It has been a long while since we played napoleonics the last time and it probably has something to do with our 1808 Russo-Swedish War project too. Like battle weariness coupled with the fact that not everyone in the club is into the period...
Aksu had bought Too Fat Lardies' Le Feu Sacre III -rules and painted some 15mm Spaniards so he wanted to give both a try so he put together a scenario for the Battle of Burgos. There was no doubt about the outcome, the Spaniards were going to get their heinies kicked. Hard. No probs there though -the battles definitely don't have to be fair and even to be enjoyable. Quite the opposite.
Spaniards deployed for the battle. Since the actual commander had fleen the forces were commanded by a count, or some other noble, who had no military experience at all. On the right side of the road you have crap de la crap, Spanish militia which is a bad troops as can be. On the left side of the road are Spanish guards supported by regular infantry -these are more or less the quality of regular Frenchies. On both sides of river there's a regiment of not-so-trained light cavalry. Excelente!
Froggies arrive using blinds. Took them a couple of turns to get this far from the board edge -these brigade blinds are supposed to quicken the play as you don't have to fuss with fiddling of the miniatures. Spaniards could also have been deployed like vise but we kinda forgot that...
Blinds can be spotted by enemy commanders but they are notoriously bad at this -units in the open within artillery range are probably not going to be recognized so you can't even tell whether the blind is actually a dummy without any troops or it if contains cavalry, infantry or both. Fog of war and all that. Hrmph!
Trying to avoid the historical events by deploying the militia into squares...
...which wasn't in vein as the blind on French left flank contained three regiments of medium cavalry. Luckily the Spaniard light cavalry is absolutely inferior to them but now also heavily outnumbered. Fleeing seems like the most valid option, but unfortunately they have hold-orders so they are waiting for a sound trashing.
Fearing the couple stands of Spanish artillery (the only unit type eligible to shoot in LFSIII) the French infantry deploys in the forest.
Surprise of the surprises! Against supported attack by French dragoons led by their commander the Spanish cavalry manage to get a result where they both combatants retreat a bit without casualties. Ay ay ay! Muchos cohones!
Infantry vise the Spanish artillery manages to score, against all odds, a couple of hits to some of the numerous French battalions, but nothing that has any effect on the game. The Frenchies advance out of the forest and especially against the unlucky militias in squares.
Caramba! Francés de infantería.
While the three French cavalry regiments drive off the hapless Spanish cavalry, the French infantry gives a good ol' whupping to one square making it flee and, as the militia is brittle, the remainder join in. The last remaining French blind contains two more regiments of dragoons -things are looking might grim for our heroes!
The remaining French infantry also start closing in on the better quality Spanish troops. Ah, and the Spanish artillery (previous in the middle of the formation, now suddenly in the right flank) is forced to flee by flanking attacks.
The militia is rallied for a while, but new attacks send them running for the hills again. The other Spanish units are now also engaged and thus pinned.
The most beaten militia is allowed to flee while the others are rallied.
Elsewhere the Spanish guard is routed by flanking attacks.
One dragoon unit routs three battalions by flanking attack and the subsequent breakthroughs leaving one Spanish battalion to defend the field in addition to one cavalry regiment on the left flank on the other side of the river. The Spaniards are soundly beaten -a historical result even if our guard units didn't get to put up a proper resistance.
The system uses unit cards to see which brigade is acting. Each commander also rolls initiative point dice -being in the opposite ends of spectrum French had a positive modifier for this while the unlucky Spaniards a negative one. Quite often the card system meant double actions for one side as they got their card last from one deck and then first from the next turn's deck -never that good a thing for a game.
Combat resolution and results seemed a bit foggy and cumbersome. Had plenty of fleeing/routing and surprisingly little damage. Undecided if this is actually a good or a bad thing.
Some interesting concepts in the rules that look promising when you read the rules but most of them didn't really seem to work all that well in practice. The one I thought was the best was one that made the rallied units permanently shaken -no more infinite rallies with no adverse effect on the morale! British style of rule writing (sloppy or non-existing editing) don't really help using the rules.
The rules are supposed to be quick play rules but even if you take into account all the problems involved in the first game I thought that the rules were pretty darn slow.
Dunno if it was because of the lack of shooting but the worst part of the game was that it lacked the period feel. I think that in that aspect the game was probably the worst nappy game I've ever played and that also includes the few games of Piquet we played years ago. At least with Piquet the game flow was much better. Actually this experience was not that unlike other set of Lardies rules, TWaT, we tried out last fall -seemingly simple and sound in theory, but throughly rotten experience as a game.
Based on the experience from this game (and I don't mind losing, mind you, the Spanish defeat was a certainty from the first moment) the hype from the publisher seems like as inaccurate as can be:
"The result is a set of rules that is fast and enjoyable to play, but also captures to true feel of the period."
YMMV, butI think I'd rather have my teeth pulled than play with these rules again... :(
Wikipedia entry of the battle
(Played: Jan 30th. GM: Aksu. French: Chris, Mr V. Spain: Aksu, Janne.)