|Godinot's brigade have a think about their diversionary attack on the village - Von Alten with the KGL light infantry are in residence...|
The tweaked rules are currently still in a state of flux - the main features are that they do not use the C&CN cards (they use a dice-based activation/initiative system), and they do not enforce strict alternation of moves, but they do use (most of) the main C&CN movement and combat systems. Until they are more stable, I don't really want to say too much about the rules themselves, though I will make some observations of a general nature at the end of this post. The important thing I wish to make clear at the moment is that the tweaked version is not intended as an improvement on original C&CN, nor a correction; it is merely a modified cousin of the game to suit specific kinds of wargames that I seem to be very interested in, so there is no need for anyone to rush to defend the original game, nor to pitch in from the other side, to write it off. Oh yes - my working title for the modified game is "Ramekin". This has no special significance or merit apart from the fact that it amuses me, and it stops me calling it "Vive l'Empereur" or "The Vivandiere's Moustache" or similar.
These rules, in their evolving form, were recently used for the Eggmuhl game here, and for the demo game I set up for my aunt (yes, all right, all right).
This midweek I had planned to set up a solitaire playtest game to do some more refinement (or, as is often the case, to abandon some of the most recent brilliant innovations, since they might simply be a waste of time!). Playtesting is a necessary investment of effort, of course, but playtesting on a solo basis has hazards of its own, since the writer knows what he intended the rules to mean, and how they were supposed to work, and will tend to fail to spot the big holes in them during solo play. Thus I was doubly delighted to have a collaborator yesterday - Count Goya came to help out.
I set up a biggish game based on Albuera, which is a battle of which I had limited understanding previously, and one which is noted for the intensity of the fighting, and the fact that it could have worked out in a number of ways - in fact you might say that it was several different battles, fought successively, in different directions.
I did a lot of reading (so did Goya), and set up a game on my bigger (10'4" x 5', 17 hexes x 9) tabletop. I did some work to sort out which bits of the complex OOBs actually appeared in the field, and - though the numbers of units I fielded didn't match the original battle, the implied numbers of troops were pretty close. [Thus, for example, Girard's Division in my game was 5 battalions, which is about 4000 men, which is correct, though in the original battle these men were spread over 9 battalions.]
I read over, but did not use, the published C&CN Albuera scenario. My game was somewhat larger, and my map was rather more closely based on fact (again, this is not a criticism of anything). We started the game at the point where Beresford (or someone on Beresford's staff) notices that the French are not really serious about attacking the town of Albuera itself - this is a diversion, and the main part of Soult's army has performed a smart left hook, so the principal attack is on the Spanish troops on the Allied right. Thus Stewart's 2nd Division, with Colborne's brigade in front, are sent marching to the right, to cover the Spaniards' exposed flank.
Albuera is renowned for having some key incidents which may not fit with normal wargame rules. Most famously, the French light cavalry - notably the Vistula Lancers - wrecked Colborne's troops, who failed to form square (because Stewart and/or Beresford ordered them to stay in line to maximise firepower, or because there may or may not have been a violent rainstorm which obscured their view and damped their powder, or because they didn't expect the cavalry to be out there on the flank, or for some other reason). It is possible to incorporate some chance card type decision point - I confess I don't care for rigging a game in that way. As a gesture towards history, we adopted a simple dice-test for any infantry wishing to form square - just for the day.
I'm not going to step through the AAR in more detail than comes from the photos - we were not attempting to re-enact anything - Albuera served primarily as an entertaining context for some playtesting. There were some interesting historical parallels in the game - some worked the opposite way to the real battle, of course, and some worked the "correct" way, if in a slightly different manner. We ran out of time, though the French appeared to be winning when it was time for dinner. Whether or not the Allies realised they were beaten, of course, is the critical issue...
|Pin-up unit - the dreaded Vistula Lancers. In fact they had a remarkably bad day, and were eliminated very quickly. So much for history.|
|The French cavalry - Vistula boys at the front, then 2 units of chasseurs, then 2 of dragoons - at this point, they were opposed only by a weak brigade of Spanish light cavalry, so they chanced their arm...|
|Over on the Allied left, and in the centre, the Portuguese still haven't moved, neither have Myers' brigade from Cole's force, and Stewart's boys are making very slow progress towards the right.|
|The firefight - Colborne's chaps appear on the right flank - not quite in the historic manner, and free from cavalry interruptions for the moment. In fact they didn't do very well when they got there - it was a nasty exchange though.|
|Early stages - Allies slightly ahead - 1 VP for holding the village, and one of the others must be for whacking the lancers. 11 VPs for the win was the order of the day.|
|Allied right flank isn't looking very clever, and Cole and the Portuguese are still mostly rooted to the spot on the far side. After a slow start, Girard is pressing the Spanish infantry.|
|Gazan's Division, behind Girard's, watches the attack develop in front. Both Girard and Gazan are prominent hat-wavers. Famous for it.|
|Better fortune for the Allies in the centre - combined-arms attack by one of Hoghton's battalions and Miranda's Spanish battery does some fearsome damage to one of Girard's regiments. All a bit late, really.|
|Late view from the Allied right shows that their right wing has mostly disappeared, and the left wing has hardly moved. This was just about dinner-time - the scoreboard showed the French leading by 10 points to 6, so they had more or less won.|
That's enough about that, I think - you'll hear more of the Ramekin soon, I'm sure.