Sunday, May 22, 2016

Vimeiro - The Scenario

Napoleon’s Battles Scenario
The Battle of Vimeiro 21 August 1808


Following the uprising in Spain, Portugal has also rebelled against French rule.  The British have landed a small army under the temporary command of Wellesley who is marching on Lisbon.  After a delaying action by one of the French generals which culminated in the Battle of Rolica the French commander Junot has been able to collect his forces and has marched north to defeat the British and the small force of Portuguese who have joined them


The map is sourced from the boardgame by MMP (via Vassal) and is close to the map provided by the Napoleon-Series site.  

British forces are deployed in line, the Portuguese in column.  

The French enter in march column.   Junot with Thomiere and the two brigades of Loison's division arrives at 8:00 at the road marked A.  Kellerman and the remaining cavalry enter at 8:30 at the same point.  Brenier and the 3rd Provisional Dragoons arrive at 9:00 at the road marked B.

Victory Conditions

The game lasts for ten turns, 8:00 to 12:30 (which is when either Junot sobers up and chooses discretion or when Burrad orders Wellesley to stop fighting in case someone gets hurt). Demoralisation of the enemy will provide victory as will holding  Vimeiro at 12:30.

Terrain Effects


Creeks are impassable to both cavalry and artillery except if they are in march column and moving via a road crossing.  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.

The creek running from the village of Vimeiro to Toledo is impassable (well the French thought so).


Rough terrain includes vineyards,steep slopes (denoted by hexes with small stone clusters) and orchards.  This terrain disorders artillery and cavalry.  Infantry in line moving in rough terrain or changing formation into line in rough terrain is also disordered (this does not apply to BrLT which is classified as skirmish infantry).  Remember if you are disordered you cannot move to close combat.  

Impassable terrain includes any hex with the large stone cluster symbol which also tend to have multiple contour lines.  These are very steep slopes 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. The rough terrain movement penalty applies.


Villages are just +1 (small and unprepared).  They are the only terrain feature to provide cover.

Note: The rough nature of the terrain will severely limit the use of the French cavalry.

Order of Battle

British and Portuguese


1st Brigade

2nd Brigade

3rd Brigade

4th Brigade

5th Brigade

6th Brigade

7th Brigade

8th Brigade





Cavalry Division

3rd Provisional ragoons

4th Provisional Dragoons

5th Provisional Dragoons

Infantry Division

1st Brigade

2nd Brigade

Infantry Division

1st Brigade

2nd Brigade




Special Rules 

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

Each side has four Free Rolls.

Brenier and the dragoons form a continuous column which is therefore in command while they stay on a road.

Changing formation in rough terrain into line causes disorder, but not into other formations.

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 infantry 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 infantry 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 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 does allow occupation.

Using small units does create a problem depicting formation.  My current thought on this is to leave the base in place and mark as four casualties, which was something enabled in 1st Edition by the casualty counters.  I also used the limber markers to denote a two base cavalry or infantry in column.

The optional rally and command rules (10.3 and 10.4) are also used (basically rolling the response number minus three to rally or get in command, but I didn't use the further rout if a ten was rolled).

Optional Rules

Wellesley’s Challenge

Wellesley has a response number of 8 which reflects him being distracted by the imminent arrival of Burrard or Dalrymple.

Junot’s Challenge

Junot was challenged by the bottle and has a response number of 7.


The French could have four Fr4# batteries.  Given the contours they will be tricky to sight and were not a feature of the historical battle (i.e. Junot was not tempted to form a petite grand battery as a player with four guns in Napoleon’s Battles might be tempted to).

The Allies could have one 8BrLC unit.  It is half British and half Portuguese.  In play testing it just got in the way.  It might be better used as a special effect as follows: 
Option for British cavalry is to turn one successful French withdrawal into a rout.


Multi Man Publishing Talavera and Vimeiro boardgame

Napoleon Series                                                                                                           

Peninsular War

Osprey Vimeiro 1808



This information can be found as a Word document on Google Drive at this location:

Vimeiro - Take Three

At the NWS Games Day I inflicted my Vimeiro scenario on Stephen N ("Wellesley") and Mark B ("Junot").  I had hoped to get through two play tests, but with breaks for coffee, smokes and food never mind chats and admiring other games being played, we just completed the one session, but it did run to the end and a good conclusion.

 I use Napoleon's Battles 4th Edition with some throwbacks to 2nd Edition (principally I retain the 2nd Edition's way of doing interpenetration).  Optional rules used covered rally, command and fire combat for line and column.

The French did something unexpected and marched up the road to Vimeiro.  Wellesley reacts by getting his brigades into columns ready to manoeuvre against this incursion.

Junot orders his men to assault Vimeiro hill.

French skirmishers drive off Anstruther's brigade.
[Aside: in a dreadful blunder I had the British rout after four casualties, it should have been five and this rout should not have occurred...]

Wellesley brings up troops to threaten the French flank.

The French advance is halted, giving time for the allied redeployment.  Hill's brigade gets left behind.

Junot has deployed his cavalry to meet up with Brenier's outflanking move which was pulled back to the area of main assualt: Vimeiro hill.

The French grenadiers prepare to assault Fane's brigade which comprises the elite British light infantry.

French skirmish fire has disordered the British lights who none the less put up a good fight before withdrawing.

The British retake Vimeiro hill.  Brenier can be seen marching back to rejoin Delaborde's division (bottom right hand corner).

Ferguson's brigade in possession of Vimeiro hill at the end of 9:30 turn.

The Grenadiers, lead by Kellerman, bested the British while supporting cavalry bounced off a square.  Given the nature of the terrain being able to get cavalry into action was a major achievement.

Brenier's brigade arrives to join the rest of Delaborde's division  just as it is attacked.

The British push on with their attack catching the French in march column.

Things are starting to thin out.  Junot is moving one of his cavalry units down to help remnants of Delaborde's division.  Loison's division hold the centre while Kellerman is bearing down upon the British light troops around Vimeiro village who are pinned in square.

British in square - no match for French grenadiers.  
(Part of their problem is that the Portuguese brigade was previously position in front of the retiring square, when the Grenadiers routed the Portuguese they disordered the British and the Grenadiers then occupied the ground pinning the British square once again.  Being in square also meant they couldn't get across the creek.)

The French now hold the village and Junot sees a chance to unleash his cavalry on the three routed brigades that have taken shelter on the slopes to the north of Vimeiro. 

Wellesley launches a counterattack.  It is getting near midday and the noon day sun is bound to bring out some mad Englishmen.

Junot is starting to sober up and sees he is down to two infantry brigades.  He has cavalry moving forward on both flanks.

On the French left their cavalry is defeated.

On the right the French cavalry are able to threaten Wellesley's pummelled troops who have finally rallied.  While the French hold Vimeiro they are at risk of being isolated.  

It is 12:30 and feeling fatigued Junot will retire.  

Wellesley's superior commander has arrived and berated him for being so rash and recklessly spilling English blood in a blatant attempt for personal glory telling him in no uncertain terms that he should go back to India or at the very least Ireland if he wants to conduct himself in such an irresponsible manner.  Wellesley states that the battle has been won and that all they need to do is pursue the beaten French to achieve total victory.  Of course his superior knows better and orders the army to immediately stand down.  Wellesley is told that getting the French to retire was pure fluke and that it certainly would never happen again, besides it is possibly a crafty ruse by the French to lure the British army to its doom.  

Meanwhile Junot has ridden back to Lisbon to write a quick despatch to Napoleon to announce his great victory over the British.  In tiny letters he writes the word "presque". 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

Thursday I was fortunate to use models from Richard's fine collection to try a breakout from Falaise pocket type scenario (Scenario 9 "Breakout" in the rule book).  As always we did it big, with the Germans being over 8,000 points.  They have 12 turns in which to escape (effectively to travel the length of the table).  As the German player I was dubious and made sure we measured (and subsequently adjusted) the table size to fit in with the Blitzkrieg Commander's suggested table size.

Signature shot.

The Germans who will be breaking out

The Germans who will be attempting to break them out.

The forces that will be trying to keep them in.

This way.

The attacking panzers come under air and artillery strike.

Disaster strikes.  Command blunder halts the Germans sent to effect the breakout.

It gets worse, the Germans attempting to breakout fail their command rolls.

Off board allied artillery.

It started to take a toll on the stalled panzers.

How much worse can it get?

Very.  As the result of a second command blunder on the third turn a third of the attacking Germans leave the table (perhaps the Typhoons chased them off).

This meant the relief force morale was broken and they need to throw low to remain in the battle.  Remarkably they did so for the next two crucial turns (4 and 5).

The German breakout gets underway.

Finally the Germans start to knock a hole in the allied defences.

The M10s burn, but the 17pdrs continue to inflict losses.  The skies seem clear and even the allied artillery is strangely quiet.

The Germans are desperate and attack.

The German attack coincides with an allied command blunder.

But still losses mount.

Success.  The Germans over run one allied position.  This unlocks a large part of the allied line and the Germans have the moves in order to exploit their sudden good fortune.

Sufficient losses are now inflicted on the allies that their morale breaks.

Turn six and the exodus gets under way.

There is still a way to go, but the Germans succeed in exiting the bulk of their trapped forces from the pocket before the end of turn 12.

Richard makes his feeling known for the failure of the RAF to stop the Germans.

Amazing game.