Saturday, April 9, 2016

Vimeiro - Take One - Preliminaries

It has long been my dream to do this battle with Napoleon's Battles.  The scenario first appeared in the Blue Book, but I created an OOB using the Osprey book and a map which I took from Vassal of MMP's Vimeiro and Talavera boardgame.

The map is a good match for this from

The hex grid has been kept as I also want to use the map for some hex based air games.  As it turned out the terrain, even at 2 inches to the hex or 200 yards in Napoleon's Battles game scale, is far too detailed.  It is possible that a battle the size of Vimeiro is not ideal for a game system like Napoleon's Battles and this was one of the things I wanted to test out.

Terrain Effects

Creeks are impassable to both cavalry and artillery except if they are in march column and moving via a road crossing.  My reasoning is that while they may or may not have much water in them they have steep banks covered in boulders and thorny bushes.

Creeks count as rough terrain for infantry while any part of the unit is in such terrain.  The infantry unit also counts as fording

Any hex that has rock, orchard or vineyard etc symbols is considered rough terrain as does any hex that has three or more different contours.

Rough terrain disorders artillery and  cavalry.  Infantry in line moving in rough terrain or changing formation in rough terrain is disordered (this does not apply to BrLT which is classified as skirmish infantry).  Remember if you are disordered you can not move to close combat.  My reasoning here, again is that there is a lot of rock and scrub.   

Impassable terrain includes any hex with the large stone cluster symbol which also tend to have multiple contour lines.  These are very steep with dense scrub and boulders etc.

Infantry in column or march column can move along a road through impassable terrain.  Artillery and cavalry can only do so if in march column.

Villages are just +1 as they are small and unprepared.  They provide cover.

Most other terrain doesn't provide cover as it is not large enough to hold a unit.  I realise some of the villages have that problem as well and so might need to add some terrain pieces to better delineate the village area.

Allied Deployment

For the Allied deployment I used the Blue Book scenario (mostly), but kept the Cauford's brigade in reserve with the Portuguese.

The Allied deployment which is basically on the western ridge from which direction the French have been seen approaching.  Two brigades are covering the village of Vimeiro.  Even though the terrain is rough going and would disorder troops in line (or in "deployed posture" as I like to think of it) I have assumed they have had time to recover their order.  The bulk of the troops are in column (or "manoeuvre posture") while two brigades are in march column as a reserve as Wellesley has been informed that some French troops are attempting a flank march.

Allied Order of Battle

Cavalry                         8BrLC
Royal Artillery
1st Brigade Hill                 20BrLN
2nd Brigade Ferguson         20BrLN
3rd Brigade Nightingall 12BrLN
4th Brigade Bowes         16BrLN
5th Brigade Craufurd         16BrLN
6th Brigade Fane                 16BrLT
7th Brigade Anstruther 20BrLN
8th Brigade Acland         12BrLN
Portuguese Trant         16PtLN

Allocating some cavalry is probably the most controversial thing in this OOB

Having Wellesley with a response number could reflect him being distracted by the imminent arrival of Burrard or Dalrymple.  I didn't use the Wellington special ability (were he can be on react and be moved to join combats to lend his defence bonus - that would certainly help the allies, but I think they are already ahead on points - although that is something I need to check)

French Deployment

Again this came from the Blue Book Scenario.  The positioning of the outflank force was a bit of guess work and they possibly should have been kept back with the main body to start with.  However that would have given the French too much temptation not to split their force as Junot has been criticised for doing.

Loison's division on the left with the Thomiere's brigade of Delaborde's division on the right followed by Kellerman with the Grenadier reserve and the remainder of the cavalry.

Brenier's outflanking force including one of the provisional cavalry regiments.

French Order of Battle

Cavalry Division Margaron
3rd Provisional Dragoons 8FrLC
4th Provisional Dragoons 8FrLC
5th Provisional Dragoons 8FrLC
Infantry Division Delaborde
1st Brigade Brenier                16FrLT
                70th Ligne        20FrLN
2nd Brigade Thomiere                16FrLN
Infantry Division Loison
1st Brigade Solignac                20FrLT
                58th Ligne        12FrLN
2nd Brigade Charlot                16FrLN
Reserve Kellerman

As it turned out I didn't allocate any artillery to the French.  This was probably something of a blessing as it would have been hard to keep in command and terrain would have created movement problems as well as targeting challenges.  It might have also caused the French to spend time trying to maximise their artillery advantage and run out of time to make the actual attack.

As per Wellesley's challenge with the arrival of senior officers, Junot was challenged by the bottle and perhaps having the French roll for command could be a way to reflect that.  Without the command bonus he would be a 7 (i.e. 70% chance of keeping his army in full command each turn, assuming units and his divisional generals are in his 9" command range.  For comparison Wellesley would be an 8 and has a 10" command range).

Optional Rules and Rule Variations

 I use Napoleon's Battles 4th Edition with some throwbacks to 2nd Edition (principally I retain the 2nd Edition's way of doing interpenetration).

 Turn to flank is a formation change within the unit's footprint with line going to column formation.  A unit can always try and wheel to the right or left and then move sideways if it can to achieve the same thing (which would mostly work for units in column).  Some units can also effectively perform two or more formation changes in a turn.

A unit halved for disorder or with a half move does have its movement affected by terrain.  (But, remember a unit moving sideways or backwards in rough terrain uses the worst effect, not a combination).

If a unit that is able to move, doesn't have enough movement to change formation it may use all its available movement to change formation, but is then disordered (my reasoning being that the order can still be given, it will just take a while before it is completed).

A unit in march column on a road is in command and may change formation (I'm in two minds about this.  I did use the unit being able to roll its response number to be in command which could be used to achieve the same effect. Alternatively you could think of the original command being to go to such and such a place and change.  However my preference is now just to force the unit to use its initiative to come out of march column, although this can be rather deadly.  Still in two minds.)

Unit coming out of march column can pick any of its bases to form up around and also angle that base in any desired facing.  This is more from my experience with the Prussians in the Waterloo game and also from playing Fire and Fury.

A unit that forms or is in march column with its head on a road gets to be considered to be on that road provided the head stays on the road (still thinking about this).

A unit that wins a combat against an enemy in a village gets to advance fully into the village (i.e. occupy it).  It is disordered.  It then needs a turn to recover its order and the following turn, subject to command, can deploy into the village.  Occupying a village in this way puts a unit into column formation.

A unit in line formation (i.e "deployed posture") gets a plus one firing at enemy in column.  This does not include units deployed in a village who continue to suffer the existing minus one reflecting their strength is dispersed around the village which of course is providing the ability to fire from all sides.

Units in column firing at enemy in line get a minus one.  Again this does not apply to firing at enemy in a village who get to count as in cover (assuming they have moved to fit within the village's foot print.  A unit deployed in a village - I should be using the term Built Up Area - gets the additional benefit of +1 to its disorder and requiring a double to score one hit as per 4th Edition).

Enemy contacted but then routed or dispersed in the fire combat phase does not cause a winner's loss but do allow occupation.

Using small units does create a problem depicting formation.  I'm yet to work out a solution.


  1. Great work! Would you mind if I link your posts on the NB website?

    1. Please do. It would be an honour. I'm only embarrassed by my inability to produce a nice tidy completed scenario.

  2. Great work, particularly the map. Quick question: what would the scale of your hexes be? I would imagine about 1.25" per hex?

    1. The hexes are 2" or 200 yards :-) Something that drew me to the map when I found that out.

      The rules that go with the boardgame are a bit like Napoleon's Battle although I'm yet to read them fully and there are only so many ways you can create rules for the period, but they have some things I want to explore (when I can get back into the Boardgame Geek site).