Just before Christmas Barry and myself were expecting to get a game in but he had to postpone then Christmas got in the way. Then New Year.... Then... well you get the idea. All the work was really done, we just needed to get together and play the game. Well we finally got the chance to play last Friday. The scenario is taken from the French boardgame supplier VaeVictis and the title is Fuentes De Onoro 1811 and comes with a dual language rule book.
The scenario starts toward the late afternoon, I take the rll of Ney as I try to get my VI Corps over the swollen stream Rio Ceira. Unfortunately I am already half successful in this endeavour. Wellington on seeing my forces split orders an immediate attack, neither allowing his officers to deploy nor Nay to either withdraw or reform. About 50% of my troops start the game disordered so I spend a lot of the first two turns just trying to re-organise on the spot. Not ideal when really you want to be taking advantage of the Anglo-Portuguese being somewhat out of position. The ground we are to fight over is quite full and will not allow easy movement and impacts a fair amount on Barry's greater numbers. I start the game with a strong hold on the main village of Foz d'Arouce but have not got any troops in the hamlet of Poisao close buy. This will allow the Portuguese easy access to the plains before my main force. The stream, acting like a river after heavy rains is to the back of the best part of my force South of it and as only two crossings are available, the bridge next to Foz and a ford passable only to Cavalry further to the east I really have no choice but to stand and fight with what I have to the south. Making matters worse, the troops on the North bank are under orders not to cross the river, they are there just to stop any Allies from crossing over.
Initial positions. I used a huge ziplock bag to make the river and stole my daughters crayon for the bridge and village outlines. Later I will make the effort to build terrain but at the moment it's all figure painting, but they worked! Have you spotted the lone Infantry regiment on the far right with only a few guns for support? Barry has!!!
A nice concentration of French troops, unfortunately the ones on the right will do no more all battle than reposition so as to make crossing the bridge impossible, whichever side you belong to!!
Over the hill and not far enough away! This is the right hand side Regiment I was talking about. In the distance is 5 regiments of foot and behind them to the left 4 regiments of horse. Now this is the first outing of these figures (all of Barry's army has been recently painted by him and he has done a great job on them and the speed he has done them in was fantastic. I believe he has found his scale). Aside from that back slapping, I would hope that these guys being new to the job would be a bit lax at coming up the hill. Well it seems not as he was soon challenging my position.
Their left flank (right hand side as we look at them) was no less impressive, both from a point of painting nor quantity! This force would have to try and win the hill off me. As Barry commented "You always get the hills!!" In the background is yet more troops awaiting their chance at the French. Seems I will have a busy day.
Back to the right hand side. This poor regiment is well out of command and started disordered which is exactly how he found himself several turns later as the Brits closed in on him. The guns could not fire in all directions and whilst they gave the one regiment something to think about they ended up being the first unit to be removed from the game after being hit in the flank. Barry is rather good at getting you into positions you don't want to be, but here he was handed the unit on a plate. I just knew I could not pull all back but had saved the foot regiment at the cost of the guns.
The next showdown was sure to be for the Foz, Barry was loath to attack it as the defenders get a +2 against most rolls and whilst I did not have the troops in the quantity that Barry had I was hopeful that this +2 and the guns supporting directly and across the Stream would help bloody the Brits nose.
Foolishly I had hoped Barry would drag his feet in the centre as both the above flanks engaged but he thought I was making for the hamlet of Poisao so quickened his pace. This meant my only reasonable sized force was really out of position on the plains. Suddenly it was defending itself from 3 directions and just as the British horse had set up on the flank. I was in trouble all right. To my surprise Barry through in less than everything he could. In the first attack he had managed to push back a regiment that in turn disordered two other units as these were forced sideways by the original target. As I was not the player with initiative I did what I could to re-order my troops then I bid high to be the tempo player. This worked and whilst I could not reposition I was now not disordered. This is a poor wrinkle in the rules, I go from one stage off rout to ready to receive whilst the winner of the action sits disordered in front of me. Well as I said he now had cavalry and declared a charge. This as could be expected failed to achieve more than throw me into square and the musket fire did plenty to further disorder the cavalry, these fell back with two shaken levels. However this was no problem as it allowed Barry to again charge in with yet another regiment. Now the Cav came in from the flank so the follow on attack was from the original front, a quick debate about can I fire? The rules don't say I can't but would I be able to re-load? We both said no but miracle of miracles neither am I in square, I take them at the halt without firing a shot but throw him back in disorder. This was really to much, I should have penalties of some kind, but the rules do not cover this. Another strike against the rules as they stand I am afraid.
So my right flank stood when it should have been crushed, stands to reason then that the original attack on the left should carry the day when it should have been repulsed. Both separate attacks forced the defenders back with two levels of shaken! I really did not see my holding out and with the stream close behind I expected to loose the lot. I had charged my Hussars (newly painted and not yet sent to the painting comp for scoring no less) but these were bounced back in some disorder. Again I was looking at the probability of trying to swim back to Spain.
I rallied back the Hussars to just one level of Shaken but with Foz about to fall I could not see how I could do more than make for the ford and write off 50% of my force. I.E. all my units South of the stream except two regiments of horse.
Barry had played well with his troops and had not the rules helped me out with a chunk of rules not being present he would have been looking on a field of wrecked French.
As for the scenario, it ported over well to a figure game, though not as an equal fight. It's not a battle the French can win as such, but this is fine if you approach the game in that frame of mind. We did have points for various objectives and I am sure if I had played it out differently I could have done better that send my best formation into it's destruction. I would be happy to set that one up again but possibly with a few tweaks.
The rules themselves Polemos Napoleonic General de Division did not stand up so well. Don't get me wrong, whole sections really work well, and for me bring a good feel of Napoleonic warfare. But it's what is missing as much as anything else that stands out in these rules. Where is the canister? sure I get the lack of stand off musket duels but so little exchange happens it's as if none did happen. This has lead me t have a crack at putting a set together using Polemos as a starting position but removing the Tempo stage and replacing the command system. I know what I want, now I have to try and get it down on paper.
Thanks goes out to Barry, it was a fun game as always, we just now have to learn to get our noses down and play faster to get right to the end as this could have gone on for a couple more turns to give Barry a total victory rather than an obvious one.