Monday, 25 September 2023

Campaign Battle Report: The Road To Badajoz.

 With everyone present we got going ASAP.

The British set up first: A line with their left echeloned back, cavalry in reserve.
It looked like the villages would be something of a hindrance to Bereford.
Then the French deployed. They decided to hold their centre and left in strength. Their extreme right was covered, some way off, by cavalry
The left and centre.
The centre right.
The Anglo-Portuguese, bless their cotton socks, attacked from the off. The French artillery began to tell immediately. This did not have the look of half measures.

With the allied advance the French cavalry holding the right advanced into uncontested ground to threaten their left flank.
In the centre left the action was hotting up quickly as the skirmishers of both sides became emmeshed. 

Note: On the extreme French left, Mark has begun to counterattack. 

Note: In the foreground the allied Cavalry is moving to counter the early French movement here. This will result in one French unit of cavalry destroyed by British Guard Dragoons and the Portuguese cavalry being forced back shaken. 

The allies had taking the brunt of it coming in but, they were not doing badly. The lines were forming up at musketry range: A firefight, then; a duel of cards and initiative (with the odds slightly favouring the allies). Shortly after this shot was taken the sides withdrew skirmishers and the volley fire began in earnest.

On the French left, the French pressed home a counterattack. This attack will cause the outnumbered Portuguese division to flinch, losing an infantry unit. However, they do hold.
Almost the last action on the night: On the extreme allied right, Portuguese Cacadores came out of the village onto the flank of French light infantry moving through the woods in extended line: They fired, they charged. The French Legere were sent packing: A classic ambush.

Importantly, this was just the end of turn one (four turns to go) and the French have turned two Stratagem (reinforcement) cards. Soult may well arrive early!

To be continued....

Friday, 15 September 2023

Campaign Battle Report: Manresa and beyond.


Turn four proved decisive. The French stole away with a run of initiative and swamped the Spanish on the mountain before they could make any real defence - to be fair, the position was pretty hopeless. Only on the extreme left and right flanks did the Spanish escape relatively unscathed - every unit on the mountain was put to flight or cut down. However, the French had been given a bloody nose for their efforts and were down to just 3 Army Morale Points at the end - the Spanish hit zero and that ended the battle there and then: Routing units were considered gone with no chance to rally, etc.

The unit picked out for honours was the Spanish unit in pale blue, centre left, green and yellow beads (the Voluntarios de Leon). This unit led the Spanish counter attack that caused the French so much heartache (not to mention casualties). It fought gallantly to the end, only breaking under the constant pressure of vastly superior numbers. It will be an effort long remembered.

The butchers bill was significant for both sides but the Spanish had by far the worse. The Army of Catalonia (MacDonald; French) started the campaign with 51 Unit Integrity (UI) points but now, two actions later, had 44 UI of which 13 are in 'hospital': An effective strength of 31 UI. The 2nd Army (O'Donnel; Spanish) had started the campaign with 59 UI but in fighting MacDonald every step of the way through the Pyrenees had paid a very stiff price; 2nd Army now has a total strength of just 38 UI of which 18 are in hospital: Effective strength 20 UI. This is the kind of casualty rate I was looking for at the end of two significant actions: 2nd Army is, for the time being at least, pretty much spent. 

Hospitalised UI isn't to be taken too literally: As stated in the author notes for the rules used in this campaign, it includes everything from actual wounded to temporary loss of morale, fatigue and expenditure of supplies. This method of doing things saves having to change unit quality every time something happens; the army simply fights with less UI for two turns after hospitalisation; after two campaign turns the hospitalised UI go back to their divisions. Hospitalised UI still count for attrition purposes because they do exist and need to be fed, etc.

Post battle, the presence of two French units of pursuit capable light cavalry really put the boot in: They caused 4 permanent UI losses for simply being present on the field in sufficient numbers (they each had 2 or more UI). A campaign setting is where the value light cavalry over their heavy counterparts really shows - so many wargame myths are created by rule writers trying to give some form of advantage to light cavalry in 'table-top terms' to balance their comparative lack of combat effectiveness [Vs the heavies]. Historically, it's off table, before and after battle, that their value was really felt. I'm thinking of tweaking the 'deployment roll' rule for this campaign: +1 more light cavalry?

After the action compulsory retreat moves forced 2nd Army into southern Catalonia. Unfortunately for the French, bad exploitation dice didn't allow any significant gains to be made; at least in the immediate aftermath.

The game had taken an hour to resolve to a full conclusion. Fine by me. A space was created at the end of the table and down went the campaign map. No time to be wasted. To keep a campaign going the whip must be cracked.

Campaign turn four ended relatively soon after the battle of Manresa [the End of Turn card appeared] but not before MacDonald had marched into Barcelona. Also, on the activations that followed, O'Donnel marched the force directly under his command into the fortress of Terragona (and safety?) 

Freire's 3rd Army and Suchet's Army of Aragon continued to shadow each other (or, to put it another way, nothing to see here, move on).

In Galicia, Marmont's Army of Portugal and Santocildes' 6th Army led a merry dance up and down the coast of north west Spain. Marmont attempted to bring his opponent to battle twice and failed: I'm putting it down to the amount of olive oil in their diet (possibly in their bath tubs too).  

Wellington attended several balls on his hunting tour of central Portugal but, not much else. According to French spies, the ire of the Spanish was mounting.
It was Beresford, obviously shame faced by his superior's lack of action that galvanised the forces of Perfidious Albion to boldly go forth, into the valley of death, into the jaws of hell.... 

In fact, Graham had misunderstood a conversation about Blake's 5th army moving north to retake Berlanga: He thought this move had pinned Soult at Zafra (and he couldn't concentrate at Badajoz if it was attacked).

Not so, under the rules as they stood, but this thought was brilliant! A rule change, to which everyone assented, was made: The relevant section now reads: 

"Concentrating forces roll a d6 to determine their times of arrival. One is deducted from the roll if the attacker is concentrating in the defending area; one is deducted from the roll if the defender is concentrating in the attacking area; two is deducted from the roll if the concentrating force is pinned by an enemy force¹² that is not itself concentrating and is at least half the strength of the force it is pinning; one is deducted from the roll if the force has a green pin; one is deducted from the roll if the force would normally activate on a different card to the attacking or defending force (unless acting on a Joint Command card).⁴"

Note: When this rule change was made we also added another one to cover green pinned forces. 

BTW, whilst on the rules, in setting up this particular game I found no reference to, or definition of, Portuguese cavalry in the unit quality tables. This was an oversight. I have amended Beresford's army list: Being generous, the are always Reliable Light. His lists now reads:

"Cavalry UI is by force UI divisor 8; minimum 3 UI per unit; first unit must be (Reliable, Light) Portuguese cavalry, otherwise cavalry type is determined randomly."

The rules on this blog have been amended.

Anyway, Beresford attacked the forces in and around Badajoz. French pin 6S (6th and 7th divisions) concentrated without difficulty. Soult, at Zafra, rolled a 3, minus 2 (for being pinned by Blake) and will not arrive until the fourth appearance of the Stratagem card. Remember, our games are only five turns long so this is very late in the day: The battle of Manresa was done and dusted in under four full turns.

The map dice were rolled. A D4 gave open terrain maps page 2 of 4. A roll of D20 (1-17 results gives a specific map reference because there are 17 per page; an 18-20 result gives choice to the defender) came up 20 and gave Mark, as defender, the choice of map - he chose table map 34.

Mark rolled up Sebastiani (the French on table C-in-C) as a skilled commander; Graham rolled up Beresford as reliable. 

For table deployment Mark added 1 for better C-in-C and 1 more for being the defender. He rolled 4 (adjusted) and Graham rolled 2. Mark, having won, chose the hill side of the table; he had also doubled Graham's score so Mark will deploy second.

The players worked out force composition in full, so that I could get everything prepared for next week, and the session came to a close.

The table looked pretty simple but, as per usual, it proved to be at the limit of both hill and roads. 

The hill is actually less deep in the centre than it should be by about 6"; less importantly, I lost the second contour of the ridge - in my rules contours generally only provide 'shape'; height, for practical reasons, is less important. 

The amount of road on this table is also deceptive - there must be over 30 feet of it and I couldn't quite make the road behind the ridge go the off the end of the table - instead, it snakes round the end of the ridge to the far village (a minor alteration in the scheme of things).

It's still quite an impressive piece of high ground (BTW, after these photos were taken I took off the cliff edged contour for practical wargame reasons) and the road network is quite close to what's on the map. 
There are two pieces of quite extensive open woodland on the hilly part of the field. This is Spain so 'stunted' trees and undergrowth are best for this. It's my understanding that, after a couple of hundred years of ship building on the grand scale, Spain was largely devoid of big trees and had been largely deforested - Spain has more trees and woodland today (mostly commercial forestry) than it did in Napoleonic times.
TO BE DEPLOYED: The Anglo Portuguese Army under Beresford; 53 UI plus cavalry and guns. Note that some Portuguese units (British divisions) are wearing red because I only have six units of Portuguese line infantry - but, they diced up as Portuguese so in game terms everything stands up. 

Note to self: More Portuguese?
TO BE DEPLOYED: The French that managed to concentrate before the start of the battle. 64 UI plus cavalry and guns. Note the unit of Polish lancers - the Polish Division is here.

The Army of the South is 112 UI strong but the rules only allow 100 UI plus cavalry and guns to be fielded for a single battle (practicalities, again); in consequence, a division is absent from the Army of the South.
Soult's force of two divisions (one division, the 3rd, was chosen to be absent to bring the army down to 100 UI; it's possibly screening Blake?); this force is 35 UI plus guns (the cavalry are on the table already - quirky rules). These troops will probably arrive very late in the day; Graham will be hoping never.

BTW. Mark is running away with the Campaign Victory Points at this point in the campaign (early days). He has 29, I have 25, Peter has 22 and Graham has 21. 


Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Campaign Battle Report: The Battle of Manresa (part 1)

 What a ding-dong of a battle this was going to be!

The French (commanded by me because Mark couldn't attend) deployed as per instructions discussed over the phone. Their weight was focused on their left facing the mountain with the remainder of their force were echeloned back to the right. 

The focus of the upcoming French attack could not be hidden or disputed.
The French forces were then echeloned back to the right to provide support to the main assault and prevent any attempt to flank it as it came in. Best laid plans and all that....
The French made reasonably good progress in the face of an almost constant Spanish superiority in initiative points.
It all looked well for the French but trouble was brewing to their right centre. The Spanish were launching their awaited flanking counterattack. Unfortunately, the Spanish were still winning the initiatives by a margin and French countermeasures were tardy.
The battle was pivoting around the mountain.
The French were making progress rolling up the Spanish right but, the Spanish were having significant success against the French centre right - largely due to the fact that the French right couldn't get enough initiative to react to it. It really was a wargaming joy to behold - and very exciting - especially as these weren't my French troops being slaughtered (they belong Mark, remember).
Finally the French right began to come into action. Better late than never - but, they were late. 

Then the cavalry clashed on both flanks (sorry no pics, apart from this one a cavalry move before they occurred, were taken). The French completely disposed of their opponents in two brief melees. I felt the Spanish begin to creak, at last!
End of turn 3: The Spanish had brought on their reserve division sometime earlier. It might have been a division of raw militia but it managed to repel a French infantry attack before being pinned by the victorious French cavalry now operating the Spanish right rear. I had rather expected these swarthy fellows to crumble but I was wrong - bloody Spanish peasants.
On the mountain, it is chaos. The Spanish right has largely collapsed but having exploited their breakthrough the French are literally all over the place.
On the French right the Spanish were advancing into space and will undoubtedly take one of the French road exits (worth two French army morale points). The French are concentrating on taking the mountain and crushing Spanish resistance there. 
The situation is fluid. The Spanish are definitely losing but they are not yet beaten. The French have two turns (before nightfall) to complete a victory.
Personally, I think it will turn on this conflict between the French centre and the troops of the diminished Spanish counter attack. Mark should be here tonight to take over command the French forces: I think I've left him just enough rope to hang himself.

To be continued....

Friday, 1 September 2023

Peninsular Campaign: More action in the north east: The Battle of Manresa.

On Wednesday evening Peter and I got together to continue with the map moves for campaign turn 4. Only Peter and I were present, Mark and Graham having other commitments, but we had been given license at the previous meeting to act in their stead. As it was, only three campaign activation cards were turned before something significant happened.

On the first activation card turned Marmont was activated. Marmont marched from Cuidad Rodrigo to Zamora and 'pin 3P' marched to Leon: they failed to 'link up' in adjacent areas (nodes) so can't concentrate if either is attacked - pin '3P' rolled one 3+ on four D6 march dice. 

The next activation card allowed Soult / MacDonald (Mark) to draw a card from the event deck, then the third card activated MacDonald. 

He played the event card Surprise Move, which locked O'Donnell in place, and successfully attacked; both sides successfully concentrated without delay for the upcoming Battle of Manresa. 

I'm pretty sure that Mark would have done this, especially as, following the Battle of Vich, he now had a temporary advantage in numbers: 47 UI vs 44 UI, mostly due to the difference in hospitalised UI; at the start of turn 6 O'Donnell will reclaim 10 UI back from hospitals, MacDonald will reclaim only 5.

We diced up for battlefield and got map 2 on page 1 of 3 for mountains - Map 53. Then we diced for who got to choose the side of table and who would deploy first. MacDonald added one to his roll for being a better commander; Peter added one to his roll for being the defender; I played a second card from Mark's stock of events cards: Kept it in my pocket (you've got to sneak lines from the film Waterloo into everything Napoleonic at every opportunity!) which added two more to Marks roll. The adjusted roll was 5:5: Peter chose the side of table and would deploy first. All this, apart from the battlefield maps (published in Age of Reason rules), is all covered in the campaign rules).

We got the terrain together pretty quickly: It is accepted within the group that the battlefield map is only a rough sketch of what the actual table terrain will look like when it is laid out - terrain is always governed by what you have. 

Then Peter deployed his Spanish as shown. The French are sorted into divisions but they are not deployed.
A thin veil of Cazadores (in extended line) would cover the left flank; he sheltered his cavalry behind the crystal clear waters of the mountain lake.
The vast bulk of his infantry stretched from the lake, over the steep slopes of the 'mountain', to the right in a long thin line. A small reserve division is being kept off table in the rear of the Spanish position. 

Next week Mark will deploy and we'll get going with the second action of the campaign.
Lastly, Colin C. who will be playing this campaign solo, sent me this image of his colour highlighted map. Sooo much prettier and easier to follow than my black and white version.

Monday, 28 August 2023

Rules For Our Peninsular War Campaign

So here, as promised, are the campaign rules as I currently have them. Plus, you'll find some cobbled together author's notes at the end to explain why some of the rules are as they are. 

What I can't do here are the full Army OOB / list tables, or the cards that go to make up the Activation Deck (36 cards) and the Events Deck (61 cards). These are in MS Word tables format and they fall to bits when I cut and paste them to this blog.

However, anyone wanting all the files, including the rules, lists and all, can email me ( and I'll send you everything I have except the map - that you will need to download for yourself (it's free here). Be warned - it might take me a few days to get round to replying, please bear with me.

A Peninsular War Campaign for four Payers ¹


Forces and Stacking

Forces: Each pin on the map represents one or more infantry divisions. Each pin is called a force. The minimum strength of a force is one division. Where a force is more than one division strong, only the pin of the army commander or leading division will be used to note the force’s location on the map; any accompanying divisions will be noted in the player’s army lists – thus an element of fog of war can be maintained before contact.

Command: A force not under the command of the army commander will be led by a force commander. The force commander must be a named corps commander where available, otherwise the force will be led by the most senior division commander – as an acting corps commander. When leading an independent force, corps commanders get 3 PMP, acting corps commanders get 2 PMP. Note: When a divisional officer is leading a force a subordinate will take command of his division without impact on officer quality rolls. Where several forces are at the same battle the senior force commander will be C-in-C and other force commanders will temporarily return to their divisions.

Stacking & Merging Forces: Where two or more forces of the same army concentrate in one area they can merge or remain separate forces; multiple forces from different armies can concentrate in the same area but they cannot merge (unless they are Anglo-Portuguese, see Anglo-Portuguese command structure below). All count towards the area stacking limit for attrition purposes. Note: Although most forces from different armies cannot merge, they can operate together under a “Joint Command” campaign card. The maximum force that can shelter inside a fortress 30UI. Although there is no maximum area stacking limit, the absolute maximum effective stacking for battle is 100 UI (roughly equating to 25 infantry units plus supporting cavalry and artillery).

Area Occupation: Enemy forces cannot occupy the same area unless one has been invested in a fortress by a force at least equal in strength – a siege is underway.

Force Strength: The strength of a force / division is only tracked in infantry UI. Cavalry is allocated in proportion to the total infantry UI committed to the battle. The army’s cavalry divisor (4-10) is given in army lists; in order for cavalry to be fielded there must be at least 2 cavalry UI (this is the only time a 2 UI unit is allowed); cavalry type is determined randomly. Guns are assigned to a force in half batteries for every 10 UI of infantry and cavalry fielded; half batteries must form full batteries wherever possible; artillery type (horse / foot) is determined randomly. See: Organising Armies Prior To Battle

Disbanding Divisions: The minimum size of a division is 4 ready UI plus any UI in hospital. If a division’s strength falls below 4 ready UI it must move as fast as possible to the nearest friendly fortress (where it will remain until it has 4 ready UI), or it can be disbanded. The UI of disbanded divisions can be redistributed to other forces in the same or an adjacent areas. Voluntary disbandment is allowed at 6 ready UI or less. At no other time can divisional UI be transferred from one division to another. Following disbandment the divisional pin is placed in a fortress and cannot become active again (it is ignored for all campaign purposes) until it reaches 4 ready UI.

Area Attrition Limit: The maximum number of UI, in combined or separate forces, that can be stacked in an area before testing for attrition is fifty.

Anglo-Portuguese Command Structure: At the start of the campaign, up to two British divisions (historically 4th and 6th) can be given to Beresford; they can be merged back into Wellington’s command at any time (see stacking and merging forces above). The Cadiz Division may merge with a Spanish army or Beresford on Wellington’s activation – it must leave that control at Wellington’s request, or if its movement restrictions prevent it from further cooperation.


The Campaign Activation Deck

This deck drives the campaign. The deck is shuffled and placed face down. Then, one at a time, the cards are turned and the instruction on the card followed until the End of Turn card is revealed.

On turning the End of Turn card attrition for over stacking is assessed. Then, all of the cards of the campaign activation deck are shuffled prior to the start of the next turn.

The first turn of the campaign is a set up turn. This is played as an ordinary turn except: The End of Turn card is removed; players cannot initiate a battle or take / pass through / besiege a key enemy VP area. The turn is purely used to decide dispositions and run through the activation deck. After the set up turn, add the End of Turn card and shuffle the deck: Turn one of the campaign can begin.


Following an army’s activation (on its specific army activation card), each of the army’s forces can move. Forces must move one at a time. Every activation, each forces starts with four movement d6. The d6 is modified as follows:

1.      If the force has a green pin deduct two dice.

2.      If force is acting on a Forced March campaign card add up to two dice without penalty, or three or four dice with an attrition check.

3.      If the force is moving in open terrain add one to the d6 roll.

4.      If the force is moving on a major road add one to the d6 roll.

5.      If the force is moving in extreme weather deduct one from the d6 roll.

The dice are rolled one at a time: On each roll of 4+ the force may move one area.

Where an active army ends its movement activation in areas adjacent to the enemy it can attempt to initiate one battle. This is not a movement roll.



Attrition Tests: Forces must make an attrition test in the following circumstances by rolling d6:

1.      Immediately after adding a third or fourth dice using a Forced March campaign card.

2.      If, at the end of a campaign turn the general stacking limit (50 UI) of an area has been exceeded, or they are unable to trace an open supply route (of eight areas or less, point to point) back to a friendly / allied supply fortress; regional capital city; forward supply dump; naval supply port.

If a test is required, each division in an effected force must test by rolling D6. Each division failing to roll 4+ must check for attrition effect.

Attrition Effect: Divide the division’s total UI by six (rounding down all fractions) to discover the number of UI that will go into hospitals. Hospitalised UI are not marked off of divisional strength because they still count towards force stacking limits. The number of hospitalised UI is noted in the tracker with the turn they were admitted +2 (E.g. UI hospitalised on turn 2 will note a 4 into the hospitals tracker and will be unfit for service until the start of turn 4).

Campaign Cards: Certain campaign cards can be used to negate the effects of attrition:

1.      Logistics campaign card can be played to negate any attrition tests for one force, of any size, in any circumstances.

2.      A Naval Supply card can be played to during a player’s activation to create a forward naval supply base: It is treated as a supply fortress, it cannot be used in the activation it is created and it can only supply the forces of one army for one activation unless maintained. Naval supply ports can be overrun and destroyed.

3.      A Forward Supply Depot campaign card can be played during a player’s activation to create a forward supply base. It is treated as a supply fortress; it cannot be used in the activation it is created and it can only supply the forces of one army for one activation unless maintained. Forward supply bases can be overrun and destroyed.


Initiating Battle

Initiating Battle: Having moved all of its forces that wish to move in the current activation, an army may nominate the forces in one area to lead an attack against enemy forces in an adjacent connected area, and indicate all forces that will concentrate in support (see concentration below).

A d6 is rolled, adding one to the roll if the defender is in open terrain, adding one if Wellington, and deducting one from the roll if the force is led by an acting corps commander. If the result is 4+ the defending player must choose to withdraw or stand. Only one attempt to initiate battle is allowed per activation.²

Exception - Major Rivers: After an attack has been initiated, if there is a major river between the attacking and defending areas, the defender may claim the river as defensive terrain by rolling 4+; he does this before choosing to withdraw or stand. In normal weather conditions major rivers will be extremely difficult terrain (require difficulty checks to cross) and have two to four bridges (d3+1) crossing points. If a major river will feature as table-top terrain, the attacker can negate the river by immediately playing a Bridging campaign card; otherwise he has the option to press the attack regardless, or call it off.

Defender Withdraws: If the defender withdraws he does so automatically. The withdrawing force can withdraw one or two areas. Forces defending an area with a fortress can choose to move forces into it (maximum of 30 UI, including hospitalised). The attacker now moves into the vacated area with the leading forces and may also move any concentrating forces into their nominated concentration areas. If the defender has retreated into a fortress, a siege may begin (see sieges below).

Defender Stands: If the defender stands he indicates any forces that will concentrate in support (see concentration below). A battle will now ensue between the attacker and defender, and all concentrating forces.

Pin Movement: Although the battle is said to be fought in the defending area (for terrain determination), and the area will give name to the battle, the battle will probably be fought somewhere in between. Map pins do not relocate during the initiation or concentration process. Pin movement takes place post battle.

Green pins: All forces involved in a battle are marked with a green pin. Numbered green pins are used to indicate any force concentrating with delay. A green pin reduces the movement dice of a force on its subsequent activation card. Green pins do not effect movement during the post battle movement phase; rather, the green pins reflect the loss of subsequent activation movement due to it.

Concentration of Supporting Forces ²: To concentrate for a battle a force must be in an area adjacent and connected to either the attacking area or the defending area.³

Concentrating forces roll a d6 to determine their times of arrival. One is deducted from the roll if the attacker is concentrating in the defending area; one is deducted from the roll if the defender is concentrating in the attacking area; two is deducted from the roll if the concentrating force is pinned by an enemy force that is not itself concentrating and is at least half the strength of the force it is pinning; one is deducted from the roll if the force has a green pin; one is deducted from the roll if the force would normally activate on a different card to the attacking or defending force (unless acting on a Joint Command card).

Concentrating forces will be part of their army’s initial deployment if they roll 4+. Those rolling less arrive after commencement of battle and are activated as delayed off table reserves when their side’s Stratagem sequence card appears.

·         A force rolling 1 becomes available as immediate off-table reserve on the fourth appearance of the army’s Stratagem sequence card.

·         A force rolling 2 becomes available as immediate off-table reserve on the third appearance of the army’s Stratagem sequence card.

·         A force rolling 3 becomes available as immediate off-table reserve on the second appearance of the army’s Stratagem sequence card.

·         A force rolling 0 will fail to arrive in time to take any active part in the battle; they still act as per other concentrating forces post battle.

·         Cavalry is always available for initial deployment.


Armies & Deployment

Organising Armies Prior To Battle:

1.       The player must organise the infantry UI of each division into units (of 3-5 UI in each), then determine type and quality.

2.       To work out cavalry UI take the total number of infantry UI that will arrive in time for the upcoming battle and divide them by their relevant cavalry divisor, rounding all fractions up. After working out the total number of cavalry UI the player must organise them into units of 3-5 UI each before randomly determining their type and quality. Exception: Where only 2 cavalry UI are available, a single 2 UI unit is allowed.

3.       ¹⁰ To work out the number of artillery half batteries in the force take the total number of infantry and cavalry UI that can arrive in the upcoming battle and divide the total by 10, rounding all fractions up. After working out the number of half batteries the player must form them into full batteries and assign them to infantry divisions (1 per division maximum). Where a half battery is left over it can be assigned to an infantry or cavalry division (if assigned to cavalry it is automatically horse artillery). The number of batteries assigned to immediately available and delayed divisions must be proportional.

Deployment: Both sides roll deployment D6 modified as follows:

·         After dicing for C-in-C quality, add one if better battlefield commander, or Wellington.

·         Deduct one if acting corps commander.

·         Add one if defending.

·         Add two if playing a “Kept it in my pocket” battle card.

Table side is chosen by the defender unless his roll was doubled by the attacker. The attacker deploys second unless his roll was doubled by the defender. If both sides rolled the same, roll D6 with highest choosing table side, then each side deploys one division at a time, lowest roll first.

Major Rivers: A major river is placed on the table by the defender after table side is chosen. Bridges are placed by the players alternately, defender placing the first (bridges must be at least 18” apart and 24” in from the table edge).

Immediate Off-Table Reserves: Divisions may be kept in immediate off-table reserve behind the player’s baseline. They may be activated for arrival on an Army Action card (orders are sent), at which point their point of entry (left, right, or centre) must be declared; then they must arrive on the next appropriate march card.

Battle Duration ¹¹: Battles will last a minimum of five full turns. Turns ending prematurely on ‘same domino’ results are not counted towards the total – they are extra time.


Post Battle Casualties

Divisional UI Loss, Hospitalised:

Each divisional infantry unit (constituting UI drawn from the divisional UI pool) will incur one UI loss, hospitalised, if it took any casualties during the battle. The battle’s loser will always convert half of its hospitalised UI (rounding down all fractions) into permanent losses. Hospitalised UI are not marked off of the divisional UI strength because they still count towards force stacking limits. The number of hospitalised UI is noted in the tracker with the turn they were admitted +2 (E.g. UI hospitalised on turn 2 will note a 4 into the hospitals tracker and will be unfit for service until the start of turn 4).

Divisional UI Loss, Permanent:

An infantry division incurs one permanent UI loss for each of its infantry units at zero UI, routed or destroyed. 

The force incurs one permanent UI loss for each of its cavalry or artillery units ending the battle at zero UI, routed or destroyed. The player chooses distribution.

The losing army will incur two permanent UI loss for each enemy light cavalry unit presently at 2 UI strength or more (the losing player chooses distribution).


Post Battle Movement


Primary defending forces roll six d6: For every roll of 4+ the force must retreat one area.

Other defending forces roll five d6: For every roll of 4+ the force retreats one area.

Attacking forces roll four d6: For every roll of 4+ the force retreats one area.

Losing forces may enter a fortress using up any remaining retreat moves. Maximum fortress capacity is 30 UI (including hospitalised UI).

Surrender: If a force is unable to retreat because its escape routes are blocked by enemy pins containing an equal number of UI or more, the force will surrender. Otherwise, the losing force will surrender 20% (rounding up all fractions) of its remaining UI as it breaks out, adding one area of movement to do so if required: The losing player chooses distribution.


Attacking forces move into the defending area, then roll three D6 for each force. For each 4+ a force may move one area to exploit the victory.

Defending forces move into the defending area, then roll two D6 for each force. For each 4+ a force may move one area to exploit the victory.

Draw: Forces remain static with the option to roll any number of retreat dice up to a maximum of five.



When an enemy army enters an enemy fortress area it must invest it with a force of at least 10 UI and equal to the UI within. If it cannot invest the fortress it cannot enter the area or remain in it. Whilst invested the investing player exerts control over the area surrounding the fortress but the besieged player holds the areas victory points until the fortress falls.

Sallying forces can only lead an attack if the fortress area, attacking area and defending area are the same. Relieving forces, leading the attack or concentrating, always count the fortress area as the defending area.

Once invested, a siege can resolved with a Siege Artillery campaign card played on an appropriate army activation. No dice roll is required for initiation by the leading force; external defending forces cannot concentrate this card is in effect.

On an appropriate army activation card, negotiation for surrender may be undertaken – leeway should be given to allow a withdrawal move.


Victory Points

Each player starts with 22 victory points.

British and Spanish players will each deduct 1 VP for every red or yellow occupation pin lost.

British and Spanish players will each add 1 VP for every red or yellow occupation pin gained.

French players will each deduct 1 VP for every blue occupation pin lost.

French players will each add 1 VP for every blue occupation pin gained.

1 bonus VP will be added for personally gaining an area.

All occupation pin VPs are doubled for losing or gaining fortresses.

Battlefield victory: 2 VP each for the players of the winning side. 1 bonus VP for personally gaining a victory over each 20 UI (rounding fractions) of enemy strength.

For every bonus VP won by the Spanish player roll D6: On 4+ add 1 VP.


Initial Dispositions


·         2nd Army, O’Donnell: Barcelona. 59 UI in 5 divisions.

·         3rd Army, Freire: Valencia. 39 UI in 3 divisions.

·         5th Army, Blake: Sevilla. 40 UI in 3 divisions.

·         6th Army, Santocildes: Santiago. 39 UI in 3 divisions.

·         TOTAL: 177 UI in 14 divisions in 4 armies.


·         Anglo-Portuguese Army, Wellington: Lisbon. 104 UI in 8 divisions.

·         Army of Portugal, Beresford: Elvas. 32 UI in 2 divisions.

·         Cadiz Garrison, Graham: Cadiz. 12 UI in 1 division.

·         TOTAL: 148 UI in 11 divisions in two armies.

French (player 1):

·         Army of the South, Soult: Merida. 112 UI in 7 divisions.

·         Army of Catalonia, MacDonald: Toulouse. 51 UI in 4 divisions.

·         TOTAL: 163 UI in 11 divisions in two armies.

French (player 2):

·         Army of Aragon, Suchet: Zarogoza. 86 UI in 5 divisions.

·         Army of Portugal, Marmont: Valladolid. 81 UI in 6 divisions.

·         TOTAL: 167 UI in 11 divisions in two armies.

French (alternate activation):

·         Army of the Centre, Joseph: Madrid. 36 UI in 3 divisions.

·         TOTAL: 36 UI in 3 divisions in one army.


·         Allies: 325 UI in 25 divisions in six armies.

·         French: 366 UI in 25 divisions in five armies.

Key areas

These are the areas that are worth VPs. Mark them on the map in red; pin them accordingly.

Allied Areas:

Galiza: Santiago, Corunna, Vogo Galiza, Cuidad Rodrigo (actually held by the French).

Portugal: Lisbon, Oporto, Coimbra, Almeida, Evora, Estramoz (Elvas).

Gibraltar (Note: This area is deemed impregnable and cannot be besieged).

Palma Majorca (Only included because it is a fortress on the map).

Andalucia: Sevilla, Cadiz (garrisoned by the British), Cordoba, Granada, Berlanga.

Valencia: Valencia, Cartagena, Murcia.

Catalonia: Barcelona, Tortosa, Terragona.

French Areas:

France: Bayonne, Toulouse, Perpignan. (Important Note: Bayonne and Toulouse are impregnable).

Old Castille: Valladolid, Burgos, Santandar, Oviedo, Salamanca.

New Castille: Madrid, Toledo, Albacete, Cuidad Real, Turuel.

Extremadura: Merida, Badajoz, Caceres, Navalmoral.

Aragon: Zaragoza, San Sebastian, Pamplona, Huesca.



I will send these rules out in MS Word (not in a locked PDF) to anyone who wants them, along with the full OOB / Army Lists and so forth, so you can play around with your own edits where necessary. However, in return, I ask that you respect my copyright and refrain from publishing them electronically or in hard copy except for your own personal use - thanks.

I have referenced some of these notes in the rules but, not all of them, or in any particular order. They were done very much as an afterthought, and quickly, to explain why I did things the way I did, or to offer editing suggestions.

Now, this is not a very detailed wargame campaign. It is just a few pages of basic rule outlines. I have always found that complicated campaigns falter because they require too much work by the players and the umpire / adjudicator (the latter usually being me). I have tried to boil things down to the minimum required. This is a wargame campaign that intends to do nothing more than pose some basic strategic / grand tactical questions and generate wargame battles with wargame consequences for future battles. I hope you weren’t hoping for tables on how certain personalities react in different circumstances, how to run a wargame economy, or how to build spy networks, etc.

I came to a lot of the rules for this campaign because of the campaign map, which was made by someone else (an excellent resource; thank you, ‘Murat’), and looking at the maps in Osprey’s Peninsular War Atlas at how armies were quite dispersed for much of the time. I liked the fact that armies weren’t all in one place but were in mutually supporting locals. Obviously, this is hard to reproduce on a node to node map with 30 – 40 miles between nodes but, I wanted army dispersals to have that feel. In consequence there is quite a lot of abstraction going on: I play with the map distances and pin location to a very large degree. It’s definitely a system that comes out of left field; it’s quite possible that I’m insane. My advice is not to think about it too much and give the ideas a whirl. Hopefully, the rules will give the feel of strategic movement by Napoleonic armies – dispersing into columns before concentrating to fight. If the rules do that, they have succeeded. More on this below.

Because this campaign was going to be played without an umpire secret 'unscripted' ploys and the like would be hard to do. In consequence, I introduced a 61 card Campaign Events deck into the mix. Doing so opened so many doors that this card deck expanded at a rapid rate of knots – eventually encompassing everything from units in ambush to siege resolution. They are the one thing that I can’t fully check without hours and hours of playtesting. I’ll report on my blog if I change or add any. There is always scope for you to make more cards of your own (or change / discard the one’s you don’t like).

If you were wondering what the start date for this campaign is, it is 1811ish with simplified areas of occupation to get the thing going. As wargame campaigns generally changes the historical narrative the moment they start, I found no compelling reason not to use a lot of fudge here.

Starting army organisations and numbers were taken from Oman. One glaring omission from the French army list is the Army of the North – about 75,000 men have disappeared. Well not exactly disappeared. As most of you will know, historically the AoN was dispersed into garrisons all over northern and central Spain and couldn’t concentrate because if it had the whole of that part of Spain would have risen up in open revolt – probably ending the war in Spain’s favour within months. Imagine that the 75,000 men of the AoN are there but, they are running round northern and central Spain like blue arsed flies keeping the hostile population subdued, keeping supply routes open and chasing two ever elusive Spanish armies about the place (these numbered about 25,000 men and would pop without warning, cause havoc in the French rear areas, then disappear like smoke - they are also absent): It’s all going on – we just don’t need to concern ourselves with it. My wargame campaign rational for these three armies going completely AWOL were twofold. Firstly, if you give the French players another army of 75,000 men they will use it as a field army (which historically it wasn’t) and it will unbalance the campaign too much. Secondly, I didn’t want to have to work out a lot of unwieldy rules for revolts, garrisons and policing (which probably wouldn’t work anyway) and I certainly didn’t want to spend a lot of time adjudicating this aspect of a wargame campaign in Spain. Suffice to say that the French did manage to keep the lid on Spanish dissatisfaction in occupied areas (to a modest degree, at least) but it took a lot of manpower to do it. 

Notes on unit scale: I am using a home grown version of classic Piquet to fight my battles. In this version of the rules a unit is 3 – 5 Unit Integrity points strong, most typically having 4 UI. With this campaign strength in mind it shouldn’t be too difficult to convert this system to other available table-top sets, many having a roughly similar ‘stand based’ system: Black Powder small, medium, and large units; Soldiers of Napoleon has a roughly comparable basic mechanism too. Where your rules count heads, I suggest that you simply divide heads by UI, counting average sized units as 4 UI – though you might need to tinker with what losses trigger post battle hospitalisation depending on your game casualty rates.

When it comes to the overall scale of this campaign, I had to play about with my usual scaling of things too. Normally, for one off fictional battles, I typically have divisions of five or six 4 UI units (when a UI is 250-ish infantry, 150-ish cavalry). The scale of this campaign, where there will be a lot of divisions being brought to battle, made that impossible for me to do with the number of units and table size that I have; this is also the chief reason for the arbitrary 100 UI maximum allowed for an army in battle. In this campaign an infantry UI is about 400 men. My collection is not huge but, at 2700 or so figures, I realise it might be more than most can muster outside of a club / group setting – I can’t help that I’m afraid; these rules were not written as a commercial exercise, they were tailored to my own collection. I’m sure, that if you don’t have the numbers, you too can tinker your way around the scaling.

You will note that I didn’t add cavalry divisions as such to the army lists. This is because they most frequently operated as brigades and I didn’t want to track the location of formations that small. I think I pinched the divisor idea from Age of Reason rules where they use it for artillery – it’s a simple mechanism which puts a proportion of cavalry with each ‘pin on the map’. The army cavalry divisor numbers came about by looking at historical proportions where I could find them. See note on artillery below.

Card Decks: These are best printed onto thin card and put into standard size collector card plastic sleeves. Card sleeves make homemade cards 100% uniform and a joy to shuffle; they are well worth the investment. You’ll need just shy of 100 sleeves – buy them all the same colour to lessen the number of packs (usually 50 per pack) you will need to buy.

¹ Four player campaign: This campaign was designed for four players: One British; one Spanish; two French (Suchet & Marmont; Soult & MacDonald; Joseph as a joint command). A few more or less players could be employed with little difficulty: It could be played with a minimum of two; five is probably best done by splitting the Spanish; six by re-dividing the French as equally as possible (with Joseph’s army added to the player army mix and possibly allowing him to operate outside of New Castille) into a three player faction. More than that and you start getting into the realms of one army players, which is doable but players might get bored awaiting their activation. I suggest the British should not be divided unless absolutely necessary because its strategic strength was its ‘one general’ (Wellington) command structure.

² Initiating battle on 4+: This dice roll is a simple way of abstracting the act of bringing an enemy to battle or forcing him to withdraw. Where the dice roll is unsuccessful, assume that the defender is manoeuvring to avoid action whilst remaining in the same general area, or the circumstances are such that the attacking commander feels it best to decline the opportunity to attack. 

There is an argument to say that if both sides want a battle you should let them have one but, I went against that idea. I believe that the player is only that; he may want a general to act in a certain way but the general, being in independent command, and without an 'eye in the sky', might have other ideas. Picture Napoleon in Paris, fuming at what he thought ‘lack of will’ by his generals in Spain – well, he’s you.

³ Concentration distance: In reality, forces on adjacent area nodes would be too far apart to concentrate quickly if true distance was being measured. However, we must imagine that a map node serves more as a ‘way point’ for campaign movement than a precise geographical force location: Imagine that a force can be anywhere between the node it is in and the nodes it is connected to.

⁴ Concentrating in the other side’s area: This is game mechanic abstraction of command and control difficulty and has little to do with geographical pin position or direction of attack. When the attacker concentrates in the attacking area or the defender concentrates in the defending area command and control is deemed to be at its optimum. Other concentrations are deemed to be more difficult – the force is coming to the field by a circuitous route, or the transfer of orders is not so smooth – and there is more chance of things going awry. Remember what I said about force location and area nodes on the map, well this is all part of the same insane idea.

⁵ Hospitalisation:Hospitalised UI’ represent the temporary loss of divisional effectiveness and morale in as simple a way as I could think of: Very little extra paperwork is required, no extra modifiers are required for troop quality rolls following adverse combat results, etc.

⁶ Spanish bonus VP handicap: This is a ‘handicapped bonus’ for the Spanish player – he’ll probably need it. Another handicap bonus is the rate at which Spanish armies can recruit on the Spanish Drafts activation card.

⁷ Key areas: Most key areas (for VP capture / loss value) were obvious. Others were chosen as a best fit or simply at random; in war, some places become more important than history would previously hint at so I felt quite comfortable doing this.

Estramoz in Portugal (facing Badajoz) needs to be made into a fortress on the map – it also represents the frontier fortress at nearby Elvas. 

Toulouse and Bayonne both count as ‘regional capitals’ for supply purposes and need to be underlined on the map. In reality, until 1813/14 any invasion of France by the Allies would have provoked a huge response from Napoleon. In consequence I have decided to make Toulouse and Bayonne impregnable to the Allies. They can be moved through but they can’t be taken (they counter-balance Palma and Gibraltar). This campaign is not about invading France!

⁸ Victory Conditions: What constitutes an overall strategic victory in this campaign is a moot point: I think players will know it when they see it. However, only one player can actually win the game by having the most VPs at the end of it – although highly unlikely, he could even be on the side that strategically loses. This game is about personal glory and advancement rather than ‘jingoistic patriotism’: The best (luckiest) general wins - after that, position only grades different types of loser. I thought this the best way of introducing the historical element of non-cooperation between the Allies and the rank narcissism of certain French Marshals.

⁹ Elastic time: Controversially, campaign turns do not have a time scale. For the purposes of this campaign time is elastic: A turn can be one day or several months. This allows for a better campaign narrative: Battles occurring on consecutive activations might actually be separated by weeks, or they might be the second day of the same action – it will be up to the campaign diarist to decide how events are written up. Only the sequence of activations is important, the time each activation takes and the time between activations is not. The campaign will take as long as it takes and, without a clock running, historical events elsewhere in the world cannot effect it – E.g. Napoleon doesn’t need to abdicate on campaign turn twelve and bring an enjoyable Peninsular wargame campaign, at the crux of a decision, to an early end!

¹⁰ Artillery balance: Because infantry divisions in this game are usually only three or four units strong I found it difficult, under my home grown version of Piquet table-top, to get the power ratio of artillery to everything else right. With one full battery per division (as it historically should be) artillery would be far too dominant. If your rules allow for reasonably effective half batteries go for one per division, otherwise you'll need to do it like me and combine them and not have one per division - it was a fudge. 

¹¹ Battle Duration: In my table-top battles there are a minimum of five full turns during which units will, in the best circumstances, get fifteen chances to move: Infantry in line and open terrain could move up to 11’ 3” on those cards. In my opinion a relatively ‘short’ battle encourages players, especially those attacking, to be decisive; overly ‘long’ battles allow too much to happen in a single day, allow long (lazy) periods of inaction and don’t allow an outnumbered defender to play for nightfall (a draw) – the latter being an important consideration in a campaign setting.

¹² Pinning: This was an edit made early into the campaign. It adds a new element of campaign map  game play into the equation.

Well, I hope that was useful and not too bewildering.