Sunday 10 December 2023

Peninsular War : Soldiers of Napoleon Take Two

Seem to have a lot of battles booked in at the moment as we slip towards Christmas. Yesterday saw a second run out for the Peninsular using Soldiers of Napoleon. Learning from last weekend it was a more modest setup with two infantry Brigades each side with a supporting cavalry brigade. We randomised the arrival of reserves as per the rule book. With lots going on I didn’t take too many photos.

The first British infantry brigade arrives in March column, seeing the french in the distance !
Nearly all the reserves arrived quite quickly, this shot shows the position after several turns (in fact lunchtime) the British have formed out into line, skirmishers are trading shots together with artillery from both sides
The french begin an advance down their left, in attack column again supported by artillery
Both sides have sent cavalry down the road and for some time they stand off against each other.
After lunch we made a few changes to the rules see thoughts below. The British guards are ordered forward to open up a volley on the french supported by skirmishers from their Portuguese colleagues they break the leading regiment. 
Cavalry on the British left continue to spar with each other but the British light dragoons fail to charge in on three occasions leaving the Hussars to fight on their own. 
The British are now pushing forward on the right as well, shrouded by skirmishers
I didn’t take many photos until we called the battle to an end. The British are winning on their right, but their central Brigade has been completely broken
The cavalry fight remains a stand off.

A fun battle and once again a real joy to get my Peninsular collection back into battle. We kept a record of VP’s really just to see how this worked out 32 vs 11 if favour of the french ! 

So some thoughts on the rules as we played them. Firstly the rules clearly work well for this scale of battle rather than the larger affair last week. I like the card activation and the fact that each card has three potential uses/activities works well giving lots of options. The mechanics of game seem pretty straight forward and easy to master, you won’t be rolling more than a few dice with perhaps 2 or three modifications which increase or reduce the number of dice you roll rather than the target so simple. The gradual collection of disruption seems to work until units break and flee the field, we do need to get to some form of conclusion after all. Stats for units are pretty easy which again makes picking up the rules easy. The cards would definitely allow interesting solo play if you were that way inclined.

What didn’t quite click for us….the ability to only order each unit once per card seems to create a slightly stilted game. No moving and shooting no sweeping advances etc… and this is what we amended for our afternoon session which seemed very sensible and created a more dynamic feel to the battle. The only limitation we placed being no more than two shots. Secondly the cavalry formations whilst probably historical don’t feel right, so we would in future swop the lines column of attack bonus around for cavalry. This may be an issue with the size of my units which are six bases but it makes cavalry totally unwieldy when you want to make the most of a charge to order them out into line. Victory points don’t really work in this sort of battle for me, obviously if you like that sort of competition that’s fine, but there is a slight danger of becoming ‘competitive’ as can be seen from the result we had the British were thrashed on VP’s the bulk of these came from an objective card being played gaining 6 points and the demise of the British infantry as the french rolled very high whilst the British rolled very low when french units were removed. Finally issue was the ability to roll off hits on a simple discipline test for most units this is a 4+ so effectively 50% chance. Our feeling was to give a little more dynamism to only allow units for ‘save’ excess hits over 1. Ie when you take one hit you take it when you take 2 or more you might be able to save one. We found units just stayed around too long saving skirmish hits rather than these potentially building up slowly, forcing the unit to either withdraw or get stuck in.

There are a few clarifications I need on the rules, and things which feel a little odd for example cavalry still being able to charge when they are disordered but it kind of works both ways. All in all we enjoyed the battle and the rules and they work as a set of rules for smaller battles, giving a good feel for the period, we will certainly use them again, but it will be something else for those larger battles.

Thanks as always for popping by more than happy to answer questions on the rules. We didn’t use the terrain generator or tactical position stuff.

If nothing else the pictures are ok πŸ‘


36 comments:

  1. Great looking game and thoughts on the rules. I'm still looking for some to use with my 28mm collection

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    1. Thanks Neil, we will be using them again but only for the smaller battles and probably with our amendments πŸ‘

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  2. They seem like a reasonable set and the second play through reads much better, especially after the adjustments you made. I'm not sure about disordered cavalry being able to charge either as intuitively it doesn't sound right. Do units pick up disruption points from movement as well as combat, and were they easy to keep track of?

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    1. Thanks Lawrence, disruption is caused from being shot/hit, melee and moving if you go ‘at the double’ or if you have been ordered to do something else by the previous order card. In terms of record keeping we just used the white dice you can see in a couple of the photos.

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  3. I enjoyed the game, the rules tweaks worked well. I'm playing Pete in the new year and he wants to try our rules changes. We both have smaller battalions so the multiple move disruption points may prove tricky. Pete thinks releasing skirmishers should be a freebie move. Will let you know how it goes. Thanks for my pressie. I've rooted out the Samurai, there are about 50, mainly Perry, mix of spear armed Ashigaru, samura and ashigaru with aquebuses. Will bring them next time. Have a good Christmas and see you in the new year

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    1. Good to game, caught up with Jon from Canada this evening. The challenge is how many tweeks ? I’m not sure about the free skirmishers. I tend to think less change is better.

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  4. Nice post Matt, interesting thoughts on the rules. Just looking at a Black Powder project next year and something a little different in terms of mechanisms.
    Cheers
    Stu

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    1. We’ll be playing BP for bigger games I suspect

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  5. Another fine game there Matt, with the scenic board a nice touch:). These rules seem to be a bit of a 'marmite' set, with some selling them on after one game, others quite happy to play them as written. As with all rules, each to their own.

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    1. I think they will see some use in the dungeon but probably with those few tweeks as mentioned above ?

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  6. Good looking game, Matt! Doubly nice to see a return of these rules to the table after not much of a layoff. Did the rules need amending after only having played one game before?

    You remain quite busy on the gaming front. Good for you!

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    1. Thanks Jon, we played the early part of the battle with the rules as written but it became clear it just wasn’t giving a very dynamic battle, having discussed them over lunch we returned with the agreed amendments which immediately seemed to bring the battle to life and make it more dynamic. I was keen not to go too far so gentle changes at this stage.

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  7. Grand looking Peninsular gaming, Matt. Nice to try out new rules.

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  8. Matt thanks for the insight. The rules continue to intrigue me, but I suspect in the end I will not go for them as much of my figure gaming is solo and the cards do not make for a good solo experience. It also strikes me as the sort of game that you need to play fairly often to ‘keep your hand in’ with the rules.

    I do like that they do deliberately support the smaller game and a 6x4 type set-up.

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    1. Thanks Norm…..obviously I’m a very rare solo gamer but I was wondering if the cards would actually help with solo gaming, it would be easy to use them to limit the option for one or both sides by either reducing or forcing the use of certain cards, even perhaps using a D6 to force the use of a special action from the card. But like many rule sets it’s another £30 to think about spending ?

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    2. More, as there are other support books to buy. I would need the 1809 one!

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    3. I certainly want to see if I like the rules before I splash out for the peninsular supplement. I might flick through it at the next show if I can get my hands on one ?

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  9. It’s nice to see your keeping yourself busy Matt 😁
    Another lovely looking game…I am certainly tempted to pick a copy of the rules… maybe as a Xmas present for myself.

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Thank Aly the concept and ordering system with the card activation is certainly interesting and forces you to think without taking control away ?

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  10. A more exciting game than ours Matt, a nice set up.

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    1. Thanks George…every game is different, I found our Smolensk game quite entertaining πŸ˜€

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  11. Another lovely looking game with your excellent Peninsular collection Matt. Hopefully you can butcher the rules just enough to make for an enjoyable game!

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    1. Thanks Keith, to be fair to them I don’t think they need a lot of tweaking, and I think the cards could be used in several different ways.

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  12. Looked like a grand bash at a more appropriate size. We've not really got fully to grips yet, so changes lie ahead if we persevere.

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    1. Thanks David, I have found the core system quite simple to get my head around our changes so far have really only been to create a bit more dynamism as we felt played as written the battle felt a little stagnant. I also want to reduce the scale of variability in the VP’s as a dice roll can make this variation too random, we just happened to suffer the extreme in this battle when my guards were defeated.

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  13. Great looking game! Lovely collection.

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    1. Thanks John the positive feedback encourages to keep on painting πŸ˜€

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  14. Great looking game, I'll be interested to see what you think of Valour and Fortitude, I think it handles large numbers of figures well and when casualties start going it goes downhill for one side or the other quite rapidly! I was interested in this ruleset when ot came out but then I'm always interested in a 28mm Napoleonic ruleset! Still haven't worked out how to use cavalry but the plan is to do a large 12' x6' Christmas game of French and allies versus Austria, Russia and the British!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks Iain, hoping to try V&F soonish although that may be going to the other extreme. Black powder seems to me to have the balance ? Good luck with that Christmas bash !

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  15. A fine looking game there as usual, good to see you are getting to grips with SoN. I shall be using them for a First Carlist War game tomorrow to see how they work for the period.

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    1. Thanks Phil….as mentioned above I have found the basic rules, ordering etc fairly quick to pick up. We haven’t spent much time on the tactical advantage stuff and tend to just roll 2xD6 for initiative.

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    2. We do that too at the moment, we haven't used any of the cards for battlefield objectives yet either.

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  16. Interesting write up… if it needs tweaks almost right out of the box I guess it’s not going to get much use . Getting rules to,work with bigger battles played by only two people can be a challenge

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