Sunday 12 May 2024

Santander Campaign – Day One

Campaign Map

The campaign opens with a surprise French attack on Villacayo

10 French army – hold Sarautz
11 French army – hold Bergara
12 French army – attack Villacayo

1 British army – hold Laredo
2 British army – hold Ramales
3 British army – defend Villacayo

Battle of Villacayo - Move 8

The battle opens with 35 French corps attacking 6 British corps in front of the town
34 French and 36 Vistula corps arrive on the table at the start of move 2
5 British and 9 Spanish corps are allowed to move at the start of move 2

5 British occupy the farm on the right
34 French attack but are driven off

35 French corps attack in the centre, supported by artillery from 34 corps
6 British retreat slowly towards the town to avoid combat and delay the French attack

36 Vistula and 9 Spanish arrive at the hill on the left at the same time
The Poles storm the hill, and the Spanish retreat to avoid combat

At nightfall the French have taken two of the three game objectives and won the game

The French have lost 6 infantry and 2 cavalry casualties (2600 men)
The British have lost 3 infantry, 3 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties (1600 men)


The French have lost more casualties, but the British have lost more cavalry and gunners. They also have two brigades in rout.

The heavy French casualties is because the British in the centre, and Spanish on the left, have retreated to avoid casualties. In doing so they abandoned two of the three game objectives, leaving the French the winners

However there was more to it than that.

The British cavalry suffered heavy defeat due to really poor dice throw. This allowed the French to advance their cavalry and threaten the allied artillery.

The French suffered a similar defeat, again due to poor dice, on their attack on the farm on the right. They should have won the attack, but they rolled 3x1 and 1x2 out of 6 dice.

Although I would prefer that the dice did not play such an important role in the outcome, it is not too bad if it happens to both sides. It is also the only way to achieve a fast flowing game when both players understand the rules, and each other, so well. If neither side make a mistake, and if both can anticipate what the other is likely to do, the result is often a very slow moving and boring wargame.

This strong influence of luck, in the form of the dice, helps to add an element of unpredictably and total surprise to a game. Normally the attacker, usually me, is very cautious in the opening part of the game. Hoping to achieve casualties with his artillery, or cavalry, before risking his infantry in a frontal attack. If I can achieve this, the attack usually wins. It is pretty unusual to roll such poor dice, but it can (and did) happen in this game.

This is not a style which would suit everyone, but it does suit us.

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