Sunday 3 December 2023

I am boycotting that appalling fil-um; and I hope that you will too

The 2nd December is/was the double anniversary of Austerlitz and Napoleon's coronation.

The Eve of Austerlitz by Lejeune (Wikimedia Commons)

This year it could have been marked by watching an eponymous film. It was not and will not be. I am boycotting that appalling film and am hoping that others will take a similar stance to add to it being a box-office flop.

I had largely made up my mind having been bemused, startled and angered by what was in the trailers. This was reinforced by watching and reading reviews written by people who actually know a bit about the man’s life and the era who went 'over the top' and saw it (sadly, there is even a bit of that in this film, I hear). My conviction has been cemented by speaking with friends who ‘went on undeterred’ and wanted to walk out a few minutes in. The highlight for them was dinner and drinks afterwards with mates and bagging the fil-um.

It is like a set of rules that you know from descriptions and reviews contain mechanics that do not appeal, or worse. I won't waste money purchasing such rules purely to make my own, similar, assessment.

It is far worse with this film and get’s worse the more that I hear about it. 

I have been an amateur historian of the era since I was 12. In another six years, all going well, I will have been 'studying' the period for longer than Napoleon lived. Yet, I find new things each day that I did not previously know. Some of them quite fundamental; like being informed a few years ago that all those references to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw are not correct. It was the Duchy of Warsaw. [Speaking of which, how can you make a fit-um about N from the perspective of relations with women and not include Marie Walewska?]

I do not need to be insulted with the 'uncloaking' of a grand battery at Austerlitz. I do not need to witness the ridiculous sight of Napoleon leading a cavalry charge—I had assumed that this was some kind of dream sequence, but have been informed that it 'occurred' at Waterloo. I do not need to see the French scaling ladders at Toulon nor French cannon firing at the Pyramids. I don't want to witness the Prussians arriving on the French left at Waterloo. I will derive no edification nor entertainment from a pantomime representation of Napoleon and some puerile script.

In the ancient era one can perhaps get away with a simple, one-dimensional representation, since the extant sources are so limited. Yet it is known that there was far more to even a 'maligned' figure like Commodus. One can even depict cavalry charging through a wood especially since, despite that faux pas, that battle scene is a ripper. Not so with a person and era about which so much has been written during and since. Scott could have utilised my du Garde Peach Ladybird book 'The Story of Napoleon', the first that I read on the subject, and made a 3000% better film.

I was speaking with a good friend who had put himself through the agony of watching it. He would have left after ten minutes, but had gone to Perth (~500 km trip) to watch it with mates (not wargamers nor devotees of the period, but as good way to catch-up). He was another for whom the highlight was diner and drinks afterwards. He suggested that I would be traumatised’ if I watched it!! :)

I mentioned to him that I had heard that the uniforms are done well. He said ‘Yeah, they look great. The film is good, apart from the story and script.” I said (quipped?), “Oh, it’s like a porn film then?” He replied, “Yeah, but with Napoleon it is the audience who get f_____!"

I had come to the conclusion that it would be even worse to me than watching *that* Alexander film from 2004. Then I saw that exact comment from someone who had put themselves through seeing Scott's Napoleon.

I may buy a DVD at a discount sale and then have a ritual burning.

What a disappointment and an opportunity missed.

Thank goodness for my books, past films and wargames (however limited a representation they may be).


I have information that sheds light on this topic. The last 15 seconds of the film were cut:

Saturday 24 June 2023

Impulse buying

Three posts in four days; I am almost up with Stew!

Although, he is posting about doing stuff, while I am just putting up a lot of text and a few piccies. Unlike the last two, this will be a 'quickie'. Like a... (see Stew's post for a relevant analogy).

I have done a bit of impulse buying.

Now I am not posting this as one of those social media 'look what I just bought/ate/drank kinda posts—I understand these occur all too often, but I wouldn't know as I don't frequent them 'platforms'—it's 'cause this book might be of interest to other's who are 'students' of the Napoleonic period (taking the widest span for that epoch).

I received an email today from Naval & Military Press promoting this little beauty. A quick look at the information and previews on their website and I was in! Around $60 (including postage by surface mail) for a hardback version that comprises 164 pages, 71 full colour uniform plates and an index and commentary in English, seemed like a good buy to me.

There are few volumes about the uniforms of the Russian army of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic period. Certainly in English. Even fewer about the marvellous uniforms of the Potemkin reforms (1786–1796) and fewer still from the reign of Paul I (1796–1801).

The previews seem to show mainly Potemkin uniforms. There are no dates on the list of plates that is provided by Naval & Military Press in their information about the book, but I am hoping that quite a few will be of those under Paul I.

Not from this book, but detail of Knotel's representation of the Russian Potemkin uniform showing jägers, musketeers and a drummer (Wikimedia Commons).

Information about the uniforms of the latter period, which the Russian army wore in Suvorov's campaign in Italy and Switzerland, is particularly sparse and confused. Several sources indicate that they were a 'back to the future', Seven Year's War-style. While inspired by that, they were a version from the latter stages of that period, which the Prussians did not adopt, and using pretty crappy material, from what I have read.

There's a description of them in Duffy's marvellous Eagles Over the Alps, along with a few plates (but in black and white), and it does not provide sufficient detail. Viskovatov's Historical Description of the Clothing and Uniforms of the Russian Army for the period 1796–1801 (I have Mark Conrad's translation from his website and as an ebook) is limited to organisation and the plates show a more Frederickian-type uniform. The best information about the uniforms of Suvorov's army in the alpine campaign is on the website Швейцарский поход (the "Swiss campaign"), which has an in-built English language translation.

Regardless of the range of the types of uniform shown in the plates in the book, I am sure that I am gonna enjoy it and find it really useful. I'll have to wait until it arrives, in a month or three.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Muck and mystery in the Imaginations campaign

The Death of Caesar, Janssens
(Wikimedia Commons)
Caesar has been murdered! Or so it seems.

Having introduced my part in the Imaginations Campaign in the last post, it is time to bring you up to date with recent developments.

Oh, and haven't there been some developments...

Fortunately for us, ever the note-taker, 'our man' Jacob of Bayerische has recorded events and details, as they are known, and his reactions to them.

So, once again we'll turn to him for the story.


Having been the ruler of our nation for a year I am deemed to have served my apprenticeship and, in the Bayerische tradition, can assume the title of König.

This should be a time for celebration, reflection and looking ahead, but such feelings have been tempered by recent, dastardly events.

Back in early March, there was a call for nominations for Kaiser des Reiches. I am a strong believer in the Empire as a model institution, an historic, voluntary grouping of like-minded nations, so I put in my oar as a candidate for the election of our next Kaiser.

The first vote, held on 25th March 1803, was a close call. There was a three-way tie between Frederick Franz, The Elector of Kaiserliche, Emil, Prince Elector of Hesse and Jacob I Kurfürst of Bayerische.

This lead to a second ballot of the Electors, held on 1st April. The votes came out in favour of Franz-Ferdinand. His coronation was set for 1st May in the Kaiserliche capitol.

While I was disappointed at being overlooked, I had been privileged to be part of a process, conducted openly, democratically and without conflict that serves as a model to other, less enlightened nations.

I accepted the vote of the Electors and was readying myself to travel to the Kaiserliche capitol to be part of the joy and celebration of Franz Ferdinand’s coronation. Then I received shocking news. On 27th April, an attempt had been made on the life of the Kaiser-elect!

Since then, I have been clamouring for news, confirmation and insight into these, it would appear, tragic events. Oh tragedy and calamity; I have been told indirectly, by Kardeef Master of Dahara and more recently Fuddland's Foreign Minister, that Ferdinand has been assassinated!

Can this be true? I have sent ‘my best men’ to determine the veracity of this news and, if true, who enacted this dastardly act. They are yet to report back to me.

Not only our dear friend Franz Ferdinand, but the very institution of the Empire has been attacked. Its important, crucial position as a beacon of enlightenment for the world and as a strong rock for the one true Faith has been challenged.

This heinous crime cannot go unpunished! Once the perpetrator(s) has been determined I will be seeking redress. I would hope that this can be achieved by peaceful means and legal processes, but I, and my subjects, are prepare to fight for what is right.

This terrible news has unsettled me greatly. I have lost a friend and brother ruler in the Empire. There is a void and likely an Empire without its elected leader.

König Jacob I von Bayerische, Kurfüst des Reiches
Schloß Maximilian, Zwettei, 23rd June 1803



A comment from Richard below brought to mind the marvellous scene in I Clavdivs— but then they were all marvellous, weren't they?—between King Herod and Emperor Claudius:

True perhaps.

Or is it better to have trust and to be trustworthy? It certainly works better in Diplomacy the game, from my experience. We'll have to see how it plays out here and how young Jacob deals with it.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Joining the Imaginations campaign

Schloß Maximilian
In June last year I was chuffed when I was asked by Joe Fisher (no relation) whether I'd be interested in joining the Napoleonic-era-inspired imaginations campaign that he had recently commenced. This is the fourth such campaign that he has run and he has noted that "...I do think it my last". Never say never Joe!

This fact/thought just added to my feeling of 'specialness' to be asked, as an outsider and relative unknown, to join in the campaign of a long-standing group of friends/wargamers. Having double-checked with Joe, to ensure that I could fulfill the commitments, I was 'in'!

I was duly given control of the small Kingdom of Bayerische, a member state of the Empire.

Gridded map of Bayerische showing major towns, from Imaginations Campaign page

The campaign began in 1800 (2020) and takes place in 'real time', so that a day in our time is a day in the campaign. Hence, today is the 21st June 1803. I will am playing as a map player, so that any combats that my forces get involved in will be resolved on the table top by Joe and others.

Even with this limited role it has taken a while for me to get a sense of who is who, what is what and what the @#%$ is going on!

As I said in recent correspondence with Joe, I honestly, really do not know what is going on, but I see that as part of the fun. This is due partly to confusion on my part and, I think and hope, a bit of deliberate obfuscation by him. A contributing factor was also that I had not put sufficient effort into my ‘homework’ for the campaign—something that I corrected to some extent over the past weekend.

Joes is doing a marvellous job. He puts in loads of time and effort to keep it going, to make it an enjoyable and challenging campaign and, especially, one that is free-flowing, giving the players as much license as possible while keeping us to task.

Map of Bayerische's northern and eastern neighbours, also from Imaginations Campaign page

Map showing Bayerische's southern neighbour, likewise from Imaginations Campaign page

I'll turn over to Kurfürst Jacob I von Bayerische to provide some recent historical background.

Like Karl XII of Sweden, whose life I have studied in depth, the death last year of König Rolf II, my beloved Father, plunged me, ahead of expectation, into the role for which I had been prepared over the 28 years of my life so far. Fortunately my dear Father's illness was short and He died 'quietly and peacefully', as the history will record it—and was the veritable truth for He and his family around Him. He has been a crucial mentor to me and has afforded me the widest and deepest education that our small kingdom could provide.

My Father lead our country through a period of stability and progress, encouraging the new enlightenment enquiry and ideas, while holding firm to our one, true Catholic Faith. It was His belief and modus operandi that, as a small kingdom, Bayerische should keep to itself, maintain peaceful relations with neighbours, but not engage in any 'grand escapades', as he termed them. "Jacob, I am not an isolationist, but a realist," He told me on several occasions. This was so true.

He strongly held to Bayerische's position as a member of the Empire, but was not inclined to join in 'Imperial military ventures' as He put them. Therefore, in the spring of 1802, He went against the Electoral Council, refused to send troops to assist Konnigliche & Kaiserliche in the campaign against Dahara and even closed our borders to all foreign troop movement. This action added a distinct coolness to relations with Brunswick, Hanover and Hesse. König Rolf stressed to me that it was essential to ensure the primacy of Bayerische's national interest in all matters of diplomacy.

Yet He was far from being isolationist.

He instituted a ship building programme to develop our small fleet, establishing the colony of Gewürzinseln, a group of islands south of the equator renowned for the production of spices. This brought expanded trade and wealth to our nation and has lead to our new national dish, a spicy mutton stew, which goes down a treat with any of the beers for which we are famous. A dark, malty ale is a favourite of mine.

My Father's interest in modern enquiry and working to improve the wealth of our country and the knowledge of its citizens was never in such evidence as when, in April 1802, He founded our first university. I will ensure its completion and the development of a other centres of learning for the benefit of our brightest minds and of our nation. One of my first acts was to have Our Government look into other public works—expanded roads and a possible system to remove sewerage from our cities—that will continue the work begun by my Father. It seems that we have some knowledge to re-learn from the ancients.

After a period of national mourning, I have begun a campaign of outreach to our neighbours and fellow rulers of the nation states that comprise the Empire. This began, on 15th October 1802, with a festival to celebrate my coronation. This comprised a week-long series of balls, fêtes and plays to entertain the visiting rulers, as well as time for meetings of state with our esteemed guests. We were pleased to welcome Princes of Hesse and Nassau, the ambassador from the Empire's council, the Queen of Konigliche and the King of Orbajosa. It was a marvellous week of joyous celebration, show-casing Bayerische and honouring the enduring friendship of our realms and peoples.

I look forward to serving our country, to continuing on a path of stability and progress and to continued friendly relations with our neighbours and fellow members of the Empire.

Kurfürst Jacob I von Bayerische
Schloß Maximilian, Zwettei, 25th April 1803 

Saturday 6 May 2023

Le Mort de Napoleon 202: a serendipitous windfall

Serendipity, my great friend, combined to provide a real treat for me yesterday, on the occasion of the 202nd anniversary of the death of Napoleon.

It began a few days ago with one of the many marketing emails that I receive. I'm foolish enough to be on several such mailing lists but generally show discipline and self-control. On this occasion two offerings, Accusé Napoléon, Levez-Vous!, an historic judgement of Napoleon written by a famous (apparently), contemporary French judge, and Souvenirs De La Campagne De Russie En 1812, the memoir of Adrien De Mailly of the 2nd carabiniers, were both well priced and, once I had checked out a precis of each on, attractive enough to purchase. Given what was to follow, it is interesting to note that the first book was originally published in 2021 to mark the occasion of the bicentennial of Napoleon's death.

Anyway, this lead to a bit of looking around at other titles, and one particularly caught my eye. It is entitled From Valmy to Waterloo France at War, 1792-1815 by Marie-Cécile Thoral and has been published as a translation by Springer Link. I have added it to my wish list. While looking for more information about this book I 'stumbled' on William Keyser's eponymous rules.

Published in 1995, I had a vague recollection that I had seen them, many years ago. Timing is everything in life and, while they may not have grabbed my attention back then, I am now at a stage where my 'focus' and interests mean that I am open to wide and varied sets of rules and particularly interested in anything that bucks the modern trend for simple, fast-play mechanics.

Comments like,

"Rules are somewhat complex, but once mastered give an accurate picture of conflict in the time period."


"I found a lot of Valmy frustrating at first, but once we mastered the rules, my group found that a lot of "Oh, yeah! That's how it works!" were being declared. Things started to make sense, and we also found that using the historical tactics made things come together." ...

had me looking to get a copy.

This was not as easy as I expected. They are now out of print with the publisher and the only second hand copies that I could find were commanding the sort of prices that a 'collector' might pay. I did not want them that much!

In looking for info. about them I had found that William Keyser is working on a second edition, to include a pdf version. My experience with second editions of rules mean that I'd prefer the original, but, I decided that would have to do (and would be more within the budget of what I'm prepared to pay). He had hoped to have the second edition available by late 2021. Ah well, I may have to wait a while. No matter.

Then I had a recollection.

Looking at images of the cover, I was sure that I had seen them in Tactics, the wonderful wargaming shop in Perth. Did I recall correctly and, if so, would they still be there? Tactics is a wonderland. You can lose yourself browsing in there for hours, finding something new or some old gem that is hidden amongst the mass of material that they keep in a small shop. They stock the latest and greatest, stuff that interests the 'kids' but also have more conventional wargaming supplies and materials, although the things that appeal to me seem to be largely confined to one little corner! One of the many wonderful things about the shop is that they don't clear out old stock, it just seems to be tucked away in a nook somewhere as new, shiny offerings are introduced and take prime of place. Anyway, I sent an email to Jason asking if they had a copy of From Valmy to Waterloo, mentioning that I recalled seeing it in the shop many years ago.

I received a most encouraging response.

"We do seem to have it. I say seem because we have a set mostly shrink wrapped, and a couple of bits and pieces separately that seem to partly duplicate the set. Anyway, I have put them aside for you. I can do the whole lot for $20."

Marvellous, I thought. Not only had I not imagined the memory, they were still there and I could get them for a most reasonable price. I had to go to Perth for work on Friday, so could collect them in the arvo'. Friday was 5th May, the anniversary of the death of Napoleon, 202 years ago.

When I got to the shop, the news seemed even better than I had hoped. Not only did it seem that there was a full set, in torn shrink-wrapping with minor 'shop soiling' (slightly faded cover), but what Jason had referred to as 'bits and pieces' seemed to include a second copy of the rules. I had a chance on the train from the city back to Midland where my car was parked for the drive home to the country to look over the rules and to read the first chapter. I was really pleased by what I read. No 'buyers regret'!

There is a lot included in the complete package. Nice production qualities with a focus on content and not the colour pictures and other glitz that seems a requirement of rules of today, and all too often seems to be purely 'window dressing'.

My delight increased once I got home and could look in more detail and more carefully at what I had. There was, indeed, a complete copy of the entire 'package' in that torn shrink wrap: the booklet of rules, a 'compendium' booklet which outlines the basics of the rules (scales, basing, the components in the game package, unit ratings, movement rates, formations) as well as army lists and four scenarios, a spiral-bound booklet of reference sheets, four sheets of card with examples of unit cards (for the scenarios, a blank template being provided at the back of the compendium), templates for artillery fire, templates for order sheets and two sheets of counters of markers for the game. Added to this, the 'bits and pieces' as Jason had referred to them were actually a second copy of the booklet of rules, compendium, reference sheets, one of the templates for artillery fire and two of the sheets of example unit cards. I copied the 'missing' parts from the original et voilà; a second, complete set. I'll keep the original as pristine as possible and work with the set of originals and copied components.

I have now read some more of the rules and am liking what I read. Detail, clarity and focus on historical aspects. I am also enjoying the approach of having the rules spread across three books/booklets. As William Keyser states in his introduction, the aim is that the player uses the reference sheets ('cheat sheets' as he refers to them) during game play, only referring to the rules to clarify or obtain detail about a particular rule.

There is a lot that is Empire-esque, corps orders that prescribe and proscribe divisional orders, and detail of the requirements of units and formations according to orders, but a lot is different too. A turn is set at 15 minutes, almost harking back to the rules of the 70s. Grand tactical aspects (chiefly meaning actions of senior command) are separated from the tactical ones. "On the tactical level the gamer is placed in the role of the Brigade Commander and must accomplish the tasks that are given to him by his superiors" (p. ii).

I like the impression that I am getting of the mechanics, based on what I have read and from flicking to and fro through the rules. Combining army/corps with more detailed tactical aspects, a focus on higher level formations as well as manoeuvring of individual battalions, regiments and batteries, the importance of combined arms, the need for attack and defence in depth, clear rules for passage of lines to relieve front-line units, national characteristics and changes to same over the course of the wars, morale at the centre of charge, mêlée and firefight procedures, separation of morale and training (quality), cavalry mass and wave attacks, to list a few. The way the reference sheets, rule book and compendium combine to provide what is needed to set up a game (compendium), go through turns (reference sheets) and refer to details (rules) also appeals to me.

The reference sheets show the detail in each test, but they are laid out clearly, showing how to move from one to the next and with references to appropriate page numbers in the rules for explanations.

The rules are dense but each section (which is clearly labelled with a black rectangle at the edge of the page) begins with a description of the rule in question, followed by details for each aspect or modifier involved. The information about the point/aspect/modifier is succinct and clear. Paragraphing and the use of bold text helps to identify particular points for each area of the rules.

A couple of other bonuses add to the initial positives from my perspective. All distances and ranges in the rules are given in metres. Firstly I am pleased and impressed that a set of rules from the US was progressive enough to use metric, but secondly because it makes scaling a simple exercise. Figure basing is described for 5 mm, 10 mm and 15 mm figures only (adding to my perception that William Keyser was ahead of his time), but any scale of figures and basing can be used according to a preferred figure and ground scale. The rules will be excellent for solo play because of the way the orders prescribe and proscribe the types of actions that formations and units can undertake. The detail and I expect time involved in each turn will lend itself to playing out a game over a number of sessions, which is my preferred modus operandi. A scenario for Quatre Bras is one of the four in the compendium. No great surprise that it was chosen, but good for me as it is the battle that I am using in my on-going evaluation of sets of rules.

There is a lot of material to come to grips with but I am enjoying the exploration.

Happy as a pig in the proverbial.

Sunday 23 April 2023

Salamanca in Albany: Empire and Fury

No fury but a game played in the true wargaming spirit of friendly competition with plenty of banter, beer, camaraderie and fun.

As well as a gathering of wargaming friends, some of many years' duration, others like me relative newcomers to the Serpentine group, the game was a chance to test the latest version of the group's in-house rules Empire and Fury. As the name suggests, these are a derivative of Empire, with elements of Fire and Fury mixed in. Mitch had spent many, many hours writing, editing and formatting to translate what was simply tables and ideas into a version one document of the rules.

Salamanca was the stage. Mitch's wargaming den the location. Steve R, Steve W and I took the French. John, Simon and Paul the Anglo-Spanish-Portuguese. Mitch umpired.

Hosted in Mitch's marvellous wargames room, the game featured his figures and some of John's atop the marvellous terrain that they had constructed with foam terrain tiles and a cloth overlay. I made a tiny contribution in the form of some Portuguese infantry and caçadores, here pictured occupying Los Arapiles (represented by 3D-printed buildings painted by John).
These Portuguese are all derived from Airfix British infantry. There's added nostalgia as the infantry were painted in the early nineties by my late father, when in his early seventies. The caçadores are from another great benefactor, whom I only know as Mr Hine.

I opted to take the left, with Thomières lead division supported by 'not now' Curto's light cavalry as well as the following divisions of Maucune and Brennier. Steve R had the centre with Bonnet's and Clausel's large division as well as Boyer's dragoons. Steve W took the right and tail of the army with Foy, Ferey and Sarrut's divisions, plus the reserve (corps) artillery. We were opposed in order by John (Pakenham's 3rd Division, the cavalry, Bradford's indept. Portuguese and España's Spanish), Simon (Cole's 4th Division, Clinton's 6th Division, Hope's 7th Division,  and Pack's indept. Portugues) and Paul with the powerful 1st and Light Divisions.

It was interesting as, having made plans and divided up the forces, we each largely focussed on our own troops/sections of the battlefield. This was especially true for me as I spent most of my time 'fighting for my life' and trying to keep my troops extant (which was my role in our French plan) in the face of John's aggressive and well-directed attacks. As a consequence, this report is very much about my own game, with glimpses of other sections of the battlefield.

As always, we'll let the pictures tell most of the story.

Across the battlefield at the start of the game, beginning with the French left, Thomières division in the lead, Curto's light cavalry at the right, British 3rd Division at left with the cavalry beyond them.
Looking from behind and to the left of the Anglo-Spanish-Portuguese right we see España's Spanish, Bradford's independent Portuguese and most of Stapleton-Cotton's cavalry (the remainder being on the right flank).

In the centre, Cole's Portuguese occupying Los Arapiles, the remainder of the division and Hope's 7th behind.
On the French right, we are overlooking Sarrut's division, Foy's to the left of them and Ferey's on the edge of the photo opposing the Light Division with 1st Division behind.

On the French left, Wallace's brigade attacked Bonte's lead troops...
to devastating effect.
J. Campbell's brigade then charged the French division's guns, but were stopped by their fire and that of the supporting infantry.
At the other end of the table, the Anglo-Allied commanders opted for defence, so the French took the initiative and advanced in strength (as was our plan).
Back on the French right, I sent a brigade of Curto's hussars/chasseurs against Wallace's brigade. The latter failed to form square, but sent the French troopers back with minor losses.
This gave an opportunity for the remainder of Bonte's brigade, lead by Thomières himself.

A minor victory, but a bit of success nonetheless, dampened by a minor wound to Thomières, which took him out of the game for a turn (indicated by the large, red 'sombrero'!).
John unleashed the right-wing detachment of the cavalry, Bock's well-rated KGL dragoon division.
The French counter-charged, but were easily beaten, though not broken.
Bock's men followed-up on the other, blown French cavalry brigade...
who were more severely beaten.
'Not now' Curto. Or ever more, having fallen with a fatal wound.
Then it was the turn of D'Urban's Portuguese. The French formed square beside the convalescing Thomières (who had no impact on proceedings).
The Portuguese came on...
but failed to break the square, so fell back with minor losses.
Wallace's brigade exacted some revenge, popping off sufficient additional troops from the square to remove a stand. Importantly, the regiment remained 'fresh' (see label).
J. Campbell's brigade attacked the French battery once again...
this time closing, despite the defender's fire...
only to be driven off by the gunners stoic defence; aka particularly good die rolling on my part!
Pakenham aligned his entire brigade. Opportunity fire from the French guns dropped a few.
Further to the (French) right, (Avro) Anson's light dragoons charge Maucune's lead brigade, who successfully formed squares (represented by a square at this scale).
Effective defensive fire put an end to the charge.
(Above and below) No breakthrough yet, but the French were well and truly on the back-foot, with a ring of Anglo-Portuguese forming to 'pounce'.
In a land far away, also known as the other end of the table, Marmont prepared to ramp up the attack on the Anglo-Portuguese left.

Thus ended the first two turns.

Enough of the piecemeal attacks; Pakenham lead forth his entire division!
To contact.
And success!

A view from the Anglo-Portuguese perspective.

Next target the guns of Maucune's division.
Le Marchant's troopers 'laughed' at the defensive fire...
driving off or killing the crew before rallying back towards their lines.
Brennier lead his lead division in a counter-attack against Pakenham's men...
but they were blunted by the latter's defensive fire.

Maucune's left-hand brigade was isolated on the ridge, with Pakenham's men to their left. Faced with the option to retire or attack, he lead them against España's infantry, driving them off in a deadly firefight.
The loss broke the morale of the Spanish (failing subsequent manoeuvre element morale test) and they did not recover so were lost for the day.
However, Maucune's men were now isolated (rear of photo).
(Above and below) Over towards the French right, Bonnet lead a successful attack against the Anglo-Portuguese defending 'the angle'.

The same action from the Anglo-Portuguese lines.

This brought us to the end of turn three.

Back at the French left, the British opened with some ineffective fire against Maucune's first brigade.

(Avro) Anson's brigade charged, the French failed to form square...

but survived the attack, driving back the British cavalry and retiring themselves...

directly into the path of Pakenham's left!

The victorious British infantry then followed-up against Maucune's next brigade.
Attack being the best defence, Brennier lead his men against Pakenham's Portuguese (Power's brigade).
'Lady luck' swapped and changed sides over the course of the game, so the 'imponderable' was there but no-one (except Simon) could claim that they 'was robbed'. Thus far I'd had some excellent rolls, chiefly for firing, but generally poor ones for combat (with the notable exception of the gunner's defense against J. Campbell's brigade). With a good chance of victory in this one, I pulled out a double one, against John's double eight. Bummer!

The Anglo-Portuguese were beginning to roll up the French left.

Brennier suffered a minor wound (removing him for a turn, as with Thomières before him).

Meanwhile, the action had hotted on the French right.
It looked to be a crisis at 'the angle' for the Anglo-Portuguese forces,
Boyer's troopers providing the 'arme blanche'.
The attack was blunted by the stoic defence by Rezende's Portuguese brigade.
All held their breath as Sarrut's division attacked the left of the Anglo-Allied line, only to falter and then be driven off by the firepower of the Light Division.

Thus ended turn four.

John's phobia of guns was in clear evidence; using the cavalry to expunge French artillery.

Next on the block were Brennier's artillery, newly moved towards the front, driven off by von Alten's brigade.

J. Campbell's brigade attacked again, ignoring the French defensive fire.
A mêlée ensued.
The defender's forcing the British to retire.
Hope's lead brigades charged Maucune's men who had formed square in response to von Alten's earlier charge of Brennier's guns.
They survived the defensive fire, but failed in the mêlée. Simon's appalling die rolling coming down in my favour!
Brennier lead his division against Power's Portuguese (Pakenham). Both falling back after an indecisive firefight.
The situation on the left of the French army. Under huge pressure, but still there and being aided in defence by the wood.
At 'the angle' the French formed a new, threatening line,...

but the casualties were mounting and beginning to tell, especially on the French right.

End of turn five.
After a couple of stalled attempts (poor manoeuvre rolls by John), Bock's KGL dragoons charged again, supported by D'Urban's Portuguese. The French light cavalry counter-charged.
The result was never really in doubt. A victory, but not a decisive as the red-coated Germans would have liked. The larger (left-hand) brigade would rally, while the other was done for the day.
Bradford's independent Portuguese brigade charged Brennier's right...
but failed to dislodge the French in the woods, so retired back to their lines.
After a long bombardment of the Portuguese defenders, Clausel's men attacked and captured part of Los Arapiles. 

It was Saturday evening and the players, like their troops, were running out of puff, so we called it there. Continuing on Sunday was not possible as we visitors needed to make the 450–500 km return journey so as to be ready for work on Monday.
The French left was battered, but not broken. Pakenham's 3rd Division and the cavalry had fought hard, but losses were beginning to tell and the French now had a reasonable defensive line, assisted greatly by the light woods.
Over on the French right, the attack had reached a 'high water mark', but it too was running out of puff.


Mitch declared a French minor victory. They had resisted the attack and even made advances against the Anglo-Allied left, especially at 'the angle'.

Beyond that it was time for some actions by the C-in-Cs, a role which until now we players had largely ignored. Wellington clearly had more options. He could rely on the right of his line to hold, transfer 1st Division to the centre to join Clinton, Hope and Cole, help finish the job on the French left/centre-left and then roll up the French army.

Of course, such 'thought actions' are never as clean and decisive as we may imagine, but we'd expected at least a minor Anglo-Allied victory in another four to six turns. Maybe.

For now, we French happily took the win!

It had been another really enjoyable game with the Serpentine Group. Everyone had experienced some highs. We'd each had some set-backs too, but all got the chance to manoeuvre troops, roll some dice, engage in some friendly sledging and enjoy the company of like-minded wargamers.

The rules in their first, written edition, had passed. Naturally a few edits and additions to assist clarity for the players were needed, but the system works and provides an enjoyable and Napoleonic feeling game. My preference would be for less of the Fire and Fury elements and to represent units below brigades, but that is for my own rules, at my place. I'll happily play them again and hopefully we'll have another session in Albany in the not-too-distant (with these or General d'Armée if it's more of John's game).

Thank you to John, Simon, Paul, Steve and Steve for making the game an enjoyable experience and especially to Mitch for putting together a great looking game, hosting us and umpiring. A top effort!