Friday, April 27, 2018

Ciudad Ministerio de Hacienda - the Battle.

The Patriot Army about to spring their surprise upon the Royalists.

The stage having been set, and the prologue recited (previous posting), it behoves me to make some preliminary remarks about this action, and the troops involved. I also want to talk about 'play balance' in this scenario as adapted for this action.

The five Patriot battalions comprise two 8-figure companies plus 3-figure HQ element, are classed as 'militia' ('poor' in Developing Portable Wargames speak), and get 1 die per 8 figures shooting. The three Royalist Regiments comprise one elite grenadier, and three line infantry companies, with a 4-figure HQ element. Each company received one die shooting.

Two or three moves into the action.  The early exchanges
favour the Patriots.
In effect, that meant the Royalist infantry firepower was 20% greater than the Patriot. But in numbers, (not counting HQ elements)  the Royalists had 10% fewer in the firing line. To test the firepower balance, I conducted a 'paper battle'  as follows. 

Patriot                                                                 Royalist
Reduce Royalists by 1/6 of own strength            Reduce Patriots by 1/5 of own strength

80 - (1/5 of 72) = 80 - 14 = 66                             72 - (1/6 of 80) = 72 - 13 = 59
66 - (1/5 of 59) = 66 - 12 = 54                             59 - (1/6 of 66) = 59 - 11 = 48
54 - (1/5 of 48) = 54 - 10 = 44                             48 - (1/6 of 54) = 48 - 9 = 39
44 - (1/5 of 39) = 44 - 8 =   36                             39 - (1/6 of 44) = 39 - 7 = 32
36 - (1/5 of 32) = 36 - 6 = 30                               32 - (1/6 of 36) = 32 - 6 = 26
At this point both sides (adding in the HQ elements) have been reduced in the same turn. 

The point of this exercise was to demonstrate, in rather heuristic terms, that the infantry of both sides was evenly balanced.

Action becoming general on Jamon y Huevos's front.
The real difference, then, was the extra gun and the small cavalry squadron in the Royalist Army.  I hoped that the Patriots' first move (surprise) and the distribution of the movement 'cards' (actually decided by die roll) would balance those units.  They were as follows

Force                     Number of units      Die Roll 1-2                3-4                5-6
Royalist                 7                                                3                   4                   5

Patriot Main          5                                                2                   3                   4
Patriot Detached   3                                                1                   2                   3

This should confer a considerable advantage to the Patriots if the were lucky on their unit activation rolls.

Patriot flank attack developing slowly, but promisingly.
So what did the Patriots do on their first turn?  Rolled 'one'. Both commands. I'd say you wouldn't read about it, but you're reading about it here. So from Lopez's command, one unit - 10th Cazadores (a rather splendid nomenclature for a militia unit) - lurched out of the wood to the left rear of 1st Avocado  Regiment. Two battalions of the main body surged out of the scrub to the Royalist front.  
Mutual carnage: the Royalist Avocado Infantry, and Patriot
9th and 4th Battalions in a stand-up drag-out firefight.
For their part, the Royalists also rolled a 'one' for their first move. That mattered rather less. Avocado Infantry advanced to meet the enemy to their front, which took it considerably out of the range of 10th Cazadores' muskets. Less its grenadier battalion in the town, the 4th del Gardo Infantry wheeled to face the irruption of Lopez's command.
Things go wrong in Lopez's command (rolling 'low' activation dice.
Although the Patriots got the better of the initial stages of the firefight against 1st Avocado, the superior firepower of the Royalists, supported as they were by the gun battery and eventually the del Gardo grenadiers, soon restored the balance. The major part of the battle comprised the clawing and mauling fight between Avocado and the 4th and 9th Patriot battalions. Meanwhile, 4th del Gardo soon engaged 10th Cazadores before its companion unit, 6th Battalion could intervene effectively.

Somewhat surprisingly, the relatively untrained Patriot infantry stood up to the punishing firefight like veterans, steadfastly refusing to break whilst they had fight still in them. I use the 'old school' 50% rule in which a unit so reduces must withdraw from the fight.  However, tests of morale - I wasn't using a Strength Point system - were frequent events, on both side. Using a system vaguely similar to that of Terrible Swift Sword, low die rolls are what one hopes for here. At one point, having taken more than 40% casualties, 9th Cazadores rolled the '1' it needed to stay in the battle. Taking further losses, the unit routed next turn.  

By that time, the 4th were also near breaking, but their failure of morale led merely to a withdrawal in good order, facing the enemy.  

Fourth del Gardo Infantry was lucky to strike the 10th Cazadores momentarily unsupported. In the interests of getting into action quickly, the 6th Infantry burst straight out of the brushwood without wheeling. Even advancing past the 10th, that placed del Gardo out of arc, with the Avocado infantry far out of range. That might not have been so bad, but the subsequent 'low' activation dice indicated some paralysis in 6th Battalion command. When the shattered remnants of the 10th fled back into the undergrowth, Lopez at once recalled the 6th. Although del Gardo had taken some losses, it was unlikely that the 6th, though fresh, could win unaided a firefight with equal numbers of regulars.
Patriot 10th Battalion crushed before the 6th can help.
The main action was over as well. Little more than half its numbers still in the fight, Avocado Infantry drew back to its original position flanking the ridge beside the town. Ninth Cazadores had routed; nothing more could be demanded of 4th Infantry; which left the relatively fresh 3rd Battalion alone, staring down the levelled barrels of the advancing, hitherto unengaged 2nd Ballesteros Infantry. Lucky to have still a force in being, General Jamon y Huevos called the retreat. On this day at least, the Royalists could wear the laurels.
Close of the action.  Avocado Infantry have pulled out the
fight, but Ballesteros is about to take up the cudgels.  Patriot remnants
in retreat
At the time, this seemed such a one-sided battle (the respective losses were roughly 30-odd Patriot to maybe 16-18 Royalist), I thought I must have got the balance wrong. But the fact was that in no turn did the Patriots manage to roll two 'high dice' for unit activation, but they did roll two 'low-dice', once on the very first turn. That tended towards the Patriots coming into action piecemeal.  Another 'low' roll in Lopez's command left 10th Cazadores unsupported at a crucial moment. Even so, the Royalist were able to bring Ballesteros Infantry into action only as the battle was drawing to a close. The artillery on the Royalist far right never got into the fight at all. I reckon that with better luck on the first turn activation, the Patriots stood a good chance of rolling up the Royalist line.

Next time:  Battle of Arabispo, the opening action of the Gatonegro War of Independence.


  1. Exciting game! I like the activation mechanism. How did you decide to give the Patriots the edge?

    1. Thanks, Chris. Actually, I was looking towards a fairly balanced game, but with the Patriot initiative (first move and, by splitting the activation between two commands, greater flexibility) balancing the slight Royalist edge on firepower (the extra gun and the little cavalry squadron). The activation dice simply didn't go the Patriots' way. They weren't that flash for the Royalists either, but that didn't matter so much, apart from 2nd Ballesteros Infantry takling a long time to get into action.

      The next action used a different activation system...