Sunday, 30 March 2014

Wargaming with a Spanish Army

The British rout at Gerona

When I reorganised our wargame armies almost ten years ago, I was determined to make use of all of our model soldiers, plus the wide range of scenery we had collected over the years.

To do so I started my 1813 campaign, which included six French and six different allied armies.   The allies are Austrian, British, Bavarian, Prussian, Russian and Spanish armies.
The French have Italian, Polish and Westphalian contingents.

I choose 1813 because all of the Napoleonic nations were involved, and also because all of the armies were more or less equal.   I wanted each army to have a chance of winning in their geographical area.

This became even more important when I changed from solo to PBEM campaign.   It would be difficult to keep players interested if they did not have a reasonable chance of winning  with their army.

It was clear from the start that the Spanish would be difficult.  They had to be poorly trained and poorly led if they were to bear any relation to the historical Spanish Army.   Fortunately there was a British contingent supporting the Spanish Armies in the north east.   So I replaced one of the four Spanish corps with a British corps.  

Our (house) wargame rules rely heavily on the luck of the dice.  This is necessary because Jan and I have wargamed together for so many years that we know what each other will do in any given circumstance.    This makes for predictable wargames, where no one makes many mistakes.   To speed things up, and to allow for the unexpected, I increased the influence of the dice.

The Spanish had to be poor quality troops.  This meant that they were more likely to break and run, given average dice.   To compensate I increased the size of the Spanish Army from four to five corps, keeping the British as one of them.

It should always be daring for such a poor quality army to attack.  But campaign players do not want to play boring defensive campaigns.   Our latest game in Spain had the Spanish attacking.

The five corps advanced, and headed for the French open left flank.   They were unaware that another French corps was advancing to fill that flank.   By the time the French arrived on the table the Spanish were committed.

The French attacked with their better, and stronger, cavalry.   The brunt of the attack fell on the British corps.  It was ironic that they would throw a string of really poor dice.  The result was the rout of the British corps, which quickly spread to the nearby Spanish who joined the rout.

A very typical, and historical, result for a Spanish v French army.   

But disappointing that it was caused by the rout of their best corps.

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