Cancha Rayada – A Liberators QPR Battle Report

Chris Harrod and I played the Cancha Rayada scenario with the Liberators Quick Play Rules. A great game. Really fun. On the down side it was a bit long and revealed some flaws in the scenario.


The table was 7′ x 5′. Big marsh in one corner. Big river along one side. A couple of streams. A town (Talca) and a hill. Simple but looks good to me.

Table with grid still in place

I used my Peninsular War buildings for Talca. A quick check with the Yahoo Forum guys suggests such building are suitable.



Here is how the battle looked at deployment.

Table showing deployment

The Royalist were a bit cramped within their deployment zone. I’d be inclined to make it bigger next time.

Royalist Deployment outside Talca

My Right Division was lined up along its stream. I had the Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores and two squadrons of cavalry facing the flank that, shortly, the Royalists appeared on.

Patriot Deployment
Right Division behind its stream

The Patriot Left and Reserve divisions never came into play.

Patriot Deployment
Left Division and Reserve


2130 Hours / Turn 3

The first few turns involved the Royalists rushing across the Cancha Rayada plains towards the Patriot Right Division. Chris reorganised his left hand troops to head along the road. There was no blundering rule so they went where Chris wanted them. We speculated that if there was a blundering rule the road would have prevented some randomness. Of course I couldn’t move so I just waited.

Royalists advance across the Cancha Rayada plains

2145 Hours / Turn 4

The thing about the road was that it led Chris’s troops towards my exposed right flank. I had the Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores facing that flank but most everything else was lining the stream bank.

Royalists reach bridge on Patriot right flank

2200 Hours / Turn 5

In turn 5 Chris out flanked my position by crossing the stream. Looking bad from my perspective.

Table at the end of Turn 5

The Royalist Lanceros del Rey led the advance with the Arequipa Dragoons behind. Further back were a couple of infantry battalions.

Royalist Lanceros del Rey lead the Royalists across the bridge

2215 Hours / Turn 6

As soon as they came off the bridge the Lanceros del Rey turned towards my, more or less, open flank. The other Royalists piled up behind them.

Lancers turn in towards the Patriot flank

2230 Hours / Turn 7

On turn 7 Chris chose to send in the Lanceros del Rey from the flank as his main forced approached my main battle line on the stream. The shooting started when the Royalists loomed out the darkness. Chris’s artillery started inflicting casualties on the Argentine 7th infantry battalion on my extreme right. But in retaliation the Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores inflicted damage on the Royalist lancers.

First Blood
Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment and Royalist Lancers take shooting

Notice how Chris’s entire army is headed towards my Right Division. Royalists are lined up on the road to cross the stream behind the Lancers.

Table at end of Turn 7

2245 Hours / Turn 8

In Turn 8 Chris charged with the Lanceros del Rey advanced along the stream line.

Table at end of Turn 8

Chris pushed a battery of guns forward of his infantry line. This made them priority target for my own artillery supported by the Argentine 11th Infantry Regiment. First rout of the game.

Patriot fire routs Royalist battery

The Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores also saw off the Lanceros del Rey. I was very glad Chris had sent them in by themselves. But there were more Royalists massing on the road behind.

Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores rout the Lanceros del Rey

2300 Hours / Turn 9

In Turn 9 Chris’s troops began the assault on the stream line.

Table end of Turn 9

The first Patriot loss was the Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment. It was broken by fire from the Royalist Burgos Battalion and supporting artillery.

Royalist Burgos Battalion and artillery rout Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment

On the Patriot extreme right the Argentine and Chilean Caazadores a Caballo faced the Royalist Arequipa Dragoons. The Argentine and Royalist cavalry would skirmish for most of the battle.

Start of the cavalry skirmish
Argentine and Chilean Caazadores a Caballo face the Royalist Arequipa Dragoons

Along the stream line the Patriot infantry and artillery opened up on the advancing Royalists.

Royalists assault the line of the stream

2315 Hours / Turn 10

Turn 10 saw second blood for the Royalist Burgos Battalion. It charged and broke a Chilean artillery battery.

Royalist Burgos Battalion routs Chilean battery

Next door the Royalist Cazadore Battalion wasn’t as successful. It charged across the stream but the Argentine 11th Regiment didn’t budge.

Royalist Cazadore Battalion assaults Argentine 11th Regiment

The gap between the Patriot Left and Right Divisions was quite tempting and Chris tried pushing this right flank cavalry through it. However, I rallied the survivors of the Argentine 7th Regiment in the gap to face them. The odds didn’t look good but we’d see how the guys would perform.

Royalist cavalry head for gap between Patriot divisions

This was also the turn that the troops from Patriot Left and Reserve Divisions made their sole appearance. The Cazadores de los Andes took a pot shot at the passing Royalist cavalry but failed to inflict any casualties.

In General Chris was careful to avoid getting near the Patriots on the left. He really didn’t have to worry too much as the division couldn’t activate until shot at. Which never happened.

Royalist dodge past the Patriot Left Division

2330 Hours / Turn 11

Turn 11 was gritty, with a few more routs. The Royalists were starting to roll up the Patriot right flank but were taking significant losses themselves.

Table at end of Turn 11

The Royalist Infante Don Carlos Battalion tried to intervene in the skirmish between the Argentine Horse Cazadores and the Arequipa Dragoons. But they couldn’t quite get the angle so never had the complete battalion firing.

Don Carlos attempts to intervene in cavalry skirmish

In one of two mutual routs of the game the Royalist Arequipa Battalion and the Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores took each other out. This left the Royalist Burgos Battalion facing only artillery and cavalry. Actually we made a mistake here … we hadn’t noticed that artillery can’t rally but that is how I got my 1 stand Chilean battery on the flank of Burgos.

Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores and Royalist Arequipa rout from each other

On the stream line the battle between the Argentine 11th Regiment and the Royalist Cazadore Battalion ended with the Royalists routing.

Argentine 11th routs Royalist Cazadores

Further along the stream the Royalist Grenadier Battalion had more success. Despite taking more losses they managed to force the Chilean 1st Infantry Battalion to fall back from the stream.

Royalist Grenadiers pus the Chilean 1st Regiment back from the stream

In the gap between the Patriot Left and Right Divisions the tiny Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment was bravely taking on three enemy cavalry squadrons. The cocky Frontier Dragoons thought they could roll over the 7th, charged, but were thrown back in rout.

Argentine 7th routs Frontier Dragoons

2345 Hours / Turn 12

Turn 12 saw too Royalist salient’s pushing into the Patriot areas of the table. The Royalist Burgos Battalion kept advancing towards the Patriot cavalry on the Patriot right. The Royalist Frontier cavalry seemed to have by passed the Argentine 7th Regiment and were headed for the Patriot rear.

Table at end of Turn 12

The thought of facing the musketry of the Royalist Burgos Battalion was too much for the Chilean Horse Cazadores so they did a 180 degree turn and rode away. Meanwhile an Argentine squadron threatened the flank of the veteran Royalists.

Chilean Horse Cazadores ride away from Burgos

The Royalist Grenadier Battalion charged after the Chilean 1st Infantry Battalion but broke through the combined fire of the Chilean infantry and artillery.

Chilean 1st Regiment routs Royalist Grenadiers

The Argentine 7th Regiment was valiantly trying to catch the Royalist cavalry trying to by-pass them. All they needed was on casualty on the Chillan Dragoons and it would rout … but not this turn.

Argentine 7th Regiment chases the Royalist Cavalry

0000 Hours / Turn 13

Midnight (Turn 13) saw the two Royalist salients pushing deeper into the Patriot lines.

Table at the end of Turn 13

The cavalry skirmish on the Patriot right continued. Having failed to influence it the Royalist Infantes Don Carlos battalion turned in search of chunkier foes.

Don Carlost gives up on influencing the cavalry skirmish

By this time Burgos was surrounded. The Chilean Horse Cazadores were behind them. In front of them were the Argentine 11th Regiment, who’d done an about face from their position on the stream. The Argentine Horse Cazadores were also nearby to threaten the veterans” flank. I also had San Martin lurking nearby. He occasionally joined units to help them with morale but he was also in a convenient position to rally routed units.

Burgos surrounded

The Argentine 7th Regiment got a good volley into the Royalist Chillan Dragoons and broke them.

Arentine 7th Regiment routs the Chillan Dragoons

A Chilean battalion and battery moved up in support of the Argentine 7th Regiment. I thought I could now contain the Royalist Frontier Dragoons but it was tying up three of my units to do it.

Patriot infantry fend off Royalist cavalry

0015 Hours / Turn 14

Turn 14 had me confident of dealing with the Royalist cavalry salient but I was quite worried about Burgos.

Table at the end of Turn 14

Rather than facing the fire of the Burgos battalion a squadron of Chilean Horse Cazadores headed for the flank of the Infantes Don Carlos Battalion. Huzzah!!! But for some reason we decided they couldnt charge/contact this turn. I can’t remember exactly what now why we decided that but it was something about needing to do an oblique move. On re-reading the rules was was a perfectly valid charge. Ah well.

Chilean Horse Cazadores think they’re charging the flank of the Don Carlos Battalion

0030 Hours / Turn 15

Turn 15 brought more routs, mostly mine. I destroyed the cavalry salient but Burgos was still going.

Table at the end of Turn 15

Having decided last turn that my Chilean Horse Cazadores were not in contact with the Royalist Infantes Don Carlos battalion we couldn’t see why the Royalists would be prevented from moving. So Don Carlos turned and broke the Chileans.

Royalist Arequipa Battalion routs the Chilean Horse Cazadores

I’d rallied the Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores near Burgos. Unfortunately I had to throw them in by themselves and the veteran Royalist made short work of the Chileans.

Royalist Burgos routs the Chilean Coquimbo Cazadores

My (incorrectly) rallied Chilean artillery battery was routed again by the Conception battalion.

Royalist Conception Battalion routs a Patriot battery

Perhaps in desperation Chris threw his Frontier Dragoons against my Chilean 1st Infantry Battalion. The Royalists routed.

Chilean 1st Regiment routs the Frontier Dragoons

0045 Hours / Turn 16

Suddenly the lines straightened. I decided not to contend the original positions of the Right Division any longer and bring the survivors into the shelter provided by the other two Patriot divisions.

Table at the end of Turn 16

The cavalry skirmish was finally resolved when Chris brought up an artillery battery to support the Arequipa Dragoons. The brave Argentine Horse Cazadores finally broke after 1 hour 45 minutes of game time. They lost in the end but had done a great job by narrowing Chris’s access to my exposed right flank.

The cavalry skirmish finally ends when
Arequipa Dragoons routing the Argentine Horse Cazadores

This turn also saw the second mutual rout of the game. The Argentine 11th Regiment broke the veteran Burgos Battalion but was broken in turn.

Royalist Burgos and Argentine 11th Regiments rout each other

Generally the rest of the battle involved me extracting my troops and heading for the other Patriot deployment area.

Patriot Left makes their escape

0100 Hours / Turn 17

The two sides are now firmly separated with Chris in control of the original positions of the Patriot Right Division.

Table at the end of Turn 17

0115 Hours / Turn 18

In Turn 18 Chris acknowledged he couldn’t catch the survivors of the Patriot Right Division and we called it a night.

Table at the end of Turn 18 and the game


It was a great game. Really fun.

Chris and I started the game thinking the odds were really stacked against me. The constraints of the scenario special and option rules (see below) meant he could safely launch his whole army at one of my divisions. But, despite that, I managed to fight him to a draw.

Chris got the timing of his attack a bit wrong and that is what saved me. He should have massed his troops on my flank rather than sending units in piecemeal. And he should have let the flank attack develop before committing his other troops to attacking across the stream.

This was another long game. The longest so far. Eight hours, real time, from set up to pack up. About six hours of playing time within that. The game was split over two evenings but at least we could leave the table set up. We played 18 turns which equates to four hours 30 minutes of game time.

I’ve been fiddling with cut down maps for John Fletcher’s scenarios because I usually play on my small dining room table. The room is small enough that even with a 6’x4′ table my daughter can’t watch TV. Which is a bad thing I’m told. 🙂 But for this game we took advantage of Chris’s giant wargaming table which he has recently brought out of storage. The scenario only needed 7’x5′ – accommodated with room to spare on Chris’s monster (8’x5′ 6″).

I should have asked John Fletcher about the significance of the terrain before the game. We assumed the river was impassable except at the bridge and the streams were significant for the game, i.e. could be defended. But we could have been wrong.

Having played the scenario once we think the special and optional rules need rethinking. Generally we played them as written, despite spotting issues at the start, just to see what happened. I’ll go through these rules one by one.

[Special Rule]: Use night combat rules

Liberators Quick Play Rules has no night combat rules other than the scenario specific ones below. We introduced a night rule … visibility was restricted to musket range, so all ranged combat was also restricted to musket range including by artillery. (Later I found a couple of suggestions from John Fletcher for night combat but I’m not sure we would have used them.

[Special Rule]: The Horse Grenadiers were asleep when the fighting began. They awoke to the sudden sound of gunfire and quickly fled the field. Treat the Horse Grenadiers as a routed unit at the beginning of the game.

In Liberators Quick Play Rules routed units are off table but can be rallied by the general. In the order of battle the Argentine Horse Grenadiers were with O’Higgins on the Patriot left. We played it that if/when that division activated then O’Higgins could rally the Horse Grenadiers back onto the table. The division never activated. The Horse Grenadiers were never on table.

I would be tempted to take a different approach entirely to the Patriot panic as the firing starts. I’d not single out the Horse Grenadiers but instead allow the Royalists, somehow, to rout a semi-random selection of Patriot units at the moment the fight starts in that area.

[Optional Rule]: Patriot units may not change facing, formation or move until at least one unit in the division has been fired upon. They may retreat if routed.

We played this optional rule but it can be subverted very easily. All Chris had to do was ensure he didn’t shoot at my Left Division and it would not activate. Ever. Both unrealistic and a bit silly.

Chris piled his entire army into my Right Division. This was a good strategy and what the historical Royalists tried. But on the real night the Royalists blundered about and ended up wandering into the Left Division by accident. The scenario as written has no “blundering” rule and probably needs one. We also thought that the road should prevent blundering somehow.

The silly bit was that we realised that Chris could safely launch his cavalry into the rear of my Left Division, melee with the units outside their arc of fire, and the my division would never activate under the rule as written. The activation rules needs to be more generous to the Patriots. At a minimum it should be “Patriot units may not change facing, formation or move until at least one unit in the division has been involved in combat”. So if they shoot, and some of my Left Division did shoot, they would activate.

But we also thought that even if not threatened themselves the Patriot divisions should activate sometime after the firing has started elsewhere. In our game my Left and Reserve listened to furious firing for over four game hours without waking up. Possible but not likely. I’d have them activate after, say, an hour after the first division activates perhaps modified by a die roll. Then I’d use the new blundering rule (see above) to prevent them ganging up on the Royalists.

[Optional Rule]: All Patriots units must pass a morale test whenever a Royalist unit first approaches within one more or an adjacent Patriot units routs. If using this rule, use optional rule above as well.

Seemed okay by itself. Disordered isn’t too serious an issue in Liberators Quick Play Rules and this rule could be notched up a level to provide the replacement for the Horse Grenadiers special rule (see above).

We did wonder whether the scenario should cover pickets as well. Guarding the bridge for example. But didn’t develop that idea any further.

Our only new question about the Liberators Quick Play Rules was related to retreat moves. We wondered what should happen if a retreat move would take the unit into 1) enemy, 2) delaying terrain, and 3) friends. We shuffled things around for the retreating unit to fit but it would be nice not to have to make up rules as we went along.

A good game however we both felt that we were now in a position to start tweaking Liberators Quick Play Rules to fill in some of the gaps.

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