Battle of Bussaco 1810

This week I played in a EPIC style CC: Napoleon battle of Bussaco
A pretty large affair with EPIC rules adapted for Napoleonic era rules.

The Gallery below represents the flow of the battle. I sadly did not have the means to capture the details of key card play. A brief narration is provided below.

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The Game at various stages:

As a General I followed the lead of the overall commander, who played a lot of Right Flank cards and center cards.

We took time as the French to approach out of range and prepare for a mass assault or a card that would allow a 2 hex move and battle. Some brief lunges proved costly and the Bakers rifles at one point did 4/5 hits on dice rolled……ouch. Down 1 flag to nothing early.

start

At Start

nap2On the defensive historically the Brits and Portuguese teased the French and looked for easy kills. Advancing and retreating the Light Inf, and using Arty to great effect on the French left.

nap3-late

 

As to be expected until the French could close Massenas men could do little bu move and try the odd Cavalry charge. Which saw the lead slip to 3-1. With several units taking a 1 or 2 block loss. fortunately we picked up a recovery  (see below)

2014-09-04 21.44.44Units that don’t receive a card to activate in a turn can roll for initiative. Similar to the OSG model. various good and bad thing a may happen…. lose a step regain steps activate a type of unit or do nothing.

nap-4As the battle progresses a series of 3 First strikes over 4-6 cards played by the British combined with devastating ‘just what you need’ rolls massacred much of the French.  Who were now down 7-1!! The game goes to 13 flags.

However the French knew their Elan was strong! They could sense an opportunity and continued to pressure the center and bring 2 Cav units up across the River on the Left.

nap-5Finally the French launch  attacks on the left tying up 2 then 3 cards as weak portuguese moved into Square. Options became restricted for the British high Command. Wellington had run out of reverse slopes and did not attack when perhaps there was an opportunity. Still up 7-4, the British hold the line!

nap-6

 

Then a master stroke by Massena, a multi pronged attack in the center blows away 3 formations and sunders the line. On the left the follow up attacks remove the deadly arty in one of the only ‘good’ rolls all night for the Left Flank. What a time to get it! The Guns are silenced and the Portuguese are rattled. The planned follow up never happens, alas we will never know who would have had ultimate victory!

7-7 Flags apiece.

 

Brady the Overall French commander recalls the battle:

We hurriedly set up the wings of Bussaco (two scenarios form the C&C:N base set) on a couple boards. The situation is, basically, that the allied British and Portuguese armies are defending a long range of hills (Bussaco Ridge) and the French are trying to break through them to continue their advance into Portugal. Before the ridge is a smattering of towns and woods that break up the plain.

On the French far left is a fordable stream and open space to the ridge. On the right is a small forest which would cover an approach on the British on that extreme end.

Aaron and Joe (who is also a fan of the British Army) took the defending British and Portuguese army. Kevin and I the attacking French.

EPIC Play Method:

When playing with my home-grown C&C:N Epic rules, I use a series of dots that set a value on the cards and play them in a manner similar to C&C: Ancients Epic.

Some cards can affect play across the board and are generally tied to a side’s hand-size at the time. Otherwise, section cards and tactics cards dictate the number of orders issued in each section. If a section doesn’t get an order, a die can be rolled to see what can be done there.

A side can play 1–3 cards but can only draw back two. This means that hand-size can fluctuate and a commander could do a “full court press” and issue cards to each section for several turns in a row, if he wished. But then would be reduced in hand-size severely and would need to rebuild their hand by playing one card at a time for as many turns to build it back up—just like Epic Ancients.

We set the victory at 13 banners. The British a hand of 9 cards and the French a hand of 8. Aaron and I, as army commanders, controlled our respective left flanks and issued orders to Joe and Kevin, who each controlled their respective center and right flank.

Openings:

To get things going, I had Kevin try a sustained push on our right for several turns. The idea was to use the forest as cover to mask an approach and to try and turn the British there. Aaron was wise to our advance and organized a formidable defense there. Our attack through the forest and the approach to the hill miscarried. British musketry and artillery threw us back with loss:

The British go ahead 4-1.

Meanwhile, I tried to slowly advance on the left. I threw a Light infantry unit forward to try and force a retreat on a Portuguese infantry unit. My Lights, despite skirmishing in a convenient stand of trees, were no mach and were pushed back twice. The second time as a result of Fire and Hold. They weren’t coming back. Joe used the same attack to try long-range artillery against a Foot artillery unit I was bringing up. His aim was good and that unit was wiped out.

The British extend their lead to 5-1.

Fighting at Range:

There’s a bit of dismay on the French side. The British already have a long lead early on. But, there’s still a lot of French units on the board and the British have come forward in giving their licks. Kevin and I decide that a general push in the center is the answer and having the French Cavalry on the left risk a crossing of the stream. This we do for several turns.

Through a seres of Assault and Force March cards, Kevin is able to carry the fight to the British once again. This time, our tactics and shooting are better and the British units are getting as good as they give. The French cavalry are also slowly advancing on the Portuguese on the British right.

Close Combat:

 

Kevin has edged his way to the very foothill of Bussaco Ridge and faced numerous Infantry and Cavalry units stationed there. Even a unit of British Guard Grenadiers are making things tough for us.

On the French right, I urged Kevin to try a distraction with the his own Cavalry and to bear down on a British Light infantry unit with the idea that they’ll go into square and force a card out of their hand. It goes worse than planned: First Strike sends the Light Cavalry reeling instead.

British 6: French 1.

Late Surge:

But the hour the French have longed planned for has arrived. The French issue a Cavalry Charge on their left and a Bayonet Charge in the center.

Over two turns, the French pin down four Portuguese units, bag General Spry, and wreck a Foot Artillery unit. In the center, things go even better for a couple turns: four infantry units, including the fearsome Guard Grenadiers, are eliminated.

Clearing the Center:

The British right is pinned and their center is almost empty of units. All that’s left is a still-formidable force of Portuguese and British infantry in the hills overlooking San Antonio de Cantaro and the iron-clad positions on their left.

But the French have now surged ahead: 7 banners!

The British demand their revenge to complete the turn, and they get it. Aaron recovers with a well-timed Fire-and-Hold. The French Cavalry running amok among the Portuguese suffer. One unit loses three blocks outright. Another loses two and a ball grazes Soult’s arm. A well-advanced French infantry unit suffers worse and is eliminated.

The score is tied: 7-7!

The aftermath:

It is now well after 11pm and we’re only midway through the contest. The French have finally come to grips with the Allies and it will be a real struggle to learn whether the French have the elan to carry the field, or if the British can keep their cool, recollect their forces, and continue to pour whithering fire. But it is a late hour for Kevin and Aaron has been called twice. We agree to a draw and their our game ends.

My thanks to Aaron and Joe for their skillful play and cameraderie. And to Kevin for asking to play and for bearing up under some very exasperating turns of fortune.

Our game saw four First Strikes—three of them played by the British. Also, a pair each of Elan cards (French-played) and Fire-and-Hold (British-played). Finally, three Bayonet Charge (two were French-played) and one Rally (French-played).

The Rally card saw the return of three blocks on an eight-die roll. One of the French Elan plays saw five Swords rolled out of eight dice. (And you can probably guess who rolled for those two!) Kevin grabbed the dice for the second Elan card.

 

 

 

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