Monday, 29 October 2012

The Mother of All: Wargaming Leipzig 2013 (1)

Having completed, Borodino, we are now getting really ambitious and turning our attention to the big one; Leipzig. This is one of those wargaming ‘dreams’; something that I had never previously envisaged even contemplating doing. Our combined wargaming resources and the effort that we now know, thanks to Borodino, we can bring to such a project gives us some confidence that we can make it happen. We may not be ready by October 2013 though!
It is a daunting challenge.
The Battle of Leipzig, “Battle of the Nations”, was fought over four days. In its entirety the action occurred over an area of around 10 km x 10 km. It involved about half a million men; around 150 000–190 000 French-Allied and 300 000–350 000 Allies, these latter comprising Russians, Austrians, Prussians, Swedes.
We’d like to do our version of Leipzig at a figure scale of 1:50 and on a ground scale of 2 mm to 1 m. We have about a year to get ready if we are to stage it in time for the bicentennial next year and we are going to need every day of that!
Our first challenge is the table. At first we thought that we’d do the battle on the floor of the ANF HQ, thus taking advantage of the entire area of about 5 m x 5 m. While that would solve the problems of the size of table required and the restriction caused by the maximum reach of players operating from the edge of a table, the problems of player comfort, potential for treading on figures and what to do with the current contents of the ANF HQ have lead us back to the table.
The majority of the action was limited to an area close to 10 km x 8 km so, at our scale of 2 mm to 1 m—and taking a bit of licence, we can use a table 4.8 m long and 3.6 m wide (Map 1). That is the same length as our table for Borodino and 1.6 m wider. This second dimension introduces another problem: how does a player reach the centre of a table that is 3.6 m wide?!
Map 1: First draft of our proposed table for the Battle of Leipzig showing approximate positions of the initial forces on 16th October 1813.
Our proposed solution to this is to use a ‘donut’ approach along with some ‘notches’ in the table (Map 2). The hole of the ‘donut’ is an area of 800 mm x 800 mm that can be lifted out of the table, thus creating a ‘man-hole’ inside the table from which a player can reach figures. This hole will be around the town of Leipzig (grey hatched area on map). We also propose to have several ‘notches’ cut out of the table to allow players to reach the areas that cannot be accessed either from the table sides or from within Leipzig. The perimeter of the resulting table is indicated by the red outline on the map. By these two means it should be possible to have all figures within about 1 m of the players (as indicated by the magenta arrows on the map).
We estimate the town of Leipzig will cover an area of 400 mm x 400 mm on the table, so will require 16 sets of 100 mm x 100 mm town sections. That will keep our master builder Julian in gameful ‘employ’!
Map 2: Proposed table for the Battle of Leipzig showing player reach (1 m) from the table edges and from within the Leipzig ‘man-hole’.
Having ‘solved’ the problem of the table, our next challenge is the armies. We are looking at big numbers. We should have sufficient Russians and French-Allies already; or at least very close to it. The gaps that we need to fill are Prussians (mainly cavalry and artillery), Austrians and Swedes. By our preliminary calculations we will require over 2 000 figures to represent the Austrians and Swedes. These need to be done from scratch! I am working on the detailed orders of battle using Nafziger and Pigeard (below).
Always have a Plan B
At this stage we are aiming to do the entire battle for the bicentennial. It becomes evident that we are not going to make it for 2013, the fall back is to do the Mockern and Wachau/Liebertvolkwitz sectors of 16th October 1813 as separate battles around October 2013 and then to do the entire Battle of Leipzig in 2014.
We’ll keep you posted!
Nafziger, G (n.d.) French Order of Battle for Leipzig, 16-19 October 1813. The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle, file name 813JIA.
Nafziger, G (n.d.) Allied Order of Battle for Leipzig, 16-19 October 1813. The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle, file name 813JIB.
Pigeard, A (2009) Leipzig : La bataille des Nations (16-19 octobre 1813). Napoleon 1er Editions, St Cloud, France. 82 pp.


  1. Great! We played Lipsia, in Rome, on 2000, another long gaming weekend on a very large table,15 mm, with "Republique" rules.

    1. Fantastic Luca. I presume that since it was so long ago there are no photos of it on your blog?

      (By the way, have you played your Borodino game yet? I look forward with great anticipation to some wonderful photos of that game!)

    2. Just posted on our Blog!

      No, sorry for Lipsia but we have no photos. It seems strange but we were so involved to forget to take any photos. And at those times there were not digital camera...

  2. Good luck with this grand new project James!

    1. Thanks Steve. It's great to have such a hobby project to work towards; especially with flexible dates and specifications!! :-)

  3. The table layout is very ingenious! Will you be working out victory conditions and how many days actual playing do you anticipate?


    1. Thanks Ian.

      As we have the ability to leave the table set up, we'll do the whole battle over several of our weekend 'sessions'--probably aim for one session per day of the battle. I reckon we could do the scaled-down Mockern and Wachau/Liebertvolkwitz in one of our sessions.

      We'll develop the victory conditions, along with the rest of our scenario, as we look at the battle in more detail. A number of questions spring to mind already. Will there be any recovery of unit strengths between days (especially given that Shako has a "unit effectiveness" approach to casualties)? Should we factor in a 'rest day' as occurred on the 17th in the actual battle? Do we have potential for the bridge over the Elster to be blown prematurely in the event <> of a French-Allied retreat? A card- or dice-based approach would seem appropriate to this latter one. Ah, such wonderful travails to have...!

  4. The Table layout problem has also been addressed in Napoleon's Battles by Avalon Hill.

    Have you seen the scenario?

    1. No, I haven't seen the Naps Battles scenario David. I wonder if it would suit us though, given that Naps Batts is at a smaller scale (units as brigades)?

      Rafael Pardo uses Napoleon's Battles (as well as Lasalle and Song of Drums and Shakos) and has been working towards Leipzig for ages now ( and

    2. I have done a posting about the AH scenario, with some map details and other commentary on my blog James:

      For the scale issues in Napoleon's Battles, the infantry are at 1:50. So a general shift of x2 for figs numbers will get close to your plan.

    3. Thanks David. I have posted my thoughts on your blog.

  5. Ambitious!

    I like your 'manhole' solution. In our big games we have the central tables standard 4' x6' and the narrower tables (2' x 6') on the edges on castors so they can be moved out of the way once the forces have entered the table and joined battle in the centre.

  6. Tables on wheels, now that is ingenious Ben! It may not work for us as we are not in a large hall, so manoeuvring the tables would be a problem for us, but we'll think on it more...!

  7. In a rare moment of sanity, we've opted to do Libertkolwitz and Mockern, as two of the more interesting component battles of the multi day conf;lict around Leipzig; we have enough troops already to do the whole thing (OK, well, maybe a few more French needed, LOL).

    If the hall is big enough, you might want to consider a variation on the "gopher hole"; two opposing "U shaped" tables with a 3' wide gap between them to allow movement and reach.

    Dresden will be our BIG 1813 game, and that's sort of how I plan on handling it, the center cut out of the U will be lined with the city walls, and we'll have a table at the back representing the opposite bank of the Elbe, from whence the French Reinforcements enter... or at least that's the concept.