The French won the next leader roll off by 5 so I got to turn another 5 cards. First card up and an even command roll allowed my heavy cavalry brigade to charge the Portuguese battalion who had not formed square. Though these were raw troops, they had rolled well in the pre-game sequence and had a decent combat rating, so they had a fair chance of driving the dragoons off by fire alone – unfortunately they failed and were ridden down by the dragoons leading the charge. However I was unable to draw any cards to follow up my success, and the British first card drawn was artillery reload so they blasted the already wounded dragoons to kingdom come at short range.
Nick used his next melee card to charge one of my columns with his Cazadores, but poor rolling on his part and really lucky rolls on mine saw the Cazadores disintegrate in melee. We then went through a few phases of close leadership rolls resulting on turning only 1 or 2 cards each at a time, mostly resulting in firefights and artillery exchanges. In a move straight out of Sharpe, the 95th Rifles rushed to take up position on the flank (but not quite behind the flank) of the Hussars and gave them a volley – the volley took 2 UI off the Hussars who already had 2 UI against them, wiping them out and completing the destruction of the Light Cavalry brigade. This provoked a discussion on why you would ever deploy the Rifles in skirmish order as with a 15″ range (compared to the 6″ of smoothbores) they are really effective in the role of line infantry.
Then, with 5 cards left in my deck I managed to win a leadership roll by 6, so I would get to turn my cards and the turn would end before Nick got to turn his. There were some lull cards in there which Nick managed to seize the initiative on, but I did manage to draw a move card and on an even roll charged the cuirassiers into the Portuguese battalion which had filled the gap in the line left when the previous battalion had perished. Unfortunately for me this battalion succeeded where all the others had failed – it drove off the cream of the French cavalry through firepower, and the cavalry fell back to re-group. Also on this move card I rolled high for most other command groups – this allowed me to redeploy one of my infantry brigades to the left flank ready to crush the British troops there. I also managed to rally my cuirassiers and take the 2 UI off of them on a leadership card.
So, at the start of turn 2 things were looking good for the French, and though the British cavalry were set to arrive, I was ahead on army morale points and the British were only 2 away from being spent. Then things started to go badly wrong (for me anyway). After previously competing well for the leadership roll (with a D10 verses a D12+1), I lost the first roll of turn 2 badly and Nick got to draw 8 cards. Tactical advantage and infantry firepower cards got the turn off to a slow start, but next up was a melee card. The remaining unit of Highlanders in column (very un-British – wot?) attacked the French line which had formed to defend the left flank while the rest of the army re-deployed. A volley from each regiment saw off the Highlanders, but more importantly took the British army morale negative and gave me 2 morale points and they had 5 cards left to draw – the French started silently praying for an army morale card to be turned!
But it was not to be – things went downhill with the arrival of the British cavalry to the rear of the cuirassiers on a move card.
Then to add insult to injury, straight away the British turned a melee card, which in the new edition of the rules allow a half move to contact before melee – CHARGE!
Predictably this was the end of the French heavy cavalry brigade but more importantly it cost me precious army morale points. Further desultory firing took the French back to 1 morale and with 1 card left to draw and no sign yet of a blasted army morale card, the British pulled artillery firepower. Things went from bad to worse as with a good die roll an artillery battery just scraped a UI hit, leaving the French at 0 Army morale and 8 cards to draw.
You can see where this is going, but it was going to be the death of a 100o cuts first. My first card was a leadership card, and while rolling for leader casualties, the brigadier leading the assault to crush the British right flank fell to a stray bullet, sending his entire brigade out of command so that attack was going nowhere fast! Predictably, the 2nd card was an army morale and I fluffed the roll – game over On reflection, this seemed fair enough, as the French counter-attack was leaderless and the marauding British Light Dragoon would be sending the French right flank into square until they could be dealt with through firepower – any sane French general would probably have called it a day at this point.
That was some battle – first the British were at 0 morale, then the French. It turned out that the British cavalry not arriving on time was a blessing in disguise – as they weren’t on the board they couldn’t be attacked, and when they did turn up, the French cavalry were a spent force (attacking them from the rear also helped!). In my rush to turn the British flank before the British cavalry arrived, I left the French cavalry out on a limb somewhat, and they suffered badly from British musket and artillery fire (those bloody Rifles especially!)
For the next game we need some markers to put on leaders for when their brigade had been in combat and they have to roll for casualties on a leader card – I’m sure we forgot to do this at times because of the lack of markers. We also need some indication of whether first fire has been used or not – this became hard to remember as brigades closed and got mixed up due to fall backs.