A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Grand Tactical Game - Salamanca OOBs again

This has been a very odd two weeks - I was effectively snowed in for most of the time, and, now that we are getting back to what passes for normal around here, I've been rushing about catching up with all the things I couldn't do during the bad weather.

Hence the drop-off in the blogging activity. I have, however, managed to spend a little time putting the MEP Grand Tactical rules onto the computer, and things are progressing well - I hope to have everything up and running in a week or so.

I've also been refining the set-up and scenario for my proposed Salamanca battle. I'm still not sure whether I just try to act out the actual events, or (more likely) set it up at a point in time and then let the game rules rip, and see where I get to. My intention is to start the action at about 1pm, as the French left flank is becoming over-extended and just after Marmont has been carted off, wounded, and replaced by Clauzel.

To set the context and check details I have a full set of Oman's history available, and various other useful works, but have had an absolutely wonderful time re-reading Rory Muir's book. Just great. He dissects the battle into its principal actions, and at the end of each chapter there is a commentary section which discusses the inconsistencies between the various sources and tries to resolve areas of doubt - in many instances this is at least as fascinating as the account of the fighting. Yes, this is a well-known book, but I thought I would record my appreciation, and recommend it most highly to anyone who has not read it.

So here is my (tweaked) Order of Battle, as printed out by my computer program.

The figures are EL: Elements (750 inf, 500 cav, 1 battery), QB: Quality Bonus, SK: Skirmish capability. The numbers in square brackets are the identifiers for the computer.

I have followed what I believe to be current thinking on the French organisation: Barbot stands in for Clauzel, Col Loverdo for Barbot, Taupin is in charge of Brennier's Divn, Thomieres in charge of Souham's; the cavalry brigadier Carrie de Boissy is absent, since he had been wounded and captured 4 days earlier. Senior colonels command brigades wherever appropriate.

On the Allied side, I've excluded the Spanish lancers (because it's a small force, and I'm not sure where if at all they were engaged), and I've put all the Spanish infantry into a single brigade, just to make it large enough to be useful.

Throughout, units which are known to have been absent or posted off the field are omitted, and the listing of battalions and cavalry regiments is fudged a bit to balance the total numbers against the historical OOBs. If your favourite regiment has disappeared then I apologise - I too was disappointed that my newly painted Regiment de Prusse was excluded by the rounding rules!


  1. Interesting - I would have crumbled and included my favourite regiments anyway, regardless of numbers.

    Also, you really sell that Rory Muir book - might have to look into it.

  2. Conrad - that seems only fair, since you seem to have persuaded me to buy the Quiller-Couch stories!

    I've only just started QC, but it seems promising. In the past, I have regularly been disappointed with Napoleonic fiction - with the very definite exception of CS Forester, most of the stuff I've read has been consigned to various headings, viz "rather irritating", "extremely irritating" and "rubbish". Sharpe is sort of OK, but definitely a bit silly, and there's a lot of gratuitous stuff to keep the publisher happy. Delderfield has a dated style and his Napoleonic books are very poorly researched (funny that something from 1950 can seem more dated than something from 1900?). GA Henty is xenophobic and reproduces great chunks of Napier, and real people appear as towering caricatures - also, I worry a bit about the overtones of (e.g.) Wellington addressing his posturing aides as "you young scamps". Brigadier Gerard is fair enough, but I read it so many years ago that I should maybe have another look. The Richard Howard novels are unknown to me - personal (and unfair) prejudice on my part mostly results in my swerving such works these days. Let's face it, the Napoleonic saga mostly reads like fiction anyway.

    QC seems to be what my grannie used to call "more like the biscuit". Thanks for the nod.


  3. As you likely know, I did my game at the point the French were over extended - the key part. I couldn't see doing it earlier than that. I used historical OOB's to a point, but kept all of my units the same size, but each side's units with a different number of stands for their units. The proportions were the same, so it didn't have any negative impacts.

    I played it twice, first time the British won hands down with the French left crumbling just like real life. It was a re-enactment in so many ways. In the second battle, all troops and units exactly the same, the French rolled well and the British assault ground to a halt, then a retreat. A fun battle, but probably one you'd want to have experienced players with you because a newbie would have difficulties I think.