Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Campaign For France - 2. French and English clash in Battle 1

As the English army moved into the initial French provinces along the border with Spain, it got intelligence of a French army moving nearby and it quickly moved to contact it. The English general was keen to pit his troops against the French and prove these veteran soldiers of Europe could be beaten.

Here is a quick map of the terrain where the battle took place, the French deploying from the road on the southern edge with the English deploying along the northern edge:


Both armies deployed for battle at first light. Although the weather so far has been quite rainy, there was little affect it was having on the terrain at this stage.

The English deployed wide with a strong British and Portuguese Infantry division on the right, a cavalry force next, Spanish allies on the hill and in the village in the allied centre and another British and Portuguese Infantry division far off on the left.

The Spanish were ordered to hold their positions, especially the village which was given particular strategic significance seeing as it overlooked the road north.

Both English allied divisions were ordered to attach the hills on either side of the French positions.

Both armies deploy into view of each other

The strong British and Portuguese division deployed on the allied right. Rifles formed a strong skirmish screen covering the entire formation.

Some of the British infantry columns deploying on the allied left

The French decided to defend 2 hills around a village using the usually English tactic of hiding behind the ridge of those hills. A mixed Task Force of infantry, cavalry and artillery was assigned the defence of the hill on the French right and the village behind it, while an infantry division supported by cavalry deployed on and behind the hill on the French left, with the cavalry deployed in line on the extreme left.

Another French cavalry formation deployed on the road behind the French position as a reserve.

French deployment in and around the village and the 2 hills.

Behind the French deployment

French infantry columns hiding safe behind the hill on the French left

French columns with skirmisher screens

French cavalry defending the left of the French lines

Rifles officers encourage the move forward to contact

Spanish troops defending the village in the centre of the allied lines


English formations swarm forward in columns with skirmishers clouding their front. French artillery open up and begin making their mark. English skirmishers feel the pain.

In the centre a Spanish gun line erupts in fire but has limited targets other than deployed French artillery.

View of the 2 forces coming to grips - the English right and French left

British light infantry deploy to line close in preparation to engage French forces


As the infantry locked horns on the 2 hills, the French cavalry covering the left of its army, leaped forward to wreck havoc on the British and Portuguese infantry. Squares quickly formed without concern but were met with focused fire from French artillery nearby.

A Portuguese column behind the woods fires into the flank of a regiment of French cavalry forcing it to flee while it's sister unit is unable to exact revenge on the extreme left of the French position

The balancing point for the allied attack. The French cavalry were pushed away on the left and French infantry were behind the hill. This is the point the English should have spewed forward in massed numbers.

On the allied left, the French right, British and Portuguese troops had managed to meet the French on the top of the hill and in line, there were decimating the defenders, eventually gaining the hill and positioning themselves to move down into the village held by the French.


At midday both commanders called the battle undecided (ED-> 2 x night limit on battles unless both parties agree to a 3rd night).

View from behind the French left showing the British line almost cresting the hill and Portuguese in the woods on the left

British lines on the French hill on the right


As per the Campaign Rules, each tabletop commander at the beginning of the battle assigned 3 x  terrain features or strategic tasks a number of points to the value of 4, 2 and 1. 

The English kept all their 7 points while the French lost 2 from the hill on their right they lost to the British for a total of 5. We now apply the comparison ratio of total army ACE ratings for final calculation of scores. The victor keeps the province while the loser must withdraw back where he came.


James Fisher, FINS said...

Interesting battle. It seems that it was just getting going when the commanders stopped it. Is that the discretion of a campaign game or the realities of time available to play the game?

Great photos!

War Depot said...

Its about keeping momentum in the campaign going. Most of the players cannot make every single Tuesday night and often if a large game gets bogged down (afterall we only meet for 2 hrs weekly) then some players lose interest waiting for their next campaign move.

So we came up with a rule that you play as fast as you can on the 2 nights you have and achieve as many objectives and kills as you can and then its over.

Commanders can go to a 3rd night if both agree.

There are no reinforcements in this campaign so it also keeps 1 army destroying another and having a player sit out the rest of the campaign.

It's just an idea we are testing currently so we'll see how it goes.

So far it looks good. The English player is very inexperienced and managed to score some points and limp of for further campaign play. Next week will be my Austrian army against a French Young Guard Corps with Guard Cavalry. Not going to be pretty!

James Fisher, FINS said...

You have "caught me out for not having read the background to the campaign—sorry!)

That sounds like a really good mechanism to make games progress at a good pace and to keep the campaign going.

Good luck for your Austrians! At least you have the advantage that you are not expected to win (a bit like Melbourne, or our cricket team at present...!)