Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Battle of Torrente

Battle of Torrente - Nightfall

The first battle/wargame of our Tortosa PBEM campaign has gone really well.

I have been fiddling with the wargame rules quite a lot since converting the campaign to PBEM. They were designed for five commanders per side, representing one army and four corps commanders. However the campaign keeps producing battles with one, or sometimes two, corps per side. Command points play a large part in the rules, resulting in weaker and stronger corps due to gifted commanders having more and poor commanders less command points. Obviously this does not work if there is only one commander per side.

I am considering whether to make each corps larger, and concentrate on single corps battles. This would be easy to do, but it does not allow for the multi corps battles which are so much a part of Napoleonic wargaming.

So I have been working at allocating command points to each of the five brigades and the corps artillery. They do not have commanders represented on the table, so the command points will confirm how much each brigade can do each move.

One average is rolled for each brigade, and the result is the maximum number of things it can do during that move. One point is deducted for being poor class and one for each casualty. When close the enemy each brigade can only do a maximum of two actions anyway – for example move and skirmish. So when full strength each brigade will usually have sufficient point to do anything the corps commanders might want to do. But as casualties mount up, and if a low dice is thrown, then it may not be able to do anything at all. In these circumstances the corps commander can take personal command of the brigade and use his own command points.

Torrente is the first game we have used this new system, and so far so good. It does involve more dice, which neither of us really like. But it does have a very realistic attrition effect on brigades which are taking casualties.

And it has the added advantage of making the Spanish infantry, who are largely poor class, much less effective than the better class French.

Torrente started as a sort of Baylen type battle. A French (or actually Italian) corps was attempting to relieve one of its brigades which were surrounded by a Spanish corps. As the Italians neared the town they were confronted by the Spanish corps deployed to stop them. The Italians had left one infantry and one cavalry brigade to secure their lines of communication, and this force reported a second Spanish corps advancing to cut off their retreat.

The resulting battle/wargame worked much better than I had expected. I have always found it difficult to make games with Spanish troops interesting – for the Spanish commander I mean. They are either too strong, and do not show any of the poor command and morale for which they are well known. Or they are too weak and break and run at the first exchange of fire.

One game does not prove anything. As always the dice played an important part. But the game did go very well. The detached force of infantry and cavalry managed to delay one Spanish corps, the remainder fought the other Spanish corps. The Italians lost, but casualties were pretty equal. However when the action returns to the campaign the Italian commander will be faced by two Spanish corps, one of whom has not suffered any casualties. It will be interesting to see how he manages to avoid the full strength corps long enough to recover his battle casualties.

If you would like to read the battle report you will find it at

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