Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Battle of Arroyo dos Molinos 1811

And the endless search for Napoleonic Rules


Fire !
The ongoing saga to find a set of Napoleonic rules continued recently here at Castle R with another crack at General de Brigade. My problem is that I have over 6000 15mm Napoleonic Figs all based at a 33:1 ratio, all in single ranks so not only am I looking for a set of rules I like but I also need to adapt them to the figures I have, as they are based now, because there is no way I am re basing and adding figures to existing units.

Spanish Infantry marching to the sound of the guns
General de Brigade of course is a 20:1 double ranked system so for my figures to work changes are required. Last time out we tried to change the tables in the rule book to 33:1 by simply multiplying the figures in the tables by 20 (to get the number of actual men) and then dividing by 33 to convert back to number of figures. It worked ok, but we ended up using a lot of half and third casualties and this tended to slow things down a bit.

Cavalry Action
For this game I decided to try a different approach and use the tables as they are but instead use a written unit roster to keep track of the figures. So a 30 man British Battalion would still be represented on table by my 20 Fig units but treated as a 30 Figs unit for firing etc.

This method did seem to work better and we cracked on through turns very quickly, so we could better get a grasp of how the rules work. Our little band of intrepid gamers are already users of the AWI version of these rules, British Grenadier and the SYW version Die Kreigkunst so the basic concepts of the rules are not too hard to grasp.

The only real issue was one of frontages with a twenty (actual) figure unit putting out the firepower of 30 on a shorter front if double ranked, still a working in progress to solve this one.

KGL Hussars 
The game moved smoothly but for me it lacks something, those intangibles that make a rule set great. I have fond, no doubt clouded by nostalgia, memories of Bruce Quarries Napoleonic set and long for those National Characteristics which the author of GdeB has set out to remove and that's what's missing for me. I do, however, have a cunning plan to add them in (as soon as I get chance to put it in writing).

The perfect set of rules for me were the Hard Pounding Computer Rules, sadly they never successfully made the conversion from Atari ST to PC, the search goes on.

The Portuguese Infantry arrive.
The Game Itself

I wanted something simple and straightforward to test our GdeB skills so I picked this battle from the very fine Scenario Books sold by Caliver Books specifically designed for the rule set, this action is in book 2.

An historical action set in the Pennisular Was in 1811, a simple attack and defend game.

British Artillery
General Girard commanding a French division had crossed the River Guardiana and had been campaigning in Northern Extremadura. Major-General Hill had been given permission to intercept Girard with his troops and put an end to his roving. Hill learnt that the French had halted at the village of Arroyo dos Molinos and rushed his troops to meet them.
The game starts with half of the French Infantry in and around the village supported by a Horse Artillery Battery, the rest of the French have marched away already, the British and Allied troops arrive steadily on the field to attack the village whilst the French desperately trying and recall their troops back.

Objectives are simple, the French need to hold the village, the British take it. The Terrain should have a village in its centre (6x4 table) with small enclosures / orchards to its left and right with a road the length of the table. Add to that some random areas of light scrub befitting of the Spanish country side.
Our Layout
French Orbat
On table from the beginning set up in the village are,
C in C General Girard (Poor)
6 French Line Battalions all 24 Figs Strong in a single Brigade with an average Officer supported by a 6 Gun 6pdr Horse Artillery Battery.
The remaining French Troops are 3 moves off table and are activated by the issue of a successful Brigade order (rolled for separately as per standard rules).
3 French Battalions (Line) and 3 Infantry Battalions (2nd Line) with an Average Officer.
Cavalry Brigade of 1 x 16 Conscript Dragoons, 1 x 16 Chasseur (Line with inferior mounts) and 1 x 16 Hussars (Line).

French Artillery supported by Italian Infantry  (we used for 2nd Line)
British Orbat

On table turn at the start, all Commanders are Ave
1 Brigade of 1 x British Infantry  24 Figs (Line), 71st Light 30 Figs Elite, 92nd Highlanders 32 Veteran with 12 Rifle Skirmishers and a Spanish Conscript Unit of 14 Cavalry.

Marching onto the table on Turn 2
1 Brigade of 2 x British Infantry 30 Figs (Line), 1 x British Infantry 24 Figs  (Line) with 12 Rifle Skirmishers and a British Foot Battery with 9pdr Guns.

71st Highland Light Infantry skirmishing
Turn 3 1 British Cavalry Brigade of 2 x Light Dragoons 12 Figs Line Superior Mount's and 1 x KGL Hussars 14 Figs Elite.

Turn 4 1 Spanish Infantry Brigade of 3 x Spanish Infantry all Conscripts 1 is a Light Battalion.

Turn 10 1 Portuguese Infantry Brigade of 2 Portuguese Line Battalions 24 Figs, 2nd Line, 2 Portuguese Infantry Battalions 24 Figs Conscript and 1 x Cacadores 30 Figs Line.

More Cavalry Action
How did we get on ?

A real straight up fight with little room for subtlety, the British came straight on with their strong Skirmish screen chipping away at the French Lines. Initially a stalemate both sides Cavalry arrived at the same time and moved to the right flank of the French. Dice rolls often decide these things and this game was no different in one turn the whole game which had bogged down into a bit of a slog fest turned on three die rolls. The French were on the receiving end of all of them.


Two units of French Infantry failed Morale leaving them unformed and Faltering, an easy target for the British Infantry whilst in the first Cavalry melee between the French Dragoons and a British Light Dragoons ended badly for French when the British rolled a 12. A nice solid line now had 3 big holes in it !

The French Line under pressure.
We had planned to do another evening session with the game but frankly it was already all over so we called it a day. A very difficult fight for the French to get something out of but a nice small Historical action which could be fought in an evening with experienced players.

Highland Light Infantry
So there we have it another foray into the world of Napoleonic gaming, we will return but when and exactly with what rules I don't know, I really want to get my love of Napoleonics back, with 6000 figures i need to ! I'm so close but still so far.