to the Battlegames website, as it’s clear that I forgot to mention the precise size of these ‘large’ hexes. My profuse apologies — this just goes to show the dangers of writing last-minute copy in the middle of the night before a deadline! I’m amazed, in fact, that you are the first person to notice this mistake.
On the scan of M20 here you can still see the original pencil lines designating the smaller squares.￼
As for the naming, that is of course the biggest challenge, as the population of real countries have had hundreds or even thousands of years to name everything. That’s why you can be as daft as you like, or just sketchy: “Red Farm” and “Blue Village” when translated to German are “Rotbauernhof” and “Blaudorf”. Sounds fine to me!
I hope this clears up any confusion, and thanks for writing in to point out the oversight. Time to check through everything and make ready for the Wars of the Faltenian Succession book.
So, the answer is that you throw for ALL the smaller squares, and indeed any settlements that arise are new. I classify them as villages, hamlets, farms — it’s really up to you. If you want somewhere less densely populated, then you could roll for the population centres and divide by 2, for example. But the fact of the matter is that in most games, you’ll want at least one or two small buildings, even if it’s only a barn and a cowshed!
Well, I thought that was that, but then later today, Mark came right back at me.
Thanks for taking the time to reply but sorry, it’s provided me with more questions than answers now!
The examples in your email are not to scale ie 10cm sides and the 2.5cm squares? (They haven’t printed off to that scale) so I just make my own to those dimensions? Yes?
Does the campaign then switch to that large hex? For movement?
Then how many miles does each of those 10cm squares represent? Or do they equate to my 2ft square gaming boards (ie one 2.5cm square = one of my 2ft gaming sq boards?) Or will one of those 2.5cm squares equate to the whole of my 8×6 table??
Sorry if these questions appear a bit simple but I’m having trouble going from the clash on the campaign map to transfering it to the boards to fight the action.
After picking myself off the floor following this flurry of interrogaton, I realised that nothing short of a full walk-through would do.
The examples I sent are actual size at 72dpi (screen resolution). Just scale your printouts so that they reproduce at that size. (I’m afraid I can’t get into giving computer lessons as well!)
You only produce these more detailed hexes when contact is made and a decision has been agreed on to fight.
Here’s an example, using the example of the hex M20 I sent to you.
Let’s say that I, playing Prunkland, have declared M20 as one of my coordinates, and so has Guy, playing Faltenland.
Prunkland, arriving from the West, declares its strength in the hex as Brigade, while Faltenland, coming from the East, declares as Detachment. At this stage, the precise composition of the enemy forces are unknown to the other player.
Now each side rolls a die to see what further intelligence they have obtained. Let’s say I roll a 5, Guy rolls a 3.
Prunkland has to declare its numbers to within + or – 10%, with approximate proportions of infantry, cavalry and artillery, so I reveal that actual numbers are between about 90 and 110 figures, of whom about 80% are infantry, the rest being cavalry.
Guy as Faltenland, meanwhile, must declare more accurately still, as Prunkland got a higher intelligence gathering score. So his report comes back that his detachment in fact consists of just 18-22 cavalry only, who look suspiciously like uhlans. Darn! This is a bit of a reconnaissance coup for Faltenland!
We must now decide whether to stand our ground. Unknown to Guy at this stage, the forces at my disposal here are Von Wacht Grenzers, Von Kleidemacher Jäger and Von Czapka Hussars. Assuming for the moment that no more senior brigade commander is on hand to take command, Von Czapka is the senior unit commander — cavalry always takes precedence.
Now comes the optional part if you want to allow your commanders to determine the outcome. Von Czapka’s characteristics are 14, 14, 44, 84, 08, 72. This means he’s frankly a bit thick, not exactly one to take the initiative, moderately courageous, hugely charismatic, physically weedy in the extreme but destined to live a long life with rude health. I start to consider that I should have appointed a rather brighter brigadier to command this little force. What will he do? Let’s see if he’ll seize the initiative and get stuck in. Remarkably, a throw of a pair of percentage dice comes up 13, so against our expectations perhaps, he decides to try to push the smaller Faltenian force out of the hex.
The Faltenians on hand are actually a squadron of Pilsudski Uhlans, who have been sent ahead to secure the bridge over the Steinwasser near Mickelpfronn. With only the squadron commander, rather than the colonel present, Guy has the option of rolling characteristics for a junior commander (a captain, in this case), but the trouble is that you can end up with a list of thousands of personalities! So we allow Guy to take the decision himself, and he decides that he does want to make a dash for the bridge and attempt to occupy Mickelpfronn.
So, with an agreement being made to fight, I roll for all the minor terrain features you can see in the large hex map, get out my pens and pencils and start drawing! This then reveals all the little woods, streams, hills, villages, minor roads and so on. This is the equivalent of us sending out individual scouts to reconnoitre the surrounding area. In fact, the process is fascinating, as it then gives both commanders ideas, such as “If he pushes me back, we can retire to that village”; or “I must occupy those two hills overlooking the town and if I get grenzers into that wood they could infiltrate right to the edge of the houses without being seen.”
The final thing is to determine who got there first, which, in the absence of an umpire, relies on the player’s complete honesty with one another. As it happens, I am able to declare that Prunkland already had M20 as a co-ordinate the previous week, which Guy acknowledges, but that the occupants at the beginning of the week were just the grenzers of Von Wacht’s regiment. The remaining troops (the jäger and the hussars) have come from hex J20, three road hexes distant. Guy’s Uhlans, however, have arrived from Iferbrücke at O19, just two road hexes distant.
The following sequence of events therefore unfolds. Von Wacht’s Grenzers have been in the town since the beginning of the week (which, for the purposes of this illustration, we’ll call Monday morning). Then the Faltenian Uhlans arrive: as light/irregular cavalry, they have 6MP, which on roads means they can move 12 hexes per week. Two hexes, then, required only 1/6 of a week, or just over a day, to travel, so they will arrive in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Next to arrive will be Czapka’s hussars, assuming that they are pushing ahead — with three hexes to travel, they will turn up after 3/12, which is 1/4 of the week, roughly Tuesday evening. The jäger follow along last; with 3MP, they can move 6 hexes a week on roads, which means they’ll take half a week to get to the bridge, so won’t arrive until Thursday lunchtime. (This is all assuming, of course, that neither side has ordered a Forced March, which would of course enable the troops to arrive sooner.) I could also choose, for example, to have the hussars move more slowly to accompany the jäger so that they arrive at the same time. A clever general might also have ordered a Forced march for the jäger, so that they can keep up better with the hussars.
It is up to the players to decide how much to reveal to their opponent. Of course, Guy’s Uhlans would have no idea that enemy reinforcements are on the way, in the same way that I would have no idea that he has none! It would be legitimate, therefore, to wait until the appropriate time to reveal such arrivals.
So, we have a couple of cracking little fights in the offing. First of all, there’s Von Wacht’s grenzers attempting to hold the bridge and the town against Pilsudski Uhlans. Of course, now that both commanders have the detailed hex map at their disposal, they might choose to do something clever. I don’t know if you can see clearly on the copy I sent you, but just south of the centre, there’s a ferry point marked on the river, next to one of my favourite-named villages, Uthersmangel-an-der-Steinwasser! This conveniently allows the inhabitants of the village on the opposite bank, Eichmannsdorf-am-Steinwasser, to communicate and trade. A canny light cavalry commander might decide to send a small force to outflank the defenders of Mickelpfronn using that method; and of course, an equally canny defender might decide to place a few men to guard such an approach!
Now, on the large hex maps, you’ll see that I used a scale of about 1mm = 50 yards (you can change this if you like), so that it’s possible to use your normal battlefield rules to carry out map-moves leading to the actual encounter, or even while your tabletop game is in progress. I would suggest that troops moving on the map like this are allowed generous ‘march moves’, at least double, perhaps even 2.5 or three times, the distance of the standard tactical moves. So if, for example, a normal infantry move is 150mm (6 inches), which would equate to just 3mm on the map, then allow infantry to move at least 6mm, or even up to 9mm when map-moving, as they aren’t fussing about keeping drill-square order, they’re just trying to get from A to B.
Each of those smaller squares, 2.5cm (1 inch) across, therefore represents a tabletop space of about 1,250 yards square. So, if you use 1mm=1 yard in your wargame rules, that equates to 1.25 metres, or just over four feet. If you play ‘old school’ style with 1 inch = 10 yards, then our 1,250 yards require 125 inches (10 feet 5 inches) of tabletop space. As with all wargames, you can certainly get away with a bit of ‘fudging’. My own table is 8 feet by 6 feet. In the days when I used 1mm = 1 yard rules, that equated to an area on the map about 2 squares by 1.5 squares. Using ‘old school’ dimensions, this reduces to an area on the map just over 19mm x 14mm.
I would also recommend that you allow 48 half-hour moves to represent a full 24-hour day. This forces you to introduce reduced night-time visibility, getting lost, fatigue and so on. It also enables you to work out with reasonable precision when reinforcements arrive, flank attacks go in, and so forth. And don’t forget that ammunition isn’t inexhaustible! You may also find yourself occasionally using cavalry on foot, either to defend a position or (as in our example) trying to winkle defenders out of built-up areas.
Naturally, you might judge Guy foolhardy to take on Von Wacht’s grenzers in this way. But because it’s part of a campaign, it raises all sorts of questions. What’s he up to elsewhere? Is this just a demonstration to fix my attention at this place while he amasses his forces? Is he just trying to whittle down my strength? Will he bug out before the cavalry and jäger arrive? And so on.
Finally, once whatever actions have been fought or avoided are carried out, you may have to amend your intended co-ordinates for the rest of the week. For example, let’s take the happy hypothetical that Faltenland’s uhlans have been scattered in M20, and forced back into N19. If, for example, Czapka’s hussars had actually been ordered to move through to Iferbrücke at O19, then it will be assumed that they will pursue the enemy into N19, where Guy would once again have to make a decision whether to try to stand and fight. However, with his uhlans routing, the logical thing would be that they would retire to Iferbrücke and head for cover. Then, when Prunkland’s hussars arrive outside the walls of Iferbrücke towards the end of the week, Faltenland declares a Brigade as their strength there, and Von Czapka’s nerve fails! Czapka therefore stop at O19.
Right, that’s your lot — the rest is down to you!
I hope that others find these replies useful and, of course, if you have any questions of your own concerning the campaign mechanisms, then do get in touch.