After fighting three battles from the core set of Commands & Colors Napoleonics, one described in an earlier blog post, and two on my You Tube channel, I am moving onto the Spanish Army expansion. I am still using the rules and cards from the base set.
The Spanish army does have an ability to use the Spanish Guerrilla Action. Some scenarios give the Spanish player one or more tokens at the start of the scenario, or none at all. However, when playing a Scout card, he can opt to take a Guerrilla Action token, as opposed to drawing two cards, selecting one, and discarding the other. He simply draws one card and a token.
The tokens are used in an attempt to nullify the French player's command card on any French turn. Once the French player reveals his card, a token can be played. The French player then roles a single die and can stop the Guerrilla Action by rolling a sabre icon. Any other result and the card is discarded and the turn passes to the Spanish player.
Playing solo, means of course, that I know the cards in both hands. Willingly or not, I know which is the best card in the French hand, and so could use the token when it is played. Not very satisfactory. I have come up with a house rule, that allows the Spanish player to effectively have two turns, one after the other, without the French player losing his command card. After the Spanish have moved/fired etc. the token can be played to give them another turn. The token is then discarded.
The scenario chosen is the second in the book. The French army launched a three pronged attack on what was deemed to be a vulnerable Spanish force. The Spanish centre disintegrated and the two wings were forced to retire and cover the centre. The Spanish commander successfully carried out a swift retreat in good order.
A special rule for this scenario, to reflect the retreat, is once three ordered units have retreated off the Spanish side of the board, every ordered unit after those, is worth a victory banner. Units forced back due to combat leaving the table, do not count as a banner.
The map recreated on the game board. The river is fordable along its entire length. Lots of hills and a few woods dotted about.
Both sides troops deployed. No cavalry for either side in this scenario. The French infantry are exclusively line, whilst the Spanish have two units of Grenadiers and three of light infantry, mixed with their line units. The Spanish have one Foot Battery to the French two Foot Batteries. The French move first.
As the French player, I really need to advance my troops and get them into action as quickly as possible to gain the six victory banners required to win the game, before the Spanish troops can withdraw off the table.
As the Spanish player, I will have to sacrifice a number of units to fight a rearguard action, allowing the remainder to exit off the table.
Well that is the plans...
I won't show a die roll by die roll, but will give a commentary of what has happened in each turn.
Positions after the end of Turn Two. The French right flank advanced and attacked causing casualties on the Spanish units attempting to withdraw. In the centre, two Spanish units plus a general exited the table.
The French right flank rush forward.
With all efforts concentrated on the right flank, the French could only stand and watch as Spanish units opposite, began to withdraw.
The Spanish flank is already opening up a gap to the French.
The Spanish have retreated two units plus a general off the board. Once three ordered units have left the board, each unit after is worth a victory banner to the Spanish.
Spanish casualties on their left flank, the French have to destroy units quickly, before they can exit the board and escape.
Due to cards rather than choice, the French right once again attacked, wiping out a line regiment for a victory banner and causing hits and unfortunately, retreats to the Spanish. The Spanish right flank was able to continue its withdrawal without enemy interference.
All the fighting is on this flank, or at least by the French, the Spanish simply melt away from combat.
End of Turn Four. A bayonet charge by the French causes huge casualties and gains a second victory banner.
End of Turn Five. With all opposition on French right flank having either been destroyed or retreated off the table, a La Grand Manoeuvre card is played and the French left flank hurries forward to engage the fleeing Spaniards. They move four hexes, but cannot battle this turn.
The French right has done its job and now needs to block the line of retreat of centrally placed Spanish units if possible.
The Spanish continue to fall back, rather than fight.
Some Spanish units are now becoming trapped in the centre, if only the French had a centre card!
The Spanish units exiting the board, now begin to pick up victory banners.
The French on the left engage the enemy with artillery and musketry, they cause hits, but more worryingly, also cause retreats.
The Spanish may be abandoning the field, but they are paying a horrendous cost in casualties, as the French move up to three victory banners.
The Spaniards in the centre have been abandoned to their fate.
The French are desperate to get to grips with the fleeing enemy.
The Spanish remain on one victory banner, but a number of units are very close to exiting the board.
The French have three victory banners, half way to a win.
End of Turn Seven. The French right flank begin to advance towards the centre in an attempt to cut off fleeing Spanish units. The Spanish use an attack centre card to retreat a line unit off the board for a victory banner, and use to the other actions to engage a French line unit, scoring two hits and forcing it to fall back.
With no enemy before them, the French right flank begin to move toward the centre.
Spanish light and line infantry engage a unit of French line, causing casualties and forcing them back.
The Spanish managed to order another unit off the board for a second victory banner.
Turn Eight. The French right again advanced and led by General Leval, they destroyed a weakened Spanish unit in melee. The Spanish continue to fall back on their right flank.
Four victory banners now for the French, they are also in a position now to cut off the central Spanish units.
Two more Spanish units very close to exiting the board for victory banners.
The French right continue to move behind the Spanish centre, but also pull back the weakened line regiment, not wanting to risk an easy victory banner for the Spanish.
General Rey must be a worried man as he observes French infantry in the hills to his rear left.
The Spaniards continue to retreat, one unit of line off the board for another victory point and the lights fall back a hex.
The Spaniards now reach the halfway point in victory banners.
Finally, the French have a card to activate the centre. General Sebastiani advances with three infantry brigades, even with half dice, they cause casualties to both Spanish units before them.
The Spanish centre in a dire predicament.
Spanish General Mendizabal, sees it prudent to pull back onto the ridge line, for observation purposes of course!
The French play a flank attack card, with musketry they destroy the Spanish light infantry and claim a victory banner. On the left flank the infantry score two hits on the Spanish foot artillery.
The Spanish manage to retreat a grenadier unit off the board, as the remains of a light unit fall back to the board edge.
Four victory banners, with another pending. Will it be in time?
The French on five victory banners, are just one banner a away from the win.
Turn Twelve. Game over. A centre probe card allowed the French to engage the last surviving Spanish light infantry unit in the centre, a combination of musketry and artillery fire, gained the sixth and final victory banner for the French.
General Rey survived the carnage.
The Spanish were still at least two cards away from evacuating the two units they required for a victory.
The Spaniards took huge losses.
They saved part of the army, but at a high cost.
A French victory in the end, a very enjoyable scenario that I will tackle again in the future. Next time I think the Spaniards need to make a stand with the majority of their army, maybe claiming two or three banners via the retreat off the board, and taking three or more banners by destroying French units. The French had to advance into action quickly, which they were able to do on both flanks, but the centre was rooted to its starting positions for most of the game. Fate is determined by the fall of the cards, incidentally, the Spanish didn't draw a single scout card, which would have enabled them to receive a Guerrilla token.
Next up will be a battle fought just ten days after this one, Gamanol 10th November 1808.