AAR: Battle of La manche Stream

Old enemies once again engaged in battle. France and Britain were once again at war, and the first land-based clash took place over a small stream that locals call (nomen omen) La Manche.
So I invite you to read the battle report from the battle on its shores 🙂

Wojtek was my opponent this time. Our armies counted $ 1,500 (game points, to see more visit our army builder: http://www.gmboardgames.com/ab/index.php), and we played the battle at Bolter.pl, where a cyclical event is held on Sunday, called: “Dice Warming Wars” where you can come and play any game.

Of the two available French armies, I chose the Army of the Orient. Its weaknesses are the lack of a cavalry corps (only independent divisions), which I really like to play, and the lack of La Hitte rifled cannons, so it is necessary to rely on the smaller range “Napoleon” guns, mountain artillery or naval cannons.

The challenge for the French is also that – as cavalry tactics – they cannot choose “army cover”, which means that usually the enemy will be the first to capture at least two strategic points. You can read how I tried to deal with this challenge in the photo descriptions below.

My Army of the Orient consisted of 1 large infantry corps (as many as 9 infantry regiments, including Zouaves and the French Foreign Legion), an independent light cavalry division (2x hussars), an independent heavy cavalry division (2x cuirassiers) and army’s reserve artillery with naval guns (3 batteries ). The commander-in-chief of my army was Saint Arnaud, the infantry corps was commanded by Canrobert, and the army’s reserve artillery was commanded by Forgeot.

The British army was assembled in a completely different way. It had two more or less equal corps. The first – a bit stronger, was commanded by J.H. Grant, the second by Pennefather, an independent cavalry division by Paget, and the army’s reserve artillery by Dacres. The commander-in-chief was the Duke of Cambridge. Wojtek played the Main Army, which simulated the British army at the turn of the 1850s and 1860s, so he had some technological advantage (rifled muskets, breachloading rifled artillery – Armstrong guns). However, this is offset by the army’s higher point cost.

We started to place the terrain. I won the initiative, so we were setting up terrain for the Army of the Orient, which meant a lot of hills (great for artillery), some forests and fields. Wojtek put up a stream (La Manche stream), providing cover to the central strategic point, I set up a diagonal road connecting all 3 strategic points and making it easier to cross the stream. Then each of us added one more road leading to the central strategic point. We started to place the remaining terrain. My main goal was to place a hill that would allow for a good positioning of my army reserve artillery, which has as much as 24 inch range, and at the same time conceal the approach to the mid strategic point, preferably by placing the forest. It worked (visible in the first photo, a bit below).

When I was about to choose my army’s tactics, I decided first of all to give up defending my base of operations. This, coupled with the army roster, made offensive tactics the obvious choice (one of the goals of defensive tactics is to defend the base of operations. I wanted to avoid that). I was hoping to get my opponent’s operational base, deal him 25% losses and get 2 strategic points, which would be enough to win.

The main French corps was supposed to attack one of the opponent’s corps, I was hoping that he would have at least two corps, it would be a dream if they were separated (I could win by “defeat in detail). Regarding cavalry tactics, I chose “crushing charge”, which gives you extra victory points for each enemy unit destroyed by my heavy cavalry.

As predicted, Wojtek chose the “army cover” cavalry tactic and placed the patrol marker at a strategic point in the middle at the very beginning of the battle.

Start of the battle, before the patrol markers are placed. View from the French side. Notice the two hills on the “south” side of the stream (“north” is the top of the photo). They were to be an ideal position for the army’s reserve artillery. At the same time, the forest to the north, slightly to the left, was to provide a safe approach to the central strategic point and the hill that stood next to it, which must have been the place where the British army reserve artillery would probably be located. When setting up the terrain, you have to think about the battle plan – like real generals;) So the main corps was to move on the left flank, cross the stream behind the forest and, going through the forest, hit the central strategic point. The army’s reserve artillery was to be deployed on the hill to the south and flanking enemy units that would fight my corps. One cavalry division was to cover the reserve artillery, the other (cuirassiers) – to support the corps and at the right moment to capture the enemy’s operational base.
1st turn, after revealing the first units. I positioned the red dice to mark the extent to which the British Corps that positioned itself in the center would discover my patrol markers. My two markers on the left side of the photo hide the main corps and the cuirassier division. I wanted to cross the stream with them and only then reveal them and deploy on a battlefield. Importantly – I managed to discover the British corps standing in the center. It had only 5 brigades (plus artillery) and he was alone! Immediately in the first turn, I deployed the army’s reserve artillery on the hill. Originally it was supposed to stand on this hill on the right, but I figured British cavalry would be there (because it wasn’t under the marker in the center). The marker behind the artillery hid the hussars.
The naval artillery on the hill began successfully shelling the British corps artillery. She took advantage of the fact that she was standing on a hill, and the British artillery did not (the hill allows you to re-roll 2 dice in every firing artillery base).
Effective shelling routed British artillery, but unfortunately did not destroy it. They were able to regain cohesion, and took position at the hill, behind the corps.
General Grant’s British corps faced my army’s reserve artillery. The question remained, where is the British Second Corps …
The second marker, issued according to the cavalry tactic, hid the British cavalry: yeomanry and lancers (here we see a prox – colonial cavalry, but their lancer figures are already available for pre-sale).
When the British cavalry revealed itself, immediately I also deployed my hussars alongside the naval artillery. As the British cavalry crossed the stream and occupied the hill next to my naval artillery, they began to pose a direct threat to it. I decided to strike immediately – very French 🙂 Importantly – I managed to make flanking maneuver, thanks to which the second hussar regiment attacked the yeomanry’s flank (the English did not manage to extend their line by the lancers).
General view of the battlefield. The attack of the hussars, however, was risky as the British cavalry were supported by British reserve artillery fire. This meant flank fire against the first hussar regiment. It resulted in pushing back the first regiment with considerable disorganization. Luckily the second regiment pushed the Yeomanry away from the flank, and then – in the second round of combat – gave chase and completely destroyed this unit.
The first hussar regiment pushed back by British artillery fire, the second – in the pursuit of the Yeomanry.
Fight on a banks of La Manche Stream.
Of course, the hussars easily dealt with the already weakened yeomanry, but they exposed themselves to the attack of the British lancers.
The pursuit of the Yeomanry also had a different effect – it revealed the second British Corps between the hills (will appear in the next photo below).
Next turn. At the beginning, British Lancers charged into the rear of my hussars and routed them! So the fight was beneficial for me, because one hussar regiment was weakened and the second hussar regiment was routed, which I could still rally, while Wojtek had completely lost yeomanry (the unit was destroyed).
The lancers themselves will soon be destroyed by the fire of my naval artillery – they put their backs to me, weakened, to fire from the hill (re-roll of failed hits …). It couldn’t have ended well for them …
Meanwhile, it got interesting. The Second British Corps was still some distance – though not too far – from the first. This made it possible to plan an attack on the first of them and then – if time allowed – on the second. Each one separately! And ideal defeat in detail! The troubles of the hussars and the appearance of the British Corps close to my army reserve artillery meant that I had to bring cuirassiers south of the stream. Originally, they were to be deployed near my main corps. Now – they were supposed to help cover the army’s reserve artillery, but also to absorb the second British corps with their presence.
The cuirassiers cover the army’s reserve artillery.
I love heavy cavalry, although playing them is quite a lottery – it is difficult to withstand infantry fire (rifled muskets!), but when a flank attack is successful …
“It’s been a long time since I did such a cool flanking maneuver,” I thought to myself. It happened exactly according to my plan. A large corps (9 regiments) was exposed on the flank of a single British corps and was covered by forest against British artillery fire from the hill (right).
Hopefully now – with this example – you understand better how important it is to plan your battle right at the stage of setting up the terrain? Of course, a battle brings many surprises 🙂
… and the surprise was the behavior of General Canrobert!
In Gods of War: Lee, corps generals don’t always do what the commander-in-chief plans. They have their own characters and sometimes make decisions according to their conscience. And you, Player, as Commander in Chief, you have to deal with it.
Canrobert failed the Order check (1 success out of 6 dice used!), And due to his special trait, I had to throw a dice to determine whether he would behave like a general cautious or aggressive. It came out first (cautious) – the worst that could have been! The Canrobert retreated most of the units to the other side of the stream – exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do! Apparently, the general decided that he must remain in contact with the center of the army …
The heroic general Canrobert …
With the First Corps flank secure for this turn the British Second Corps decided to take action and move slowly across the stream. My hussars tried to attack, but one regiment was “shot” (destroyed) by infantry and artillery fire. The second one retired after a while.
On this hill, if you remember, I deployed my army reserve artillery. For a few turns it exchanged fire with three bases (6 batteries) of British artillery – even quite effectively. It was taking losses, but I was able to regain it’s cohesion. Until it was finally destroyed by concentrated British gun fire. To the south of the stream, only cuirassiers and a weakened hussar regiment remained …
A crisis in battle.
Another turn. Unfortunately, I lost precious time due to Canrobert’s blunder, and the British Corps managed to change front and position themselves behind the wall – but I had to shake off and keep advancing!
PS. It is worth paying attention to the position of the British infantry shown in the photo: the brigade at the top has no support unit at the rear. This meant that if I also attacked the brigade that supported her from the flank (the one in the middle of the British formation), it would not be able to extend the line to prevent a possible outflanking. However, positioning this brigade at the rear would mean that it would stand on a hill and obstruct the view of artillery that would have to move and would either hide behind and be unable to support fire, or position it further north, exposed to attack by my infantry. These are the interesting dilemmas of arranging units in the formation in “Lee” the generals have 🙂
Meanwhile, my corps was gathered in the forest, except for the 3rd Division (at the very top), which had the longest distance to go.
The French Corps in all its glory. 3 divisions with 3 regiments each
(The regiment and brigade in the game are interchangeable terms – depending on the organization in different armies. For example, the French regiment had about 2,000 soldiers, and the Union or Confederate brigade had an average of 1,500. One base in the game usually consists of 1,500-2,000 soldiers).
At the head of the corps, we see the French Foreign Legion and Zouaves.
Next turn. Canrobert’s attack on Grant’s corps. I did exactly what I wrote about a few photos before: I took advantage of the lack of support of the British brigade and flanked it. In this photo, she is no longer there – she was destroyed (she fought the zouaves that are visible in the center of the French formation). In its place are (sideways) two brigades, which continued their attack on the flank in the second round of combat. However, it did not bring success – the units remained tied to the fight. The attack by the Foreign Legion also failed – as can be seen at the bottom of the photo, it was repulsed.
After the end of the second round of combat, Wojtek was able to carry out his order, which he passed in response to my attacks – and proceeded to counterattack. Infantry in pith helmets tried to flank my regiment, but it was stopped by my extension of the line (compare this with the previous photo). The fight was a great success for the French. I defeated the British brigade that attacked my regiment on the left (next to infantry in pith helmets).
In the second round of combat, the French regiment entered the flank of the British infantry in pith helmets.
British infantry suffered heavy losses (the die shows that it has already lost 3 points of cohesion, and not all dice rolls are finished here …) and was eventually destroyed. This meant that Grant’s corps from the 5 brigades had only 2 left!
The situation after the destruction of the British brigade in pith helmets.
The second hussar regiment was slowly assembling near my base of operations.
The Pennefather Corps problem remained. I no longer had reserve artillery (and Pennefather had 2 Armstrong batteries) so I had to “do something” to try to stop him from diverting to help Grant and cover the central strategic point. The cuirassiers had to make a charge. Pennefather’s flank was held by VRC, which – as a unit operating in a dispersed formation – was more exposed to a cavalry attack. I used it. It is true that the flanking was not successful, but the frontal attack could have been sufficient …
Will cuirassiers withstand infantry fire? Yes! They resisted and completely destroyed the VRC brigade, hitting whoever they could.
Wojtek did not decide on a counterattack that would distance him from Grant’s corps and the strategic point.
It was already the 6th round. It’s already the 6th round! Ah this time! Unfortunately, the failed order by Canrobert took one precious turn and delayed the attack. I could not fully implement the plan as I originally wanted. I was faced with a dilemma: should I order an attack and destroy Grant’s corps to the end, or order “march” and try to reach the enemy’s operational base with the 3rd division (which was one of my goals in the battle, resulting from the tactics of the army)?
I opted for the first solution. It was still a long way to the British operational base, and it was not certain that it would be captured in one move. So I counted on the fact that I would be able to inflict the greatest possible losses on Wojtek – it could lead to a breakdown in the morale of his army and thus gain more victory points.
So the corps made an attack. French Foreign Legion and Zouaves led the attack and completely destroyed the remaining units of Grant’s corps. Whats left in this area was only the army reserve artillery and corps artillery on a hill. One of my regiments tried an unsuccessful attack on them. Well, maybe not entirely unsuccessful, because he did not allow her to support his infantry (fighting with FFL and Zouaves) with fire. Unfortunately, Pennefather’s corps artillery finished off one of my regiments with fire (the one that had fought infantry in pith helmets), which was the only one that was close enough to reach the central strategic point.
The situation at the end of the battle. Pennefather’s corps moved to the center of the battlefield, keeping a strategic point. The cuirassiers waited beyond the hill, not daring to attack the units in the field across the stream.
From Grant’s corps, only British corps artillery remained (plus the army reserve artillery standing next to it). The morale of Wojtek’s army has dropped to shaky – the one level from collapse.

Merde! – I could have said, had it not been for the fact that we had a great game and we were both in very good moods.

At the end of the battle, we were able to reveal our army tactics, which define the objectives to be completed and for which you get the most points.

Wojtek had a defensive tactic. He accomplished two goals out of it – he kept his own operational base and kept at least two strategic points (the middle one and the one on the top right). It meant getting 50% of the point value of his army (if he had achieved 3 goals – suffered less losses – it would have been 100%). We count points from the remaining units on the battlefield. Wojtek had 6 units left, so he scored … 3 points (50% out of 6 units). On top of that, we added a few points for my units he destroyed and my general who fell during the hussar charge. Plus 1 more point for “card debts” – a special feature of the French: The opponent gets 1 point if I counter his card with my card. Napoleon III liked to use military funds to pay off card debts (his and his friends) …;)

I chose an aggressive tactic and … I achieved only one goal, I destroyed at least 25% of the enemy’s units. It’s not enough to score points (each tactic describes how many goals you need to complete to score points). I did not take over half of the strategic points, I did not take the enemy’s operational base, I did not destroy his morale …

So failure? No. I was saved by the destruction of Grant’s corps, more precisely: points for destroyed units. In addition, 3 points for taking lower losses in battle and 1 point for the “crushing charge” cavalry tactic – the cuirassiers destroyed VRC.

After the count, it turned out that I had 4 points advantage, which meant a minimal victory (almost a draw …).

I hope that with this battle report we have introduced not only the gameplay of “Lee”, but also the tactical dilemmas that you face as the commander-in-chief of the entire army.

Good luck in your battles!

PS. We are working od DTP of the English version of the rulebook for Gods of War: Lee, so its release is close 🙂