Sunday, 10 May 2015

Talavera - Attack on the Pajar Vergara

Attack of the El Rey Cavalry at the Pajar de Vergara - Talavera, 28th July 1809
This month I rolled out my Spanish and German troops that I have been working on for the past nine months as part of my Talavera project as documented on "JJ's Wargames"

I have always intended to play the collection at club and other outside venues and, to that end, ordered up a new 6 x 4 foot Terrain Mat to play smaller games away from home. The 9 x 5 foot mat is a bit big for deploying out for short games and I didn't want to keep on using the Games Workshop cloth which, though serviceable, doesn't show the figures off at their best.

The map of the Pajar table, one foot squares
The new mat also presented an opportunity to try out a new scenario with some new paper based rules on my unsuspecting "guinea pigs" at the Devon Wargames Group" who can be relied on for their honest opinions and wargaming input.

My turn to preference when wanting to play a serious Napoleonic game would be Carnage & Glory II but I am keen to develop my scenarios around paper based rules to allow them easy conversion for those who simply want to roll dice. So with this quest in mind I decided to play test a recent set of free home developed rules that appeared on TMP this week and have provided links below to that particular post together with the authors site discussing the rules and providing a link to download them.

The principle appeal to try them was the familiar command pips, the use of units that match my own preference and a construction that lent themselves to changes of my own, such as British infantry countercharges following a successful volley fire, that is modelled so well in C&G and as it proved can be incorporated with these.

The game thus was very much a play test in all senses of the word and I would like to thank Steve L, Steve M., Ian and Tom for playing the game in that spirit as we sought to find out what we could do with the scenario and these rules.

I have shown below the orders of battle, game, terrain and victory parameters for the scenario. The unit stats are in small text indicate the effectiveness of these troops and I will attempt to summarise their key indicators. For a more in depth appreciation I suggest getting the rules and having a read through.

Thus a commander showing (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”) means a standard general officer who if attached to the unit would allow them to make successful morale/leadership test on 2d6, rolling 8 or less and he can, if with 4 inches, by using a command pip, add one to a similar test by the unit itself. The command radius indicates how close his units must be to activate on a command pip with additional pips required for every 8 inches or part over that range.

Similarly for units (4 stands, Line 8) indicates a battalion with four stands (16 infantry/12 cavalry figures) who are "Line" troops so will morale test when receiving 10% casualties in a turn (Spanish were "Raw" so tested every time they got hit) requiring eight or less on 2d6 to successfully pass morale/leadership tests.

Division Alexander Campbell – Defend
Brigadier General Alexander Campbell (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”)

Pajar de Vergara Redoubt Gun Battery
Lawson's Brigade Entrenched 3pdr [Light] 2 stands (Line 8)
**1st Spanish Battery Entrenched 12pdr [Hvy.] 1 stand (Raw 7)

Brigade William Myers - Defend
Lieutenant Colonel William Myers (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”)
2/7th Foot 388 4 stands (Line 8)
2/53rd Foot 483 4 stands (Line 8)
A. Campbell's Bde. Light Bn. 161 [2SB:1R] 2 Musk, 1 Rifle Sk Stands (Line 8)

Brigade James Kemmis - Defend
Colonel James Kemmis (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”)
1/40th Foot 670 6 stands (Veteran 9, Drilled)
97th Foot 452 4 Stands (Veteran 9, Drilled)
2nd Battalion of Detachments 562 6 stands (Line 7)
Kemmis' Bde. Light Bn. 244 4 Musk Sk Stands (Veteran 9)

Division Marques de Portago - Defend
Major General Marques de Portago (Uninspiring 7, +1@1”, Command Radius 7” -1PIP)
El Rey Cavalry Regiment 460 4 Stands (Raw 7, -2 Recovery)
1st Bn. Badajoz Regiment 571 6 stands (Militia 6, Raw)
2nd Bn. Badajoz Regiment 557 6 stands (Militia 6, Raw)
2nd Cazadores de Antequera 557 6 stands (Militia 6, Raw), 2 Musk Sk Stands
*Imperial de Toledo 792 6 stands (Militia 6, Raw)
*Provincial de Badajoz Militia 577 6 stands (Militia 6, Raw)
*Provincial de Guadix Militia 562 6 stands (Militia 6, Raw)

6576 Bayonets
460 Sabres
293 Artillerists
12 Cannon
7329 Total of all arms
13 Standards present

The German brigades of Chasse and Grandjean debouch from the olive grows in front of  Campbell's division nearest to camera.
Division Baron Jean-Francois Leval - Attack
General de Division Baron Jean-Francois Leval (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”)

Brigade Heinrich Freiherr von Porbeck - Attack
Oberst Heinrich Freiherr von Porbeck (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”)
III Fuss Batterien Steinmetz 4pdr [Light] 2 stands (Line 7)
I.von Harrant Nr.4 (Baden) 376 4 stands (Line 7)
II.von Harrant Nr.4 (Baden) 367 4 stands (Line 7)
I.Nassau IR Nr.2 360 4 stands (Line 7)
II.Nassau IR Nr.2 386 4 stands (Line 7)
Porbeck's Voltigeur Bn 317 5 Musk Sk Stands (Line 7)

Brigade David-Hendrik Chasse - Attack
Generalmajor David-Hendrik Chasse (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”)
3m3 Artillerie a Cheval Trip 4pdr [Light] 2 stands (Line 7)
I/2me Regiment Linie 393 4 stands (Line 7)
2/4me Regiment Linie 378 4 stands (Line 7)
Chasse's Voltigeur Bn 154 3 Musk Sk Stands (Line 7)

Brigade Balthazard-Grandjean - Attack
General de Brigade Balthazard-Grandjean (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”)
III. Fuss. Batterien Venator 4pdr [Light] 2 stands (Line 7)
1/Gross und Erbprinz Nr 4 398 4 stands (Line 7)
2/Gross und Erbprinz Nr 4 371 4 stands (Line 7)
Rheinbund Bttn von Frankfort 391 4 stands (Line 7)
Grandjean's Voltigeur Bn. 225 4 Musk Sk Stands (Line 7)

Brigade Feliks Potocki - Hold
Oberst Feliks Potocki (Competent 8, +1, Command Radius 8”)
I. IR Nr 4 (Polish) 761 6 stands (Line 8, Drilled)
II. IR Nr 4 (Polish) 782 6 stands (Line 8, Drilled)
Potocki's Voltigeur Bn. 260 4 Musk Sk Stands (Line 8)

5919 Bayonets
433 Artillerists
18 Cannon
6352 Total of all arms
11 Standards present

Spanish General Portago moves his infantry up to support the Pajar redoubt as the Baden/Nassau brigade advance
The Game starts at 13.00 (turn 1) and ends at 16.00 (turn 12)
Mission: Allies Defend, French Take, and hold the Pajar de Vergara redoubt at the end of the game.
  • A player is deemed to be in control if he has an unbroken unit within 4” and there are no enemy unbroken units within 6” of the Pajar.
  • *Spanish General Portago will only commit the Badajoz Regiment (two battalions) and the Antequera Light Infantry, the remaining battalions are held in reserve.
  • **Only four Spanish 12lbrs are placed in the Pajar redoubt with the other two placed further along the Spanish line off table.
* I informed the French players that they could deploy Potocki's Polish battalions that historically were held in reserve. If they chose to do so then Portago could deploy his other three battalions on table as a counter measure. 

In the end the French chose to play it historically.

The Anglo/Spanish guns open fire sending roundshot into the German/Dutch ranks
Terrain and Deployment
  • The Allied player may not deploy his troops initially further forward than the line indicated on the map for British and Spanish troops
  • The olive groves are classed as light woods. Artillery may only pass through the gaps in the trees or use the tracks.
  • The Portina stream holds no terrain significance.
  • The Pajar redoubt is classed as heavy cover (it was incomplete and hurriedly constructed but protected the gunners).
The view from the Pajar as the allied guns open fire
Victory Conditions
Broken brigade 5 VP
Shaken Unit 1VP
Shattered Unit 2VP
Pajar Vergara Redoubt 5VP

The Baden and Nassau battalions close in on a shaky Spanish line
So with the two lines faced off the German Division began its advance out of the tree line that marked the extent of the olive groves in front of the Pajar.

Their arrival in open ground was greeted with the first whistling rounds of 12lbr and 3lbr round shot and the light British pieces drew first blood as the Frankfurt battalion was hit.

Both sides deploy their reserves with the El Rey cavalry, bottom right, opposed by Baden artillery, top right
As the German line closed it became obvious that the Spanish right flank was chosen to receive the attention of Porbeck's Nassau and Baden columns, whilst the rest of the division focused on pinning their British allies and drawing fire from the redoubt.

The brigades of Myers and Kemmis deployed one behind the other with a solid skirmish screen out front
General Portago rose to the challenge pushing forward the Badajoz battalions to support the guns covered by a light skirmish screen from the Antequeran Light Infantry. The El Rey cavalry, hovered in the right rear looking to take advantage of any German discomfort.

The view from the German lines as the Frankfurt and Hesse Infantry approach the British line trying to make out they are Spanish and lost  "Ola, los Espagnol!" The British look confused
The Baden skirmish line soon overwhelmed its Spanish counterpart putting telling fire on to the Badajoz battalions and disordering them. The Baden artillery then added their fire to Spanish woes by sending the El Rey cavalry into panic. Suddenly the right flank of the Pajar looked very exposed.

The Baden/Nassau troops behind a very strong skirmish screen press the redoubt and the Spanish line
In response to this threat to their right, the Spanish and British guns found their mark on the Nassau regiment causing casualties to their first line and ploughing on into the follow up column causing both battalions to panic and fall back, leaving their Baden allies to press the assault alone.

Command pips become important as formations change close to the enemy
On the other flank the British skirmish line started to drive in their German opposite numbers and, with one of the British 3lbr guns supporting their efforts, started to bring telling fire to bear on the Hesse, Nassau and Dutch battalions.

First blood, with the red die showing a hit on the Frankfurt battalion
The Spanish flank was in the balance with General Porbeck trying desperately to coordinate the attack of his Baden battalions as he regrouped the Nassau troops, and Spanish General Portago left with two of his battalions and the El Rey cavalry in panic mode.

With the British flank looking more secure, General Campbell detached his strongest veteran battalion, the 40th (Somerset) Foot, who had seen all this before at Vimeiro and Rolica, to stabilise his allies line.

The allied guns "pour it on" as the feeble Spanish skirmish line is overwhelmed. The Baden guns at top open fire

The El Rey cavalry seriously disordered by the Baden artillery fire
Then suddenly as if inspired to show their metal all three disordered Spanish regiments rallied as the 40th Foot approached.

The skirmish battle preceding the Baden/Nassau attack
With the the German right coming under telling fire from the British guns, Campbell detaches the 40th foot, top right to support the hard pressed Spanish
It was now or never and the German troops put in charges as both ends of the allied line with the 7th Fusiliers and 53rd Foot charged by the Hesse Damrstadt battalions and the Badajoz regiment charged by the Badeners.

The red dice and trail of casualties indicate that the ruse was not working as British skirmishers go to work on the German lines
The Spanish line desperately holds against the Baden attack as the British 40th foot come up in support
The outcomes were quite different on each flank. The 7th Fusiliers calmly allowed the Hesse troops to get within 50 paces of their line before delivering a telling volley. To their credit the Hesse troops held their position though disordered. It was then that we tried out our own adaptation to the rules by allowing the British battalion to immediately test to countercharge, which they did being met by the resolute Hesse troops who successfully stood. However their resolve melted in the subsequent clash and the Fusiliers chased the Hesse battalion from their lines.

In the combat with the 53rd Foot the outcome was similar in that the other Hesse battalion was stopped with telling fire, but the British battalion refused to charge preparing to deliver another volley, only to see the Hesse battalion break in the next phase as they attempted to rally off their disorder.

The Hesse guns lend their fire in support of their hard pressed infantry as Chasse's Dutch infantry move up
On the Spanish flank the Baden battalion charged in on the Badajoz regiment causing then to go disordered in the charge response and thus unable to deliver a volley. The Spanish battalion broke to the rear.

However the Baden troops exultations were soon replaced with foreboding as the 40th Foot stepped into the breach and shot down any thoughts of following up their success.

The German right flank can make no impression on the British line
We had completed eight of the twelve turns and had started to develop a rhythm with the rules as we brought the game to a close with the German attack starting to stall. Indeed, after a quick casualty count, the allies were just edging things in their favour by still having a secure hold on the Pajar and with the Frankfurt battalion permanently shaken from the casualties it had suffered thus giving up one victory point.

Certainly any further action was close to offering up more with the weaker German units getting closer to a similar state due to the attrition they had already suffered.

With the arrival of the 40th Foot the Spanish disordered mass gets a much needed respite.
We all thought the rules played pretty well considering our inexperience with them and seemed to give a good simulation. We found the layout and writing a bit confusing and I had to make plenty of notes in my printed copy prior to playing so I felt we could play them as written. However that is not a big issue as we are experienced gamers and I plan to re write them for my own clarity and to allow some other changes I have in mind.

If you want to play this sort of battalion/regiment level game and have fun then you might want to have a look at them, but do take the time to read them thoroughly before playing. Personally, I will always prefer C&G and will be running this scenario using them.

The one key difference I notice between paper rules and the computer, is my head is not buzzing at the end of a computer driven game and I spend more time in the game rather than thinking through the rules leaving me feeling a lot fresher as I head to the pub. There is of course the element of unfamiliarity with this set that adds to that sense but we tend to play rule sets on and off at the club and so quick up take is important and these rules are certainly better than others I have come across in that regard.


  1. Outstanding AAR of a great looking game - as usual!

  2. Hi Sparker, thanks mate glad you liked it.

  3. This has all of the hallmarks of a great wargame, pretty toys, pretty scenery, a well planned scenario and good chums trying out something new before heading to the pub!
    As you know we Marauders favour General de Brigade but like you I am always looking around for something new, this week Elite Minis publish a new set and this C&C set seem intriguing too.
    Lastly, has it really been 9 months since you started the French ally contingent? Jeepers!
    Best wishes,

    1. Hi Jeremy, you got it one. Yes I too saw the reference to the new look Gilder rules which caught my eye being a former Grand Manner man - they look very interesting.
      Yes those Germans have been very patient waiting for the Spanish to get the attention of the brush so it was really nice to get them blooded at last.

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  5. Very enjoyable BatRep, Jonathan! Great action and handsome layout and figures.

    I am curious to your further impressions to the new set of rules trialed in this game. Looks like your C&G/NapWars basing fits fine with this new set of rules. Is it a system in which you would more study and play or is C&G your final answer?

    Great work as always.

    1. Hi Jon, thank you.
      I think, for me, my preference would be to use C&G because I think I get more out of the game given all the things that C&G can do painlessly. Namely, fatigue, command & control and the associated friction whilst keeping a running score of where both armies are at during the game together with a clear picture of the after effects. That aspect is just brilliant.

      However on those occasions when I'm playing with friends who want to roll dice and play Napoleonics or when I want to throw a quick game together without the preparation that comes with C&G, I am looking for a set of rules that work with my collection and that give a fun simulation that is easy to pick up any time.

      I do think these are the best second option that I have tried so far and am inclined to persist with them. What I particularly like is that given they have developed out of other players wanting to put their own rules together using tried and trusted mechanisms, I think they are very easily adapted to some of my own inclinations, which we tried out in this game. I need to play them again to give a more definitive answer, but first impressions are favourable.

  6. Fantastic AAR, very impressive pictures and armies!