Thursday, 30 July 2009

Battle of Talavera 28th July 1809

Battle of Talavera 28th July 1809

The last battle I played was Waterloo and I had quite a few months to prepare for it. However as I wanted to play this battle on the actual 200th anniversary I had just over a week to sort things out. Luckily having time off for the summer holidays helped. I drew a scale map of the table using a scale 1cm to 1 inch this helped to cut down the setting up time of the areas on the table. As this was a smaller battle than Waterloo, I had plenty of figures, so no need to paint anymore. The day came and I had to set it up outside, I had invested in a gazebo to keep off the sun and wind (didn't have to worry about the rain it hasn't rained in weeks) .

The armies were positioned the same as in the actual battle with the Spanish on the Allied right flank settled in behind the fortification of the town of Talavera and the stone walls of the olive fields.

The British were positioned on the steep Medellin Hill.

The majority of the French were facing the British across the stream on the opposite hill.

The French also had some cavalry units facing the Spanish troops to keep them occupied. The first decision of the French Commander was where to send his reinforcements under Joseph. Either to attack the Spanish or to reinforce the French facing the British. I came to the same conclusion as the actual French General that the Spanish position was too strong, so the main attack would be on the British flank.

The initial French bombardment caught the British in the open in front of the crest . The damage markers were moved back to the reserve units while Wellington waited for the first Infantry attack. But the first attack came in the valley on the extreme left of the British position where 3 French cavalry units took on a single British Heavy cavalry unit. Against all the odds the British unit defeated all the French units in turn and sent them retreating back over the Portina Stream. Then in an untypical British Cavalry fashion, they threw a 1 on the cavalry control table (they needed a 3 or more to carry on charging) and halted instead of chasing after their foes into the French Line.

Meanwhile in the British centre the French advanced up the hill and into the British front line. Wellington wasn't too worried because here was his Superior Infantry and artillery, more than capable to repel the French, however in the second round of Infantry v Infantry combat the French threw a double six meaning the single British unit had 4 more damage counters to add to its 3 it had gained in the artillery fire. As an infantry unit can only take 6 damage counters it was eliminated along with the artillery and Wellington was killed.

This action ended the French phase, so before they could change their formation from mobile to defensive it was the Allies turn to counterattack. This they did with their light cavalry, who charged over the crest and into the surprised and disorganised French infantry , with no time to react and having no cavalry support of their own they were quickly eliminated before they could get into square and the hill was still in British hands.

Lessons had been learned on both sides and the British now without its leader moved their troops back to behind the crest out of the French artillery fire. The French realised they needed to combine their cavalry and infantry in their attacks and also to make sure they had close supports to reinforce any successful attack.

The French pressed on attacks on either side of the hill, whilst waiting for their reinforcements to arrive . One French combined attack forced a British Infantry unit to go into Square they beat off the cavalry attack but before they could change formation back, the French Artillery opened up at the dense target and eliminated it by adding another 3 damage counters to the three it had already acquired.

The Allies were busy bringing Spanish Reinforcements from their second line to reinforce the British on the hill.
After an hours delay Joseph's reinforcements arrived and were immediately thrown into the attack advancing on to the centre of the hill. The British had bolstered the line with Spanish reinforcements, but to no avail , a British unit had to retreat and the other Portuguese Infantry unit was eliminated.

The top of the hill was at last in French hands. But instead of consolidating, the French commander got over confident and with only leaving one infantry on the summit, he then sent his cavalry and other infantry unit to finish of the retreating British unit. The Allies counterattacked from the side of the hill and were able to eliminate the single French Infantry unit. The summit was back in Allies hands. The French who had carried on were now cut off, so they attacked the summit for the second time . The Spanish force weren't expecting an attack from their rear and were eliminated and so once again the summit changed hands, this time though they went into defensive posture and beat off another attack by the allies to retake the summit. The French were then able to bring up an horse artillery unit on to the the summit that started firing into the Allied lines in front of them.

It was about 1.oo o'clock in actual time and war game time and I decided to stop the battle, as the French had command over the battlefield now that's its troops had taken the hill and were able to threaten the Spanish flank. I felt that knowing that the British Army were defeated the Spanish would retreat off the battlefield. Also just like in the Battle it was getting too hot to play in the midday sun.

In conclusion , I enjoyed the game although most of the action was confined to only one half of the table as the Spanish line became redundant. The rules worked well as they were designed to be played for the battle of Waterloo. I changed one rule, so that all Artillery could fire at the start of a new move, the same as skirmish fire. Artillery could also be fired once per action round or in close combat. Also I had some Spanish friends around who came to have a look and were very interested to play next time I put on a battle, so hopefully this will be my last Napoleonic solo battle and I will be playing against real people.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Battle of Waterloo

As I was playing these rules solo for this game, I thought I would just play it as the battle was fought to get used to the rules. It took a lot longer to set up than I imagined, having to place the field boundaries was a pain. I had to stop and redraw the map so I could work out the measurements, by the time I had placed the troops on the board it was 2.00 a.m in the morning, it had only taken about 5 hours. Although now I know the pitfalls, I'm hoping to cut the set up time down considerably. The table is 5ft by 8ft and I used 15mm figures based on 2 inch square bases, one for cavalry and artillery and 2 bases for infantry, to show their different formations. Instead of damage cubes , I use damage counters with a single dead figure on each one.

Initial positions of the troops

Sideways view of the start of the battle, French on the right and Allies on the left

I started the Battle an hour earlier than in the Board game. The french opened up with an intial bombardment of all the Allied Line. In the Allied turn the damage counters were moved back from the strongpoints to behind the crest, while Wellington waited for the first attack.

French Infantry attacking the Dutch in the orchard in front of Hougomont

At Midday the French Infantry attacked Hougoumont, but first they had to beat the Dutch unit in the orchard in front of the strongpoint. The plucky Dutch were able to hold back the frontal attack, but they were then attacked in the flank by another 2 French Infantry units, who bought a devastating volley on the single Dutch unit. The Dutch were then eliminated after having 7 damage counter assigned to them.

D'Erlon Corp Attacks

The Victorious French attacked Hougoumont hoping for a similar success, but they had no chance against the British Guard in the stronghold and were beaten back. At 1.00 p.m after another heavy French bombardment the whole of the French Centre attacked the Allied line. The attack came to a stop against the farm house of La Haye Sainte and the village of Papelotte. But in the center, D'erlon himself advances over the crest pushing back the Allied Line.

D'Erlon creates a breakthrough in the Allied Line

Wellington sent in his Heavy Cavalry who crashed into the French Infantry who were still in a mobile formation, not having enough time to form a defensive line, all three units were eliminated including their General D'Erlon as well.

There's no stopping the British Cavalry

The cavalry carried on charging over the crest and downhill into the French second advancing line.

The victorious cavalry take the French guns in the valley

The British cavalry carried on and finally halted after taking the French cannons, but were unable to profit on their success because they had no infantry support. Wellington managed to use this time to fill in the gap in his center with reinforcements.

French attacking the Allied Right Flank

The French decided after losing 3 units, that Hougoumont was too hard a strongpoint to crack. So they decided to try and go around the Allied Right Flank, but were again beaten off.

The Prussians arrive.

At 3.00 p.m the Prussian Troops began to appear out of the woods. Napoleon sent his reserves to meet this new threat.

Birdseye view of the end of the Game

At 4.00pm with more Prussians arriving and no clear French Breakout on the Allied Centre I decided to end the game, as I was running out of time.

In conclusion the game was very enjoyable and the rules were very good, usually even after the first play I am tinkering with them because I dont think they give the right feel. These rules however, I believe do, so I will definitely use them again for my refight of the Battle of Talavera on 28th of July.

Eureka !

I have been wargaming for 30 years, and its hard to believe but this is the first time I have played the Battle of Waterloo. Maybe because I have read and seen so much about the battle it just seemed to be unplayable. Any way, I had placed this project on a back burner for a few months and was just looking for a game system I could use.
I wanted something simple and easy to use but still felt realistic. After a few false dawns in finding the right rules, I came across the excellent Boardgame Geek Website. On there was a review for a new game called Waterloo by Martin Wallace. When I saw a picture of the gameboard I realized this is what I was looking for. The rule system was also a hit for me, the Damage cubes was something I had been using in a similar way in some rules I had devised myself, also the combat system seemed logical as well. The actual scale for the units when I compared it to the actual Order of Battle was beautiful in its simplicity. Infantry units represent about 2500men, Cavalry around 1000 and Artillery 25 guns .

Many years ago I finished using rules that required a measuring tape to move and fire. Instead I started to use either squares or hexes to speed up the game, but the table always looked too unrealistic been broken up in uniformed lines. Thats why when I saw Martin's Board I knew it was like Garlic Bread (the future). I don't know what the term is for it but for the moment I will call it Crazy Paving. There was one drawback the rules are pretty specific to Waterloo with modifiers for national traits, British troops being better than Dutch etc. So I changed the rules slightly so I could play any Napoleonic Battle with them. Intead of Dutch, British etc, I used 3 classes of training and morale, Inferior, Regular and Superior. Also I distinguished between Heavy Cavalry and Light Cavalry , Horse and Foot Artillery.

In the next installment I will give a battle report with pictures of my first attempt.


Hi, welcome to my blog, I have started this to show my wargaming interests and hopefully meet some like minded wargamers out there in cyberspace and hopefully in the flesh. I have lived in Spain with my family for the last 2 years and it seems Wargamers here are quite scarce, unless you live in the bigger cities.
My interests are Napoleonic , Zulu Wars, American Indian Wars, Late World War one all in 15mm. Like many wargamers I switch from period to period when I see a film, read a book or just get an idea in my head. So I thought I would start this blog to try sort out all my ongoing projects into some order.

Hope you enjoy.