Latest day of games with nephew Tom and I was a Commands & Colors: Napoleonics session. We were playing with the base set, but I did add in the Generals, Marshals & Tacticians expansion, so we could use the Tactics cards and the expanded Command deck.
Our first choice was scenario 006, River Coa. The set-up here is that the British and Portuguese forces have their backs to a river that is crossed by a single bridge. The good thing is that the Allies gain a victory banner for each unit that crosses the bridge and exits the board. Here's how it looks from the French side. The bridge is just to the left of that lone British officer at the back of board, left of centre.
I drew the French for our first play. My initial move was to attack with the Light Cavalry on my right flank. The intention was to force some of the British infantry into square, reducing Tom's options (players lose a Command card for each unit in square). However, Tom declined to form square and the cavalry finished off two infantry units (including one of the rifles that I was particularly concerned about). Though this did leave them in front of the British artillery...
Tom decided that the way to win was to get units across the bridge and used a "Bayonet Charge" card to evacuate his first - and start a traffic jam on the approach to the bridge. I played "Forced March" to move up the main French force in the centre, starting to damage the British units even as they disappeared behind the hills towards the bridge.
The British cavalry moved up on my right, their Heavies taking out one of my Light Cavalry units. At the same time, Tom got another two units off the board - that's 4:2 to the Allies. A "Grande Manoeuvre" card let me shift several units onto the now empty hills overlooking the bridge - as shown here.
But Tom used "Leadership" (one of the new cards in the expanded deck) to get two more units over the bridge to win 6:2. It felt closer than that scoreline suggests, though.
Re-playing as the other side saw my British manoeuvre with a "Bayonet Charge", shifting units closer to the bridge, while the French attacked on my right.
I managed to get one unit off the board while my light infantry tried to hold up the French advance on the right, despite being forced into square by the French cavalry. They fell, but I was able to use "Grande Manoeuvre" to get the two Portuguese infantry off the board with British line infantry taking their place in the fortifications. The French continued to advance, with a "Bayonet Charge" starting a pitched battle in front of the bridge. However, the score was still 3:1 to me at this point.
But the fighting went in favour of the French and they siezed the bridge before finishing off enough units to win 6:4. Here's the final position with just the horse artillery (poised to exit, but blocked by the French cavalry on the bridge), one rifle unit (in square on the left) and the artillery in Alemida (far left) left on the British side. And that's 12:6 to Tom in total. Oops!
We moved on to the next scenario, 007 Bussaco (Reynier's Assault), where a substantial British and Portuguese force is sitting on hills awaiting attack by the French. I started as British this time and here's my view of the starting positions.
The initial French attack, in the centre, was countered by a handy "Butts and Bayonets" card. At this stage it's all looking good for the Allies.
Tom's French continued to attack in the centre, while his cavalry worked its way across (right of the photo above shows them crossing the river - far right). An exchange of musketry went in favour of the French - I lost my artillery - but both of us had damaged units. Then the French cavalry arrived...
Fighting on my left flank also went in favour of the French, leaving me shifting the Portuguese across from my right to try to hold the line. With Tom carefully retreating his most damaged units, I still only had two victory banners by the time Tom reached the winning six. Ouch!
We then played the scenario the other way round, but I was clearly concentrating on the game, as I have just the one photo and even fewer notes. The photo shows that the French right wing has hardly moved, the centre has been battered and the cavalry are trying to rescue things on the left. The British have four victory banners and two more are imminent
Concentrating clearly didn't help, as I lost again: played four, lost four. Not a vintage day's games, but still fun.
This was the title of my board games column in Flagship magazine, so I thought I'd resurrect it, 8 years after Flagship's demise. The idea is to get down my musings in a more contemporaneous way - expect things to appear later in To Win Just Once (www.pevans.co.uk/TWJO) in a more considered form. Now, can I manage a less formal style?
- [+] Dice rolls