006 River Coa (24 July 1810)
River Coa - 24 July 1810
After eliminating the garrison at Ciudad Rodrigo, Marshal André Masséna ordered Marshal Ney’s 6th Corps to advance on the fortress of Almeida. Rather than retreat and cross the river as ordered by Wellington, Crauford courted disaster and chose to hold his bridgehead. Crauford and the French both wanted to control the narrow stone bridge which was the only way to cross the Côa for several miles.
In the early hours of July 24th, Ney pushed forward his entire force against Crauford’s outnumbered Anglo-Portuguese Light Division. The first French attacks by Loison’s Division were checked by intense musket and rifle fire. As the fight in the center raged, French light cavalry braved the fire of the guns of Almeida and charged forward, routing the left flank of Crauford’s line.
With his line in danger of being rolled up, Crauford ordered an immediate retreat to the bridge. The Portuguese Cacadores and guns were first to cross the bridge while several British battalions held the French at bay. Soon these British units also fell back in good order across the river. Desiring a complete victory, Ney launched three disastrous assaults across the stone bridge, but all attempts failed to dislodge the British. That night Crauford withdrew toward Pinhel, leaving Masséna to lay siege to Almeida.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
• Commander: Crauford
• 4 Command Cards
• Optional 4 Tactician Cards
• Move First
• Commander: Marshal Ney
• 4 Command Cards
• Optional 4 Tactician Cards
Any ordered Anglo-Portuguese unit (regardless of strength) that exits the battlefield from the bridge hex will count as a Victory Banner for the British army. Exited leaders do not count for British Victory Banners.
Anglo-Portuguese units cannot exit off the bridge hex when forced to retreat due to ranged or melee combat. Units must halt or remain on the bridge hex and lose one block for each retreat hex that cannot be taken. If the unit is eliminated, the French player receives one Victory Banner.
The River Coa is impassable except at the bridge.
The Fortress of Almeida is treated as a town. In addition, Anglo-Portuguese units on a Fortress of Almeida hex may ignore one flag.
Tom decided that the way to win was to get units across the bridge and used a "Bayonet Charge" card to evacuate his first - and start a traffic jam on the approach to the bridge. I played "Forced March" to move up the main French force in the centre, starting to damage the British units even as they disappeared behind the hills towards the bridge.
The British cavalry moved up on my right, their Heavies taking out one of my Light Cavalry units. At the same time, Tom got another two units off the board - that's 4:2 to the Allies. A "Grande Manoeuvre" card let me shift several units onto the now empty hills overlooking the bridge. But Tom used a "Leadership" card to get two more units over the bridge to win 6:2. It felt closer than that scoreline suggests, though.
Re-playing as the other side saw my British manoeuvre with a "Bayonet Charge", shifting units closer to the bridge, while the French attacked on my right. I managed to get one unit off the board while my light infantry tried to hold up the French advance on the right, despite being forced into square by the French cavalry. They fell, but I was able to use "Grande Manoeuvre" to get the two Portuguese infantry off the board with British line infantry taking their place in the fortifications.
The French continued to advance, with a "Bayonet Charge" starting a pitched battle in front of the bridge. However, the score was still 3:1 to me at this point.
But the fighting went in favour of the French and they siezed the bridge before finishing off enough units to win 6:4. And that's 12:6 to Tom in total. Oops! (Full report - with photos - on BGG: boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/109906)
The second game was much closer with the British ready to exit 2 units for victory when a French cavalry charge against one of the ready to exit units forced it into square and stopped it.
Brits could have exited the other unit to make the count 5:5 but used the move to try and force the cavalry off from the square. The plan worked but then the French had a card that kept the attack in the centre going and they took the last banner to win.
Seems pro French to me. In the 2 games LGM only came up once and that was for the French. They used it to surround the Rifles near the windmill and threaten Almeida.
An LGM for the British in the middle of the second game would certainly have given them victory early!
My advice - remove LGM, or make the Brits use the alternative use if they draw it.
The second was a British victory (6:3) where the centre HA units destroyed the advanced French infantry and two Cavalry Charge cards swept the French LC from the field.
Both games were great fun and I really like this scenario where the small hand of cards make squares very important.