Looking forward to a 1813 Game. I too played the old, flawed 1813 game. I didn't like the tactical game that much, but liked the operational part.
I also own the Frank Hunter Game (Danube Campaign), and I agree, you should have a look at that game, it models the command & control aspect very well (it's rather small in scope, certainly one of the best Napoleonic games).
For Non-German readers: down below I give a very brief summary of the final chapter of Rudolf Friederichs (very good) book 'Der Herbstfeldzug 1813'. This chapter is basically an essay about the reasons why Napoleons suffered defeat in 1813
Some ideas and suggestions:
These aspects I would like to see in an operational game that models the warfare of that period:
1) Non-Combat Casualties, i. e. Attrition.
For example: York's I Corps started the autumn campaign (end of august) with about 40.000 troops, at the beginning of november it was down to 10.000 - true, it suffered heavily at Wartenberg and Möckern, but most of its losses were caused by exhaustion, forced marches, insufficient food, shelter and clothing
2) Problematic Communication/Command & Control[/i]: delays, misunderstandings, non-execution of orders, dealing with orders that no longer match the situation, dispatches lost, and so on - which leads to (or could combined with)...
3) Leader Personalities
(cautious ones, aggressive ones, leaders who disobey, obstruct, act on their own, don't act - often for very sound reasons, sometimes for not so good reasons)
4) Problematic Intelligence
(through cavalry and some other means like informants, spies, peasants, POWs): often unreliable, unclear, outdated - problem of 'bad' intelligence more severe than in a WK II game (also potentially more interesting gamewise)
IMHO Point 3 is pretty important, not only to give the game itself more personality and color, but also to more faithfully portrait the warfare of that period: it shouldn't be a game where the player just pushes some anonymous forces across the map. Military leaders played a prominent role as commander 'in the field' often deciding situations on their own or interpreting orders due to circumstances. Dispatches delivered on horseback - arriving late - created fertile conditions for all kinds of misunderstandings and bad feelings.
: In the beginning of the Silesian campaign, the Russian corps commander Langeron
found his corps - following orders by Blücher
(who tried to catch Ney
off-guard) - in a difficult situation (Battle at Löwenberg)
. Langeron suffered painful losses and felt Blücher had unnecessary exposed his corps. From then on he followed orders by Blücher 'reluctantly' (to put it mildly,
)*. - Later, at Katzbach Langeron (on the left wing of the Silesian Army) thought the battle - led by 'impetuous'
Blücher - was already lost and began to send back his heavy artillery and train ('ha, not gonna make the same mistake again'
) - obviously preparing for a retreat of the whole corps; only after urgent pleas by a Prussian staffer (send by Blücher) could Langeron be convinced to hold his ground. This led to a lasting loss of trust in Langeron on the side of Blücher/Gneisenau. After attempts to have him removed failed (denied by the czar), they decided to watch the 'unreliable Frenchman' closely. This then resulted in the situation at Möckern where Yorck was not supported at all, while Blücher/Gneisenau stayed for the whole battle close to Langeron and held Sackens Corps in reserve behind Langeron, against a threat from the North-East that never materialized.
book about the 1813 autumn campaign, quoting Count Nostitz: "On this day [20 August, Battle of Löwenberg], the large loss of men, the pressing danger that the vanguard - which had been pushed too far forward - was exposed to for many hours, made an impression on Langeron that detrimentally influenced his behavior during the entire campaign. He reproached himself for having executed Blücher's orders too punctually and too willingly, and henceforth would be more cautious - a resolve that he honored to the slightest detail."
Points 2-4 (Command & Control, Personalities and Intelligence) are closely connected of course, as the above example [Battle of Löwenberg] shows: both sides acted on incomplete, partially wrong or outdated information, leader personalities and their feelings/lack of trust towards each other played a crucial part in the decision making, battle success (destroying Ney's Corps) eluded Blücher not least because orders could not be given or received at the right time, and were only reluctantly executed or outright disobeyed.
Leaders acting in Situations
Units should be under a commander with 'personality'. Personality = leader stats who influence how orders are executed, if at all. Commanders therefore should act with a considerable degree of randomness and freedom according to their character and the situation they are facing.
The task of the Player would be to deal with these unforeseen circumstances and (command) problems - and to make the best out of it
(as Napoleon, Blücher etc. tried).
Getting immersed in the game
If there are leaders, there should be images of these leaders somewhere (not necessarily on the counters if this is not feasible), not just names
Players should get a clear picture of the foggy situation they are dealing with through reports or messages (also to avoid player frustration): how long a 'dispatch' takes to get to a commander, when such a dispatch is delayed and why, if a leader disobeys an order, acts on an order or doesn't, and why he does or doesn't, and so on
Weather Events, Attrition Events (Non-Combat losses) and other Events: rain and mud hinders operations, illness and starvation weaken soldiers, canons and wagons get stuck, rivers cannot be crossed, Cavalry cannot operate on muddy ground, etc
What I'm trying to get at with 'immersion
': What kind of features would turn an operational WKII game into an gaming experience that feels/plays like a game about 1813
?' - In modern war you have mass production, standardization, weather forecasts, radio communication, ECM, computers, tanks, jets etc. - in Napoleonic times you have cavalry, infantry, guns, commanders, food for the men, fodder for the horses, solid canon balls, handwritten letters, a logistics system that doesn't work that well, diseases/high attrition, and so on. - So what could be in this new game that anchors it in the Napoleonic Period?
Replay Value vs Puzzle
Each game might play out differently, not a puzzle to be solved. A lot of Napoleonic games (like the Zucker Board games or the John Tiller games) try to re-create a historic situation, a campaign or battle, and they do a lot of shenanigans (in the form of additional 'rules') so that everything plays out 'historically'. I find that a bit boring
I too read Leggiere's
'Napoleon and the the struggle for Germany. The Franco-Prussian War of 1813
' and can recommend it. It is written from the point of view of the Silesian Army und Blücher, but that does not mean that Leggiere is a Prussian fanboy. It's not an operational study and very often get's down to tactical fights on the battalion level, but it also gives a vivid picture...
- of the many, many conflicts between Blücher/Gneisenau and the corps leaders of the Silesian army (some due to clashes of personalities, misunderstandings and other due to structural problems of 1813 warfare)
- of the diplomatic maneuvers between Blücher/Gneisenau and the two other allied armies (not to forget the three monarchs and their military entourage)
- of the exhaustion and attritional effects when men fight, march and bivouac in (most of the time) terrible weather conditions (Weather in 1813 was extremely bad! )
But the best books I have read so far about the 1813 Campaigns are from Rudolf Friederich
: "Der Frühjahrsfeldzug 1813
" and "Der Herbstfeldzug 1813
", two old books, but not outdated (I don't know if there's an English translation) - Friederich was Head of the historic department II in the Prussian Generalstab. Although a Prussian and an admirer of Napoleon, he has - in my opinion - good judgement and gives an apt analysis of the operations, battles and participants of this conflict (Kevin Zucker in his guide to his 1813 Operational Game makes heavy reference to Friederich).
In the final chapter of 'Der Herbstfeldzug 1813
' the author sums up
the two campaigns and explores the reasons why Napoleon got defeated: after discarding some common myths (like old Nappy no longer up to the task, quality of troops, superior allied leadership, crappy marshals), he finds two problems that Napoleon couldn't solve, both have to do with scale:
1)Command & Control
(Führung): the theatre of operations and the forces in it become too large/big for Napoleon to command (for example sending Oudinot north and trying to push the marshal towards Berlin without having sufficient intelligence about the strength of the allied forces there - often, when Napoleons very detailed dispatches arrive the situation already had changed..)
Friederich, Herbstfeldzug: "Napoleons masterful skills in operating on interior lines came to nothing because the Army - due to its monstrous strength - had become so cumbersome, that despite the finest art of Napoleonic Marching Technique, it could not be brought where it was needed and exhausted its strength in military efforts intensified to the extreme"
("weil die Armee infolge ihrer übertriebenen Stärke so schwerfällig geworden war, dass sie trotz aller Künste der Napoleonischen Marschtechnik entweder nicht dahin gebracht werden konnte, wo man ihrer bedurfte, oder ihre Kräfte in den bis aufs Äusserste gesteigerten Anstrengungen aufrieb")
Supporting forces had do be brought up to army strength in order to balance the allied forces - often commanded by military leaders not used to independent command (if beaten their defeats neutralized all gains Napoleon made personally)
(Erhaltung der Armee): the troops in the theatre were too numerous and could not adequately be supplied. Although Saxony was a well developed country and could theoretically maintain such a force, it proved increasingly impossible the longer that force did not move and more or less stayed at the same spot
- In the beginning of the autumn campaign (August 1813) about 90.000 - IIRC - of Napoleons troops already out of action and in hospital, many commanders reporting severe shortages of food and fodder
- In the Silesian theatre: the desperate hunt for food and fodder influences the decisions on both sides; Blücher breaking the truce (before it ran out the following day) in order to get his army in the neutral zone first, to harvest resources before the French snatch them away
Didn't the Allies have to deal with similar problems? Friederich: yes, but less severe, because:
- Allied forces divided in 3 Armies operating in 3 theatres (Brandenburg, Silesia, Bohemia), not sharing the same base of operations
- No partisans and activity of Fliegende Corps (allied light Cavalry corps operating in the hinterland)
- Mostly friendly population
- Bringing sick and wounded soldiers back to the hinterland for care
Why did Napoleon suck in 1813?
- Still ongoing reinforcements (Napoleon in Summer 1813 mobilized to the maximum)
According to Friederich
Napoleon made no grave mistake in 1813, but he made little ones that added up (he mentions: offensive against Berlin with too weak a force and an ill-suited commander, giving up on the pincer movement south of Dresden - leaving Vandamme exposed, insufficient pursuit after victory at Dresden, holding his position for too long at the right bank of the Elbe, leaving Saint-Cyr at Dresden),
Friederich also claims that the so called 'Trachenberg Plan' (in its modified form) didn't influence the real behavior of the three army commanders in a noticeable way (I disagree*), according to Friederich their success came down to a lucky combination of leader personalities, including - and above all - their flaws and often old-fashioned 18th Century doctrines, which made them avoid any decisive battle until Leipzig (16-19 October):
"The Warfare of the Allies presents us with a rather unpleasant picture, so it comes that we, despite repeated defeats of the French, never get the impression of skillful superiority on the side of the Allies, that we cannot suppress a tragic feeling that a genius in the end only succumbed to the dominance of clumsy masses
("dass wir trotz der fortgesetzten Niederlagen der Franzosen, nirgends das Gefühl der inneren Überlegenheit der Verbündeten erhalten, (...) dass wir sogar das Mitgefühl über das Tragische nicht zu unterdrücken vermögen, das Genie schliesslich dem blossen Übergewicht plumper Massen unterliegen zu sehen")
*At least Blücher/Gneisenau - ironically - followed that plan, almost to a t.
My take: I cannot find that Napoleon really made a severe misstep, he just could not find something to counter the allied strategy: running away from him, ganging up on his marshals, forcing him to fruitless marches and thereby wearing him down, until they got him trapped at Leipzig (= the modified
so called Trachenberg Plan, presumably agreed in the last weeks bevor outbreak of hostilities in August; it never was written down). So the Allies denied him the decisive blow he was craving for. Napoleon calculated that 2 month would be plenty of time for that, even if he would be cut off from his lines of communication, but in the end time was running out for him (the force ratio in August was almost 1:1, in October almost down to 1:2)