First Victories – Vimeiro AAR part 3

First Victories – Vimeiro AAR part 3

Today we have the third, and final, part of Terry Doherty’s AAR for Glory and Empire – First Victories. This game was played using the Vimeiro scenario 4, which is the free-form scenario from First Victories. If you haven’t seen the other parts of his article make sure you read part 1 and part 2 first.

11:00 AM Turn

The French win the initiative 11 to 10. With the high modified rolls each side gets three orders. The French player decides to go first to try and recover from his repulse last turn. The British player places reserve orders on Ferguson, Bowes and Nigtengall. The French player places attack orders on Delaborde and Margaron, and places a reserve order on Kellermann. The hope is to shatter some of the British shaken units with the cavalry and wrest the village of Fontanell from the British.

Rally went pretty well for the French. The two broken units from Thomières Brigade managed to arrest their retreat. The broken unit from Brenier’s Brigade failed to rally and is now in rout. They get one more chance. Junot will head over to harangue them.

Figure 14: Turn 8 Close Combat

Delaborde’s battery chooses to fire canister at 1/36 Foot’s square. They give them a mighty blast on a FS of 12. Rolling a 94 obliterates the square. 1/36 Foot is destroyed. Skirmisher fire from many directions shakes the battery in Fontanell, causing the infantry to withdraw. The rest of French fire causes a disorder here and there. British return artillery fire achieves little.

For the French move, Brenier’s Brigade forms single LOB and Charlot closes up on his right. Thomières two good order units still under his control launch assaults on the shaken artillery and 5/60 Foot company to his front. Margaron’s cavalry also decides it is time to launch some charges against the vulnerable units of Ferguson’s and Nightengall’s Brigades.

Figure 15: Turn 9 French Move

The British player placed a number of reserve orders hoping to be able to withdraw from any French attacks. However, the positioning of the French cavalry means that they can be reaction charged as they attempt to pull back, or for those units still in good order, change formation. Bowes and Nightengall are able to pull back a little and forma a line with Acland. Ferguson’s Brigade is in trouble.

Now for close combat. Charges go first.

Figure 16: Turn 9 Close Combat

The stack of 4/1 and 4/3 Dragoons charges 1/71 Foot. There is no reaction fire, because 1/71 Foot does not have its skirmishers out, because of the previous assaults. They pass their defender morale check with a 91. Their defensive fire is 4 +2 for cavalry and stacking. They roll a 25 resulting in an M–10 which becomes M–30 for Defensive Fire. The cavalry rolls 85 and passes!. The cavalry now sets upon the infantry with their swords (dragoons carry swords and not sabres). The Dragoons CVM is 2, +1 for charge distance, +2 for odds (10–4 SP), and +1 for Theibault for a net +6. 1/71 Foot is in disorder and they have a CVM of 0 which leaves them with a net –1. The French roll 5, modified to 11, and the British roll 6 modified to 5. The Dragoons win the combat and inflict one step loss on 1/71 Foot. There is no pursuit, as 1/71 Foot escapes into the scrub. The Dragoons are now in disorder, regroup 3 hexes and become spent.

4/26 Chasseurs à cheval charges 1/40 Foot. 1/40 Foot also has no reaction fire. They pass their defender morale check with a 83 and conduct defensive fire with a net FS of 3.

Their fire results in a morale check which 4/26 Chasseurs fail on a roll of 13. They become shaken and retreat a hex. The charge is over and they receive their spent markers.

4/9 Dragoons charges Locke’s battery deployed in the hamlet of Fontanell. Since, they are artillery they get reaction fire when the cavalry moves adjacent. They have a FS of 4 and roll a 93 resulting in a 1M–15. The cavalry losses a step, but passes the morale check and continue to charge home. The battery fails its defender morale check which breaks and eliminates the battery. 4/9 Dragoons regroups and is spent.

4/4 Dragoons charges Graham’s battery. Graham’s battery is almost entirely out of ammunition. All they have left in their caissons is some shrapnel which they choose to fire as reaction fire. Unfortunately, for the battery 4/4 Dragoons passes the morale check resulting from the fire. Now that they have no ammo left the battery is eliminated. The Dragoons regroup and are spent.

Thomières’s infantry, that were attacking Locke’s battery and the adjacent 5/60 Foot unit which retreated during the British reserve movement phase, now advance into the empty hexes receiving their disorder markers as they do so.

The French redeemed themselves from last turn’s debacle, but Weiss’s cavalry brigade advances to Fatigue Level 1.

The British manage to rally quite a few troops. The cavalry heads for the rear, Wellesley will attempt to rally them.

British artillery fire manages to shake 2/86 Ligne, but is otherwise ineffective. French return artillery fire causes some disorder at least until Delaborde’s battery fires and rolls a 99 destroying another step of 1/40 Foot. Wellesley was stacked with them and is hit! He must leave the field while Spencer takes command.

The British have minimal movement since most of their troops on the left moved during the French half of the turn. Acland pulls back a hex to continue to cover Nightengall’s flank and close the small gap between himself and Craufurd. The British will pull back their line and anchor it on Craufurd’s position. This will shorten the British line and allow them to create a stronger second line.

11:20 AM Turn

Now that Wellesley is a casualty the British command initiative modifier drops to 0 for the turn, giving Junot a slight edge. Both sides roll a 9 for initiative, but since Junot now has +2 he wins. Both sides will get three orders again. The French decide to go first to try and rout the British left wing. The British place attack orders on Anstruther, Fane and Acland hoping to create some distractions for the French. The French place attack orders on Delaborde, Kellerman and Margaron.

Rally is disappointing for the French. Only a few units rally, but Junot did rally the broken 1/70 Ligne and the cavalry loses a spent marker.

The French artillery has some good shots, triggering a number of morale checks, but good dice on the part of the British save their bacon. 1/71 Foots gives way after enduring prolonged skirmish fire. British return artillery fire has the same result.

Delaborde’s Division and the cavalry are in too much disarray to launch many assaults and charges. Brenier sends his skirmishers forward to push back a small group of 5/60 Foot skirmishers belonging to Nightengall’s Brigade. Thomière’s Brigade and the cavalry reform their lines of battle for the next push. Delaborde also limbers up his battery to get it ready to move forward. Kellermann’s Grenadiers climb the slopes to get into a better position. There is no reserve movement this turn.

The French have one assault against the British skirmishers. It’s a skirmisher on skirmisher assault, but the French have 400 skirmishers versus the few than 100 British skirmishers so they must retreat before combat. They must go back 2–3 hexes. They will go back 3 to seek protection behind the British line. They are already in disorder so they do not disorder further. The French advance into the hex and become disordered.

Last Brenier rolls for fatigue and passes. On to the British turn.

British rally goes very well. Many units recover good order, the routed cavalry arrests its retreat and the broken 1/70 Foot also halts its retreat.

British artillery fire destroys a step of the French reserve battery opposite of Vimeiro and skirmish fire breaks part of 86 Ligne. French return artillery fire bounce through results in a step loss on 97 Foot.

For movement, the British will pull back their left wing to align with Craufurd. Acland and Nightengall will take over the front line for Ferguson. Some force marching is required and the maneuver will take a couple of turns to complete. Nightengall passes his change of front evolution check without difficulty. Anstruther and Fane decide to hold position, because assaulting the skirmishers will leave the British troops out in the open and in disorder. It’s not worth the risk just to push the skirmishers back. Let the Rifles deal with them.

At the end of the turn Spencer takes over for the wounded Wellesley.

11:40 AM Turn

Figure 17: Turn 10 Move

The French win the initiative 11 to 8. The British receive two orders while the French receive three. The French will let the British go first. The British place attack orders on Bowes and Craufurd, not that they are likely to use them. The French place attack orders on Delaborde, Margaron and Charlot.

During rally, the British manage to remove a couple of disorders. Fire combat for both the British and the French return artillery fire result in a couple of disorders on either side. Otherwise, nothing.

The British pull back Bowes, Nigtengall and Acland. Each brigade goes straight back to avoid unnecessary evolutions. This leaves Bowes and Nightengall holding the front on the left flank, while Acland pulls back behind Craufurd. This passage of lines results in some disorder checks for both Acland and Craufurd’s units. They manage the maneuver with style and only the unlucky 2nd disorders. It can be seen that minimizing the need to conduct evolutions while close to the enemy adds some constraints to how the brigades can maneuver.

During the French rally phase, a number of units manage to rally, but the broken battalion of the 86th continues to flee. The cavalry removes the last of its spent markers and is ready to rumble.

French fire is completely without result. The artillery duel between the reserve artillery of the two armies continues, but the British fire begins to slacken as the hold back to conserve ammunition.

The Delaborde, Charlot and Margaron move closer to the British. Delaborde unlimbers his battery again. Kellermann conducts a change of front using the Prompt maneuver to change front in place while in grand column. He passes his evolution check. That’s it for the 11:40 AM turn.

12:00 PM Turn

This turn the British win the initiative 9 to 5. The British receive two orders and the French one. The British are pretty well set so will let the French go first. The French place an attack order on Loison while the British place attack orders on Craufurd and Anstruther who are both facing Loison’s troops. One advantage of winning the initiative is getting to see where the other player places his orders first.

Rally goes OK for the French, but part of 2/86 Ligne routs away and is pulled from the map. Weiss’ cavalry brigade will enter Fatigue Recovery to rest the men and horses. French fire goes OK as well with some British units disordering. British return artillery fire disorders the French reserve battery.

During movement Delaborde, pushes forward just a little and reorganizes. Solignac’s Brigade of Loison’s Division pushes the skirmishers of the Light Brigade back to attempt to engage the main British line around the hill. Some British skirmishers retreat behind the hill and some into the village. Solignac and Fane pass their resulting fatigue checks.

For the British turn they rally some disordered troops. Volleys from Fane’s 50th Foot forces some of Solignac’s skirmishers back. Craufurd’s and Bowes artillery breaks two battalions that were already shaky. That uses up the round shot ammo of the British reserve battery. The French artillery finally wins the artillery duel on its return fire and breaks the British reserve battery on Vimeiro hill. That’s a good lesson. If a battery is shaken it’s best to limber them up and get them out of the line of fire. Loison’s remaining battery, 10/3 Artillie à pied, runs out of round shot and in the next friendly movement phase can dispatch some caissons to the train for a resupply.

Figure 18: Turn 11 Move

Ansthruther shakes out his line and attacks to push back some of the French skirmishers. Ferguson moves his battered brigade into position behind Bowes, while Acland moves back to align with Ferguson in the second line. During close combat the French skirmishers fall back. Anstruther, Fane and Solignac all need to take fatigue checks, which they all pass.


I must unfortunately conclude the AAR at this point because the playtest kit is needed to help make the Bootcamp training videos. However, this AAR should give players some feel for how the Brigade Game command rules work. Some observations can be made.

Figure 19: Turn 12 Move

Deploying from grand column into line of battle is not without risk and doing so too close to the enemy is not conducted without some trepidation. Likewise, changing front is also not without risk and getting brigades properly aligned from the beginning of their advance to contact is important. The risk of a change of front also helps to illustrate why enemy maneuvers upon a flank can be disconcerting and can leave the fronting brigade in disarray as it attempts to reface. Changing front while under fire can be one of the most risky maneuvers for a brigade or division to pull off. Finally, regarding maneuvering, it did not take place in this game, but it should be somewhat apparent that debouching from a defile with the enemy placed immediately at the outlet is a serious undertaking.

Regarding, close combat it can be seen that the Brigade command rules introduce a rhythm to the battles where lines of battle must pause to reform following an attack that was not completely successful. They advance to assault, or charge, which inevitably leaves the brigade in disarray, as some units advance, some fall back, and some are locked in mortal combat. The brigade leader can try and push on with the units he is stacked with, or he may fall back to reform his brigade for another try, or to wait for reinforcements.

In wargaming it is a new approach to handling command and control, which closely mirrors how it was actually performed on the battlefield in the horse and musket era. I believe it will leave players with a new sense of understanding of the limitations that real commanders faced.

Terry Doherty
Author: Terry Doherty