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

Sunday, 5 July 2015

1809 Spaniards - A Run Out at Last - (1) Set-up

General view from behind the French right flank. The stream in the foreground is fordable
Since a wild monsoon this morning caused our planned family walk to be postponed, I took the opportunity to set up a small battle involving some of the new 1809 Spaniards. I have picked on an action which looks remarkably like the Espinosa scenario from the Commands & Colors Expansion #1 (which I never bought, by the way).

Unusually, for me, I stuck to the given OOB (well, more or less...), and the game will be played using straight C&CN rules (though with my Spanish rules extensions, which are slightly different from Mr Borg's). I hope to play the game tomorrow or Monday - it depends on the weather!

It's rather a busy battlefield, with lots of woodland - I'm not sure how I'll play this. The Spaniards would be well advised to defend, given their limitations in the battlefield drill department, but the French look a bit short in numbers for an assault. Hmmm. The advantage of a solo game, of course, is that there is not the slightest need to have a balanced game, and it doesn't matter if the result is ridiculous (though I may choose not to mention it).

French dispositions from their left

...and the Spaniards, from their right

Spanish units are a mix of "old" regiments (mostly in white), "new" (post 1809)
regiments (mostly in round hats) and a sprinkling of militia

French foot artillery - if the French are to attack, skilful movement of the
artillery is important in CCN

Italians on the French right - including a rare glimpse of the Italian artillery

Not much cavalry present - two light units per side - here's the Spanish
contingent: two regiments of Cazadores a Caballo

And a general view back the other way from the first photo - we are now behind the Spanish right flank

The Imp of Perversity strikes - a cameo appearance by Preston Mill - the
full-size original watermill is actually here in East Lothian, at East Linton,
about 6 miles from where I'm sitting as I type this, and it's
beautifully maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, but it
amuses me to give it a day out in the Peninsular War

French line infantry skulking in a forest of Merit trees - Old School or what?

The French light cavalry also stand and wait in reserve - doesn't look like a cavalry field

Yet another battle honour coming up? - more tales of glory? - this is the
1st Battalion of the 6eme Leger, which is the longest-serving
Napoleonic unit in my collection, albeit with some newbie command figures
acquired over the years
Anyway, it all looks rather nice for a first outing for the new army, so I'll report further once I've played the game. Any similarities between what follows and either history or the official CCN scenario will be, as ever, a complete accident.


  1. This probably sounds an odd thing to say, but I find those photos very relaxing. The whole set up is restful on the eyes, without the 'clutter' of the, now traditional, eye candy shots in magazines. To me it's the essence of a wargame and those Merit trees bring back lots of memories.

    1. Thanks Gary - I'm old enough and sad enough to have learned the "look of the thing" gazing longingly at the illustrations in Charge! and the Charles Grant books - it's not that I learned that warfare looks like this, I think I learned that wargames with toys look like this, and in the context in which I game this approach is practical, simple and does not overtax my modelling skills.

      Relaxing is a good word. Zzzzzz.


    2. Gary, I agree! There is a certain aesthetically pleasing quality to Tony's Old School, minimalist basing and that shade of green.

  2. My dislike of hex based games is pretty well known but I would very much like to play that game if I ever got the chance!! Love the look.. a proper game..

    1. Thank you Steve - I take that as a considerable compliment, and i am pleased. We have had some playful jousting about hexes in the past, and I respect that everyone's games should look and play as they like, but I have to say I never saw hexes as a big deal, nor do I feel strongly enough about them to get properly defensive. I've been through super-realism and all the rest of it, and always came back to a preference for biggish battles that don't look like anything more than toy soldiers at war. I am aware that my games are a bit bland scenically, and the rules I use are simple to the point of crudity, but that is a choice - I get fast, enjoyable games that swing along nicely, even solo. I do also play without hexes - the other side of these warboards is painted plain green - and I use them. If I were to use the plain side of the table, and rewrite my rules slightly so that all distances are measured in terms of a "base width" or "span" of 6 inches, then I could play exactly the same game without a hex in sight, and no-one would bat an eyelid, apart from noting the (overly) simple terrain. The only differences in play would be a need to denote the edges of villages and woods, and a lot of additional measuring, so the same game would take a bit longer and would involve some fiddly bits in the turning and crossing obstacles bits, but there would be no difference.

      This is not a pathetic attempt to prolong a dead argument or to fight a corner, since i don't really feel I have a corner to fight (that would require square cells...) - my table happens to have hexes scribed on it, and I realise not everyone likes the look of that, but they are only there to simplify a game which is just a toy soldiers battle like any other.

      I have no evangelism to offer - it suits me, it is a bit boardgame-like, I guess, but I don't think there is sufficient difference from a standard miniatures game to alienate anyone, either way.

      Some day you must come for a game - you'd be most welcome!

      By the way, did you catch the adventures of Great Uncle Alf in the previous post? - more sitcom stuff from my family histories, but I thought it might appeal!

      Cheers - and thanks again - Tony

  3. Well, best not mention the hexes...... but I will add to the chorus of approval to the look of the thing.Not sure the terrain is overly simple, classic perhaps, practical certainly, effective and attractive also comes to mind.

    1. LOL (as the young people say)! I seem to be getting a reputation as an anti-hex zealot, and I'm really not (that) bothered.. :o) Far more important is what Gary said so eloquently, and the spirit the game is played in... Tony, I'll take you up on that game if I'm ever up your way.... and I look forward to reading about Great Uncle Alf!

  4. Whether one likes hexes or not, the overall look of your tables and troops is always stunning. I love the way that you have thought everything through to come up with an attractive but playable game. I think that your scenery is just right too. Of course the main problem is that you don't have enough Hinton Hunt figures on the table (although those 'Spanish' cavalry look familiar) one day we must put that right!

    1. Ian, it's very kind of you to say so. In some ways, things are made easy for me on the appearance front by a few constraints, since new stuff has to match in with the old, and all my wargaming materials and kit have to be able to pack away neatly to leave the ceremonial dining table clear and (most importantly) free from flock! So to an extent the minimalist look is forced on me, but I find that once I have some house rules to conform to, I find it easier to try to make the best of what is possible.

      Some things I've been lucky with - my shift to 15mm buildings a few years ago worried me a lot, but in fact it worked out very well, and the slight decline in my painting abilities in recent years has been more than offset by having friends who can do painting for me of a higher standard than I could ever have managed anyway!

      I would also like to mention that I have one more HH Spanish cavalry unit in the pipeline, which I hope should appear Aug or Sept - I hope that rescues me some more brownie points!

  5. Splendidly elegant looking game layout.

    1. Bless you, guvnor - you're very kind! The green paint was an ancient accident - my first efforts at tabletops were dark green, like table-tennis tables, and the room went dark when you shone a light on it. A friend who was a commercial artist suggested a paler shade would brighten things up and would make the uniform colours stand out - he brought along a tin of what i thought was a horrifying pea-soup colour, but - by Jove! - it worked. That colour was Robbialac's "Tapestry Green", and I stuck with it for years (decades, in fact) until Robbialac disappeared, and then I got my local DIY to do a colour match, and a modern Dulux shade of domestic wall-paint is pretty close, so that's what I still use [Crested Moss #1].

      It's just pea soup, really, but it still works, still gives a sunny day and makes the uniform colours pop out.

      Cheers, Jonathan, and thank you!