Saturday, April 28, 2012

Final Battle of Three Campaign Battles

Last Saturday evening, we completed the third of three games in our Napoleonic Campaign in Spain using Field of Battle (Second Edition). The campaign is a simple system of three scenarios where the two field armies compete. The primary effect from one battle to another is two-fold: (1): The loss of Army Morale Points in a given battle against the general pool of those points for your army. (2): The elevation/degradation of some units and commanders based upon events in the just completed battle.

For each battle, to work out the battlefield's topology, the orientation of it to the players and and bonuses/penalties for the Fate Tables, Brent devised some cards that illustrate a given battlefield. The players then worked thru a series of actions that lead to additional battlefields appearing, the orientation of the field changing, etc. So, before we would leave, after the evening's battle, we'd know what the "lay of the land" will be for the coming battle.

The battle on this evening (4/21/2012) was one of the strangest and one of the best battles we have enjoyed. The French forces assumed that they had an advantage in army morale points given the disaster last battle for the Allies (an assumption that was correct). Also, one Allied command was late to the fight, and we won an extremely aggressive option in deployment zones. So, we decided that we'd be aggressive and go on the offensive. The hitch? Well, the field was bisected by a Class-III river! Getting across that is a beast, so it would likely divide the field into 2 halves, with a battle only in one half. Also, we lost the Fate rolls for other things and practically had to deploy our entire army before the Allies had too.

So, we deployed aggressively on our left flank, occupying some town sections on the river with easy distance of the only bridge over the river. Also, we then massed in the center and prepared to cross the river under fire no matter the cost. Our right flank would be anchored on the river bank with a small brigade and a little artillery. If the Allies seriously tried something here it could only be a diversion - surely they'd contest our river crossing instead of attempting that flanking maneuver.

So, we deployed, showing our hand, and the Allies did something a little unexpected...they deployed a little timidly, in my view. Anchoring their flank on the woods was a sound decision, but they placed no troops to challenge the river crossing. They had great depth in their position, but only 1 gun battery within range of the river and no infantry with 18" of the river at the crossing points we would use. We steadily advanced, not launching the main assault until all assault units had crossed the river.

My job was to get part of my command across the river and into the woods to try to get pressure on anything there so that is does not flank the assault. The other part of my command was detailed to stay on our side of the river, but to advance and engage any enemy troops appearing at the woods edge. In my job, I think I did pretty well...better than I normally have performed...but, yes, my commander was the only command casualty of the fight (I always get a commander killed, and there is no end to the good-natured ribbing I get for that!).

Some British Highlanders appeared at the edge of the woods, and my artillery really whacked them! When I got some troops across the river, I encountered them again as well as some British Rifles - and with one of John's units - we hammered these fellows. We actually had an opportunity to turn the allied flank here in the woods. But, as the Gods of War are fickle, events allowed some Portuguese to get into position to stabilize the flank.

Meanwhile, John and Chris diligently herded their troops across the river, got reorganized, and launched the main assault. I wonder that if the allies had been a little more aggressive could they have hurt us as we crossed slowly and in disorder? I suppose so, routing units crossing a Class-III river lose a UI when they cross, this could have been bad - but - the allies would also have been in a more exposed position and taking some losses too. I cannot fault them for standing in a strong line with protected flanks and toughing out a fierce brawl at close range.

In the end, the French won. We ran out of chips first though, and spent a little time where both armies were giving and taking one or two chips to each other. In the end, the Allies got the Army Morale Card when out of chips and lost the roll. The French had 1 chip in the bag.

The overall campaign was narrowly won by the French by a score of 3 Campaign Morale Points to 0 Campaign Morale Points.

On to the pics (taken with my iPad 3)...oh, next campaign starts in May. Austria 1809. I'll be an Austrian commander!
The map!