This week Evert and I reached the last Peninsular War scenario in the base game and it's his turn to play French first. Looking at the set-up, I thought the Allies would have the advantage with their numbers, but the stats say the odds are 3:2 in favour of the French. Hmm, let's see.
The Allies' first move was for the Portuguese to move forward on the right, bringing the Light cavalry to the fore. The French militia opposite them advanced in response, with the French Light cavalry trotting in front of the town.
The Portuguese Light infantry and British Horse artillery advanced a little further to engage the French cavalry at long range. The cavalry retired out of range.
Further shooting from the British Horse artillery and Portuguese Light infantry on the Allies' right inflicted casualties on the French Line infantry on the end of the hills. At the same time, the Portuguese Heavy cavalry moved right while General Stewart on the Allies' left joined advancing Line infantry. ["Forward" is such a useful card.]
Piqued by the long-range fire, the damaged French Line on their left moved up to engage the Portuguese Light infantry in the wood, while the French Light cavalry attacked the guns. Both infantry units took damage, but the Horse artillery was battered by the cavalry. French forces also advanced in the centre, Light infantry moving forward on the hills, and the Foot artillery on the French right took up position on the hills. [Such a good card that Evert played a "Counter-attack".]
Time for the Portuguese to move forward in the centre, engaging the advanced French infantry with some ineffective musketry. The French returned fire, rather more accurately, only for the Portuguese to respond with concerted volleys, weakening the French infantry in the centre. French bayonets then came into action, Line infantry all but destroying their Portuguese opposite numbers under General da Costa.
With the attack in the centre faltering, British infantry advanced on the left, carefully keeping the woods between them and the French artillery on the hills. And, on the Allies' right, the Portuguese Light cavalry pounced on the half-strength French Line in front of them. The infantry tried to fight them off, but fell. [That opens the scoring: 1:0 to the Allies.]
French militia moved onto the hills on their left wing, their fire driving off the Portuguese Light cavalry. The French Light cavalry finished off the Horse artillery in front of them. And then the Portuguese Light infantry in the woods! [Lucky dice from Evert and the score's suddenly 1:2.]
The Portuguese cavalry, Heavy and Light, responded, driving the French out of the woods as their Line infantry advanced. The French Heavies now got into the fight, smashing the Portuguese Light cavalry, despite the protection of the woods. And, in the centre, French Line finally finished off that Portuguese Line unit, General da Costa escaping. [1:3]
With all eyes on one side of the battlefield, nobody noticed British infantry surge forward on the Allies' left flank to surround the French on the hills. ["La Grande Manoeuvre" lets me get round the end of the hills.]
The French defence was vigorous, immediately eliminating one of the attacking British Line units and inflicting heavy casualties on the Lights. [1:4] The battered British fight back, almost getting a French Line, while the Lights take cover in the town. From here, they finish off that French Line unit, only for the French artillery to smash their positions and annihilate them. [2:5]
The British infantry continued to engage what's left of the French right, but a French attack in the centre ended things by removing another Portuguese unit. [2:6]
Well, that was quite a beating! I don't know quite what happened, except that Evert rolled good dice at a couple of crucial points. The return match is due next week, but I can't see I'll get a better result than that. We shall see.
Combat at Aire (2 March 1814)
Turns 1-4: British and French slowly but surely move closer to each other.
Turn 5: British create a tie at two banners a piece after General Harispe is mortally wounded just north of the town of Nauzeilles.
Turn 9: French secure the victory at the end of turn nine with "Elan" and a good roll of the dice... They win 6 to 4 in a close game that saw very little movement along the front. British were never close to the two town objectives.
An initial attack by the Portugese in the centre was pushed back by the French on the ridge. Then an assault on the British left was halted by the French artillery which had moved onto the hill. Although the British were able to occupy the town of Seminary, aided by a rally card which yielded FIVE (that's right, five) infantry symbols, the French cavalry moved across and delivered the coup de grace, Foy winning the battle 6-3. Fortunately the French militia were never tested as Hill was unable to get his right wing moving until too late. Looking forward to the rematch.
The tables were turned for the rematch. After a very slow start, as neither commander had suitable cards, eventually the French centre advanced, only to be decimated by the Portugese infantry, who were aided by a First Strike card. Hill moved his cavalry reserve to the left flank, a move matched by Foy, leaving his left flank very weak. The River Grave is a real impediment to movement, but the British right flank eventually got moving and eliminated the French line and the two militia units, occupying the village in the process. The climax came on the other flank where the Portugese cavalry routed the French mounted units to win the battle 6-2, demonstrating that the British can win if their numerical superiority (16 units to 12) can be brought to bear.