Friday 26 March 2021

The Battle of Huerta de Pablo (A solo scenario)

 I've set this solo game up to test out my classic Piquet style rules (though they get less 'classic' by the day) for largish Peninsular battles.

The Table-top:
Above, a picture of the table-top (12 x 6) and the initial disposition of troops. Unfortunately my camera doesn't pick up 'depth' as well as the naked eye, so I have roughly drawn some contour lines around the high ground so that it is much easier for you to see: The first contour is drawn around the base of the hill; the second contour shows the upper shape of the hill; hills are 2" high overall.

This battle is (fictionally) set in the hills at the western end of the Pyrenees Mountains. A few days ago I spent an hour driving 'virtually' around these 'hills' using google earth street view. It's somewhere I've never been and it wasn't what I expected, being a lot less rugged and far greener than I had imagined. Indeed, a lot of it reminded me very much of the Yorkshire Dales, or the central belt of Scotland. I can see it being a favoured local for my Peninsular scenarios.

The British are attacking the villages of Huerta de Pablo, currently occupied by French 1st Div. (6,000 strong), and San Pablo because of their command of several strategically vital road junctions. The attack has been planned in haste and the consequent confusion means that the British divisional columns, each advancing on a different road, will arrive somewhat piecemeal. The plan has been further frustrated by the British cavalry arriving too early and far too 'loudly', and patrolling French hussars which spotted the two British columns approaching from the south. Consequently, the French are already on the move to counter the British threat and French reinforcements are speeding their way to the battle area from the north and northeast. Indeed, the French cavalry of 5th Div. (1,500 strong overall, including hussars) has already arrived.

Unit Scale: 
Units each represent about a 1000 infantry or 500 cavalry. The standard command (battle group) is the division - typically, for infantry, 4000 - 8000 men.
  • The British army comprises 18,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry and three batteries of guns in four 'divisions'. It comprises some of the best troops in the Peninsular.
  • The French army comprises 21,000 infantry, 1,500 cavalry and four batteries of guns in five 'divisions'. It comprises a 'mixed bag' of troops ranging from veterans to newly raised conscripts with little battle experience.
The arrival of British 1st Division, 8000 strong and comprising Guards, Highlanders and KGL, is imminent - it is 'activated', just off table, and can begin to move on table as soon as a move card allows. It is in column on the western road (marked A). 

The two other, more typical, British divisions (each 5000 strong), and three French divisions (4000, 5000 and 6000 strong respectively) get the chance to arrive as follows: 
  • I have blind placed two playing cards (British), or three playing cards (French) at each appropriate entry point (marked B-E on the photo above). One card at each of the British entry points is a dud. At the French entry points, one has one dud and one has two duds. The other cards at each entry point relate to a particular division. 
  • Each side has two Stratagem cards in its sequence deck. When one is turned the side can turn one of the playing cards at one of its entry points. If the card is a dud, it indicates extra delay. If the card turned relates to a division, that division becomes active and may begin to march on table on the side's next move card. All arriving divisions are assumed to be marching in column along the road - as this is a solo game, I don't need to worry about the other side 'access point blocking'.
Victory conditions:
To win, the British must seize and hold Huerta San Pablo and San Pablo. To count as holding, no enemy can be present in any of the town sections. Holding one will be a draw.
I have to say, I'm actually rather pleased with the look of this terrain. It's even allowed me to get my pine trees and tents out, and that newly made granary looks quite good too. 

In fact, there are four newish buildings on the table - the granary in Huerta de Pablo, the L shaped single storey cottage in San Pablo (with the broken wall), a two one storey 'tithe cottage complex', barely visible, just behind that, and High Hill farm. I've been a little short of one storey rural buildings for the Peninsular but, I'm slowly putting that right.

Grandest of the new terrain additions is something I knocked up last year but never used. It's the walled orchard in Huerta San Pablo (2nd photo). This was made with Snap Dragon Studio wall sections (including a large T junction) that I've had kicking about in my bits box for over twenty years: I picked them up out of an 'odds and sods' box at a show but Snap Dragon went defunct before I could buy the corner pieces to make them into anything. On a whim, I decided to use them to make a high walled orchard, using Milliput to manufacture the corner pieces and fill some holes after using a hammer as a 'wall cutting' tool - considering I cut the walls to length with a hammer, not too shabby a job, I think. 

So that's it. Next up, when I have time to play and type, I'll start doing the battle report: This may come as a series rather than one extended post. This is because I find myself playing solo games in fits and starts - a hour here, an hour there - and this might be an easier way to report the goings on. 


Duke of Baylen said...

This looks splendid - no wonder you're pleased with your scenery making. I look forward to seeing the game develop. Can you tell me what size table you are using, please?

Duke of Baylen said...

This looks like being a great game on wonderful scenery. I like all your new building additions. What is the table size, please?


Table is 12' x 6' (3.6m x 1.8m)

Chris Hahn said...

Seventy-two sure feet of Peninsular perfection! As always, you set the bar of what historical miniature wargaming should look like, what we enthusiasts should aspire to, rather high. If we do not manage to clear this James Roach bar, then at least we can stand back and gaze in wonder and awe.

Toning down the sycophancy a bit, it appears that having a large table might cramp the ability to move generals around the edges so that they can move the miniature troops. I am hoping to secure a new tabletop, perhaps a single 9 foot by 5 foot surface, or two pieces that would add up to 10 feet by 4 feet. I am also hoping to launch a blog, though it will not, I am quite sure, be as popular or as professional as yours.

Looking forward to your next post!

Shaun said...

Piquet looks really interesting, but I have a 6x4 table with 28mm figures? ;-)



6 x 4 will be fine for an evenings game of classic Piquet (the Bob Jones version), and for Field of Battle (by Brent Oman) which is the 'fast play' version. Both sets were written with an 'average sized' wargame in mind, though FoB copes better with larger forces than classic Piquet. Classic Piquet begins to get clunky with large forces.

Classic Piquet was, I think, devised for games with 10 - 16 units a side. It's the main reason I've have to tinker with it. Units can be of any size providing they are roughly the same frontages for both sides. There is no need for head counting, though both versions were designed around a 4 stand unit.

Movement rates are also somewhat less in classic Piquet, being, if memory serves, 6" for infantry in line, so again, a 6 x 4 will work without issue. I had to increase my moves rates precisely to counter my table size. Depth of table is great in that it gives better scope for terrain design, and of course, initial force deployment but, in practice, both forces would usually start roughly 2 feet apart regardless of table depth.

Also, of course, Piquet can be played with figures of any scale.

Hope that puts you at ease.



Room size, and player size to some degree, will always dictate table size. I can only access my table along three sides, and elbow room is restricted to 20" along one of the long edges. This isn't a problem in most circumstances. Sometimes, in multi-player games, it means players have move to let someone get past to go to the toilet every once in a while but, mostly it's fine. I wouldn't recommend anything less than that. When the drop leaf comes up (adding a further 2' 8") to table length the room suddenly feels incredibly small as the gap at the open end shrinks from 4' to 16" (just enough room to scrape past) but, if I couldn't extend to 14' 8" I couldn't do battles like Zorndorf. If you are going to be cramped in a similar manner, a drop leaf, for a generally smaller set up - only bigger when really needed - isn't a bad idea. If you look in the blog side bar under the label 'my wargames room' I have a post on my table's construction.

This is not a professional blog. Photo's are all taken with a compact camera, though I do use a tripod and the timer. Lighting is the key, I think - generally provided by a couple of 5 foot florescent ceiling strip lights, and sometimes a standing lamp aimed over the 'action'. I hope you do start a blog, they are a great way to keep a wargaming diary.

Good luck with both projects,


Ratmaul said...

Real eye candy, thank you for sharing! 😄

Chris Hahn said...

Thanks for your extended and thoughtful reply. Typically, I have made do with a 24-square foot table (6 x 4) [spelled "square" right that time!], but would like to have the option of using, at least very so often, a larger "model" battlefield. As a veteran solo wargamer, I do not expect that "passage of lines" or player-generals will pose a problem. When time permits, I shall take you up on the "wargames room" posts and study how you went about building your table. From what I can see in the various posts, I am guessing that there is plenty of storage room underneath, which is both practical and sensible.

Point taken regarding my use of the adjective. It certainly appears or presents as a very well done blog. An informal comparison with other blogs about the hobby results, at least subjectively, in your efforts being in the Top 5, if not Top 3.

After much back and forth, I have decided to proceed with a blog. I am looking to debut around mid-April or perhaps earlier.

Thanks and cheers,



Chris, thank you for your reply to my reply.

Drop me a comment, or an email (address in side bar) with the address of your blog when you get up and running and I'll stop by. I would recommend that you add an email address to your blog side bar with a red AT rather than @ (I've been told this stops it getting harvested). Contrary to popular belief you don't get trolled or hate mail, and some readers prefer a more personal / private correspondence. I probably get ten emails a month which, from 13 - 15,000 hits a month on average isn't excessive: actually it's kinda nice to get the odd email, some being odder than others (mentioning no names TD), and good things can come of it. Most of my photography work for magazines and rule books has come directly from providing a way to correspond privately.

Chris Hahn said...

Hello James,
Apologies for using the comment section for this purpose, but an attempt to use your provided email address was returned to me as undeliverable.

Prior to sending in a membership request to TMP, I tinkered with various blog formats and so forth. I am currently waiting on approval of the membership so that I can invite readers and visitors of the Ancients boards at TMP to view my attempt at a wargaming blog.

Hoping that the link goes through and works, here is my blog address/link:

At your leisure, feel free to read, scan, or even comment.