Thursday, March 13, 2014

Battle of Avila: The Almost-Crisis

Today was out second session of Napoleonic Black Powder in the apocryphal Battle of Avila.  I told Alex (playing the British commander) and Tyler (fighting for the French) that the game would be decided quickly today, since one of Tyler's brigades had already routed, and if his cavalry charge failed to drive off the facing British infantry brigade, it would be all over. I was, as usual, dead wrong.

Tyler gets his Italo-Bavarians to recover from their former blunder to close on the critical bridge.  Some early volleys rattle the Spanish, but the fiercest fighting is still to come.
The big cavalry charge on the French left was less devastating than I thought it would be (I retract my earlier quote: "The result of two die rolls will establish a clear winner to the entire battle.") One British battalion was able to form square, but the other fell into disorder, and its feeble closing volley did little to slow the charging French dragoons. A hole was cleared, but not enough to threaten the main battle line of either side.

Alex's light cavalry counter-attacks. The dragoons, weary and spent from their previous charge, flee the field. but the supporting French light horse rallies and countercharges.  The ensuing clash saw no casualties on either side!  The French fall back due to the press of numbers, but they remain locked in melee with the pursuing British hussars.
Alex learns that the dice can be fickle mistresses.  Units on both sides were either making or missing all of their morale saves, resulting in wild swings of fortune. Despite the wild luck, though, the armies held positions in two lines facing off against each other. 

Alex surveys the scene at the end of three and a half turns.  The Bavarian-looking Italians have forced one Spanish unit back.  The remaining British and French line infantry brigades are facing each other in the center across the crest of the strategic hill, hammering away at each other. Both sides have several shaken units, and it won't take much to start a cascading series of routs.  One more session should decide it, but that's what I said about today's game... 

Neither side has much of a reserve to speak of to use for insurance, so once gaps start appearing in the line, it will be all over for the side who can take advantage. I mean it this time.

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