No Peace Without Spain 25/03/2012 (Nick)

Another boardgame – where have all the figures gone? Well, the lead mountain (both painted and unpainted) is currently barricaded in the spare room by the (non-wargame) stuff accumulated over 10 years by my son while we decorate his bedroom. Attempts to march troops over these obstacles have resulted in twisted ankles and much swearing, so let’s stick to the convenience of boardgaming for the minute.

This was our second play of this excellent game, with Nick taking the Alliance this time. The action was fairly evenly spread over the Low Countries, Spain and Italy this time, so I will cover the game in each theatre in turn.

The Low Countries at the start

The conflict in the Low Countries opened with Marlborough attacking Liege, but the unnamed French leader in Antwerp rolled a 6 to intercept and evened up the odds somewhat. In the ensuing battle, Marlborough rolled appallingly and lost the battle, retreating disordered back to Nijmegen where he spent the rest of the year licking his wounds. Avoiding Liege (now a level 2 fortress) in 1703, Marlborough went to siege Tournais, but not to be outdone Vendome attacked the small force Marlborough had left behind at Antwerp. Marlborough succeeded in intercepting, and in a great field battle Vendame narrowly lost and fell back on Namur. On the next card, Marlborough followed up the disordered retreating French, but failed to negotiate the fortified lines. Bravely the Allies pressed on, but the disordered French managed to roundly beat them off and the Allies had to retreat back to whence they came. By 1707 Marlborough was before Lille, but rather than force a field battle, the French relied on the level 3 Lille fortress to stand and contented themselves on garrisoning the adjacent fortresses. Even if Lille had fallen, Marlborough’s supply line back to Amsterdam was very exposed, and I was fairly confident the French could disrupt this easily.

The Low Countries at the end

The Spanish campaign kicked off with an allied landing at Cadiz in 1702 and managed to take it by the end of the turn despite rolling a 1 for the voyage and taking a step loss. At the start of the 1703 turn, the French replacements at Bayonne (ready to go to the relief of the Spanish after the fall of Cadiz) had to march to the relief of Toulon, as the Allies had landed there on the first card of the turn – an attempt to scupper the French fleet. The French managed to narrowly win the battle at Toulon, and the Allied forces were lost as they had no friendly port in the Med to retreat to. The allies also began the epic siege of Gibraltar on this turn, which was to last 3 years with breaks for winter back in Cadiz – timely spoiling attacks by Berwick at the head of a French army added to the Allies siege woes. This brave stand allowed the Spanish to fully man the border forts and the French army under Berwick then used these forts as a springboard for an invasion of Portugal in 1707 – he had reached Elvas adjacent to Lisbon, but the eventual fall of Gibraltar meant he would probably have to fall back to cover Madrid with its 10 victory points in 1708.

Spain at the finish

The Italian campaign started well for the French – they took back Mantua back from Eugene, but then got bogged down in besieging Trent and Innsbrook.  Eugene marched on Munich while the French were bogged down, and rolled magnificently to take the Bavarian capital from under the nose of the Elector.

Munich still in Allied hands at the end

We had to end the game at the end of the 1707 turn, but it looked like another Bourbon victory with the victory points stuck at 10, where they had started the game. As expected, our strategies were much better this game though neither of us were particularly lucky. I suppose me getting the 6 needed for interception early in the game and winning the subsequent battle slowed the Allies down, while Nick as Marlborough rolled some really bad dice (three ones in a row for sea crossings and lots of no effect rolls while besieging Gibraltar over 3 years).

108 Brigade, 36th "Ulster" Division

Also this weekend, “Breakthrough:Cambrai” was delivered from Infinity Games – I don’t know what the problem was with MMP distribution, but it seemed to be available in the U.S. 6 months before the U.K. (unless you pre-ordered of course, but who can afford the customs charges these days?). I only mention this because it’s the first game I’ve bought which has a counter for my granda’s brigade and it’s rated as elite – he would have been dead pleased.

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