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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Blucher AAR - French vs Spanish 250 Points

I played a game of Blucher down at my local club on Friday, a pick up game between my French and my opponent's Spanish at 250 points. This was the first outing for my Cuirassiers and Polish troops, and also the first outing for my opponents Spanish army, so we were both eager for good results from these troops who had only seen action on the painting table to this point!

Both armies were I think extremely typical choices for the points bracket and conformed roughly to these lists;
French (Break point 7)
6 Line Infantry with attached artillery,
3 Polish Infantry,
1 Allied Infantry,
2 Cuirassiers,
3 Dragoons,
2 Polish Cavalry,
2 Light Cavalrty,
2 Massed Artillery Units.

Spanish (Break point 10)
4 Guards (1 with attached artillery),
10 Regular Infantry,
6 Provincial Infantry,
4 Heavy Cavalry,
3 Light Cavalry,
2 Irregular Cavalry,
2 Massed Artillery Units
4 Entrenchments.

As you can see the Spanish have a considerable advantage in numbers, 31 units to 21, but have a real lack of quality to make up for it. We rolled up very few terrain pieces which resulted in a rather open battlefield, perfect for my heavy cavalry. The Spaniards chose to defend, even without the advantage of a lot of terrain, in the hopes that their large numbers of infantry behind barricades would be able to hold off the more experienced French troops.

I have a few photos of the game which show the general shake up of the battle,

On my French left flank my smaller corps of infantry have advanced to threaten the Spanish infantry on the left, stretched between the objective in the wood and the urban area on the right of the image. As it turned out none of these units on either side would move again for the remainder of the battle as both commanders focused their attention on the other flank and the centre. The French infantry are supported by a single unit of light cavalry just off camera to the left who have forced the Spanish infantry barely visible behind the wood into square.
The 3 units of hidden Spaniards behind the woods are reserve infantry who would be drawn from this position into the centre as combat escalated there.
French Dragoons and Polish Lancers reorganise in the space to the right of the hill that dominated the centre of the battlefield having wiped out a unit of Spanish Heavy Cavalry who had been drawn in too far by their Impetuous trait. Spanish regulars and Guards warily form up into squares in order to ward off the threat posed by these shock cavalry. Unrevealed at the back right of this image were 3 Spanish Heavy Cavalry and 1 Spanish Light Cavalry sit in front of the second objective being defended by the Spaniards and 2 Militia Cavalry can be seen falling back in the face of the French Cuirassiers who are advancing on the far right.

In the direct centre French and Polish infantry advance on the Spaniards lined up between the urban area and hill seen in the previous images whilst French light Cavalry and German allies lurk on the reverse side of the hill threatening to run down any Spanish infantry who might attempt to pressure the French infantry from said hill. Initial skirmish fire was rather ineffective from both sides, however eventually French superiority began to tell with significant damage being dealt to the Spanish line. The unit of French Ligne on the left of this attacking line (number 9) especially began to deal heavy damage to the unit of infantry in the barricades opposite them, routing one unit and then dealing heavy damage to the unit of Grenadiers sent to fill the gap.

Spanish Militia and Light cavalry support is not enough to worry the French cavalry between the centre and the impassable terrain which split the right flank. The  French cavalry have managed to organise themselves into a threatening formation which had forced most of the Spanish infantry into defensive formations and prevented them from moving to take the pressure off of the Spanish centre.
Previously mentioned the 2 units of Cuirassiers, the cream of the French army, have been fighting off 3 units of Spanish Heavy cavalry  and one of Militia cavalry and had been largely getting the better of the combat despite the wearing down of their strength. A unit of French Dragoons and a unit of Spanish Light cavalry were at this point both moving from the centre right to try and gain the upper hand on this front, however it was too late at this point for the Spanish cavalry who would soon find themselves with all of their cavalry spent and routed.

After several turns there are large gaps in the Spanish centre, both the effect of effective French skirmishing and a decisive charge by Polish infantry who had resisted a charge from Spanish Light Cavalry and then assaulted and destroyed a massed battery of Spanish guns. These Poles were however unable to extricate themselves and were soon overwhelmed by the second line of Spaniards who can be seen ready to advance into the gaps left in the front line.

On the far right flank it is clear that whilst the French cavalry committed here are exhausted the Spanish cavalry wing has ceased to exist. The Spanish cavalry shown charging down and breaking the extremely weak Cuirassiers would in turn be charged in the rear by the half strength unit of French Dragoons and routed off the table, leaving the Spanish army with no ability to cover itself from the French Dragoons on the centre right who would soon be released into the space behind the Spanish line threatening a number of  weakened units attempting to rally back their strength.

In the centre the second line of Spanish infantry have been mostly slowed down in their advance by a unit of French infantry who had launched their own counter assault across the Spanish entrenchments. This unit of French would be routed, but not before effectively blunting the Spanish attempts to push hard through the centre. On the hill Spanish infantry took heavy casualties under assault from the German infantry and French Light cavalry but were able to maintain their foothold for the time being. 

This shot shows the position at the end of the game. At the bottom it is clear exactly how little has occurred in this sector, a great number of units remaining unengaged by both sides. At the top of the screen 2 units of French Dragoons can be seen pressuring the Spanish infantry hard from the rear with the remaining Spanish Militia cavalry unable to fend them off effectively. On the hill Polish infantry have been able to dislodge the Spanish infantry who had taken up positions there.
In the very centre the French infantry have been pushed back by the Spanish reserves, however Polish lancers brought in from the centre right were able to break the final unit of Spaniards required to push them over their army breaking point and bring the game to an end.

In all a very enjoyable game ending with the breaking of the Spanish army and 4 French units broken towards their break point of 7. The Spanish armies inferior artillery and lack of access to any units with a bonus to ranged combat really showed in this game as they were consistently unable to make an impact on the long ranged firefight in the centre. The Spanish cavalry had attempted to isolate and break the expensive French Cuirassiers whilst they were on their on the right flank, however their lack of any shock trait and a lack of convincing dice rolls meant they were unable to really make an impact before the supporting Dragoons arrived to mop up the remainders of the Spanish cavalry contingent. As well as this the large Spanish army was unable to coordinate it all due to the restrictive nature of Blucher's command and control mechanics which meant that actually overwhelming the outnumbered French infantry was difficult.


  1. Looks beautiful, glad to see Spanish troops resisting...until the end!

  2. Great report, narrative and photographs. Very enjoyable.