Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Garcia Hernandez: The Battle

 I didn't take a shot of the opening position, but this is close enough. 

The Allied force is made up entirely of cavalry. The British lights are deployed in line on the right, facing the French heavies, while the German heavies on the left are already engaged with the French infantry who have already formed square.

Squares are virtually impervious to cavalry in Command & Colours: Napoleonics, but they do require the player who is forming square to give up one of his cards, which is placed on the Square Track to the side of the table. Once square is formed, the card is out of play until such time as the square is wiped out or the unit moves out of square. An infantry unit may not come out of square if there is a cavalry unit adjacent. This can lead to some interesting play because a well handled unit of horse may hold a number of infantry units in square thereby depriving the infantry player of the initiative. However, it does leave the cavalry unit open to being whittled away by the (albeit weakened) volleys of the infantry.

  Boks German heavies (here represented by the Royal Irish Dragoon Guards) charge the French lights (the Legione Irlandaise, in green) and two battalions of the 8ieme Ligne

My plan was to concentrate on the French infantry on my left, while holding my right in reserve to deal with the inevitable charge of the French heavies on my right. There was the added sweetener that there was a victory point bonus for infantry casualties.

  One regiment of heavies take casualties from musket fire, but the rest press on

  As you can see from the cards tucked under the bases, three of the four French battalions are in square. The Mosque in the background is a relic of the Muslim occupation of Castile and certainly not a piece of terrain I left on the table my mistake. Also note, the French cavalry creeping forward over the hill on the right.

General Du Gourmand was in trouble on his right at this stage, as my cavalry were chipping away at his squares. His best bet was to change the engagement buy throwing his cavalry forward and prevent me from concentrating on his infantry. French cavalry have more staying power than Allied cavalry of similar weight in CCN and he was happy that he could win an even fight, particularly if he managed to charge before he was charged. The French cavalry are Strelets cuirassiers (standing in for Dragoons) and Italeri Dragoons. I must lay my paws on more Dragoons.

The thunder of hooves! And General Du Gourmand pulled it off, I was unable to play a card that would have allowed me to countercharge with my whole force, so I gambled on spending another turn chipping away at the weakened infantry and hoped to weather the charge. The "dust" is synthetic pillow stuffing which I've been using for gun smoke. I was reading General Pettygree's blog recently and thought that I might try and emulate his dustclouds to mark charging cavalry. And as dice rattle across the table, how successful will this charge be?

Meanwhile, over the British left, the British lights catch a battalion of the 8ieme Ligne out of square and ride them down like dogs. General Du Gourman was very reluctant to lose another card and gambled that he would be able to weather the charge, stiffened as the battalion was by the presence of General Foy, and wipe the cavalry out with a counter attack. Fortunately, the charge was a crushing one and swept the 8ieme and the unfortunate Foy away.
The Sixth Light Dragoons sweep over the remnants of the 8ieme and hit the Irish again, doing some damage, but suffering some empty saddles in return.
The French charge crashes home, but a squadron of the 6th launches a counter charges and manages to knock the stuffing out of a squadron of the 13ieme Provisional Cuirassiers.
The second squadron of the 13ieme shy at the last minute and the Irish survive the charge, bloodied, but still standing. The counter attack spells the doom of the gallant Frenchmen.

The Chassuers have more success, driving a squadron of the Irish from the field in disorder led by their gallant General (a Hinton Hunt General Soult)
Meanwhile, the Germans are circling the French like Apaches around a wagon train and there looks to be no relief in sight
Determined to avenge their fallen comrades, the "Drogheda Cossacks" charge the victorious French
...who fall back behind the woods, bloodied, but able to regroup.
...and charging right back out again! They slam into the weakened unit of Irish horse and put them to the sword. Meanwhile help is at hand as a squadron of the Hussars of Conflans (just behind the yellow tree) moves up in support.
The Sixth Light Dragoons turn tail from the advancing hussars, while Anson pushes the Irish to charge the now blown Chassuers
But to no avail. It's looking pretty grim for the British on the right flank as the French hussars put spurs to their fresh horses and prepare to the charge the worn out Allied cavalry.

Meanwhile on the British left, the squares beginning to look rather worn under constant cavalry harassment
Having drawn a card that allows me to order units on my right and left, I send the British cavalry forward in the hope of wiping out the blown Chasseurs before the fresh French cavalry make mincemeat of me.

And then suddenly it's all over, a second French square collapses under constant cavalry pressure and the game is over. The final score was 6-2, but I think the game was closer than the score indicated, things could (and most likely should) have gone very differently in the cavalry fight on the right and I was lucky to capture (I wouldn't do anything so uncouth as to kill) General Foy early on. Forcing General Du Gourmand to form squares early was definitely the correct course of action as it meant that he surrendered the initiative early on in the game and never really regained it.

While wearing the squares down is mechanically not a great way of modelling what actually occurred within the frame work of the game, it makes sense as the alternative is to include the possibility of catastrophic square loss, which is very unlikely.

And as night falls, rain lashes the muddy ground which has been torn by hooves and shot since early morning. Looters flit between the bodies, gathering a harvest of watches and gold teeth. In the distance a horse screams. The groans of the wounded rise in protest before ending in a strangled cry. 

A single hand reaches out from beneath a horse, the fingernails torn and bleeding. Lightning flashes as a heavy set man in the bedraggled finery of the Imperial Guard drags himself from beneath his fallen horse. A peal of thunder rings across the firmament and the melancholy battlefield is lit by lightning. He turns his eyes to heaven, unblinking in the rain and swears bloody vengence. 

"Next time, Kinch! Next time!"


  1. Merde.

    I hope it will be possible to arrange an exchange very soon - I do not much fancy the British food.

    Maximilien S Foy, Comte de l'Empire

  2. Well, you can put me in the "there's enough evidence for the breaking of squares, from Villers en Cauches to Aliwal that I want that option" camp, esp since I don't know of any cases of squares being worn down and only only a few accounts of squares actually repelling cavalry since it seems cavalry usually didn't really try.

    But the key point is that is looked and sounded like a fun, challenging and satisfying game which is what counts.

  3. Nicely done. The pics give a good feel for the way the battle flowed. I like the use of the bigger trees; I must get some soon.


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  6. But surely Comte, with this curry chips and chicken tikka masala we are spoiling you?

  7. I can see your point Ross, but using six sided dice I'm not sure I can introduce it into the game system without making it all to common.

    Though while reading last night, I discovered that there's a special rule in the Albeura scenario that prevents the British player forming square in particular circumstances.

  8. Brigadier,

    I've found using a variety of heights in trees to make a huge diffence in the look of the table. Something about how the eye sees them I suppose.

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  10. Great post Conrad makes me want to get another C&C nap game in.

  11. A very eventful action - and a near run thing by the look. Not what I would have expected from the historical action, but David Gates allowed that the French infantry on that occasion were probably a bit unlucky as well as being in poor spirits.

    Which probably makes the game more realistic than the real thing! Nice pictures! Great to see what looks like Airfix Light Dragoons still gracing the wargames table...