Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Battle of Salamanca 22nd July 1812

I took the scenario for the Battle between Barry and me from this months Wargames Illustrated and as it was good to go I did not bother checking other sources. This was a mistake in so much as I believed that the scenario portrayed the whole battle but in fact was just a proportion and as such I made a couple of assumptions that were invalid (yes I have now done a little reading of what happened. Still it did not play a vital part in the game, instead that honour was left to Barrie's dice!
Start Positions French on the left.
The Scenario.
Both the British/Portuguese and the French start the under March orders parallel to each other. Both commanders send orders to their Brigades based on what they wanted to achieve. We had four possible victory points available. One for holding the bottom centre of the playing area (should be a road there). One for the Church at the opposite end of the map and one each for the waggon base we each have in play (representing a water cart). Barry starts the game with 1/95 Rifles holding the church so a main objective for me is to take the Church whilst Barry needs to reinforce the garrison and then it's a hard fight to gain an advantage.
The Mistakes.
Barry starts with two units less than I did and both of us are in column of March but Barry had his guns alongside the column. This had the effect that as we put the units on from rear forwards my most forward units were a turn and a half closer to the church. A massive advantage and made worse by the fact my strength was greater at that end of my line. What I should have done was dress the Allied force up to be opposite the front of my column.
I also for some reason degraded the 1/95th Rifles, these should have been stronger.  natural flaw in the scenario that I should have noticed was that 4 VP's has a very good chance of meaning a draw. Odd numbers has a tendency to mean a win for someone. As it happened this was not the result but I should have paid more attention.
Other than tat I feel that it was a good scenario and the unit strengths were on the whole correct (other than those Rifles!
Orders and Reinforcements.
The majority of my Cavalry and all of the Allied Cavalry start off board and enter on a die roll equal or less than the turn number from turn two onwards. Orders can be changed with these rules but can be binding until you do (can try for local initiative but is hit and miss) so it's important to get orders that allow your force to do a job.
I ordered my forward Brigade to take and hold the Church and my second Brigade to attack the enemies for word Brigade. My rear Brigade was ordered to take the road victory location and hold it. Barry ordered his forward Brigade to support the Church Garrison and his other two Brigades to hold the hill keeping his water waggon safe from capture.
Early Turns.
Due to my being  forward of the Allied line my French were able to start he attack on the Church ahead of assistance and my second Brigade in a position to move on the flank of enemy forward Brigade. At the rear of the columns Barry was to score the first damage by dropping one of my units Cohesion with a artillery shot into the flank. One major change to the rules was that the last formation to be activated per turn is not activated.
The church, and the scene of some had fighting. I managed to charge into both the Church and the guns of the forward Brigade. Not though before the guns got to fire canister at my fresh unit. Canister is a wicked thing and our experience in the first game with weaker stats for the guns showed that whilst it failed to stop any charges going in, it could leave the unit in a bit of a state. With the greater strength of the guns I was wincing before even a roll was made. I did not have to worry, Barry rolled so high he failed to do any damage. I crashed into the guns and on winning the melee round took the guns out. Musket fire from the Church and back into it caused little or no damage. I then charged home and again Barry obliged with a high roll that pushed the defenders back and allowed me a footing in the church.
At this point the Cavalry of both sides made an entrance. If one or the other had been delayed longer the other side would have had no small advantage.
Mid game
To the right of the church.
With two rounds of combat and yet more dice from hell for Barry and his units were being driven backwards. The white markers are cohesion levels lost. In melee you get a bonus for being at full cohesion and in firing and melee you get a disadvantage for having lost two or more cohesion. Given that most units have between three and four levels it can soon lead to retire orders or routs. On the pi above Barry has two units under retire. Each unit under retire counts one towards formation break, routers count as two points. The formation will retire once it's points equal number of none artillery units of the formation and breaks on excess of this figure. The army itself will retire once half of it's formations are under retire or rout restrictions or will break and rout once over half it's formations are forced to retire or rout.
In the Church and to the left, things were no better. The Rifles were driven out of the Church and I was still fresh with a pair of units facing a battered and now retiring unit. Barry needed to do well on the opposite flank.
Well Barry would need help as most of his Cavalry were Hussars (just one Dragoons) and whilst better quality than mine were under strength. It started well, the hussars held up one dragoon regiment and having forced a cohesion loss on another Dragoon then pushed back both remaining units of mine and bringing one of them close to retiring.
Both these units were suffering from the +1 for having lost two levels of cohesion whilst one Hussar was still fresh. All Barry needed was average rolls to bring the whole formation under retire orders.
As expected Barry was forced under retire on my left leaving me with two formations with little  disorder and just needing orders to attack elsewhere. This would be a dangerous force as the brigade nearest the British on the hill also had a reduced Regiment of Dragoons which either would force the Brits into square or have a good chance of breaking a unit. In square my infantry would be able to put a lot of hurt on he end regiment so Barry would have a few problems on that flank.
Units under retire get a fresh charge and break. The formation is changed from retire to broken, now I will be able to turn and attack the Allied middle with the church now safe from being retaken.
When the dice hate you, they really hate you. The stalemate attack swings my way an I push back the hussars. Worse though was to follow, with two rounds of combat (Barrie's turn then mine) sees one regiment pushed back twice and on the brink of retiring and the other broken! Though my regiment is close to break itself it would have a chance to break through the foot behind the routing horse. My horse though was not really in a position to do more than threaten the foot, at least until I recovered some cohesion. Barry had come down from the hill when it looked like he was going to win the battle of the cavalry whilst I in turn had sent the nearest unit into square.
Final positions as Barry conceded at this point. The dice really played a far greater part than tactics, which is always a disappointment. Even so both of us enjoyed the play of the game if not the way it played out.
Not surprising , Barry would like to see some form of saving throws (re-rolls) as he was kicked around by the dice. I am not fully sure of this but am thinking of a FoG style change only allowed for Elite or Veteran troops and only once per game? More thought needs to be done on this. Maybe allow just on smaller games were dice are more a factor than on the larger. This would have the advantage of not adding yet more time consuming actions on the larger games.
The Artillery was more effective but not over the top but were not used great deal so further tests at this level required but I feel this is about right.
Cohesion and other Stats. Another good outing for the levels used, I think they work and will start work on the army list details (joy of joys).
French Column V British Volley neither got a full outing as I was charging from inside one base distance so normal fire was used  most of the time gaining the British no advantage (both had fired) maybe have to still allow a volley first, need some work. The Column attack did give an advantage in the battle but I think it has to be ignored when attacking into buildings.
Far less of a feel to tweak the rules than the last game but then we only engaged the flanks. Gaming time was fairly short when the chatting and discussing was taken out of the mix. The rules work with such a small force but become that bit more dicey than the larger game. It still felt some what Napoleonic and I think the last formation does not activate is a good idea. I even think in situations where one side is defending maybe add the clause that they always can't activate one formation?
Looking forward to another battle with these rules but also trying out Volley and Bayonet to see how good these are.


  1. The dice can curse a game sometimes but what can you do that won't involve more dice rolling!

  2. Great report - and I agree that angry dice gods can impact a good game but the only cure is to try it again.

    Great looking mini's by the way


  3. OK so the dice Gods hate me.
    When you fire cannister from artillery into an enemy formation at point blank range and still do no damage something is wrong.

  4. Yes the curse of the dice!,

    @ Barry. I just see the crews as having panicked and ran away. You did roll rather high again and again and...........