Monday, 2 January 2023

Solo Salamanca, Turn 1

 The scenario for this game can be found: HERE

In accordance with the scenario notes the British get ten free initiative points to resolve their surprise attack on Thomieres' 7th Division. This picture shows the situation before the start of play. 

This is all for the better because I can detail how things move and fight using Sacre Bleu rules. This wasn't a decision I made before turning the cards but after, because they were almost perfect.

So here is the paraphernalia of the game. Bags of dominos, sequence card decks, initiative clocks, dice and measures. 

As per the scenario notes, the compulsory 10 point initiative win to enable Packenham and D'Urban to gain the benefit of surprise has been put on the clock, and a couple of cheeky dominos make an appearance to emphasise the point.
The British ignore their first two cards, each turned card costing one initiative point, then draw Brilliant Leader as their third. 

They want to make the most of their infantry so declare Brilliant Leader as an Infantry March card to advance 3rd Division. The division's units are all within command group distance so all four units (including the artillery) move for just one initiative point. 

The lead unit then gives Thomieres' leading unit a volley (going unloaded), costing 1 initiative point. Consulting the combat table, all firing units start on D8. The British get up 1 for being in line, so D8 Up 1 dice is a D10, one dice type bigger. Fire is always versus a D6 , so D10 Vs D6. The result is 7:1. 

Unit Integrity points are 3 'hits' each so 6 'hits' (the difference in the rolls) causes 2 UI 'casualties'. This in itself doesn't do anything but put the unit closer to having zero UI (it was a weak unit and started on 3 UI) when it will automatically become shaken, or negative UI when it will automatically break. The British are not happy with this so they decide to force the issue by spending a divisional morale point to challenge the French unit's morale. 

2 UI casualties makes their morale challenge dice a D10 (see rules). All units start facing a challenge on D8 but, the French unit started the game disordered (scenario rule for surprised) so they are Down 1 but have skirmishers deployed for an Up 1. D8 Down 1 Up 1 cancels. The result is D10 Vs D8 with a roll of 3:2. The French unit rolled less so it becomes shaken and the French lose a divisional morale point as a consequence - the British are happier.
Joy! The British draw a Cavalry March card. The French infantry is shaken so it can be charged on this card and D'Urban's cavalry started the game at charge reach (6"). 

D'Urban's Portuguese cavalry charge home, costing 1 initiative point. 

All units start a melee on D8. D'Urban's cavalry are Up 1 for charging, Up 2 for charging infantry not in square, so Up 3. So the D8 becomes a D12+1 (no dice can be bigger than D12 so any more ups are added as digits but, it's a D12 being rolled so any result greater than 12 is only 12). The French are Up 2 for facing cavalry in attack column (it was an effective anti-cavalry formation) but this is cancelled by a Down 2 for being shaken, and receive Down 1 for being outnumbered in UI by two to one, the French D8 becomes D6 (one dice smaller). Result D12+1 Vs D6 rolling 10:2. 

The difference in the rolls is 8 'hits' so this causes 2 UI 'casualties' (they are 3 'hits' each, remember) and any melee lost to cavalry by 2 UI or more means automatic elimination: The infantry are destroyed losing two divisional morale points for elimination. 

Cavalry destroying a unit need to make a Command Contingency test for 'pursuit' with D8 Vs D8. The result is 1:2. They have failed by rolling less. They are automatically reduced to zero UI and become shaken (without divisional morale point loss in this case because they won) - most of them have ridden off in pursuit, or are blown, and must be rallied back before the unit can become effective again. The 'unit' chooses to retire, which it can do following a victory, to do so.

Point of note: When a unit charges from charge distance (6") it is not moved until after the melee has been resolved, though it is possibly useful to move one stand to contact when the charge is declared. There are reasons for this but, they only became apparent during extended play testing. Likewise, the 6" distance at which units are at charge reach (you can't move to contact from over 6") was chosen for purely gaming reasons: Primarily it breaks movement to contact into two distinct acts (moving and charging) and possibly gives time for a reaction, secondly because units can always move that far, and thirdly 6" gives enough of a gap to deploy two lots of skirmishers facing off against each other prior to a charge being made - units can face off at charge reach for extended periods (whilst waiting for a card on which you can charge) and it is a defensive morale challenge advantage to have skirmishers deployed. 

The Hussars now move up on the same March card for 1 initiative point. D'Urban moves to be with his Portuguese (not shown in shot).
 
Finally, the infantry draw another Infantry March card and spend their last initiative point to advance further and threaten the second French unit of Thomieres' 7th Division. 

This is how the position looks now. 

In accordance with the scenario notes, surprise has now been lost. The British must reshuffle their deck in preparation for Turn 1 proper.

A handy little action to start the battle off, and a fairly historically correct one.

Turn One, Phase 1: At this point I have decided to run through the play of turn one in some detail. It might serve to illustrate why I think Piquet style rules are the best set of rules for solo play in existence.

The British draw 2:2 'the domino of death' and the French draw 4:1. The French win the initiative and because one domino is a double get all the points, they get 9 (4+5). The British lose but have the double, they get 4. The French choose to play first.

With Thomieres in trouble the French decided to cycle for an Infantry March card (on which to retreat) or a Command card (on which they could change formation to fight back). The second card is a March card. They bring up Brennier's 6th Division for one initiative point and retreat Thomieres' 4th Division for another.

But, before Thomieres' can retreat his lead unit, which the French want to move double distance using the Heroic Moment card, the British give it an 'opportunity' volley in the flank, which they can do because it has declared an intent to move, for one opportunity chip. 

In retrospect, the French should have prevented the British firing by using their Heroic Moment card to bend the rules in their favour and opted to move just once. 

Note: Heroic Moment cards can be used to bend the rules in your favour if a sound argument can be made to do it - it's possibly the neatest card type in the deck.

The British get Up 1 for being in line and Up 1 for flank fire. Their D8 becomes a D12. Versus fire the opposing dice is always D6. The result is 11:6. The French unit takes 1 UI loss. The British want to stop it moving so pay a divisional morale point (DMP) to challenge it's morale. They would normally roll D8 Vs D8 but, the French choose to use Thomieres' command presence to get an Up 1 to roll a D10. Result 7:4. The French roll less, become shaken (lose 1 DMP, not shown taken in shot) and are halted in place, before they can move. 

The French continue to cycle through their sequence cards. They draw a second Infantry March card but cannot act on it this phase: They have run out of initiative points.

Note the broken wheel marker for shaken. The original strength of the unit is indicated by the black dice showing a 4. UI losses are indicated with the white dice showing 1. The green dice shows DMP, a purple dice (not in use here) would be used to show DMP x 6 (Thus a range of 0 - 42 can be achieved using 2D6: Purple 2 and Green 2 would be 14)

The British have the luck with them. They turn a Charge! card, first up. They charge the hapless French column in the flank. It's should be a slaughter, with a charge, flank attack and both generaland positional supports they are rolling D12+2 versus D4. The result is 7:4. The French unit takes another UI loss, is doubly shaken and breaks, and the Division loses two more DMP. Thomieres has just 3 DMP left - at zero his division will be spent.

The British second card is Command. This can be used to change formation so the 3rd Division's artillery unlimbers for one initiative point. It can also be used to rally using a DMP, so D'Urban attempts to rally his 'blown / pursuing' Portuguese. He will roll a modified D8 Vs D8, which works to D10 Vs D8. He rolls 9 Vs 3. This is more and double, the Portuguese rally back 2 UI and are no longer shaken.
This shows the positions at the end of the first phase of turn 1.

Packenham and D'Urban are running riot and the French are all over the shop.











Turn 1, Phase 2: 
The French win the initiative 10 points to 6 points and decide to go first. They have not used the showing Infantry March card so use two points to move Thomieres' 7th Division and Brennier's 6th Divisions. Then they turn a new card, Command, for a point and use it to deploy both divisions into fighting formations (facing westward and Packenham's threatening advance) for two points more. This presents a strong line of infantry and guns to the British.
Another new card, Cavalry March, and a point to bring up Curto's Division of light cavalry.

Another cavalry move card brings the French cavalry to charge reach of the British infantry, one of which fails to form square. As the cavalry advance the British spend an opportunity chip to give them a taste of canister - which causes a UI loss but the French pass the subsequent morale challenge. Then French cycle to find a card they can charge on but fail to do so before they run out of initiative.

The British have a Command card of their own showing so form square on it - a unit cannot carry out any other action on a Command card if it uses it to change formation so it's disorder (for fighting a melee) cannot be removed. However, the imminent threat of being overrun by the Chasseurs is averted.

Next, they turn a cavalry move card and spend three points to move Cotton and D'Urbans cavalry - D'Urbans cavalry cannot move for one point because his units are too far apart to count as a single command group. 

The British turn Artillery Firepower with their last point. Fortunately, things load for free so Packenhams guns are back in the fight.
Turn 1, Phase 3: The Brits win the next initiative with a big swing - 16 points to 3 (remember that the high domino wins and double dominos mean the winner wins every spot).
With Artillery Firepower still showing the British fire their batteries all along their line (4 points) but only succeed in causing a UI loss to Clausel's 2nd Division and a UI loss to Thomieres battery.

The British turn an Army Action card. This moves any routers (Thomieres routing infantry) for free.

The British then turn Elites Reload (which they can't use) followed by a Charge! card. D'Urbans hussars charge into the chasseurs. The dice will be closely matched. The British get Up 1 for charging to give D10 Vs D8. The result isn't close: It's 10:4. The French cavalry is destroyed and the British cavalry test for pursuit. Because they are British they get a Down 1. They roll D6 Vs D8, but pass. They advance to occupy the ground, disordered for being in melee.

Then the British turn another cavalry march card which they use to move Cotton up again, followed by an Infantry March on which they advance Leith and Bradford. Leith's 5th Division costs 3 points to move because two of its units are moving through the village of Los Arapiles.

The French turn Cavalry March and Curto's remaining Chasseurs turn to threaten the British Hussars with a flank charge. The British immediately opportunity counter-charge with their Portuguese which become disordered passing through the defile between the two squares (see movement through defiles and opportunity rules), placing themselves in their turn on the flank of the Chasseurs. 

The French turn a Charge! card but they have used their three points of initiative, the phase ends. If they win the next initiative they charge the Hussars, if the British win they may get a card on which they can intervene with the Portuguese - gotta love these rules for solo play.

Turn 1, Phase 4: The French win! They get 13:3 points of initiative.
For one initiative point the chasseurs immediately charge the hussars with Up 1 for command presence and charging, plus another Up 2 for a charge from befind a flank - D8 Up 4 is a D12+2. The hussars are still disordered so are Down 1 for a D6. The roll is 12:2 and the hussars are destroyed for losing 2+ UI to cavalry in melee. The French add command presence to their pursuit check for a D10 and pass. They occupy the hussars ground.

The French turn a Command card and immediately rally the chasseurs from melee disorder, each costing an initiative point.

On Army Action Thomierres' broken infantry move again.  
Fortuitously, this clears the broken infantry out of the way just in time, because the next card turned is Intrinsic Mobility. This card allows light cavalry to move so they withdraw behind their infantry line - their job done for the moment.

On Artillery Firepower the Frechbatteries open up all along the line for 5 points but only cause 2 UI casualties.

Note: Artillery Firepower is not a fire card. Providing something is 'loaded' it can fire at any time. The card actually allows things to 'reload' and restore firepower potential. 'Reloading' is actually free on the card.

The French end their initiative with Infantry March and have one point left to slightly change the angle of Thomierres' line. 
The British use their 3 points to move Carlos' Spanish Division, Hope's 7th and Cole's 4th on the open Infantry move card the have not previously acted upon.
Turn 1, Phase 5: The French win the initiative 10 to 2.
Brennier's 6th Division moves into the line, shoring up the left flank of the French army.

Out of shot, Bonnier shifts his reserve infantry west of the Greater Arapiles so they able to better prevent the expected advance of Cole and Clinton.

Then the French cycle through their deck until they turn their last sequence card, Artillery Firepower, with two initiative points left. They fire two batteries causing 1 UI loss to Bradford's Brigade.
The British move Clinton's 6th Division forward on the showing Infantry March card, then turn a Command card. They are out of initiative points.
Turn 1, Phase 6: The British win the phase 11 points to five. 
The British use their initiative points to use the command card to come out of square, which allows the Portuguese to pass the defile between them and expand back into line. 

Cotton uses the card to put his cavalry into more wieldy column of squadrons. 

5th Division uses the card to rally troops coming out of Los Arapiles to rally disorder.
The British then turn Infantry March. This they use it to move 3rd, 7th, 6th and Carlos' Spanish Division, and Pack's Brigade. 

The French now use their pips to fire off more batteries, to absolutely no effect. They save one pip to end the turn before the British have chance to turn the last of their cards.
This is the general situation at the end of turn 1.

The British attack is well underway but the French position looks relatively secure. Time will tell.

As you can see, Piquet style rules are very well suited to solo play. 

They break up a turn up into easily manageable small chunks. This means that a game can be dipped into and out of without much need for a long memory. I find this invaluable for solo games which are, by their very nature, always twice the work.

This turn was played over a couple of days, in four short sessions. (BTW: I did keep notes for the write up).

They hold enough back to create invaluable 'fog of war' to the solo player. If you play each side with an overall plan (how you should play Piquet style games in any event) the sequence cards and random initiative division actually make the game quite tense and exciting to play - something often lacking in solo games with a rigid move sequence.


Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Solo Salamanca (A game at Christmas): The rules

Over the Christmas season I will play my traditional solo game. This year it will be Salamanca, using the scenario detailed in the previous post.

For this game I'm going to use my home grown ruleset called Sacre Bleu! This is a Piquet-like game but with so many changes they are not actually Piquet. Several things are quite novel but I'm not claiming anything as original thought: Virtually nothing is new under the sun when it comes to wargame rules. These rules are a basically a mish mash of things I like. When it comes to what is written down, except for a sequence deck list, this is all there is: The rules fit onto four sides of A4. They are still work in progress.

Top tip: I'm using a 4 view American diner style plastic menu holders as a binders - these are excellent for this kind of thing.

Anyway, here is Sacre Bleu! for your perusal. 





So these are the rules that you might need to look up during play. What they don't do is explain how the game is played. So, here goes.

The game is played with a bag of dominos and a sequence deck for each side. The dominos randomly assign each player with a number of initiative points to use during his initiative phase to turn sequence cards in his sequence deck and carry out actions. The sequence decks randomly determine the 'turn sequence' for each side, and the chances are both sides will have a radically different turn sequences.

The sequence decks, placed face down, randomly determine the action sequence each side can follow and as the cards could come out in any order you never quite know how quickly things will happen - if the enemy turn three infantry move cards in quick succession they can be on you before you know it, and likewise you might want your own infantry to get somewhere but you don't know when, or if, it will happen. The sequence deck for each side is quite similar. They comprise: 

Infantry March x 3
Cavalry March x 3
Intrinsic Mobility x 1 (Extra move for Light cavalry and extended line; skirmish card for light infantry)
Command x 3 (Rally card; also allows formation changes)
Musketry Firepower x 2 (French) x 3 (British)
Artillery Firepower x 3
Elite Firepower x 1 (Extra 'reload' card for elites and light infantry, the only reload card for cavalry)
Charge x 2
Shock Action x 1 (Extra charge card for heavy or 'shock / elite' cavalry, highlanders, etc.)
Army Action x 2 (Routers, C-in-C action, recover downed command, etc.)
Heroic Moment x 1 (British) x 2 (French)
Dress the Lines x 3

For the Salamanca game the British get a Brilliant Leader (wild) card effecting a division, and the French get an off table reserve (Sarrut's 4th Division) activation card. Both replace one Dress the Lines card. 

Top Tip: When making your own cards (I use MS word, using the table format with a first narrow column to size everything) it is worth investing in plastic collector card sleeves / covers. Home cut cards are not die cut so their edges are always slightly burred and they are, inevitably, slightly different sizes. Precision made plastic card sleeves allow cards to be shuffled much more easily because they make every home cut card exactly the same size with sealed side edges. They also make home made cards look much better.

Then we come to, what I call, domino theory, and this might be original thought because although I knew some people used dominos I didn't know how. In classic piquet you roll d20s off against each other and the winner gets the difference in the rolls as initiative points that he can use to turn cards and carry out actions, then the d20s are rolled again to determine the winner of the next initiative. This sounds fine but it does mean that one side can keep winning and doing whilst the other stands idly by, sometimes for extended periods. Domino theory doesn't allow that to happen and it works like this: Each side draws a domino from his bag. The winner is the player with the higher domino and where the total is the same (5:2 = 7 Vs 4:3 = 7) the winner is the player with the higher sided domino (in this case 5:2). The winner gets the total (in this case 7) as initiative points and the loser gets the high side of his domino (in this case 4); the winner can choose to play first or second (but, usually he will play first). Where one side draws a double domino (4:4, 6:6, etc.) the winner is decided in the standard way but he gets the total of both dominoes (4:4 = 8 Vs 4:3 = 7 gives the winner 8+7 = 15) whilst the loser still gets the high side of his domino (in this case 4) unless he has the double when he gets both sides (so, 4:4 Vs 5:4 gives the winner 17 and the loser gets 8). Where both sides draw the same domino (say, 3:2 Vs 3:2) the turn ends immediately, sequence decks are re-shuffled and dominoes are drawn again to start the next turn. 

As in all games some things gain jocular momentum and the double two domino is a case in point: It is called 'the domino of death' because it almost invariably gives four points of extra initiative to the opposition. Thought I'd pass that on.

Each time a player turns a card he expends one initiative point. What you can do on each card, and how much acting on the card will cost is detailed in the rules above. When one side finishes its sequence deck by turning the last card, and it spends an initiative point to close the turn, the turn ends and both decks are re-shuffled (so one side doesn't get to act on all of its cards!). 

BTW. Initiative points must be tracked on a 'clock' of some description: I use a double clock face, each face with 20 graduations, though a simple pair of linear tracks is easier to make (Cribbage board style).

And that is basically it. Except to confuse you all further by saying, that when playing, time should be thought of as elastic time. Only at the end of a turn is time equalised for all units everywhere on the field and only at that point can a solid narrative be arrived at - whilst the turn is going on, everything is in flux.
 
Lastly, my games are completely paperless: There are no roster sheets, etc. All information is out there 'on the table'. Unit and command quality, strengths, casualties and so forth are noted with coloured beads (note the colour bars in the combat tables), dice, or counters. You don't need to look things up or remember anything (you would be surprised how quickly players learn the colour and symbol coding - see Commands and Colours) in my games and this speeds everything up and considerably cuts down on the number of clerical / memory loss errors made - as I'm a bear of little brain this is often a very good thing. 

Next up, Salamanca: Turn 1.









Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Battle of Salamanca Scenario

Edit following testing: 08/12/2022

Rather than fight the individual divisional combats in detail, or recreate the whole 'dog legged' deployment of both armies, this scenario aims to take in the major attack made by Wellington along the whole of his southward facing front. To make this possible I have 'bath-tubbed' the whole affair so that it fits on a 12 x 6 table. I will be playing the game using 'Sacre Bleu!': My heavily amended, now almost unrecognisable version of Classic Piquet rules - and still a WIP.

KEY:
Allies: 1. Anson's Brigade and artillery, 4th Division. 2. Pack's Brigade. 3.
4th Division (remainder).4. 6th Division. 5. 5th Division. 6. 7th Division. 7. Cavalry, Cotton.
8. Bradford's Brigade.9. Spanish Division. 10. 3rd Division. 11. Cavalry, D'Urban.
French: A. 7th Division. B. 5th Division. C. 2nd Division. D. Cavalry, Curto.
E. 6th Division. F. Cavalry, Boyer. G. 8th Division. H. 4th Division (off table).

TERRAIN

Lesser Apariles: At the eastern end of the field, and in British possession, is the Lesser [or Southern] Arapiles. This is a cone that rises out of the plain and is rocky and steep on its northern facing slopes (very rough terrain) but much less so on its southern facing slopes (rough terrain).






Greater Arapiles: Opposite the Lesser Arapiles, and in French possession, is the longer, coffin shaped, Greater [or Northern] Arapiles. This hill is steep and rocky on every side topped by a natural terrace supported on a 1m to 2m high vertical cliff face (very rough terrain). Infantry (line deployment only) and artillery on the terrace can fire down from a superior position, count as obscured to fire from below the rim, and will count as defending a fortification if charged. 
Note: Artillery on the terrace had insufficient gun depression to fire on any troops climbing the hill’s slopes.
Los Arapiles: Directly west of the Lesser Arapiles, and centrally placed within the British deployment, is the village of Los Arapiles. This linear village runs east to west and comprises stone buildings (very rough terrain, hard cover).

The Monte de Azan: The last major feature is the Monte de Azan. This isn’t as obvious to the eye as the previous three features but is no less important. It is a low, undulating, three mile long plateau; described as ‘ideal for marching’. The bulk of the French army is presently deployed on it, or making its way westward on or behind it. It obscures units 3" beyond the facing contour but does not provide a superior position for fire or defence. Troops marching on top of it gain the 3" rate bonus for road movement - it's 'The Monte de Azan Superhighway'.
Other terrain features: These include the small village of Miranda de Azan which stands at the north western end of the Monte de Azan; the high ground of the Teso San Miguel which begins to rise immediately north of Los Aripiles; two other pieces of gently rolling high ground (one between the Greater Arapiles and the Monte de Azan, the other extending from the northern edge of the battlefield to the western end of the Monte de Azan) which provide dead ground to troops behind them; and several areas of open, cork tree woodland, some going on to be extensive, that dot the battlefields edges, especially south of the French position (rough, obscuring terrain). Lastly, there are four roads radiating from Los Araples but, given the natural ‘good going’ of the ground they only really serve to stop a traveller from getting lost. Only the Los Arapiles to Miranda de Azan road is important in game terms because it serves as a delineating feature for British victory objectives (see below).

TIME AND ARRIVALS

The game will commence with the armies deployed as they were at about 4.00pm. 

Marmont and Bonnet have already been wounded and carried from the field and French command has devolved to Clausel. Bonnet with 8th Division is holding the Greater Arapiles, Clausel's 2nd Division and Maucune's 5th Division have taken up position on the Monte de Azan, and Boyer is holding the gap between the two positions with his heavy cavalry supported by a French regiment of 8th Division. Thomiere's 7th division is marching westward along the top of the Monte de Azan and has become separated from the rest of the army and is now out on a limb: Brennier's 6th Division and Curto's light cavalry are marching in Thomiere's support. 

Packenham and D'Urban with orders to 'sweep all before them' on the Monte de Azan and are about to assault Thomieres 7th Division (see Surprise Attack below). Leith's 5th Division, supported by Hope's 7th Division, Cotton's cavalry, Bradford's Brigade and the Spanish Division, have been ordered to assault the French position to their front, and Leith's division is presently filtering through Los Arapiles in compliance with those orders. Other units have not yet received orders to attack (see Victory Conditions below).

Surprise Attack: The game starts with the British getting an unopposed pre-turn one initiative phase of 10 initiative points. This phase can only be used to activate D'Urban and Packenham in an effort to take full advantage of their successful 'ambush' of Thomieres column. As soon as this phase is over any surprise has been lost: The British deck is shuffled - the game begins with turn one. 

Tardy Sarrut: French 4th Division under Sarrut arrived on the field very late in the day, it failed to do much harm when he did, and several historians have asked why this should have been the case. Consequently, in true D. Featherstone fashion, I will allow for the military possibility of a more speedy arrival and effect. From turn two, on the appearance of the Special Event card, the French player can start dicing for arrival: On turn two roll D8 Vs D8; on turn three roll D12 Vs D8 and if 4th Division rolls higher it can arrive on the next Infantry March card; it will arrive on turn four (historical arrival) in any event. Sarrut arrives over the southern table edge between the south eastern corner and the start of the Monte de Azan.

Game Duration: The game will last five full turns, after which the light will be deemed too poor for the action to continue.

VICTORY CONDITIONS

The victory conditions are fairly easy for this one. Each side must bring its opponents Army Morale Points (AMP) to zero - at which point victory is achieved. If neither side has done so before nightfall (end of turn five) the game is drawn.

French objectives: Holding the Lesser Arapiles is victory objectives for the French:  It is worth 4 British AMP. Holding the greater Arapiles is victory objectives for the French: It is worth 4 British AMP.

British Objectives: Holding the Greater Arapiles is a victory objective for the British: It is worth 4 French AMP. If an attempt is not made to storm (charge) the terrace of the Greater Arapiles before the end of turn three (historically made by Pack's Brigade) the British will lose 4 AMP. Holding the Monte de Azan (by having more units on top of it, east of the Los Arapiles to Miranda de Azan road, than the French) at the end of turn 3 is a victory objective for the British: It is worth 6 French AMP.

ORDER OF BATTLE

Below I list the forces being used for this scenario. Absent are British 1st Division and Light Division, which took little part in the battle until very late in the day. They were side by side, set roughly at right angles to the rest of the British line, behind the Lesser Arapiles, facing due east; Bock’s heavy cavalry brigade (KGL) is in support. Tied up facing them are French 1st Division and 3rd Division supported by a dragoon regiment from Boyer’s division. Although French 3rd Division stood to cover the retreat of the French army - causing heavy casualties to British 6th Division in doing so - this only happened after the French had effectively lost the battle, therefore none of these forces are available to the players for this scenario and I make no apology for not listing their composition – they are, as they say, ‘on the moon’.

Note: I have pre-rolled Divisional Morale Points (DMP) for the divisions.

Allied Army: Wellesley (Outstanding: 15 AMP, 6 PMP)

Packenham and D'Urbans cavalry - note Arenchild's hussars coming
through the wood, and the precarious position of 
Thomieres leading unit.
Cavalry Division: Stapleton Cotton (Able: 5 DMP)

Two 3UI Heavy Dragoon unit (Veteran, Fierce, British)
One 4UI Light Dragoon unit (Reliable, Fierce, British)
Note: I have taken the decision to fudge the organisation of this command (see below) and make the heavy brigade two units strong so that it is possible for it to charge on a broader front - this has meant playing fast and loose with the overall numbers: The dragoons is 1 UI stronger overall and the light dragoons are 1 UI less overall.

D’Urban: (Independent units: 5 DMP)
One 3UI Portuguese Cavalry unit (Reliable)
One 4UI Hussar unit (Reliable, Fierce, British)
Note: For the purposes of divisional morale I have split the cavalry division into two commands. Marchant’s and Anson’s Brigade under the divisional commander Stapleton Cotton, and  D’Urban’s and Arenchild’s cavalry, accompanying Packenham, under D’Urban as an ‘independent brigade’.

 

3rd Division: Packenham (Able: 10 DMP)
Two 5UI British infantry units (Reliable, Steadfast, 3SK)
One 5UI Portuguese infantry unit (Reliable, 3SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast, HA)

4th Division: Lowry Cole (Poor: 8 DMP)
Two 4UI British infantry units (Reliable, 3SK)
One 5UI Portuguese infantry unit (Reliable, 3SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)
Note: 4th Division has had its command quality reduced to poor, and it’s British infantry have lost their steadfast status because of the heavy casualties received at the Trinidad breach at Badajos in April (including two thirds of its officers ‘knocked over’): The division’s poor performance at Salamanca probably stems from that bloody assault.


5th Division moving through Los Arapiles with 7th Division in support
on the Teso de San Miguel and Cotton's cavalry on their right flank.
5th Division: Leith (Able: 8 DMP + 5D)
Three 4UI British infantry units (Reliable, Steadfast, 3SK)
One 4UI Portuguese infantry unit (Reliable, 3SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)
Note: 5th Division had only three brigades but they each had four battalions rather than three, making this the largest British Division in theatre - it could cover a very long frontage in line. In consequence there are four infantry units.

6th Division: Clinton (Able: 10 DMP)
Two 4UI British infantry units (Reliable, Steadfast, 3SK)
One 5UI Portuguese infantry unit (Reliable, 3SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)

7th Division: Hope (Able: 8 DMP + 4D)
One 4UI British infantry unit (Reliable, Steadfast, Light Infantry, 4SK)
One 4UI Brunswick Oels infantry unit (Reliable, Light Infantry, 3SK)
One 4UI Chasseurs Britannique infantry unit (Reliable, 3SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)

The Spanish Division of Carlos de Espana, with Bradford's Brigade, 
and the cavalry brigades of Marchant and Anson (Cotton)
to their front and left.
Edit: There are now two units of dragoons with 3UI each and
one unit of light dragoons with 4UI (see notes above).

Spanish Division: Espagnac (Able: 5 DMP)
Two 4UI Spanish infantry (Reliable, 2SK)

Pack’s Brigade: (Able, Independent units: 4 DMP)
One 4UI Portuguese infantry unit (Reliable, 3SK)
One 3UI Portuguese Cacadores SK infantry unit (Reliable, Light Infantry, Rifles, 2SK)
Note: I have chosen to represent this strong brigade as line infantry and a SK unit.

Bradford’s Brigade: (Able, Independent units: 2 DMP)

One 5UI Portuguese infantry unit (Reliable, 3SK)

French Army: Marmont (Reliable: 14 AMP, 4 PMP)

Clausel, now in command of the army, directs affairs from his
divisional position (note additional 'staff'. Beyond are Boyer's dragoons
and, directly behind, Brennier's 6th Division marches westward.
Note: Marmont was seriously wounded on the Greater Arapiles sometime after 3pm and was replaced by Bonnet when Clausel couldn't be found. Bonnet was seriously wounded soon after and replaced by Clausel who had reappeared after going to get an injured heal dressed. In effect, command of the army changed three times in an hour and confusion reigned in this vital period immediately prior to Wellington's attack. In consequence, the C-in-C stand is now just a dice holder. PMP has been reduced (from 6 to 4) for command being seriously downed.

Heavy Cavalry Division: Boyer (Reliable, 7 DMP)
Two 3UI Dragoon units (Reliable, Fierce)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast, HA)
Note: With one regiment absent on the French right this division should have one dragoon unit of 4UI and one unit of 2UI but, two 3UI units work better in game terms so that is what I've done.

Light Cavalry Division: Curto (Reliable, 4 DMP)
One 5UI Chasseurs a Cheval unit (Reliable)
One 4UI Chasseurs a Cheval unit (Reliable)
Note: I did consider adding an activation mechanism for this division: It wasn't where it should have been and took some time to come to Thomieres' rescue. However, not introducing such a penalty will make the game a better game - for the French - so I've just started them half a move farther back. 

2nd Division: Clausel (Reliable, DMP)
One 4UI French Leger unit (Reliable, Light Infantry, Steadfast, 3SK)
One 4UI French Line unit (Reliable, Steadfast, 2SK)
Two 4UI French Line units (Reliable, 2SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)

Bonnet's 8th Division holding the Greater Arapiles and 'the gap'
between it and the Monte de Azan. Note the 'terrace' with its
cliff like front: I madethat piece of terrain because it's such
an important feature of that hill.
Many moons ago, I actually climbed that 'parapet' - to 'test it'.
 
4th Division: Bonnet (Reliable, DMP)
One 4UI French Line unit (Reliable, Steadfast, 2SK)
Three 4UI French Line units (Reliable, 2SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)

Maucune's Division standing far enough back to obscure the British
view of them. Behind them are the cavalry of Curto's Division.
5th Division: Maucune (Reliable, DMP)
One 5UI French Line unit (Reliable, Steadfast, 2SK)
Two 4UI French Line units (Reliable, 2SK)
Two 3UI batteries (Reliable, Steadfast)

6th Division: Brennier ((Reliable, DMP)
One 3UI French Leger unit (Reliable, Light Infantry, Steadfast, 3SK)
Two 4UI French Line units (Reliable, 2SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)





7th Division: Thomieres (Reliable, DMP)
One 4UI French Line unit (Reliable, Steadfast, 2SK)
One 4UI French Line unit (Reliable, 2SK)
One 3UI French Line unit (Reliable, 2SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)
Note: The three UI French Line unit is at the head of the column. It has not had time to form square in the face of D'Urban's cavalry but has managed to bring up it's second company to face the threat six deep. It is surprised, and probably in panic. I have decided to represent this unusual formation as a column of attack, disordered, with skirmishers withdrawn.

8th Division: Sarrut ((Reliable, DMP)
One 4UI French Leger unit (Reliable, Light Infantry, 3SK)
Two 4UI French Line units (Reliable, 2SK)
One 3UI battery (Reliable, Steadfast)
Note: This division starts the game off table. It cannot arrive before turn two. See Time and Arrivals above.

General Note: How were unit strength, unit type and unit quality derived? Basically, I took total divisional strengths from Oman, divided by 400 infantry, 200 cavalry, to get unit integrity (UI) points, then did the best I could to generate the right number of unit types by percentage (e.g. Legere 27%), with a strength of between three and five UI points per unit (because that works best for my rules). It's not an exact science, and there is a lot of fudging for effect but, it's not totally make believe. As for quality, well that was done with an eye to how troops perform under my rules and is, I believe, the only way such things can be done. Remember, this is a bath tubbed scenario, where units represent something close to brigade strength but are used on the table like battalions - it's the blending of two game scales and something I like a lot.

Lastly, I suppose I should cite my sources. I'm not going to do all, as some provided very little the others didn't, like the road network (Peninsular War Atlas - Osprey), but these three are the best I have. Oman's work, volume 5, is the key and his map is the best too. Of the three, Edwards tells by far the best tale, in the most detail and in an entertaining style but, he's short of a good map. Fletcher has done a good job for Osprey but, like all Osprey's, it's just a wetter and scene setter for further reading - if I'm honest, there could be more maps and they could be much better (Osprey, I thought you were better than that!). 

Oh, and just to date my own visit to this fantastic battlefield, these photographs were taken using this weird stuff they called film. My wife, in shot above the parapet on the Greater Arapiles, is 5'4" tall and she's stood quite near the edge - I'm glad I didn't have to assault it in 1812, the 'cliff' I mean. The bloke by the monument? I haven't a clue who he is, LOL. 


Saturday, 3 September 2022

Wednesday night madness. Last week's was cheap and cheerful; this week, a big SoN game

 

So last week's game was a two player versus one (Graham H. and I versus Peter J.) To the Strongest, Crusades, affair. 

Never, in the field of lead men conflict, have so many chits been turned in anger to so little effect: Peter J, playing the Franks, only failed to make four saves all night in what might rate as the most one sided game of TtS that I've ever played. We were hammered, crushed, and sent packing on all fronts. C'est la vie.  
So this week, with the return of Mark D. to the fold, I thought I'd go back to trying Soldiers of Napoleon. I really like this rule set and I have high hopes for it. 

I've set up a lopsided points game where the French (with more points) will attempt to crack the Anglo Portuguese position on a long ridge. The British players each have three commands, the French each have four (including a reserve). Who controls which sector/side will, as usual, be determined randomly by drawing cards - I don't actually draw a card, I just get the last one, for fairness.

The British position, holding the reverse slope of aforesaid ridge, will be an interesting test of the skirmish rule (terrain not blocking line of sight). 

Also, given this is basically an attack versus defence game, it will be interesting to see how defence favours card play - if at all.

The forces are quite large, with each SoN brigade actually representing a bath-tubbed division (as described in the previous post). The morale values are quite substantial - the British have 52, the French have 56 but many more units.

British on the reverse slopes.

Note the variable 'stand strength' dice cell trays. Disruption will be shown with white dice. All of my units are the same size but have variable strength. I don't do stand removal. All ranges, etc. are measured middle to nearest. This works surprisingly well and is much less fussy, for big games, than in the rules proper.
A lightly held centre. The Light Division, rifle units forward.
One of the French commands in columns with skirmishers and a leger unit in extended line giving cover. 

All about to get their feet wet, by the looks of it.


Finally three shots of my QRS which have the troop types on the reverse. 

Sorry about the order they appear in. Don't know why that happened. 

You should be able to enlarge to read and spot the movement rules differences / differences in troop classification (for the Peninsular) / and a couple of optional rules. 

Also note that my troop classification gives the 'bead colour code' of the unit. This saves any requirement for roster sheets and relieves a lot of strain on the memory - everything is plain to see at all times.

Note, there is a misprint here (corrected by hand since this shot was taken), Harass range is 20" not 24".