Sunday 1 March 2020

Somewhere in the Pyrenees 1814...or is it?

John the Red kindly took me to the Club in Durham again last Thursday. (After a lapse of quite a few years I have  rejoined the club I first became a member of in January 1972). Shaun had been giving Gen d'Armee another run out, again using his gorgeous Peninsular War collection. We were playing the final week of the game (I'd managed each of the three weeks thanks to lifts from John, and Malcolm and Shaun in the middle week). As the British commander its fair to say we were in deep trouble from turn one, and that didn't change at all until the end of turn 14 when we were in less deep trouble. Shaun was the French commander, assisted at various times by John, Richard and Nigel doing a great impersonation of a 'Grognard'. Another John (H) had assisted me in the first two weeks and in the final week Conrad joined me as John H couldn't make it. So, we had continuity of sorts for the entire game and it was actually quite interesting coaching the other players as they came and went.

The game was a disguised scenario, set in the Pyrenees in 1814. The British began the game outnumbered and were tasked with holding the main road and crossroads until turn 14. Reinforcements would be drip fed in as the game progressed. The French started with lots more troops and their reinforcements came on quickly and in vast numbers. Anyway, here's how it panned out.

Shaun taking a photo of his brave lads!
Facing our left wing was a brigade of French cavalry and one of infantry. This was going to be tense.

For some reason I'd deployed our lone cavalry regiment on the crossroads with thoughts of brave charges down the road in my head. Actually, no matter how deluded this idea was, the hussars would have been really up against it if they'd been on our left facing the French cavalry.
After a conspicuous absence and a slow start the French artillery arrived. The infantry in the centre had halted while their skirmishers were pushing through the wood in the background. Our skirmishers were doing a good job at holding their own against the French voltigeurs.
Overview of the battlefield towards the end of week 1.
The proximity of the enemy cavalry forced the British into square.

Reinforcements at last!
The French were very slow getting going in the centre thanks to a series of turns where they were 'hesitant'.
The hussars had charged down the road and forced a battalion into square. Our cavalry bounced but the French attack was stalled. They were still pushing through the wood and had started to press hard in the centre.

On the left the British were suffering from long range artillery fire from the French reserve  that was pounding  our square relentlessly.  During the course of the game the French launched several infantry and cavalry attacks against the British left and centre. All of them were repulsed but at great cost as several battalions were very close to reaching the magical '12' hits and running away. All our skirmishers in the centre, including the 60th Rifles, had been destroyed by this point.
The final British reinforcements arrived and halted any French attempts to turn our right flank. The enemy were pushed back into the woods.
The last of the French cavalry charges fared no better than all the others and was blown away when attempting to overrun the British artillery. British heavy dragoons were also now in the game, just out of shot to the right.
My hussars make their fourth charge of the game down the road. They again failed to break the enemy but kept them in square and unable to advance any further.

At this point we had reached the end of the 14th turn. Two British infantry brigades were shattered, or 'demoralised' as per the rules. Both had been faltering but had rallied.  One French brigade was also demoralised after its failed assault on the British centre and the French skirmisher screens were close to breaking.

The French had failed to achieve their objective by turn 14 but the British would now be faced with making a fighting withdrawal off the table, as with only three or four relatively fresh battalions supported by three cavalry regiments and a couple of batteries of artillery we would struggle to hold back the enemy indefinitely. But, hanging on at all costs and indefinitely wasn't in our plan. Given the losses suffered by the British Shaun declared the game a draw.

This was a great game. We played it over three evenings and with some different players but the whole thing was thoroughly enjoyable. Not everyone who took part is a fan of the rules, but I think most of us are firmly on board with using General d'Armée for the time being. Certainly I intend to use them in favour of Black Powder at home.

Oh, and the scenario, for anyone who hadn't guessed it, was Quatre Bras.


  1. You are certainly getting out and about of late! Fine looking game there too.

    1. Only due to the great kindness of my mates. And it ensures I get an occasional airing 🤣

  2. That is one beautiful looking game and I'm not at all surprised that Shaun has his camera out and a huge smile on his face!

    By sheer coincidence I'll be back at the club on Thursday after a hiatus of a few years too!

    See you there :)

    1. Indeed. Shaun is very fortunate to own those figures. See you at club.

  3. What a pretty game to behold - super minis on highly attractive terrain, unbeatable!
    Living the dream, best wishes,

  4. Thanks for playing, Colin. It was a really enjoyable game and I think the rules have far more flavour than most. It will take a little time to get the best out of them but I am pleased with how we are getting on.

    1. I enjoyed it, hanging on by the skin of my teeth for 3 weeks!