Bridges and Fords
There are a number of scenarios in the WDS games which include larger Creeks, Rivers, or Lakes comprised of water hexes. These water hexes are impassible unless there is a Bridge or Ford spanning the hex to allow movement to the opposite shore.
A Bridge is different from a Ford in that a Ford is indestructible while a Bridge may be destroyed and rebuilt any number of times. Both are stationary features and cannot be added to a hex by any unit or engineering trickery.
The User’s Notes contain quite a bit of information on Bridges but left a few gaps which we will fill in now. But first let’s look at the notes:
1) Official Guide
• A bridge must have a strength of at least 1/2 the maximum to carry cavalry units or mounted leaders.
• A bridge must have a strength of at least 3/4 the maximum to carry artillery or supply wagons.
For example, if the maximum bridge strength is 200, then a bridge must have a strength value of 50 to carry infantry or dismounted leaders, 100 to carry cavalry or mounted leaders, and 150 to carry artillery or supply wagons.
The second change is that it is possible to repair bridges using infantry or cavalry. You use the Repair Bridge option of the Command Menu in the main program to toggle the state of units that you want to repair a bridge. There are several requirements for this:
• The unit doing the repair must be in column and must be facing the bridge.
• The unit cannot be Disrupted or Routed.
• The unit cannot have moved, fired, or melee in that turn.
At the beginning of each subsequent turn, a calculation is performed to determine how much repair is achieved. For each 100 men repairing, the Repair bridge parameter value is used to determine the gain in strength of the bridge. Once the bridge reaches the maximum strength, it cannot be repaired any further.
A Bridge that is not occupied can be fired upon by Artillery and meleed against by Infantry and Cavalry. The purpose of this is to provide a means for destroying bridges in the game. The combat results from melees are only applied to the Bridge and not the attacking forces. When the strength of the Bridge is reduced to 0, then the Bridge cannot be crossed. Under the optional Bridge Limit and Repair rule, the rule for crossing bridges is changed and the ability to repair bridges is supported. A full-hex bridge that is not occupied can be fired upon by Artillery and meleed against by Infantry and Cavalry. The purpose of this is to provide a means for destroying bridges in the game. The combat results from melees are only applied to the bridge and not the attacking forces. When the strength of the bridge is reduced to 0, then the bridge cannot be crossed. To melee against an unoccupied bridge do the following. Move your units next to the bridge and then click on the bridge hex. Go to the Melee menu and select "Begin Melee". Red arrows will appear in the bridge hex. Select your units and then select "Add to Melee" in the Melee Menu. Click the "Resolve Melee" button and the units will attack the bridge.
2) Other Questions Answered
Q: Can I see the Bridges/Fords when outside my Line of Sight?
A: Yes! Any bridges or fords on the map are always visible to you even if they are outside of your line of sight. You will not suddenly stumble upon an unknown crossing outside your line of sight.
Q: Can I see if a Bridge is destroyed outside my Line of Sight?
A: Yes. Bridges can only appear on the map in one of two ways. First, they may
be shown as a “whole” bridge in which the strength of the bridge is above zero.
Or, second, they may be shown as a destroyed bridge in which the strength
of the bridge is zero. Pictured are examples of both.
Q: If I can see a bridge is “whole” can the enemy move over it?
A: Not necessarily. Remember that the rule states that a bridge’s strength must be a certain strength number in order for units to use it. Just because a bridge is intact it does not necessarily mean that it can be used at that moment.
Q: Can I tell when an enemy is repairing a Bridge?
A: Yes. If a bridge’s strength is zero it will show up on the screen as destroyed. But if the bridge suddenly goes from destroyed to intact on the map then you know the enemy is there making repairs. Also, if you can see the enemy adjacent to the bridge, and they are repairing it, they will have the word “Repairing” in their Unit Information Box.
Q: So how do I know what the strength of the Bridge is?
A: You must be in the line of sight of the bridge in order to see what the strength of it is. The strength will appear in the information geography box. But you will always be able to see if a bridge is intact or destroyed regardless of your line of sight.
Q: How quickly can I repair a bridge?
A: This depends on a number of different things. Under the Parameter Data in the Help menu is the Bridge data for each scenario. The Parameter Data will also say how much the Bridge is repaired per 100 men. If that value is 2 and you have 800 men repairing the bridge then you will gain 16 strength points each turn. If the maximum strength for the bridge is 200 then you could probably get a bridge to 100% strength in just a short time (two hours). If it is a larger bridge with a maximum strength around 500 then it could take half a day to get repaired. The more men you have repairing a bridge the faster it will go. One trick is to repair it enough so infantry can cross. Then move over a few regiments and repair the bridge from both sides. Just don’t get caught by the enemy doing this! Remember, the bridge has to be repaired to different percentages in order to cross infantry, artillery, and cavalry! Just because you can get infantry across it doesn’t mean the job is done on the bridge.
Q: Why in the hell can’t I use this *bleeping* ford!?!?
A: Ever march to a ford and find it is only half above water? We all have. We all hate it. I don’t know if it is a design flaw or meant to replicate a flooded portion of a river but half-submerged fords are the devil’s work. As seen on the picture below they look almost identical to a regular ford except when you right-click on the Terrain Information Box you will see a Trail entering the hex without any exit for it as you normally would. There is no fix for this so just march to the next available ford.
A few extra tips… Exiting/leaving a Bridge, like entering it or crossing it, can only be done one unit per hex at a time. If a unit (friendly or not) blocks the bridge exit you cannot exit off the bridge. If a mounted leader will not cross the bridge then try dismounting him as the bridge may be too weak to support horses.
Normally movement into Water hexes is prohibited. However, depending on the scenario, Bridges may be present that allow Water hexes to be crossed. However, in order to move onto a Bridge, the unit must be in Column formation (Limbered for Artillery and Mounted for Cavalry) and no more than one non-Leader unit may attempt to enter or leave the Bridge hex at one time.
By default, a bridge must have a nonzero strength before it can be crossed by units and any bridge that has been damaged cannot be repaired. When the optional Bridge Limit and Repair rule is in effect, there are two changes that occur.
The first change is that there are minimum strength values that the bridge must have to support movement depending on the type of unit. These values are based on the Maximum Bridge strength value determined by Parameter data.
• A bridge must have a strength of at least 1/4 the maximum to carry infantry units or dismounted leaders.