A disturbing event took place at "The Clerb" last night - a Napoleonic game was fought to a conclusion!
It was a Peninsular ("r because it's an adjective) game with Mick and I taking the Righteous British and Tom and Derek fulfilling the role of Imperial Puppets. We had two brigades of 4 battalions plus rifle armed skirmishers all supported by a battery of 9 Pounders. In addition there were 5 squadrons of light cavalry. As is proper, all British brigades were veteran.
Opposing us the French had two brigades of line infantry, each composed of an inconsequential number of battalions and a skirmish screen. One of the line brigades had a 1/2 battery of 8Pdrs. Tom continued with his obsession of creating composite grenadier battalions, forming a two battalion brigade which was later surprisingly discovered to have an 8Pdr battery attached. There was also a dragoon brigade of I think 5 squadrons.
Mick will doubtless soon have a photographic extravaganza of a report at:
but here's a short precis of what happened.
We were holding a ridge. My brigade was on the right with only the skirmishers and artillery visible. Mick held the left with his infantry deployed in the same fashion. He also had the light cavalry brigade which was mainly off table on the left flank where the ridge ended.
The French deployed with Derek's dragoons on their left flank, then his infantry brigade. In the centre came Tom's poseurs in bearskins with the 8Pdr battery, then his line brigade with the 1/2 battery.
The French came on in the same old columnar style - their first realization was that they would have to deploy their artillery further away from us than they would have liked. The rules do not allow artillery to deploy in the enemy threat zone (unless otherewise specified in the scenario) and the rifle skirmishers on the ridge kept them at a distance. We've decided in future to let the French artillery accompany their infantry.
The next subtlety in the rules caught Mick out. I retired my skirmishers in the face of the French advance after having caused a couple of fatigue points from a distance, so the threat against my brigade never really amounted to much. Mick left his skirmishers out too long and the the threat points against them from the French close order troops caused him to lose the initiative. This meant there was a move where he had to do nothing else other than reduce the threat to his brigade's cohesion level. He was effective finally FORCED to withdraw his skirmishers.
The French dragoons on my right flank decided to retire rather than having their officers taken out at a distance by rifle fire. I think Derek was concerned that the brigade was going to accumulate a lot of fatigue points in trying to advance up the ridge. His infantry brigade climbed the slope and I advanced over the ridge line to meet them. He then deployed into line which generated a threat against my brigade such that I only just managed to retain initiative. It was then that I SHOULD HAVE DONE WHAT THE BRITISH DID HISTORICALLY! I should have volleyed and charged - effectively moving into contact. This would have probably generated enough threat points to send them backwards, but I just stood off and calculated threat at a distance as if just firing. They came on again and it was only with great difficulty that I managed to generate enough threat to hold them off. It had got a bit tense for a bit - Albuera rather than Bussaco!
In the centre Tom's grenadiers managed to take out the foot battery but then found too much opposition against them to carry on. They ended up retiring in a hurry - much to my relief.
On the left flank Tom's brigade assaulted Mick's brigade with it's right battalion in square as our cavalry had finally received orders to advance. The situation ended up with the cavalry brigade threatening from the flank and our infantry threatening from the front. We generated enough threat points to send the French reeling backwards.
So the game was over. Mick had recovered well from losing the initiative with his skirmishers and sent his opposition packing so the French right and centre were in retreat. My right was holding on against Dereks's brigade and his dragoons would now be needed to cover the withdrawal and prevent our light cavalry from hacking up the infantry. If only I had given the one quick volley and charged maybe that brigade would have caved in too.
This is the 3rd game we've had with these rules: one with my 15mm kit, the last two with Mick's 28s. They work well in both scales and we are having another 28mm game next week. The more we play, the more we are grasping the subtleties of the rules and they are resulting in faster games with very plausible outcomes.
We will continue using these for club night divisional games at 28mm, aiming for a corps level game one Saturday using 15mm. The major differences are:
At Divisional level threat is calculated by base and cohesion by Infantry Brigade and Cavalry Regiment.
At Corps level threat is calculated by Infantry Battalion, Cavalry Squadron and Artillery Battery. Cohesion is calculated by Infantry Division and Cavalry Brigade.
It is all looking very good so far...............