Monday 15 April 2024

Valour & Fortitude: Talavera Mega game

The Wollongong Wargamers staged a mega game of the Battle of Talavera, Spain, 1809, using Valour & Fortitude rules. 

We wanted to represent every unit present, at a figure scale of 1:20. This would involve 92 battalions of line infantry, each of 32 model soldiers - approx. 3,000 infantry figures alone, with cavalry and artillery in proportion. A game of this size requires a degree of planning and preparation:

With everyone pitching in, and different coloured brigade location markers, force marshalling was fast:

The two teams: 

then went off to plan their strategies.

Despite it being rich in objective points, both teams decided that Talavera was a secondary objective

and would be lightly held/masked off.

It would be the Cerro de Medellin where the battle would be won or lost, true to history!

The French also decided upon a major offensive against the northern edge of the battlefield, their flank secured by the steep rocky escarpment of the Sierra de Segurilla. 

Perhaps they hoped that the Duke of Albuquerque's Spaniards deployed there would be a pushover compared to the British...

We would see - the infantry was indeed subject to an 'Unpredictable' test, but the masses of cavalry and guns were the pride of the Spanish service... 

But, apart from a few activation problems, the French initially advanced right across the battlefield.

And the 'feint' at Talavera itself...

Looked pretty convincing to me.

There was certainly plenty of gunpowder expended!

In the centre of the table the French masses also looked threatening.

And the British adjusted their deployment accordingly, attempting to secure the centre whilst reinforcing northwards to the Cerro de Medellin...

Which remained the principal French focus:

The Talavera sector remained stable but fiery as French and Allied troops in light cover exchanged volleys with the Spaniards in heavy cover...

Returning to the central sector, the French assaults were maturing nicely.

But the British were standing firm at the line of the Portina Brook, even managing to keep the Brigade of Guards coolly uncommitted in deep reserve!

Moving north to the Cerro de Medellin, however, the British were having to scramble under the gathering storm...

As assaults and melees...

Followed each other in desperate succession...

The pendulum swung from victory to defeat for each of the embattled divisions...

The call even went out to send in the His Majesty's Foot Guards!

Meanwhile in the far northern sector the Spanish infantry held gallantly for a long while

Before being succoured by the Spanish cavalry, 

who convincingly repulsed the French!

Back in the centre, the French attacks had so far been frustrated...

Perhaps throwing in the heavy cavalry would open things up? Non!

The outcome of the struggle for the Cerro de Medellin was much more closely contested, but eventually here too the French had to fall back...

Resulting in a narrow Anglo-Spanish victory: 7-6.

But the real victor of this game was the Valour & Fortitude rules - they handled both the unfeasibly large size of this game, and a range of player experience, with ease.

Friday 12 April 2024

Valour & Fortitude: Talavera minor


The reason for this post's title is not that we were playing in diminutive Epic scale. This was a cut down scenario to rehearse for Sunday's mega Talavera game which will be played on a table at least twice the size of this 6x4'. (Although Sunday's game is being played with much larger 15/18mm figures, as it happens!)

The table was laid out as a sort of compressed Talavera, bisected by the Portina brook and sealed off by the Tagus river to the south and the mountains to the north. Two objectives were laid equidistant on the Allied side of the table.

Daniel's Anglo-Spanish army was defending, with six line battalions to my (French) nine.

My smaller brigade would aim for the southern objective, passing through Talavera de la Reina itself and the olive groves and vineyards that surround it.

My larger brigade would aim for the northern objective.

My cavalry brigade would sort of stooge about the centre, hopefully giving the illusion that my army was unified and had a workable plan...

Daniel actually did have a workable plan, and deployed to cover both objectives with his infantry, leaving his cavalry as a genuine reserve.

I lost no time sending in the big brigade against the centre objective, shooting them in with my divisional artillery battery and skirmish detachment in the approved manner.

One battalion was instantly shredded and shaken by the British musketry and artillery, but the remainder of the brigade was able to close with the enemy

Honours were about even...

However Daniel then went and pulled an 'Uxbridge' on me...

 Sending in his cavalry to disrupt my brigade!

Caught in the open in column, my infantry were lucky to barely survive! My brigade wavered and I picked up a defeat point...

Fortunately my cavalry was able to come up and put a stop to all this nonsense! 

British Light Cavalry are something of a double edged sword - having won one combat, they automatically Charge Everything in sight! Even heavier Dragoons - that didn't go well for them...Defeat points were now even!

Over by the town, progress had been slow and Daniel was able to consolidate his defences. I had hoped to pick on the Spanish battalion, but a fortuitous Fate Card rendered them the strongest unit on the table - D'Oh!  I'll pick up a second defeat point then shall I?

It all went downhill from there really! But a fun game despite its small size and lots of useful lessons learnt for Sunday.