Pevans's Perspective

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 ( in a more considered form. Now, can I manage a less formal style?
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EPIC Napoleonics at MidCon

Paul Evans
United Kingdom
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For the second year in a row, Mark B brought his Commands & Colors: Napoleonics collection to MidCon and set up an EPIC game on Saturday afternoon. (For the rest of my report from MidCon, see November Derby (part 1) and November Derby (part 2).) The best thing about playing with Mark's set is the terrific terrain tiles that a friend made for him. They really add to the look of the game, while being cunningly designed so that the wooden blocks of our units fit on easily.

This year we had five players, which is an awkward number. So we mixed the 4- and 6-player rules: Mark and I were the two commanders-in-chief, but I had two subordinates (each commanding a section of the battlefield - I took the third as well as being CinC) while Mark just had one, with a floating brief.

Our battle was Vimeiro, early on in the Peninsular War and Mark drew the French, leaving my team in charge of the plucky Brits and their gallant Portuguese allies. Hence my photos are taken from the British side of the battlefield. Below are the starting positions. The river running across the battlefield can be forded but there are impassable hills (left of centre in the photo) and an impassable, but bridged, river in the bottom right corner. The town of Vimeiro is worth victory banners - more for the French than the British - as are Ventosa (on the British left) and the river bridge.
From gallery of Pevans

The first attack was in the centre by a couple of French cavalry units trying to get to Vimeiro town. Initially beaten back by British light infantry, the cavalry was reinforced and continued attacking on the French left wing. This persistence put a dent in the British right wing, including the light infantry and an artillery unit, with one French unit eventually making it into the town (just right of centre in the photo).
From gallery of Pevans

A general advance on the British/Portuguese left flank chased off some French units and culminated in the light infantry pushing forward.
From gallery of Pevans

However, determined French resistance meant the allies' advance stalled, despite French losses. However, the British did occupy Ventosa.
From gallery of Pevans

Meanwhile the British infantry on the right finally saw off the French cavalry, but only after significant losses. Then the French infantry columns advanced (thanks to a useful 'Forced March' card) on their outnumbered foe, some of whom were still in square.
From gallery of Pevans

And the final French attacks on the British right sealed the victory with the fall of Vimeiro...
From gallery of Pevans

...and no progress on the left with the French needing just one more banner for the win.
From gallery of Pevans

You'll have noticed that there was no action in the centre at all! But it was a convincing win for Mark's French forces 13:8.

Historically, this was a fine victory for General Wellesley (not yet Wellington) as the French commander, Junot, made a series of unco-ordinated attacks. However, two elderly Generals took over command at the end of the battle and allowed the French troops to return home with all their equipment and weapons.
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