Thursday, 25 July 2013

Vitoria 200th - eventually!

The original plan was to hold our 200th Anniversary refight of the Battle of Vitoria on the closest Thursday night to the actual anniversary - 20th June, with the actual anniversary being on the 21st. Pretty close! But it was exam season at Uni, and, not entirely unreasonably, the Uni expected to be able to use its examination rooms for the holding of - exams! Hence we postphoned until yesterday!

The table set up - the French team have yet to deploy...
The scenario concentrated solely on General Graham's attempt with the Fighting 5th Division to cut off the French army's line of retreat by seizing the bridge at Gamorra Mayor and cutting of the French line of retreat to the high road North back to France. Unfortunately this might involve taking the heavily fortified village first - or would it?

Taking the unfortunate Hussar is swept off, to be rescued by a downstream Gunner - how embarrasing!
To make more of a game of it, I decided to allow the possibility that the river might be fordable - it was after all high summer. The river was divided into 2 sections, above and below the town, and each section, upon investigation, might present the possibility of being forded, with varying levels of delay and disorder, upon a 4,5,6 on D6.

The French orbat consisted of 2 Infantry brigades, with one Bn detached to form the Garrison of Gamorra Mayor, a Cavalry Bde complete with light horse battery, and light and heavy foot batteries. After grumblings about my house rules at the Gettysburg game I am now determined to play Black Powder completely untweaked. So all troops stats were directly out of the Albion Triumphant Peninsula supplement. However, I did extend artillery ranges with the simple formula of poundage = max range in feet, and canister is 18". This gave the French 12 Pounders a long range of 12', effective range 6', and the British 9 Pounders an 9' range, which seemed to work well.

The Anglo-Portuguese forces representing the 5th Brigade had 3 Brigades of Infantry, and a cavalry Bde, complete with horse guns.Unfortunately I only have 2 Portuguese units in my 28mm collection, but one of these, the 12th Infantry Regiment Tras os Montes, was to make quite a name for itself this day.

A British Infantry Bde - 4 Regiments of foot and a skirmish unit (off scouting to the front); Royal Irish, 1st KGL Line, 2/30th, 1/57th. The Irish and Germans painted by Fon's crew at MMPS - highly recommended!
The British objective was to seize the Bridge within 8 moves, the French aim was to stop them. The French were entirely free to deploy up to halfway down the table, so had the choice of a forward defence or concentrating around the bridge and river. Wisely, they opted to place their centre of gravity to the rear, to await the outcome of the fordability of the river.

79th Foot The Cameron Highlanders - with the 'Fierce Fighters' attribute...
They lost no time in testing the waters, and discovered, to the cost of a dripping wet Hussar, that the Southern half of the river was to deep to be fordable, but the gunners posted at the Northern bank reported that it ran fairly shallow there. Accordingly the French shifted their weight forward and North...

Meanwhile the British, after a couple of command hiccups, strode forward resolutely...Bryan unwisely accepted Alan's assurances that he was 'a dab hand with the horses', while the rest of us kept straight faces, and was accordingly given command of the British Cav Bde. Perhaps I should have mentioned the Command Value of the Cavalry Brigadier was only 7 earlier! But in true Hussar stylie he recieved a bonus if giving a charge order...So the inevitable occurred:

One of the French Regiments only managed to form a disordered square, so for a while it looked like Alan's rashness might have to be amended to boldness, but eventually the cavalry charge was repulsed.

The 23rd Foot (Royal Welch Fuzileers) lead the assault
Not to be outdone, Bryan launched the middle British Brigade at the fortified village, and, against the odds, won the first round of combat! However the French, we decided on the throw of a die, clung to their defences, and hence the +2 on their saving throws, for the second round of combat, and duly evicted the assaulting troops.

However these unsuccessful assaults may have had the effect of rattling the French team? At any rate they committed their heavy cavalry reserve...

20th Ligne charge the 26th Foot (The Cameronians). Not of course to be confused with the Cameron Highlanders..Lord No! Made that mistake once in the Royal Scots mess - thats an hour of my life I won't get back again...
And Dave launched local counterattacks all along the line. These were intially successful, but the Portuguese 12th IR stepped in valiantly to stablise the line - the first of 2 French Battalions they were to send packing this day...As Lord Wellington said 'The Fighting Cocks of the Army'!
Caesar, Dave and Bryan. Alan is tending the boom box. After my 'Sharpe Sounds' CD, which features no less than 5 versions of 'O'er the Hills and Far Away', we listened to his thoughtfully put together album of 1813 music...
After the intial repulse, Bryan was determined to prepare for his second assault on the town properly. He duly invested several moves in clearing away pesky skirmishers and carefully moving into position to assault 2 faces of the village simultaneously in the British penultimate move of the game...

The second assault - Doing it right! The Black Watch go in the Front whilst the Diehards kick in the side doors, all properly supported - The School of Infantry Chief Instructor would be proud!
The second assault reaped the rewards of the careful preparation and coordinated approach, and, after a second round of hard fought combat, Gamorra Mayor fell. But it fell in the French last move - had the British left it too late to exploit forward across the river, or would the sight of their comrades from the 3rd Division pillaging King Joseph's baggage train spur them accross the river for some hard earned loot? 

Unfortunately for the French, the British final round of orders went without a hitch for once and the British were across the river to seal a decisive victory! But not everyone was happy:

 And so our belated commemoration of Vitoria ended on a note of excitement, and actually it was a thrilling and hard fought game throughout, with more attacks and counterattacks than an attacking and counterattacking thingy that likes to attack and ....

Anyway a great game, which has inspired me to plan more 28mm sized games at the Uni club...

Alan is a far more experience blogger than I, and a semi professional photographer to boot, so may I recommend you check out his account of the battle:

Kapitain Kobold - Vitoria 200


  1. Great looking figures and some nice photos of the game. It looked like fun.

  2. "semi professional photographer"


    An enthusiastic amateur with delusions of grandeur - nothing more :)

    1. Well, be that as it may, its amazing the photos you manage with that tiny portable telephonic apparatus tingo you have!

  3. Great stuff mate..I will have to get big into Napoleonics again one day.

  4. Another great post Mr Sparkles.

    "After grumblings about my house rules at the Gettysburg game I am now determined to play Black Powder completely untweaked."

    The cheek of the great unwashed is absolutely staggering at times. The problem is that they just don't know what's good for themselves!! 8O)

    Time to move back to central Europe. There's a bucket load of battles worthy of a 200th anniversary game coming up. I'm particularly looking forward to your full no punches spared Leipzig refight!! 8O))

    von Peter himself

  5. Thank you all very much. Yes very much looking forward to Leipzig! The only cloud on that horizon is the my singlehanded mission to paint up enough Coalition cavalry to offset the hordes of French Cavalry that everyone seems to have is not going well!

    I think it will be to 'resurrection' Cossacks again!

  6. Fantastic Sparker as ever -got me taking out my brushes to waste some more time painting a mixed Neapolitan/Westphalian brigade a la Leipzig OOB.I might paint runners on their feet if Adidas etc sponsor me because off they will go.....
    In addition I see franznap figures have released a neapolitan set in 1/72 that i can cannibalise the flagpole with its unique Murat era finial from for my 28mms
    regarding allied cavalry do have enough cossacks esp the fantastic new Perry sculpts but they are a mixed bag notable.
    What size table did you use -I game on a 9x5 at home and find 4 brigades max a side is enough otherwise rear brigades never get a look in! Peter

    1. Forgot to add a brigade for us is usually 4-5 units plus 6pdr or 2-3 cavalry units plus 6pdr horse battery.

  7. Excellent looking game! Especially the brave lads of the 79th!

  8. Thanks gents! Table was 6' x 12', but as you can see on this occasion the scenario lent itself to playing down the table so that the French could exercise the option of a forward defence - which they did, sort of... Possibly a little unfair on the Allies since they should have had wider deployment space, but there it is...

    Yes our Bdes seem similar to your Grecian, normally 4 line units, a large skirmish unit and if they're lucky the Divisional Battery attached. Cav varies from 2-3 Regiments plus horse battery..

    Yes the 79th had a torrid time of it, pinned down under fire for most of the game. A shame really as their 'Fierce Fighters' attributes would have been useful up close and personal...It was the 42nd, Black Watch, and the 57th Middlesex (The Diehards) who ended up storming the town...

  9. Sparker thanks for the reply
    1-do you use full movements as written in rules or go for 1/3rd as i find on a 9x5 double triple moves/retires/retreats are too easily at or over the tables edge and if the units are shaken bye bye
    2- do you ever game pick up games in BP if so what terrain generation system do you use?

    thanks Peter

    1. Hi Mate:

      1. Only ever used full moves for 28mm figs, and use cms instead of inches for 15/18mm models. We are usually pretty spoilt with large tables down under! With retreats they should only be retreating 2 moves if theres no room for the first retreat move, if the unit can't find space then then it should be off anyhow!

      2. Ideally we play out planned scenarios. For our rare pick up games I don't favour terrain generation, I just try to set up a likely looking scenario - say a ridgeline or gap in forests, or river crossing, where a delaying action or whatever might have been fought...I think terrain generation can lead to some odd looking games!

  10. As ever thank for speedy reply and we are only on other sides of the world :-)
    how many gun models do you place on the tabletop to represent a battery?

    1. Varies to be honest. I like the look of 2 guns to represent a battery, unlike in the rules. Whether you then fight them as one or two batteries can vary according to the scenario and how other players have based theres. For this Vitoria game a treated them as '2 gun ' batteries, ie 2 D6 at long range, 4 at effective range, and so on.

      For ACW, since both armies tended to have artillery brigades of up to 16 guns, instead we all base our guns singly, to represent batteries, and each gun model only throwing 1 dice at long range, 2 at medium, etc. Otherwise they would be too overpowering I think...

  11. Hi Ralph, Im impressed with your pics of your games, I have decided to do abit of dabbling in 28mm ACW and have decided to use Black Powder rules. Just wondering if you can advise me on what your basing for these would be?? i.e how many figures to a base and how many bases to a unit? I know that infantry use 40x40 and cavalry 50x50 size bases - whats your recommendation for artillery and command stands.
    Sorry for all the questions, Im just use to 6mm upto 25mm and I am not entirely sure on what the most common basing everyone is using at the moment. Appreciate any help you could offer cheers - email address (David) Cheers