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

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Day for Fighting

Initial set-up - Dalhousie's 7th Divn on this side, his Portuguese on his left...
Been a bit busy, not to mention preoccupied, for a week or so, but today I have the table and some soldiers out, and am going to have a wargame this afternoon.

Standard-size Commands & Colors: Napoleonics battle (i.e. without the table extension), but a comparitive rarity for me will be the visit of a guest general, which I am looking forward to. This leads to the following thoughts:

(1) This chap has not played C&CN before, so I had better get my head straight enough to explain the game sensibly and clearly, without getting sidetracked into too much detail or too many pointless stories. Right.

(2) It also means that I had better brush up on those nippy bits in the rules that seem to fade when I take my eye off them – “Combined Arms” combats; whether units can retreat through woods or fordable rivers (yes); the correct rules for attacked Leaders to escape through an enemy unit. Must also remember to drop any house tweaks that I am testing at present. Mustn’t come across as a charlatan or an idiot.

(3) And it means I shall have to avoid putting my visitor off the game; I do not necessarily wish him to adopt C&CN as his rules of choice for life (don’t be silly), but I would be sad if my enthusiasm proved to be a turn-off (which, whisper it, is not unknown).

(4) It also means that the game had better have some reasonable degree of balance. In a solo game, this matters very little, but it is more necessary with a visitor, since he might be demotivated if the outcome were a foregone conclusion. Worse still, rules newbie or not, he might thrash me (which, also, is not unknown).

(5) Which directed my attention back to GMT’s published scenarios, and the user-generated scenarios on the internet site. I didn’t find anything that quite fitted the bill – the scenarios are all good enough games, but I’ve played most of them before, I have a slight personal bias against some of them in that they bear little resemblance to the historical battle which they are claimed to represent, and it seems uncomfortable, to me, to set out to play a defined portion of a larger battle (the adventures of the French left flank at Salamanca, for example, which I am sure is an excellent game, but feels rather like eating only the potato chips from the salad). Yes, I realise this is stupid of me.

(6) So I eventually came up with something of about the right size and layout, and fiddled around with the OOB until the sides looked reasonable. Two French divisions under my old chum Loison, with cavalry support and a couple of batteries, will attempt to secure an important river crossing on a supply route, and drive away the Anglo-Portuguese Seventh Division (under the Earl of Dalhousie, who in reality was probably not contemporary with Loison in this theatre, but who cares), which also has some horse and a few guns.

I think it looks OK. The armies were selected, to some extent, by considering which units haven’t had a run out recently - hence the presence of the 4eme Vistule, the Garde de Paris and the splendid Chasseurs des Montagnes in Loison's bit of VI Corps. Also, since his own is not available, Dalhousie has borrowed the Portuguese brigade from the 6th Division. It's all right - it's a game.

Action at Iravez, October 1811

Anglo-Portuguese 7th Divn (Maj.Gen Earl of Dalhousie)
1st Brigade (Lt.Col Colin Halkett)
1st & 2nd Lt Bns, KGL & Brunswick-Oels Jaegers
2nd Brigade (Maj.Gen JHC Von Bernewitz)
51st Foot, 68th Foot & Chasseurs Britanniques
3rd Brigade (Br.Gen Rezende}
8th (2 Bns) & 12th (2) Portuguese Line & 9th Cacadores
Cavalry Brigade (Br.Gen Madden)
1st & 11th Portuguese Cavalry & 5th Drgn.Gds (attached)
McDonald’s Troop, RHA
Arriaga’s Battery, Portuguese Art.

Total: 5 infantry, 6 light infantry, 3 cavalry, 2 artillery

French Force (Gen de Divn Loison)
Division Foy
Brigade Chemineau
6e Leger (3 Bns) & 69e Ligne (2)
Brigade Fririon
39e (2) & 76e (2) Ligne
Art à Pied
Division Vilatte
Brigade Thouvenot
28e Leger, Garde de Paris & Chasseurs des Montagnes
Brigade Soulier
17e Leger, Grenadiers Provisoirs & 4e Vistule
            Art à Pied
Brigade Maupoint
4e & 20e Dragons, 15e Chasseurs à Cheval

            Total: 9 infantry, 6 light infantry, 3 cavalry, 2 artillery

C&CN: Possession of villages at both ends of the bridge gains 1 VP.
River is fordable throughout, but artillery and wagons must cross at the bridge – French mission is to secure the crossing for supply trains, and drive Allied troops back.
Each side has 6 cards; 9 VPs wins the day. Dice for choice of first move.


  1. Having a look at my underemployed Garde de Paris last night, I was surprised to be reminded that they have no regimental flag. If memory serves me correctly, the 2-battalion regiment was captured intact at Baylen, having just arrived in Spain, and almost all of the unfortunate soldiers subsequently died in horrifying conditions on the prison hulks in Cadiz bay. The Garde was reformed, with revised uniforms and so on, but they were never given another eagle. The Empire did not easily forgive a regiment that lost its colours in action, however tragically they died.

    My little GdP battalion is in the later uniform - they are a bit scruffy, but seem cheerful enough without a flag. I'm never sure of the status of this unit - were they "militia" in C&CN terms? - do they rank higher than the Garde Nationale?

  2. I am putting some Kaiserlicks on sabots for my first ever game of C&CN with Young Master Tom this Sunday. We haven't set up a scenario as such, and so haven't defined any force lists. Being a pack rat I have a tonne of plastic Austrians, so I was wondering what force size is typical or useful for an afternoon's mayhem. Are the lists above fairly typical (15 infantry, 3 cavalry and two artillery)? Any guidance for the novice would be much appreciated. I don't want to embarrass myself by turning up with a ridiculous amount of kit like some squadie fresh off the boat lugging everything in the packing list.
    ps How did the game go? Did you stick to your resolutions?

    1. The game starts later on - I'll put up a note (unless it goes really badly)...

      This is the right sort of size, I think - my personal rule of thumb for these games is that 20-25 units a side is about as much as the table will take. Any more and you need scenario rules for bringing some on as a reserve (which is fine, but a different challenge, since the straight C&CN rules don't deal with this very well, and you need to tweak the activation and movement rules). Or, of course, you can extend the table - my bigger table at present is 17 x 9, but I have secret ambitions to go to the full 26 x 9, even though this will involve the Marquee in the Garden Project (Operation Chipperfield) or a friendly church hall.

    2. Thanks, mate, that's really helpful.
      Young Master Tom's Warplex has a very large permanent table (the lucky duck), so I'll plan for a larger force just in case, but not the 45 I could put together from the contents of the "spare bedroom"!

  3. Elegant set up with an eclectic mix of combatants. With the deployments, it appears to me that the battle objective may be to defeat the opposition in the valley and then turn attention towards securing the bridge. Of course, if one side manages to secure the bridge early then taking those VPs away may prove necessary. Will the French advantage in numbers be sufficient to throw back the Allies?

    CCN is such an enjoyable system, how could your guest general not enjoy himself? Games are fun, often nail-bitingly close, and never over until the last banner is won.
    Looking forward to the replay.

  4. Hoping your friend has a great experience, Tony. With you as a teacher, I don't doubt that he will. I agree with M. Freitag that CCN makes a good introduction to wargaming and to the Napoleonic period. I may try your scenario myself just for fun.


To avoid spam and advertising material, comments are moderated on this blog, and will appear once I have seen them.