Monday, 6 December 2021

What if: Vimeiro 1808. Battle Report part 1.

I'm playing this solo using my Sacre Bleu! rules - basically heavily amended Piquet. Consequently, quite a lot happens in a multi-initiative turn. Initiative split in each phase of the turn is being decided by dominos and the sequence deck for each side is 24 cards strong.

Turn 1. 

In the initial stages, the French gain much the upper hand in the split of game initiative winning 27 to 9 points. They use this to press attacks on both the Eastern Ridge and Vimeiro Hill.

First blood is taken by the British who pour canister, and long range musket volleys into the oncoming French columns on the Ridge. This forces the leading French units to fan out into line.
As the French columns advance on Vimeiro Hill the Rifles, supported by Acland's artillery, nibble away at their numbers, choosing to falling back (opportunity evades) to avoid close contact.
Back on the Ridge the first French unit to give way is one of Solignac's Legere units, which makes its withdrawal through Ventosa.
The initiative starts to balance up, allowing the British to extend their front on the Ridge by bringing the 71st into the front line whilst, from the west, Bowes, Craufurd and Trant hurry eastward to the staccato rhythm of the musketry up ahead.
On the Ridge, the musketry duel between the skirmish clad lines is somewhat desultory but men are falling on both sides and French artillery is now adding to the tumult.
At Vimeiro Hill, the brigades of Thomiere and Charlot's are beginning to press home but, the British musketry volleys and artillery fire are far from desultory. The leading French columns are being harshly treated and close to withdrawing.

However, the British are also in trouble. Two late Cavalry March cards allow Margaron's dragoons to move around the right flank of the British line. With no move cards left to respond this turn their position is looking somewhat undermined but, game mechanics might still give them time to deal with the threat (exciting stuff).
At the end of turn one the French attack on Vimeiro Hill is well underway but the leading elements of the French columns are getting battered.

Kellerman's grenadiers have emerged from the pine woods and are heading towards Vimeiro itself. With Anstruther and Fane hard pressed to release troops to cover this sector, Acland may well need to play his historical part. Towards the end of the turn I began to think that Kellerman has decisively moved too early - I think his grenadiers might have been better used to press home the attack on the hill - but, we will see.

French cavalry, with still more in reserve, is looking like a real threat to the British in this sector of the battlefield.

Up on the ridge the British look to be fairly well set and have certainly had the better of the musketry and artillery duel so far. But, here too, French cavalry is encroaching the British flank areas. Wellesley's lack of cavalry must have been a real headache for the man.

Note that the top right hand corner of the table is where I stand with my French hat on; that's all the French player's game gubbins that you can see there: Red bag of dominos, sequence clock, cards, dice, game markers, etc.


Rob said...

A nice tight game, but Piquet is good for that. Unfortunately they're a marmite set of rules and I have a hard time convincing others to play.

Ray Rousell said...

Looks a fabulous game James.

David said...

Looks wonderful, as always. Too many wargames tables look rather blank but you use plenty of terrain features to fill in those unsightly gaps. I really like that! :-)



Gonsalvo said...

Looks great, of course. I do love Piquet and its variants, and it is perhaps unequaled for solo play. It's a great game played with other who :get" it, and are happy being the manag3eers of Chaos. few other games force you think more about what is important, and what is not!


Hi Peter,

The common consensus here, is that Piquet is the tensest wargame you can play, especially where unequal initiative is evident.

IMHO the rules are Marmite, not so much because of the chaos, though some players can't cope without the rigidity of a predictable move sequence and seem unable to get their heads around elastic time within a turn, as much as the belief that one player never gets any initiative.

In all the years I've played Piquet, in literally hundreds of games, that has only happened to me only once - and I found it rather funny. That said, because we now use dominos to decide the initiative split both sides almost always (1 in 27 chance of none) get some initiative every phase, though unequally. Only last night, playing a Vauban siege game, I commented on the fact that Piquet always benefits from the fact that it has unfairness at its core. Life isn't fair, war isn't fair, why should a wargame be any different.

Timothy Coakley said...

James, I would love to see a post (posts) about all of your rules adaptations. fantastic AAR.