This is my first try at any of the Peninsular War conflicts. Here DuPont goes against Castanos, trying to avoid disaster at the hands of the Spanish. I am unfamiliar with this battle. Considering the Napoleonic 20 rules (the game series this game is part of) I will try using the tactical matrix cards for solo play (just by random draws) which adds the disordered result and adjusts the CRT (Combat Results Table), I will use C’est La Guerre cards and the expansion morale rules, but since no “Great Captains” are present, I will be using those rules. (I think it may be a nice touch to add random abilities to non-Great Captain leaders, as well as Chiefs-of-Staff, making them possibly positive or negative and decided by a die roll. May be my next article for a wargame magazine.)
I am playing the historic scenario as the hidden set-up for the other scenarios would have to be totally random. While I am good a deceiving myself in real life, not so much in wargames.
(Editorial note: After beginning to play with the tactical matrix cards, I found them to add depth and period flavor. They are much more well-conceived than the guessing game which AH’s 1776 was, and which to some degree GMT’s BotAR subsystem is. This matrix can give you a combat result prior to going to the CRT, and selecting certain actions limits or compels things like advance after combat. I am just randomly selecting the tactic, which adds to the solo experience – I could see it adding a really intriguing layer with a live opponent. I want to add that the disordered result is elegant, it takes effect after the combat differential is calculated, so it does not effect the current battle. It is removed at the end of the owning player movement phase, which happens before combat – if you are not in EZOC – so the -1SP penalty will apply unless you take a turn to regain order and not attack.)
C’est La Guerre – Spain draws “And Now We Dig,” France draws Ici Nous Debout, Ici Nous Mourons!”
Turn 1 ( 15 July 1808 Morning)
Spanish: Aggressive levies – an irregular/unreliable unit must attack or a morale loss is taken. The Spanish army crosses the Rio Guadalquivir. Felix-Jones (waver test passed) attacks Dupont at Andujar fufilling the requirements of the random event, no reserves committed. (Sequence for tactical cards: Spanish Advance, French per leader rule and having DuPont on site select two cards and choose after seeing attacker card select Envelop and Cordon, both of which lead to no effect.) Felix-Jones routs off the map, broken. Dupont declines to advance. Reding attacks the French Cadre defending the Mengibar Ferry (I will not use the tactical matrix cards, this is a major river crossing which like attacks against redoubts and fortifications offers little room for maneuver although on minor river crossings I will use the matrix.) no reserves committed by either side. The Cadre rout 3 hexes as Reding crosses, the rule under the N20 expansion is unclear as the case states specifically that the 0-1 strength unit must be removed for the morale penalty to by ½, rather than 1, but I am extending it to this case and only deducting half a morale point from the French.
French: Swiss defections (brutal, now units become Unreliable, ugh). There is a temptation here to break larger units down into Cadres to spread cover more ground, but there is a morale cost to that that I am unwilling to pay at this time. Given the horrid start, I would declare abandoning Andalusia now starting to try to move the depot, but that cannot be done until turn 4. The cadre bravely head towards Linares while the rest of the French arm reacts to cover the line of retreat. DuPont moves with Frescea’s cavalry. No contact, no combat.
Turn 2 ( 15 July 1808 Midday)
Spanish: Discouragement, the French mark Coupigny as routed. Reding heads towards Bailen, Valdecanos takes Linares.
French: Sacre Bleu!-no effect. The Cadre screens Valdecanos. Gorbert and Bedel cover Bailen. DuPont goes in at Coupigny(waver fails -1 SP) both sides commit reserves, tactical matrix TM (F: Feint S: Envelop results in engaged.)
Turn 3 ( 15 July 1808 Afternoon)
Spanish: Reinforcements do not arrive, Guerillas card (no effect). Valdecanos lights off for La Carolian, hoping to force the French to chase. Coupigny attacks Frescea who withdraws two hexes (no leader casualty check, as there was no battle). Reding hits Vedel (waver check passed) at Bailen, no reserves committed (cards are S:Attack F:Fall back disordering both units after combat) routing Vedel one hex. Reding follows. (Die is wrong in both photos for this turn, these are the turn 3 photos.)
French: Scorching Heat and Clouds of Dust, MP-1 and cannot enter EZOC. Vedel(waver passed) must attack Reding near Bailen, no reserves committed (Cards: F:Feint S:Fall Back) Reding withdraws, Vedel follows.
Turn 4 ( 15 July 1808 Evening)
Spanish: Reinforcements (Cruz-Murgeon) arrive. Atrocities card, one morale lost on the roll. Coupigny moves to 0706, blocking the Bailen-Andujar road and taking a position to support either battle. Castanos directs Cruz-Murgeon and La Pena against Barbot (waver passed) and the depot. The Spanish commit reserves, as do the French. (Cards S: Charge, F: Hold, already at -2 so no shift and the Spanish disorder) a roll of 5 yields AW (Castanos survives leader check). Reding attacks Vedel(waver passed), no reserves committed (Cards S:Advance F:Cordon no effect), AW combat result, Vedel does not follow.
French: Dragoons and Cuirassiers (+1MP or SP to the cav this turn). French declare an Orderly Withdrawal from Andalusia. Gobert heads towards Bailen where Vedel goes to rest preparing for the breakout of the baggage train. No combat this turn.
Turn 5 ( 15 July 1808 Night)
Spanish: Intel gathering (next card is Doubt/Hesitation for Franch, basically a no effect on a night turn). Valdecanos builds a redoubt with the C’est La Guerre card. Disordered markers removed, morale increases by one, then drops one with Andujar still controlled by French. Half morale point spent to rally Felix-Jones, who rallies on a five in hex 2313 LOC.
French: See above for card, moot. The baggage train fails to form. The French prepare for breakout, French morale climbs to 6.5 due to the wagon train’s presence.
(Editorial note: I note here that I have failed to deduct one for not being in command for both sides in the battles around Bailen. As I remember the die rolls, this probably did not have a great effect, but will endeavor to remember forthwith.)
(Rules note: I am allowing the discard of an unused C’est la Guerre card during a night turn, the French hold a card which allows a DR to turn into replacing a unit with a cadre, but in this scenario the French can ill afford to do so, with few units and all units having more than two SP. )
The Spanish draw the powerful “What is Luck?” card, the French draw “A Day with Misadventures,” also powerful
Turn 6 ( 16 July 1808 Morning)
Spanish: Atrocities, on a roll of 2 (less than current morale) Spanish morale drops one – not a helpful result. This will lead Spain to play a waiting game to conserve morale, moving forces towards La Carolina for a battle on the next day. Lull declared. – Note: Photo has 7 showing on dice, but should be 6 for turn six.
French: Dragoons and Cuirassiers. Baggage train forms and begins the trek towards La Carolina. No lull bonus, already at 6 morale.
Turn 7 ( 16 July 1808 Midday)
Spanish: Intel gathering, next card is Swiss Defections, moot. Continuing to shadow the French, lull turn.
French: Swiss Defections, moot already occurred. There is a temptation to strike here and try to drive the climbing Spanish morale down, but that could also delay the road march. The only Spanish units in striking distance are Cruz-Murgeon who as light infantry can disengage or the srong Coupigny and Redding units. Since the Spanish seem to be shadowing and girding for a battle between Bailen and La Carolina, time to whittle them down, Frescea and Vedel will strike Coupigny(waver passed) at the Battle of the Rio Rumblar both sides commit reserves, with DuPont commanding (Cards F:Bombard S:Envelop which disrupts the attackers but moves the differential one column right to +2) a roll of 2 results in an exchange with Coupigny and Gobert (the only French infantry rated as reliable) being lost. A hard result for a unit poor France.
Turn 8 ( 16 July 1808 Afternoon)
Spanish: Scorching heat, Choking Dust -1MP. Shadow the French, lull.
French: Doubt/Hesitation – not planning on entering EZOC, so will not spend the morale point to allow it. Continuing the long retreat, no lull per Andalusia withdrawal rules.
Turn 9 ( 16 July 1808 Evening)
Spanish: Wild Goose Chase (not in our best interest, playing C’est la Guerre to replay a discard of choice and picking Enthusiastic recruits to try and rally Coupigny – spending half a morale point to add two to the die roll, a one converts to a 3 and a cadre appears placed at 2313. I am curious why the cadre are not unreliable when the parent unit is, I will play it as the unit is presented assuming the cadre represent those who weathered battle and are more dependable.) Shadowing continues, lull.
French: Inablity to Decide, no reserves, forced marches, rally MP expense. Continuing the trek towards safety.
Turn 10 ( 16 July 1808 Night)
Spanish: Hidalgo Pride – spend a morale point on irregulars cannot move, I do not want to move any irregulars (see comment concerning cadres previous turn) so no morale point spent. Continuing to shadow the French. C’est la Guerre “He led the Charge…”
French: The retreat continues, with the cavalry taking heading towards La Carolina.
Turn 11 ( 17 July 1808 Morning)
Spanish: No effect, reshuffle. C’est la Guerre “It’s a Trap” card drawn, swapped for held card (which was leader presence reliant). Shadowing, maneuvering units for a battle at the approaches to La Carolina. Lull bonus applies as we do not have more morale than the French, just the same.
French: Sacre Bleu! – behind in morale, gain one point. Continuing towards La Carolina, moving the Cadre towards Bailen to cover it and maybe force a fight.
Turn 12 ( 17 July 1808 Midday)
Spanish: Aggressive levies, will absorb a morale loss of 1. Tightening the noose, lull turn.
French: Scorching Heat/Clouds of Dust MP -1, changes the moves I had in mind for the French. Have to prepare to unhinge the Spanish at the top of the slope in 1802 to open the road to La Carolina.
Turn 13 ( 17 July 1808 Afternoon)
Spanish: Wild Goose chase cadre moves towards LOC with blue routed marker. Felix-Jones occupies the rough, denying the right. Spanish cadre strikes at DuPont and Frescea, who cavalry withdraw, cadre stands fast. No lull bonus, morale higher than six and higher than enemy.
French: Atrocities – French morale drops by one. Frescea and Vedel (waver passed) strike the Cadre with DuPont in command, no reserves committed(Cards F:Feint S: Fall back) results in a defender withdrawal, control is lost and Fresea advances.
Turn 14 ( 17 July 1808 Evening)
Spanish: Hasta la Muerte! – can commit reserves for free in one battle. La Pena and Cruz-Murgeon strike at the cadre expending the free reserves to make up for not being in command, French do not spend reserves +2 (Cards S:Charge F:Counterattack results in both being disordered after combat) an exchange results, the surviving La Pena must occupy the woods. Frescea cavalry withdraws on the road to La Carolina, the defenders decline to chase.
French: May forced march for free. Down to three units and a pass to fight through, nothing gets better from here; morale will begin to drop, the noose is already tightened and our rear guard is gone, the damnable baggage train is a burden which forces us to take the pass. But we have time, so we shall try to flan to the south and unhinge the defenders. Dupont and Frescea attack the Cadre on the Spanish left, both sides commit reserves (Cards: F: Advance, S: Fall Back both are disordered) the defenders are forced to withdraw. Vedel(waver passed, barely on a 2) attacks Valdecanos (waver passed) in their redoubt, both sides commit reserves, (no tactics cards due to redoubt) resolved on 0 differential as Vedel is out of command, the remain engaged.
Turn 15 ( 17 July 1808 Night)
Spanish: Reshuffle deck. We cannot back up anymore and will fight and die right here, west of La Carolina. Felix-Jones occupies the top of the steep slope to secure the right. Maybe the cadre pulls back so they can remove the disorganized and ready markers, this leave them vulnerable to whatever Frescea does, but the cadre still cover the flank of Valdecanos in the redoubt at the beginning of next turn. Rallies, none cannot rally irregulars
French: Inability to Decide-no real effect. The cavalry swings south, the infantry clusters on the road, tied to the baggage train with Spanish Corps ahead and behind. Bailen is lost wiping out the morale gain for the night turn. Both French units rally. (Rules note: The rules state French units rally at the LOC, but that makes no sense here, they are not a relieving force like Frere would have been. Making a command decision, I am using the baggage train as an LOC only for the purpose of a rally point. The French units are placed adjacent to the LOC. It makes sense to me that this is where the stragglers would gather.) The French forces are reconstituted.
Both sides elect to keep their C’est la Guerre cards.
Turn 16 ( 18 July 1808 Morning)
Spanish: The Junta directs, one morale point may be spent without cost. With the reconstituted French Army our position is strong but tenuous and fraught with peril. Time for a few small repairs, Redding swaps with Felix-Jones, in any case the baggage train will have to pass below, so make them dislodge us. This leaves the left weak and subject to flanking, but that will take time and can be reacted to and would force a weakening of the enemy around the baggage train. We spend the morale from the card to force march La Pena to the plateau to fall upon the cadre, with luck he can clog up the entire French army. La Pena attacks with reserves committed but out of command, the French with only 3.5 morale do not commit reserves, hoping for an exchange. (Cards: S:Advance F:Hold disordering the attackers who reduce the differential to 1, cannot afford to exchange three reliable combat factors for one.) The cadre is forced to withdraw, La Pena will not advance to the disorder can be removed. Not an ideal result, but it crowds the French northern shoulder.
French: No effect. We will take a run at the redoubt with Barbeau(waver failed with the -1 for lower morale- 1st time I remembered that adjustment, ever) and Fresea attacking Valdecanos (waver passed) both commit reserves (+2)(Cards F:Bombard S:Envelop attackers disordered, shift CRT to +3), Valdecanos routs six (5+2-1)hexes and is gone, attackers cannot advance due to Bombard card.
Turn 17 ( 18 July 1808 Midday)
Spanish: Intel gathering (French will have -1MP due to scorching sun/dust). The thought process here is that the French now have a preponderance of forces (12SP one of which is cavalry, to 10SP for Spain, a 20% surplus), however with the disordered results the French only have 10SP available which is only guaranteed for this turn. Standing in place will lead to defeat. The cadres and Reding with Castanos attack. Frescea can countercharge either the cadre (0 column) or Redding (-2 column) – I am doubling “0” to “1” for Frescea (mathematically zero times two is zero, but I believe the spirit of the rule is what I am doing.) Frescea countercharges the cadre (Cards F:Charge S:Cordon, disrupting the cadre and shifting to the +1 column on the CRT, then back to the 0 for being out of command) a roll of 4 forces a defender withdrawal, control is lost on a three and the cavalry advances. Barbeau (waver passed) is attacked by Castanos who commits reserves, DuPont commits Grande Marins (+1SP) reducing the attack to a +1 and decides not to commit reserves, hoping for a non-negative morale outcome which will then put the French at least ½ morale point ahead. (Cards S:Outflank F:Cordon, both sides disordered), the attackers withdraw on a 1, Castenos passes casualty check. Not a good turn for Spain, so bad I forgot to take a photo of the board.
French: Heat/Dust -1 MP, no enemy ZOC entry. (I had to forget that I had this card, or I might have advanced Barbeau. It makes sense to not advance so the disordered result on Barbeau can be removed. There is a counterargument that keeping Redding at 3SP is important. I did what I thought best, and had forgotten about this card coming next, for what that is worth.). The baggage train colocates to Guarroma with the cadre in preparation for a general assault next turn. Frescea is forced to attack the cadre over the river and in the woods. Neither side commits reserves (I will allow DuPont to enter EZOC as a leader to put the attack under command) (Cards F:Advance S: Envelop, Cav gains one SP, making the attack on the 0 column instead of -1), units remain engaged.
Turn 18 ( 18 July 1808 Afternoon)
Spanish: Aggressive levies Irregular or unreliable must attack or lose one morale point. Tough call, no real way to attack, will send Felix-Jones against Vedel on the far right. The rest of the army shuffles into defensive positions. Cadre must attack Frescea across the river at -1, neither side commits reserves (Cards S:Outflank F:Hold) the defending cavalry gets a +1, shifting the attack to the -2 column who rout one hex, control is kept, but Frescea opts to advance, further crowding the Spanish positions. Felix-Jones (waver passed) attacks Vedel (waver passed) (Cards S:Feint F: Hold, no effect) Vedel is forced to withdraw, Felix-Jones could advance and pion three French units, but his current position is also of use and losing him in the French half of the turn would be disastrous to Spanish morale.
French: Atrocities, French roll a one losing a morale point. The cavalry has to attack, so they shall be supported. Frescea will attack first in case the supporting infantry is thrown back. Frescea vs Cadre (-1 for being out of command)(Cards: F:Outflank S:Cordon, both disordered, moot, already there), units remain engaged. DuPont with Barbeau (waver passed) attacks La Pena, no reserves both sides too low on morale (Cards F: Assault which can be used because DuPont accompanies the attackers S: Hold, both are disordered), units are engaged. Vedel attacks Felix-Jones, both passing waver, (Cards F: Feint S: Hold, no effect) Felix-Jones withdraws, Vedel does not follow. A giant, deathly shoving match.
Turn 19 ( 18 July 1808 Evening)
Spanish: Crescendo of Drums, useless cannot rally the broken irregulars per game rules, no units routed. We will have to come off the heights, La Pena is exposed and if he cracks we can be flanked. A general advance is ordered. The cadre (out of command) attacks Frescea (-2) who declines to countercharge (Cards S: Charge F: Envelop, both remain disrupted, a left column shift to -1 and a die roll of 6) forces Frescea to withdraw. Being spent the cadre cannot advance. Castenos leads Redding and La Pena at Barbeau (waver fail!, -1SP) the French commit reserves to halve the possibility of their largest unit breaking (Cards S: Assault F: Fall Back, attacker is disordered) the defenders are routed, DuPont survives casualty check(the expenditure of a morale point kept it from breaking), but Barbeau routs three hexes and French morale plummets to zero, ending the battle. (Felix-Jones soak off attack on Gorbet is not resolved as the game ends immediately.)
The French Army dissolves in disorder, isolated soldiers hunted down by the Spanish peasants, only briefly slowed by the loot in the baggage train.