Monday, April 2, 2018

Spanish mini-campaign: Turn 1

Off we go into the Spanish hinterland...

Turn 1: The British begin their trek northward in pursuit of the retreating French.

Captain Kentmere has decided to execute a Flank Attack in this first encounter of the campaign and rolls for 12 support points. With these he chooses a Spanish Guerrilla skirmish unit with a Level I Big Man, a Marksman, and a Secondary Deployment Point.

British main force (not including support point choices)

Facing the dastardly Brits, Capitaine Forchette (using 50% of the attacker's support points) has been able to bolster his force with a another unit of French line infantry (conscript & volunteer) and Secondary Deployment Point.

French main force (not including support point choices)

Unfortunately for Forchette, his aide had been captured immediately prior to the battle while reconnoitring the enemy positions. Forchette's command range was reduced to 3 inches and command initiative reduced to 1 for the battle (great start to the Chance Cards....merde!). This severe blow before the battle even started meant a serious challenge for the French (not that it isn't always a serious challenge facing the Brits). Capitaine Forchette would need to exercise some fancy Command & Control... not likely with only one command initiative.

To make matters worse, the French started with a Force Morale of 9 and the British with 11!

The British, using the advantages of a Flank Attack scenario, quickly established their Primary Deployment Point at almost the mid-point of the table and immediately bolstered that with a Secondary DP farther into the table. Was there a French plan to counter this? (I'm sure there was... at least that's the story I'm sticking to). I decided that the British would probably use both DPs to make a dash at the French Primary DP (seeing as they weren't really far apart).Thus, an aggressive French opening gambit saw the two voltigeur groups deploy along the ridge overlooking both British DPs. This, I thought, could perhaps draw off some of the British attention away from my Primary DP.

The French volitgeurs took advantage of their longer deployment distance and the bonus for out of Line of Sight. 

Spanish Guerilleros deploy off the British Secondary DP and out of sight of my voltigeurs. Ah, so he was going to try and make a dash at my DP with skirmishers? Or just getting the newly-painted figs on the table so we could go oooh and ahhh? I suspect the latter and they did look lovely (Front Rank figures from the Vidal's patient brush).

Then BOOM! A four-group formation of British lights. Not a lot of subtlety with this sledgehammer. But could I slow it down or distract it?

And the 95th Rifles deploy to take on the French voltigeurs. These would prove to be the bane of the French. They can sit outside smoothbore musket range and still hit on fives and sixes. Yikes!

I decided that the voltigeurs were too exposed on the hilltop, especially given that the British rifles were advancing to get them under fire. So the first step in my plan was almost immediately thwarted. The voltigeurs proceeded to scamper along the ridge line to avoid the rifles' field of fire and perhaps put some fire onto the British line formation. I've learned that with this red behemoth, it's best to get as much firepower onto it as possible and try to whittle it down before it can get close enough to start hurting. Perhaps fittingly, I don't have a photo of the next check to the less-than-masterful French plan. The British rifles continued to advance and were able to pour some long-range fire into the voltigeurs. The choice of a marksman proved quite valuable as he almost immediately took down the commander of the voltigeurs, Lieutenant Gaston Poignard. In an instant, the French lights were rendered leaderless and, for all intents and purposes, quite useless (given that Capitaine Forchette couldn't intervene with his single Command Initiative). 

Seeing the British demonstrating a serious move to take the French DP, Capitaine Forchette decides to try a coup de main and sound the Pas de Charge! Unfortunately, the attack falters and his men don't seem quite as willing as their commander (he isn't particularly well-liked, after all). The charge falls short!
 The result of the ensuing British volley and a subsequent French charge. 
Capitaine Forchette has lost two of his three infantry groups and British have lost one. Time to cede the field!

And thus the first engagement goes to the British, in decisive fashion. Initially, I had hoped to keep the tactical initiative and force Vidal to deploy to counter my moves. This did happen, in fact, as he sent out 95th Rifles to take on my voltigeurs. As Vidal is learning how to use these expensive units effectively, I am struggling to find a way to counter them. In open terrain, they can sit outside the French smoothbore musket range and pick away at whatever they choose. If, in the open terrain, the French choose to force the issue and get closer, the rifles can simply scuttle away. In closer terrain, I think the faster loading time of the smoothbores and their ability to get closer without undue exposure to the superior range of the rifles may help the French lights. Regardless, the deployment of the voltigeurs was not only my first attempt in the battle to show initiative but also the last (not counting the charge of the French column later in the battle.... and that was definitely reactionary).

As for the grand charge at the British line... definitely a mistake (especially given Forchette's reduced command initiative for this battle). I'll just chalk that up to over-enthusiasm.

The French will go into the second battle down 21 men (10 dead and 11 wounded). Most of these were suffered in the final charge. Serves me right for such a foolhardy attempt at glory! Some small consolation is that the extra line infantry group will stay with the main force. But this is definitely small consolation since i lost the equivalent of three groups in dead and wounded. Sigh...

The British will be short a mere handful (four, if I remember correctly) and will retain the initiative. They also retain the Guerrilleros with the main force (but not their commander...hmmm).

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