This was a grudge match with the French trying to regain their colours and honour after a dismal showing last time. The Austrians were simply trying to get to the cheese and wine.
As ABBA said....The winner takes it all!
The commentary largely stolen from an intercepted despatch back to Paris to the Emperor. (thanks Rowland)
The French: Marshall Marcus and Generale Rowland, Austrians General von Paul and Kronprinz von Tom. Note Nationally colour co-ordinated dice: the red and blue dice with white dots for the French and Yellow dice with black dots for the Austrians
The French advance - generals leading from the front, bands playing La Marseilles
Hungarian hussars charge home against infantry (who make it into square). The first of many successful charges of this incredible cavalry unit. HUZZZAAARRR!
The French right - one Carabineer regiment wheels to sweep away the Austrian hussars.
KAABBOOOOMMMM! The French grand battery comes into action against Austrians in Line on the hill
...and here they are again! HUZZAAARR!! Note the French Carabineers have dropped behind their infantry.
KAABBOOOMMMM!! Grand battery having destroyed the battalion on the hill changes its target, infantry attack columns advance on their right, musketry on their left.
On the Austrian left - a private fight between the 2nd French Carabineer regiment and a battalion of Austrian line, the Hussars are back at the French (HUZZAAARRR!), there is chaos on the hill as an Austrian Battalion disintegrates but the reserve moves forward and the guns pull back to engage while on the right the grand battery administers punishment and an exchange of musketry occurs.
KAABOOOMMM!! A close up of the shot & shell on the right - the French are using canister. Oh the pain!
End game: those Hussars are still alive!!! (HUZZZAAARRR!) Having ridden across the battlefield from the Austrian left wing to their right with the Carabineers in hot pursuit, are now sandwiched between the square (which they charged) and the Carabineers who 'counter charged'. With the destruction of the grenzers to their front the grand battery has split two - foot in sight having 'withdrawn from the cav charge have taken up position to grape and ball enfilade the Austrians and the horse bringing fire to bear on the Austrian reserve on the hill which is busy driving the French off the hill.
French win as they managed to drive the Austrians from the objective behind the hill. A very bloody game which was full of lots of action, gunsmoke and artillery. The Hungarian Hussars were little wizards and kept the French chasing them all over the board. In the end they destroyed two French brigades and made a very large nuisance of themselves. The French grand battery was truly frightening!! I think my ears are still ringing.
Great fun. Next game!!
May 16 is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Albuera. To commemorate the event we assembled to re-fight the engagement using the recently published “Lasalle” rules by Sam Mustafa and Honor publications. The rules are designed to fight small scale actions with the battalion as the main manoeuvre unit so we chose to recreate only a small section of the battle.
I drew my orbats and force arrays from a number of maps and books but details are sketchy at best. One of the more useful accounts is in Michael Glover’s “The Peninsular War” but it’s from the allied point of view so there is little detail concerning the French. We eventually chose the section of the battle (both in time and space) where Zayas' Spanish Division holds the initial French assault on the ridgeline but the first British relieving Brigade (Colborne) is destroyed by the lurking French cavalry.
The information on the orbats came straight from George Nafziger’s wegsite: http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/nafziger/index.asp – it is very good! We simply counted the number of battalions present in the orbats for Stewart’s and Zayas’ Divisions, The French 5th Corps which conducted the main assault and that’s what went on the table. The arrival times, the actual placements on the table and the arrangement of the commanders required some trial and error but on the day the battle ran very closely to the historical event ... in spite of a final French victory.
The following background for the engagement is paraphrased from the Napoleon’s Battles rulebook:
The Battle of Albuera – May 16 1811.
Marshal Soult’s Army (24,000) advanced to raise the siege of Badajoz – by Beresford’s Anglo – Portuguese forces. Beresford lifted the siege and joined Blake’s Spanish Army near the small town of Albuera. Soult was determined to attack although he had not realised the combined allied force (32,000) was significantly larger than his own.
Feinting with his right wing, Soult launched his major attack on his left with a corps of two divisions. The force (Werle’s Poles) feinting on the right then withdrew to support the attack once it was underway. The initial assault drove the defending Spanish lines back and part of Stewart’s Division (Colborne’s Brigade) which had moved without proper information about the enemy, was destroyed by a well timed cavalry charge. However, when disaster seemed certain the Spanish line under Zayas steadied and Beresford was able to feed in more and more British and Portuguese troops. The French assault was checked and then driven back. By mid afternoon exhaustion and heavy rain brought the engagement to an end. Allied losses were over 6,000 and French losses between 7,000 and 8,000.
The engagement opened with the divisions of Gazan and Girard (5th Corps) assaulting directly onto the ridgeline expecting to push the Spaniards away with little effort. On the French left flank the two light cavalry brigades, supported by two infantry battalions from Girard began to bear down on Colborne’s hopelessly exposed brigade.
1. The French commence the assault. (Apologies for the Austrian troops masquerading as Spaniards!)
The Allies however, were tougher than the French had anticipated. While the battle for the ridgeline teetered each way Colbourne’s Battalions changed from line to square (and back again) as the French made several poorly coordinated assaults. The British cavalry then arrived to provide help to the beleaguered brigade … but it was too late! The French finally managed to finesse their sequence of attacks and as the last British battalion fell to a combined cavalry and infantry assault, the allied cavalry charged the supporting French cavalry lines. The cavalry battle also raged each way but seeing their infantry friends ridden down was too much and the British and Spanish cavalry fled the field leaving the French to collect the wounded, round up the prisoners and prepare for the flank assault on to the Allies still holding the ridgeline.
On the ridgeline both sides fought with grim determination and casualties were high. With one final desperate push the French routed the last Spanish battalion and crested the ridge … only to see the balance of Stewart’s Division below preparing to counter attack.
Unfortunately for the Allies the knowledge that their right flank had collapsed followed by a series of unlucky events (poor dice rolls!) led to a complete collapse and the French were left spent, but in control of the battlefield. It was not a “glorious” victory.
Lasalle – the rules
We’ve now played 6 or 7 games with these rules and the general consensus is very positive. There are well explained, reasonably simple and impart a good flavour for the Napoleonic period. The relationship between ranged combat (musketry and artillery) and close combat seems to be about right – there is always the dilemma between standing back for another volley or attacking for the decisive combat. The balance between cavalry and infantry (line versus attack column versus square) is also well handled which leads to the need for well planned attacks and combined arms forces.
The “odd” sequence of play initially caused a little confusion but it is now straightforward, makes sense and really contributes to the tension and decision dilemmas which always contribute to making a fun and stimulating game. I think the sequence of play is actually quite clever and It’s what makes Lasalle different. Not everybody will like it!
The bottom line – remember it’s a “game” and many of the real-world battlefield functions and activities are abstracted into a few charts and tables, a series of dice rolls and an “odd” sequence of play. We’ve enjoyed it and are modifying our Napoleon’s Battles bases so we can play both games Give it a go if you get the chance.
Technical details: for those who are interested the figures in this game are all 15mm AB French, British and Austrians (subbing for the Spanish). They are based for Napoleon’s Battles … which meant we had to make some minor concessions. A Lasalle Base Width (BW) in this game was 1 inch.
The French and Spanish were on ¾ x 1 inch bases and the Brits were on 1 x 1 inch bases. The Cav were on either 1 x 2 or 1 x 1 inch bases which was a little messy … but worked. We used 4 (4 figure) NB bases to represent standard battalions and 6 bases for + battalions. The artillery caused the greatest problem with 1 Napoleon’s Battle base representing either 4 or 6 actual guns – so the French 4 model (8 gun) batteries were 2 x NB bases while the British and Spanish (only 6 actual guns) were just 1 base.
Both sides had to defend their objective whilst simultaneously attacking the enemies. The Orks had the jungle in the top left to defend and positioned a strong defensive force there as well as their strongest offensive force. The Tyranids defended their objective with only a small brood of Hormagaunts and a brood of Genestealers. The Ork Warband had first turn but before this happened they used their scout ability to move their Deffkoptas an extra 12” forward.
In the Tyranids first turn they unleashed a devastating hail of living ammunition that scythed through the Ork forces on the left flank. Three Deffkoptas went down and even with the cover of their exhaust clouds every Warbiker failed its save. Now they were just a mangled pile of rusty metal and torn flesh. The rest of the Tyranid force sat waiting under the will of the Hive Mind, ready to pounce.
The Orks were incensed at the unfair exchange of fire. The purple gits had to be cheatin and Orks hated a cheater (Unless they were the ones doing the cheatin of course). Every Ork not defending their objective rushed forward in a blaze of speed. Once again their shooting was poor and only took down another Hormagaunt. On the left a full mob of boyz jumped out the truck and charged at the closest enemy – a towering Carifex. Not be outdone by those weaker Orks the Mega Armoured Warboss and his Meganobz mob also charged into the giant beast. The Carnifex didn’t stand a chance but still managed to take down one of the Meganobz.
The Orks were now in their element and a mighty Waaaagggghhh was called. Unfortunately for the Orks they didn’t count on the deadliness of Genestealers in a jungle. One whole mob was butchered and the other took casualties as well. A pause in the fighting showed that the Orks had only managed to get their choppas into 2 Genestealers.
The Warboss was ripped limb from limb by the combined might of Genestealers, a Hive Tyrant and a Carnifex. They all used their consolidation move to head towards the objective on the other side of the table. The last of the Orks on the right were wiped out and the Genestealers slunk back into the jungle to lie in wait for the next wave of Orks. The Gretchin in the rear lines were sniggering away at their bigger cousin’s demise when from nowhere a Lictor sprung from the nearby jungle. After killing all the Gretchin the Lictor also slunk back into the jungle.
The Hive Tyrant and its remaining guard bypassed the trucks and headed towards the Orks in the jungle. The Carnifex took out some of the boyz with its barbed strangler and the Genestealers turned one of the trucks into scrap. The Tyranids on the left simply ran straight at the Orks sitting on the other objective, the Winged Hive Tyrant killing a number of the greenskins and the Lictor tore into the Loota’s, killing all bar one.
The Carnifex charged the truck and its fuel tank blew, taking a few of the Genestealers with it. The Warriors on the left got off a lucky shot and took out nearly all the Orks at the Tyranid objective. Once the leaves settled only the Bigmek and a single Ork survived but that’s all they needed to claim the objective. At the other side the Lictor took down most of the boyz before taking a choppa to the head. The Hive Tyrant was killed as it tried to land in the jungle near the objective, impaling itself on an unseen tree branch when it landed.