Sunday 2 June 2024

Wargame Objectives

Battle of Ramales

We recently changed the game objective from the town or city to three objectives in the centre of the table.  This was to deter the defending player from slowly retreating as the attacker deployed to attack.   The defender could inflict casualties on the attacker, but retreat before the attack could be delivered.   In addition it took so long for the attacker to pursue that nightfall usually prevented any attack at all.

However our recent battle of Ramales proved that this might not be as easy to achieve as I had expected.

The game would be decided by three separate combats, one for each of the game objectives.   On the left was the hill, in the centre the woods and on the right the farm.  Although this was an encounter battle, the British and Spanish troops would reach their defensive position well before the French attackers.

The Hill

This was held by the Spanish corps, by far the weakest of the three allied corps.   However it was attacked by the Italian corps, the weakest of the French corps, and not a lot better than the Spanish holding the hill  

Hills are best held, and attacked, by infantry.  So the British Army commander took command of the Spanish cavalry and artillery and deployed them between the hill and the woods.

The French Army commander also took command of the Italian cavalry and artillery, but that was to support the Westphalian attack on the centre.   It also countered the Spanish detachment, but that was not the intention.

The attack on the hill was an easy victory for the Italians.    They used their two best infantry brigades to spearhead the attack, and routed one Spanish brigade by skirmish fire.  The remaining three Spanish infantry brigades quickly followed suit.   They ran to the woods in the rear, where they eventually rallied.  But they did not make any counter attack on the hill.

The French had taken their first game objective

The Woods

The 4th British corps, who held the centre, included two rifle brigades which represented the famous light division.   The senior brigade held the woods, supported by the second brigade and the corps artillery between the woods and the hill.

The Westphalian corps was given the task of taking this objective.  They were better quality than the Italians, but only just.   They could not risk an attack on the rifles in the woods, at least until they could drive back their supports and attack the woods from at least two sides.   This proved extremely difficult.

Supported by the Italian cavalry and artillery they easily outgunned the weaker British 6pdr guns, and also the poorly trained Spanish gunners.   However it requires a roll of six on 1D6 to hit a gun, so they would have to be very lucky.   Their reinforced cavalry should also be able to defeat the British hussars and Spanish irregular lancers.   However their artillery failed to roll any sixes, and eventually turned their attention to the supporting infantry.   Their cavalry finally won the cavalry combat, but not until they had lost one brigade.

It took 10 of the 12 game moves, but eventually the rifle brigade were driven from the woods.   The nearest infantry rushed the woods, but were halted by a counter attack by the supporting British brigade.   At nightfall only two British brigades still remained, but they continued to contest the woods.

The Farm

3rd British corps had one elite infantry brigade, and a heavy cavalry brigade.   Apart from that they were two line and one conscript Portuguese brigades.   However the foot guards held the farm.

The attacking French corps was young guard.   Not only good infantry, but also a 12 pounder artillery battery and a brigade of heavy dragoons.   Their attack should have been the easiest of the three combats.  It was not to be so

To attack the farm they had to secure at least one side as well as the front.  They could then attack with two brigades against one.   They would also hope to weaken the garrison with artillery and skirmish fire.   But first they would have to persuade the British supports to retreat.   The dragoon brigade was sent to drive off the British cavalry.   Due to really poor dice the French not only lost two cavalry combats, but they routed with 20% casualties without inflicting any casualties on the British horsemen.

The attack turned into a real slog, and by nightfall the farm was firmly held by the British.   The French managed to get into the farm, but a prompt counter attack resulted in a stalemate.

So at the end of the game the French held one objective, but the other two were still held by the British.   Victory conditions were the side which held two of the three game objectives.

The British could claim that they still held the woods and farm, even if they were contested.   Had the game gone on for another two or three moves the French would probably have taken the woods, but they would have been drive out of the farm.   But the deciding factor was that the French clearly held one of the three objectives, and contested the other two.

I gave the game to the French player.  


  1. Adjusting the game’s objective approach seems to be providing an enjoyable and closely fought game by the sounds of it.

    1. Hi Peter
      It seems to be working well so far

      The objectives are in the middle of the table, and this restricts the defending player retreating to use up play time. Perfectly understandable tactic, but also very "wargaming".



  2. This one sounds like a very interesting and hard-fought battle - a real ding-dong affair. From your description I'd probably be inclined to award the tactical victory to the Anglo-Spanish. But perhaps it was a strategic defeat, being badly enough knocked about to abandon the town and defensive positions overnight. Not an uncommon outcome from Napoleonic battles, especially notable during the 1806-7 winter campaign in Poland.

    As usual, you set-up looks good!

    1. Hi Ion

      I agree that the allied army won, in that they still occupied two of the three objectives at the end of the game. But as you rightly observe, it was a strategic defeat.

      Normally I would give the victory to the allied army, but they would then retreat the next day. Otherwise they would have to fight a second day of battle. During the night both armies would be allowed to rally, regroup and redeploy during the night. This would normally give a big advantage to the French, and the allies would only suffer more casualties, and still have to retreat.

      The constraints of a 12 hour day/12 move wargame do call for compromises. However the aim of the campaign is to provide an endless supply of battles for us to enjoy as enjoyable wargames. Neither of us would want to play a one sided wargame where the outcome was pretty well certain and which would most likely not last more than three or four moves.

      Thanks for your kind comments about the set up. We are very fortunate to have a permanent wargames room. It is not unusual for either of us to stop for a quick look, or to ponder a difficult or unusual problem between moves. We normally play two moves four or five times a week, so we have plenty of time to calculate options between moves.




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