Friday, 25 March 2011

Bad Weather – Good Wargaming

French cavalry rout British hussars
The weather has been pretty miserable here on the Costa Blanca this past couple of days, with heavy rain and dense low cloud. As we live in a valley, with a mountain range opposite the house, we are particularly aware of the conditions. We normally have a lovely view of the local village and mountain behind, but this morning both had disappeared in a white haze. This is NOT what we moved to Spain for! And it does not help that the weather in UK has been warm and sunny this week!!
The good news is that being restricted to the house by the weather, we have done more wargaming than usual. As with most things in life, it’s easy to put off wargaming when the weather is fine. It’s tempting to visit the coast for a glass of wine overlooking the med, or just sit on the naya reading – with a glass of wine. But this week we had to rely on indoor activities, and the wargame came into its own.
We are currently fighting a game based on Vitoria. It’s the first time we have used our 18mm figures for almost a year. I tend to use the 28mm for the campaign games, because the battles have fewer figures, and the larger figures photograph better. But Vitoria covers a wide area, and it’s important to have some distance between the four allied columns.
In a large and complicated battle we usually only play one move each day. This takes about an hour, as I take photographs at the end of each turn. I then usually type up the battle report immediately, whilst it is still fresh in my mind. So the one turn can take up to two hours, which passes the afternoon.
The disadvantage is that you have to “get into the game” each time. This provided an added bit of realism, which cheered us up despite the weather.
I command the British and Jan the French. In the centre, around Arinez, the battle is going badly for the French. They have lost the hill, and are struggling to prepare the village for defence.
Alten’s column is attacking Arinez hill from the west. Having crossed the river the cavalry move to the left to protect the infantry as they form up ready to attack the hill. The artillery are deployed between the infantry and the cavalry, to prevent the French lining the top of the hill.
The infantry move forward and drive the French off the hill. This causes one French battery to withdraw in disorder. The French cavalry move forward to prevent the hussars from taking advantage of the infantry retreat.
Whilst I concentrate on the infantry who are moving across the hill towards Arinez village, Jan has rallied her artillery. They fire on the hussars at long range, causing a casualty. The French cavalry then declare a charge on the hussars, who fail their morale to counter charge. They lose the melee, and rout into the artillery. Alten’s attack is in a shambles. End of move
Next day Jan gets to move first. She is on the far side of the table and dealing with the French reserve at Vitoria. She orders one of the batteries to fire on a line of cavalry close to Alten’s infantry, assuming them to be British. Fortunately she misses – they are her own heavy cavalry who have caused so much havoc in the previous move!
This is the first time that I have ever encountered a “blue on blue” in a wargame. Shame that the French gunners were not able to score a hit – that would have really made my day.

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