Friday, 26 June 2015

The Peninsular War 1811 - A Black Powder AAR

After a successful first Nappies game last week, we decided to carry on in the same vein, but this time in the Peninsular. Dave once again came up with the scenario, but with reduced forces compared to last week. We agreed that although it was a great game, there were simply too many troops on the table given the amount of time we had at our disposal. Also it is nice to have the time to have a chat before the game and after, to mull over how things went, what to play next etc. 

One thing I did spot in the rules that we got wrong last week was the amount of die that troops in buildings get to roll in close combat, plus that units do not count as supporting them. This may have made the assaults on the farmhouse in my favour, but would not have affected the outcome of the game. Funny how you often stumble across things in the rules post-game, but it is only by playing the game that you learn the rules.

The French have been tasked with seizing the bridge over a small Spanish river, that is shallow and fordable at this time of year.  Once again time is of the essence and they must gain the objective as quickly as possible. They start the game with one Divsion on the table, with another in reserve, that arrives after contact has been made with the enemy. 

The Allied troops are deployed on both sides of the river, with a small unit in reserve. They simply have to prevent the French from taking the bridge.

The French have two Line Divisions with artillery units in support, but no cavalry. The Allied troops are all Light Infantry, with the 95th Rifles and Portugese Cacadores in the front line. They also have one artillery unit in support and no cavalry.

The Battle
As the game was played out a few nights ago, hopefully I will be able to give a more detailed overview of how the game played out. Apologies for the variable quality of the photos, as i was experimenting with the camera settings to try and reduce the use of the flash all the time. David Bailey certainly hasnothing to fear from me!

The Cacadores deployed in the farmhouse on the right of the river with the 95th at the edge of the fields to the South of the farmhouse. The Allied artillery gun was deployed so that it could cover the advance towards the bridge along the road. The French split their forces either side of the road, with the artillery gun carefully placed so as not to get in the way of or be blocked by the infantry.
The Allies await the French advance in what appears to be a good defensive position.
The French advance en masse and immediately come under fire from the farmhouse.
The firefight at the farmhouse triggers the arrival of the 2nd Division, that advances briskly on the right flank, shielded from view by the hedged fields and farmhouse. The French artillery deploys and combined fire into the farmhouse starts to take its toll on the Cacadores. The French 1st Division doesn't want to play ball as they refuse to move, obviously sulking at not being in attack column.
The Cacadores quickly break under the fire from the French, due to the effects of artillery fire and some unlucky die rolling by Dave. The 2nd Division again carry on their move on the right flank, but the 1st Division continue to sulk. With the loss of the farmhouse, the 95th withdraw to the other side of the field and British re-inforcements arrive on the road and advance towards the bridge until they receive further orders.
The advance of the French past the vacant farmhouse and the deployed foot artillery.
The 1st Division happily advance once in attack column towards the fields and the 95th, whilst on the right flank the 2nd Division continues to make best use of the cover to mask their advance. The artillery splits up to cover the left flank and to move onto the hill to get a good view towards the bridge. The Allies are in a tricky position but there is still a lot of fighting to come before the battle is decided.
The French mass for the attack.
The 1st Division shake out into line to be better able to fire at the 95th, who with the artillery, are taking their toll on one of the units.
The 1st Division face the combined fire of the 95th and the foot artillery.
The 2nd Division prepare for the assault...
... which they execute with perfection. The Allied troops in the field are in a very, very precarious position.
The 95th fall back under the weight of fire and with the loss of the foot artillery, are in an exposed position.
The French advance to administer the coup-de-grace. Outnumbered and outflanked, the Allies wisely choose to leave the battlefield

The End
In the end the sheer weight of the French attacks on their right flank was telling, leaving the Allied troops in a near impossible position. With no chance of holding onto the bridge, Dave wisely  conceded the game, with the French troops just advancing to consolidate their position on the bridge as per their orders.

Post Game Thoughts
Well another cracking game of Black Powder Napoleonics! Once again thanks must go to Dave for a lovely little scenario and the use of his figures. So as usual a few thoughts:
  • Second game in and I think I learnt some of the lessons from last week. I certainly took care to think about the terrain and the movement of my troops before I deployed my 1st Division and its artillery. This nearly went to pot with the 2nd Division, that I initally put on the left flank. After some thought it was obvious to put them on the right flank to make best use of the terrain to advance towards the bridge out of site of the Allied artillery unit. 
  • Dave was very unlucky to lose his Cacadores so early on. They nearly put pay to my artillery unit with the initial exchanges of musketry and rifle fire, but some lucky morale saves kept them on  the table. If I had lost my artillery unit early on, this would have made my task much, much harder. Lesson learnt that artillery is rather fragile to say the least but a must if having to attack troops in buildings.
  • The use of hedged fields gave a very different feel to the game. Certainly much more Spanish and not the billiard tables of Belgium. This does make you think more and as per the first point, deploy your troops with care. As for a game, I like this sort of terrain, so will doe some research into the Peninsular campaign.
  • Having half the number of troops compared to the previous game certainly made it quicker and with a bit more room for manouevre. So broadly speaking a Divison had four Line units and one artillery unit, with the French having two Divisions and the Allies one. Add in a few units of cavalry and I think you have the right balance for an evenings game with time to chat before and after.
I know Black Powder has its detractors (which ruleset doesn't?) but it has provided some great games so far from the SYW into Napoleonics. From a purely gaming point of view it is nice to have one ruleset that, with a few tweaks, is adaptable to very different periods. So for myself as a gamer I can concentrate on the game rather than constantly referring to a rulebook, or as bad confusing one set of rules with another.

So next game up will be a follow on action from this, hopefully next week subject to the usual family commitments etc. 

No comments:

Post a Comment