The Napoleonic Wars, Black Powder, 28mm
This game report is brought to you by Dougie Trail: This was a fictional Peninsular Campaign engagement dreamed up by John Glass, who owns a Spanish army. The premise was that after the battle Albuera (16th May) the battered French troops under Marshall Soult were withdrawing to the south. Despite their losses in the battle the British mounted an aggressive pursuit of their opponents. Our game has an Allied command consisting of Spanish, Portuguese and British troops catching the French rearguard in a disadvantageous position.The French are defending a two long hills running across the table. At their disposal are two brigades infantry, supported by a light cavalry brigade. The allies have five brigades of infantry and three brigades of cavalry. The ace in the allied deck was a flanking force consisting of the Portuguese with a brigade of infantry and another one of cavalry. The objective for the French was to exit the table at the village of Mierdalona with three-quarters of their force intact. The allies had to destroy at least half of the French army.As the first turn kicked off the French desperately trying to reorganise to face the Portuguese to their right rear. This was the flank commanded by Brian Phillips, and it was looking like a pretty difficult task. I had the other infantry brigade and the light cavalry. While the infantry held, the cavalry blundered but fortunately went to their right, so it could have been a lot worse. The allies brought on what seemed an endless supply of troops,. What had looked like a holding action was clearly going to turn into a headlong flight, and this was just turn one! I have to say myself and Brian were starting to get a wee bit concerned.More frantic French manoeuvring and much cursing of the dice filled the French players’ turn, as lady luck was definitely missing. The allies poured forward some good rolls which sped things along for them. The Spanish in particular were closing fast. John was getting some assistance from a young boardgamer by the name of Ewan, who seemed to have come supplied with his own well-trained dice. His “Wild Geese” Irish troops in Spanish service were soon beginning to threaten the French left flank.Some tough decisions now had to be made by the French. Clearly units needed to be sacrificed in order top let the bulk of the army get away. By now the Portuguese had managed to cut across a third of the French rear, but instead of pushing the advantage they began to attack the rear of the French flank. This assured its destruction, but it left a gap which the French could use to slip the rest of the army away to safety. Back on the other side of the table John’s Spanish had charged in with his two leading battalions. In the ensuing melee one of them broke but the other managed to keep fighting. By now Ewan’s Irish had slipped round the flank of the exposed French battalion and sent them reeling down the hill. The French retreat was starting to look like a real mess…Some scrambling and a wee bit of good fortune for the French managed to resurrect some form of French defensive line. This should only have been enough to give the French a bit of a respite but thanks to some poor Spanish command dice, (young Ewan had left) the French players were given a little more substantial breather.While all this had been going on the allied cavalry had swept forward, and a few sacrificial French battalion squares were detached in the hope of distracting some of them.The cavalry crashed into the rear of Brian’s battalions, which had failed to turn through some really bad dice. The first one evaporated in a whirl of horse flesh, and the rest of their regiment looked doomed. We had, however, run out of time, and so the French players were spared what was clearly going to be a bloody debacle, and an utter rout. As usual Black Powder let us play a fast and enjoyable game which even new players like Ewan can pick up within a few turns. The game had been a real command problem for the French and we should have started running for the rear much sooner. As a result we got badly carved up by the victorious Allies.