Saturday, March 1, 2014

The (Apocryphal) Battle of Avila

The second battle in which the students in my Simulation Games mini-course will take part is a Napoleonics game set in the Peninsular war just before the Battle of Salamanca.  It is not a historical scenario, but it is a plausible fantasy.  Before Salamanca, Wellington knew that Marmont was about to be reinforced by two other French armies, one led by the Italian Cafferelli and the other by the Emperor's Brother Joseph, the King of Spain.  This scenario assumes that Joseph's army was closer than they were, and that Wellington was compelled to send a large division to head them off.  The two forces clash over possession of a bridge which, if won by the French, will give them a direct line into Wellington's now-understrength flank.

The map above shows the terrain and the initial disposition of forces. The numbers on the map indicate victory points.  At the end of six turns, the side with the most victory points (defined as having the last unit in a terrain feature with no enemy unit within 8") will win the game.  The scenario is loosely based off of one of the scenarios in Albion Triumphant.

The game will take place over several sessions, which with the say the winter storms are cancelling school, might mean several weeks.  Since the game is set up on the Harkness Table on which I teach, I needed to use a narrower, 8'x4' configuration.  I would have preferred a 6' wide table.  As it is, both forces are deployed in an "L" shape formation, with the angle facing away from the enemy. This has the opportunity to become a logjam very quickly, but good and lucky maneuver will be able to win either side an advantage.

The French forces are at the top of the map.   They move first.

Brigade A: Three battalions of line infantry, one battery of light field artillery
Brigade B: Two regiments of chevaux-legeres and one regiment of dragoons
Brigade C: Three battalions of line infantry, one battery of light field artillery
Brigade D: Three battalions of Italian infantry*

* Due to a delay in painting the Italians, they will be represented by Bavarians.

The British forces are at the bottom of the map.

Brigade A: One battalion of rifles; two battalions of line infantry, one battery of light field artillery
Brigade B: One regiment of light dragoons, one regiment of hussars, one section of horse artillery
Brigade C: One battalion of Highlanders, two battalions of line infantry, one battery of light field artillery
Brigade D: Three battalions of Spanish line infantry

Thus the forces are about equal, with the French having a slight advantage in cavalry.  The British have two high-quality units, but they also are shouldered with the low-quality Spanish, who begin the game close to the action.

I'll be using Black Powder rules with the following modifications:

  1) Artillery batteries are represented by two stands. The Horse Artillery section fires at reduced strength (2-1-1)
  2) I will be using the Pas-de-charge rule for French line infantry.  British troops will have the First Fire characteristic, with the Rifles claiming Elite and Sharpshooter benefits. The Highlanders will have the Tough Fighter characteristic.  The hapless Spanish troops will be rated as Wavering and Unreliable (though by 1812 they were starting to show some improvement in their joint operations with the British).
  3) The only way to automatically form square is to do so with a formation change in one's movement phase. Infantry that is not in square must attempt to form square if charged by cavalry by making a morale roll.  This roll is made at +1 if the cavalry moves two bounds in its charge, or at +2 if the cavalry has to move three bounds to make contact.

Sorry there aren't more photos of this troops at this stage.  I'll get some close-in shots of the minis at our first session, whenever that is (snow is due Sunday night, so if school gets cancelled, our class will not meet until the following week).  Some shots of the minis in another deployment can be seen here.
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