Charles Stampley
United States
Austin
Texas
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Last night the Spanish army made its debut here in Central Texas. I played the battle of Bailen as the French while my colleague

Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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got to try out the Spanish.

This is the first scenario in the new Spanish army book and it was Brady's first time to play the Spanish and we immediately started out by mis-reading one of the scenario special rules. The most unusual aspect of this scenario is both sides have Swiss mercenaries as part of their force(the French Swiss are represented by British blocks while the Spanish Swiss use the brown Portugese blocks.) The rule states that "when two French Swiss units are eliminated, the two remaining French Swiss units are immediately removed from the battlefield. Their removal will not count as victory banners for the Spanish player."

We interpreted this rule as no French Swiss losses count as victory banners, when upon further review only the last 2 units that flee the field do not count. The first 2 units eliminated should count as victory banners. The French Swiss also have a leader but he is not mentioned in the special rules so we played that he remained on the board after his unit flees.

I started the game by launching an attack against the Spanish right, held by two Spanish mercenary units, with my French Swiss mercenaries. This attack at first looked like it was going to be successful, but the Spanish Swiss, aided by the Spanish cannon in the center repulsed the attack and I took heavy losses. The Spanish brought up their right wing cavalry--one heavy and one light, and completed the destruction of 2 of my Swiss French infantry. At this loss, I lost the two additional Swiss units and just like that I was down 4 units. Looking back this was a big gamble for me and I should have played a little more conservatively.

After my failed attack the Spanish right/French left area was almost empty and the action shifted to the opposite area. There the Spanish were drawn up in a nice defensive position on top of a 4 hex ridge. Besides an artillery unit,this was where the better Spanish infantry was located--a grenadier unit and a light infantry unit in a woods hex.

I was able to work some heavy cavalry into the hex on the board edge that was screened by some trees and destroyed a Spanish line unit. Instead of stopping I got greedy and advanced to try and finish off a reduced line unit that had been pulled off the ridge. I was able to destroy it as well, but my heavy cavalry were now back behind the Spanish line and it was then countercharged and destroyed by 2 Spanish cavalry units. At this point of the battle both sides had three victory banners.

The rest of the game became a fight over the ridge in the French right/Spanish left area. I brought up some cuirassers and grenadiers to attack, but they were damaged by the Spanish cannon in the center and the Spanish Grenadiers were reinforced by 2 units of Spanish line. The two Spanish cavalry on my right that destroyed my heavy cavalry earlier also got into the fight. On my left, a Spanish light unit fought two French militia units and eliminated one. This banner plus the losses I took attacking the ridge on the right pushed the Spanish up to 7 banners and victory. Actually they won 9 banners because we didn't count the 2 eliminated Swiss French units.

While Spanish infantry take a penalty for firing and moving, they do well in the defense. The Spanish cavalry are on par with their French counterparts and I lost 3 or 4 units to them. Even the Spanish "disadvantage"--retreating two hexes on a flag result--actually worked in their favor because my opponent was able to move a couple of units that had been reduced to one block out of harm's way.


The Spanish guerilla rule is in effect in this game, but the Spanish player does not start with a guerilla counter. When the Spanish player plays a scout card, he draws one card instead of two and gets a guerilla counter. I was very fortunate that Brady only played one scout card all game and I was able to cancel his one guerilla action by rolling sabers on one die. This is in marked contrast to my first game when my Spanish opponent was able to cancel 8 French actions.

Overall this scnario was fun and I want to give it another couple of plays. Gambling on an early attack with the Swiss French was a big mistake since I lost half my infantry when two units were eliminated.

I like how the Spanish guerilla rule works as well. Even though the guerillas didn't take part in most of these pitched battles, it introduces an element of trying to outguess your opponent's cardplay. This expansion is a welcome addition to an already great system.

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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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Great report, Charles! I hope we get to rematch soon. I'll take the French next time and you can cancel a raft of my orders!
 
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