Chris Harrod, Robin Doran and I played the Alternative Chacabuco scenario from Fletcher (2006) using Liberators QPR. This is the third time I’ve played the scenario; the first time was Liberators QPR, the second was Liberators HOTT.
I was the Royalists / Spanish. Chris was San Martin with Soler’s Division. Robin was O’Higgins. This was Robin’s first historical wargame.
Another good game. Went faster this time. We got to a conclusion in 4.5 hours including set up. The direct tactics of the Patriots helped with that. These tactics also led to the rout of three squadrons of Elite Argentine Horse Grenadiers.
We took the opportunity to introduce some House Rules plus a victory condition.
Victory Condition: An army that has half of its the units rout (even if subsequently rallied)
abandons the field.
I deployed the Royalists with infantry and guns spread across the front, on an angle from the fields under Tahuilaca Hill on the right out into the open area on my left in front of Los Tauretes Hill. I had my best unit, the Talavera Infantry Regiment, in the centre just next to the road running past the farm complex. The bulk of the Royalist cavalry were on the left flank behind the infantry. Chris and Robin had less flexibility and deployed within their respective zones.
Notice the nice model we used for Chacabuco farm .. I think it is a Roman villa
We didn’t take photos every turn during this game and only started taking shots when things hotted up around Turn 4. Essentially the Patriots made a dash for the farm with the Argentine Horse Grenadiers leading
Chris had ordered Robin to throw his Horse Grenadiers (three squadrons) at my Chillan Regiment. As the Argentines advanced Chillan pivoted to face the threat and managed to get to the hedge line before the Patriot cavalry arrived. The Argentines charged valiantly but two squadrons were routed by gun fire before they could contact. The third squadron survived but just in front of Chillan’s massed muskets.
Argentine Horse Grenadiers rout
For a few turns the third squadron of Argentine Horse Grenadiers sat in front of the Royalist Chillan Regiment failing morale tests, thus not charging. As Elite troops they need a 4+ on 1d10 to pass so this was defying the odds. Every turn they failed the test they took fire from Chillan and the nearby Royalist artillery. Whilst the Horse Grenadiers were procrastinating Robin brought up his infantry to continue the attack. Chris was also deploying, on the Patriot right, to push forward in a more cautious fashion.
I foolishly advanced the infantry (Chiloe) and artillery facing Chris. I say foolishly because this put Chiloe closer to the Patriot artillery. I discovered that under Liberators QPR four stands of artillery, even 4 pounders, can over time dish out quite a wallop.
On the other flank things were going more my way. The Argentine 8th Regiment was advancing bravely but taking fire from two infantry regiments, Valdivia plus the men from Chillan on its flank, and two batteries. I also finally routed the third squadron of Horse Grenadiers. Unfortunately Robin’s infantry were now within musket range of one of my batteries and routed it.
O’Higgins’s infantry presses attack
The Argentine infantry pressed ahead onto the hedge line.
Robin diverted the Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment to help deal with the Talavera Regiment. That left the 8th Regiment marching up to the hedge line alone. They were still taking fire from Valdivia, an artillery battery, and Chillan – now entirely behind its flank.
O’Higgins’s infantry reaches hedge line
The next turn saw several routs. Chris routed two of my units: Chiloe and an artillery battery. I routed the Royalist Grenadier and Cazadore Battalion, the 8th Regiment and a squadron of Horse Grenadiers for the second time.
With the Argentine 8th Regiment and the Horse Grenadiers gone the area in front of the farm complex was looking pretty clear. Just the Argentine 7th to deal with. The Concordia Hussars and Chillan Regiment prepared to deal with them.
Patriots rout from hedge line
In the centre Talavera repulsed the attack of the Argentine Grenadier and Cazadore Battalion. Further to my left things weren’t quite so rosy for the Royalists. Chris’s long range artillery fire routed my Chiloe battalion and the Argentine Cazadores de los Andes got within musket range of my artillery battery and routed it as well.
Talavera routs more Patriots
In the last turn of the game I decided to redeploy my cavalry from the left flank towards the farm complex. No point leaving them in front of Chris to die. As it turned out this caution was unneeded.
It was Chillan Battalion that won me the game. They routed the Argentine 7th Regiment by shooting into their flank. The charge of the Concordia Hussars into the front of the 7th was flamboyant but unnecessary. As it happens they only took one casualty on the way in but was a serous risk they would be routed in the charge.
Chillan seals victory
Another enjoyable game. Much faster this time. 4.5 hours to set up and play.
Having definite victory conditions helped a lot. We’ll do that again.
It was also the first time we tried my new movement trays. You can see glimpses of the black magnetic material under some of the units in the photos. That really helped moving the figures around en masse and speeded up play.
I feel a bit sorry for Robin as his command got annihilated. This was through no fault of his own. He’d wanted to try going over the hill but his commander-in-chief, Chris, strongly suggested a more direct route. This direct approach might have worked but Robin threw some shocking morale rolls for the Horse Grenadiers. That’s war.
Not all of our House Rules came into play, but they probably will over time, and those that did get used seemed alright. There was one we’d change. At the end of the game I charged the Concordia Hussars into the disordered Argentine 7th Regiment. I did it to see if the new House Rules on steady horse charging disordered infantry made such charges worthwhile. The answer is no as disordered infantry in line still dish out a wallop of a volley. We’re thinking of imposing a -2 modifier for disorder rather than -1.
I like my little red skulls (from Litko Game Systems) for disorder markers. But remembering when units can rally is a problem. On the discussion forum John Fletcher suggested putting two disorder markers on a unit and removing the first automatically in the first rally phase then removing the second on a morale check in subsequent rally phases. I think this will be easier with two colours of markers, say white skulls for automatically removable disorder and red skulls for disorder requiring a morale check. So I’ve ordered some white skulls from Litko.