Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The second act of the Battle of Aroldo Valley

I am back with the second act of my latest 10mm Napoleonic rules test; the Battle of Aroldo Valley!

When we last checked in, the French were defending against a larger British attacking force. On the near flank the British, slowed by incompetent commanders, was finally about to pounce on the French artillery and cavalry that was stationed on the flank, both of which were starting to flee back towards the French center. The French center was largely held by a brigade that was making great use of some stone walls, and the British had not yet attacked that spot yet. On the far flank the British were advancing to attack the French where they held a chateau. All across the field the French artillery seemed to be getting the best of the British, almost knocking one battery out of action!

So; on to the latest!

Here you see the near flank; the British cavalry from the 2nd Division, under the Prince of Orange, galloped in to try to destroy the French artillery that was pounding them, only to be intercepted by the French cavalry! However, if the British can just hold the French long enough another brigade of British cavalry can circle around behind them and pounce! Notice the 3rd Division commander, Sir Thomas Picton, in the woods at the foot of the hill, within shouting range of the Scots Greys... however, in getting this close he sacrificed being near his second brigade of infantry, who actually began to redeploy towards the rear of the field!

Meanwhile, on the far flank, three British brigades advanced through the orchards and fields around the Aroldo chateau. The Old Guard defending the chateau were well dug in behind walls, hedges, and in the sunken road. The British, advancing in column to keep their morale up, began to open fire as they advanced, but caused few casualties.

Game note: I am a bit uneasy with what to do about when a unit is so firmly entrenched. For example, the Old Guard (+1 for being elite) were behind cover (another +1) so they had no chance of failing their Steady! tests that the British rifles forced. Now, is that okay? Should an elite unit defending in cover realistically be unable to weaken just with some skirmishers? A "1 is an automatic failure" rule seems a bit much at the moment, as that ensures that 1 out of 6 morale tests will absolutely fail... I am not sure what to do here... any advice welcome!

However, as they advanced the French commander sent a brigade of cavalry out through the fields, and they began to loop back towards the edges of the advancing Allied lines as the troopers unsheathed their swords... could they manage to hit the British attack in the flank and sweep them off?

Meanwhile, back on the near flank, the first British cavalry brigade managed to keep the French in combat while the second brigade looped around and crashed into them! While the French managed to hold on momentarily, quickly one battalion broke and ran while the other was cut to pieces!

Meanwhile, back on the near flank, the British advanced, firing as they went, desperate to whittle down the Guard defenders before they charged. The Duke of Wellington decided that if the first two British infantry brigades could weaken the defenders, then the third brigade could break them! But as the first Allied battalion broke and ran, the Duke turned in his saddle; where was that third brigade, commanded by the ever-cautious Colonel Price?!

Apparently Colonel Price had, on his own, seen the French cavalry in the center and withdrew his brigade so far that they are not even visible in the above photo! Timing their charge with care, the French cavalry crashed into the Allied line... surely the Allies were doomed! One roll of the dice... and amazingly the Allies held the French cavalry off for the moment, as even with all the bonuses for hitting a line in the flank the French could not beat the British roll of a 6 with their roll of a 1! However, the chance of this happening in the next round was low, and the Duke realized that his attack was in serious, serious trouble...

Game note: Cavalry can choose to move in one of two ways; either advancing, where they move any distance up to 6 inches plus the LOWEST of two dice, or a charge, where they move the ENITRETY of 6 inches plus the HIGHEST of two dice. The trick is that charges are done in halves, so if you roll a 12 inch charge, you move six inches, and then the enemy has a chance to fire! This makes attacking tricky... you can go with an advance into combat, where you run a chance of not moving far enough but can also hit before the volley, or a charge, where you will likely move far enough but can also get shot if you aren't careful! All in all, it makes for an interesting dynamic.

So that is where we leave off! The French cavalry on the near flank has been caught and destroyed, but the large British attack still must break two full French infantry brigades, one ensconced behind stone walls and the other consisting of Old Guard. On the far flank the British attack is in trouble, as one brigade withdrew under the threat of cavalry and the others have been whittled down by French musketfire. Both sides have limbered up artillery and are moving it up to provide close range support... but what will happen in the Valley of Aroldo!? Will the British break before taking the chateau? Will the massive wave of red crush the French behind the walls, or will the blue coated infantry force the British back?! Check in again in the next day or two and Act 3 will be posted!


Ozvortex said...

Re: "A "1 is an automatic failure" rule seems a bit much at the moment, as that ensures that 1 out of 6 morale tests will absolutely fail... I am not sure what to do here... any advice welcome!"

Hmmm...if you did make a 1 an automatic failure you could make the Old Guard have to make another d6 roll with a nominated number to pass on that second die. That is, if they roll a 1 they then only fail on a 1-3 on the second die, or whatever number you choose for example. Just a thought.

Sylvain said...

Your blog is splendid, very beautifull.

Forge said...

I think Old Guard behind a wall should be very hard to shift. Look how long it took British Regulars to "dig out" the militia on top of Bunker Hill - indeed if the rebels had more ammo it would have taken a lot longer.

So, I'd leave it as is

Author said...

Hey guys!

Thanks for the suggestions and comments... I am looking at the "morale" still (i.e. passing Stand! tests.) I think I can work in the idea of a 1 followed by... to make it work. It would still be very unlikely that dug in and elite guys would have their morale shaken, but... at least it is possible, and it makes it worthwhile to use things like skirmishers.

Another issue that is popping up is where to give units bonuses. Right now they can get bonuses in shooting and close combat, and also in the Stand! phase. For example... if a unit is elite, should it get a bonus when shooting, when fighting in melee, AND in its morale? While in some ways I think it should be in all three, that makes the elite units a WHOLE lot better than the regular units, when I am not sure they were so overwhelmingly dominant. I think I am tending towards the majority of those bonuses being in the Stand! phase... elites might not dish out a ton more damage than regulars, but they will stick around a lot longer, which allows them to naturally dish out more.

When I have some basic rules together I'll post them. Thanks for the suggestions guys!