Battle of Palencia

On Wednesday I finally got to fight the game thrown up out of the latest version of the campaign system that occurred a couple of weeks ago now. Unfortunately starting a new job that week and the unavailability of gaming opponents meant we had to wait although the week before we tried out Fast Play Grande Armee with this scenario. It was not a success, although it was over quite quickly, the ruleset is not designed for playing such “small” forces rather its meant to fight Leipzig etc sized engagements.

Anyway, Mike came over to play the French of Victor’s Corps (played in the campaign by someone else) and I played my campaign role of Wellington, although Richard who should have been there to help me run the forces was unable to make it at short notice.

Mike’s already give a battle report here covering the first 10 odd turns. This afternoon I finished the battle off to the agreed turn limit, but the last turn and a half didn’t really change anything except killing a few more men on both sides. The British left attacked the French right but were repulsed almost all along the line, the only unit who got into melee ended the turn shaken along with it’s French opponent.

Here are a few pictures from the two sessions.

French left threatens and Picton forms Square

British Reinforcements march on

Overall shot midway

British view of the village and Spencer's Division

Last ditch attacks on the French Right

End of game on French Right

End result is the French lost 34 SP’s worth of troops, and the British lost 80. (Not including artillery losses from ammunition rolls).

The British and Portuguese have suffered badly from:

  • poor command dice (In retrospect, the decision to get the game underway quickly and rate all the generals the same (normal 1d6) was a bad one) meaning that few units got into contact
  • Wellington having to have 8 odd units under his direct control due to lack of their parent generals being present. This meant he couldn’t roam the field using his inherent points to help out subordinates
  • The inability to bombard the French lines prior to attacking due to the need to get on with things turn wise
  • The agreement that the game would be 12 turns long. I did this because I wanted the game done in a night, but PoW suggests that a normal day is 18 turns. The campaign is currently in late March, but to reduce the turns to 12 was IMO too extreme

The British are just getting to grips with the French line, and I think had the game been set for 14 or 16 turns instead of 12, the imbalance of losses so far would have been levelled out and a British victory might have been possible. What it feels like at the moment is we’ve done all the approach marching under fire and suddenly the day’s over.

What this and last weeks games have yet again raised is how difficult it is to port a campaign game to the table, play it and get a satisfactory resolution in a single evening. Either the rules are overly simple and bloody, and the game feels too arbitrary, or the rules play too long for the available time. This size battle was almost exactly what I’d hoped the campaign system was going to throw up, and yet it was too big for PoW and too small for Grande Armee (Or FPGA).