A figure game by gad – and against an opponent to boot – spiffing! I have tried the 1st Edition of Field of Battle for ACW actions, but this is my first game with 2nd edition and also my first game using Napoleonic figures. The action is set somewhere in Spain and, with 37 units on the table, is larger than anything I’ve attempted with Field of Battle. The new edition of the rules has a detailed pre-battle procedure to generate a scenario and inject some uncertainty into the proceedings, so instead of just turning up and fighting, units are delayed or don’t turn up at all; can redeploy if they choose to or when forced to by their opponents; or even set up in forward or enemy zones if they win the reconnaissance event by a big enough margin.
Though both leaders are skilled, the French general is rolled as LD10 while the British general is rolled as LD12+1. Both leaders managed to roll a “skilled” deck. The French army has 19 units while the British have 18.
- 2 Strength – March to the Guns (up 1) & Strategic Defence (down 1)
- Tactical Adjustment – Unprepared (up 1)
- Deployment – Captured Orders (down 1)
- Tactical Adjustment – Outposts (down 1)
- 2 Deployment – Inactive (down 1) & Seize (up 1)
- Reconnaissance – manoeuvre (up 1)
Random allocations of what advantages are used in each of the 4 categories give the following dice to roll.
Tactical adjustment French D12 British D8 – result is 9-2 giving a difference of 7 to the French.
The French can reposition all units from 3 command groups in their deployment zone, change facing and formation, but they may not move to another deployment zone.
Strength French D10 British D12+1 –result is 8-4 giving a difference of 4 to the French.
One British unit does not arrive until the 4th move card – random roll to determine who is the Light Cavalry Brigade, leaving the British with no cavalry on the board at the start of the game!
Deployment French D6 British D8 – result is 1-6 giving a difference of 5 to the British.
The French must deploy 2 Command groups down out of sequence at any time when asked to by the British.
Reconnaissance French D6 British D8 result is 6-6 so equal giving no advantage to either side.
Nick rolled and got the British forces, and he then deployed the whole army on the right hand side of the board, refusing their flank – obviously waiting for the cavalry to ride to the rescue. I as the French deployed my 3 infantry brigades line abreast in the centre (mostly in attack column), with my light cavalry brigade facing Nicks’ forces on one flank, and my heavy cavalry brigade facing thin air on the other flank. I assumed the thin air would be where the British cavalry would arrive, so the challenge would be to outflank his line and defeat it before the cavalry arrived on the 4th move card. Army morale was rolled as an appalling 14 for the British and a more respectable 19 for the French.
I got off to a perfect start – I won the leadership roll with a difference of 8 cards, so I would get to turn 8 cards before the British got to turn one over. First up was artillery reload, so I softened up the lines a bit, than a move card came up. All the infantry brigades leapt forward but only rolled enough for 1 move, however the heavy cavalry brigade rolled 2 moves and ended up facing the exposed flank of a Portuguese battalion in march column.
I rolled for my light cavalry brigade and they got 3 moves on an even die – this would allow them to both contact the Highlanders to their front and then engage them in immediate melee before they could form square – they only had to survive fire from the Highlanders and the artillery battery on the way in.
Luckily the battery missed completely, but the Highlander’s first volley drove off one of the Hussar regiments. The second regiment charged home however, caused 2 UI losses and rode the Highlanders down. I then drew another move card, but through inept rolling I couldn’t get the heavy cavalry into the British flank, nor get my infantry brigades too far forward. There followed a succession of pretty useless French card draws and it was then the British card draw.
An early move card with an even command roll allowed the Portuguese on the flank to reform facing the heavy cavalry, but to my surprise they didn’t form square. Another unit of Portuguese infantry formed attack column in front of my Hussars, then charged them on a melee card – I was shocked, but luckily rolled high, caused 2 UI and the regiment ceased to exist. Things were going well for the French, especially given our army morale advantage.
Part 2 of the battle report and some thoughts soon – to be continued…