Sunday 30 April 2017

The men from Ucles

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to take a trip to chateau Foy to take part in a refight of the battle of Ucles. I was on the Spanish side under the tutelage of the great man himself whilst the French were ably led by General Goya.

A general view of the table from behind the Spanish right flank.
The centre of the field - that's Ucles in the middle, an objective for the French but almost impossible to take due to sheer cliffs on most of the hex sides. Tony uses 15mm buildings with his 20mm troops and it works really well.
Now, call me old fashioned if you will, but I’ve never really liked the idea of hexes for miniatures games believing that the best place for them is board games, campaign maps and beehives. That said however, I’ve always admired the photos on Tony’s blog of his neat set up of miniatures and terrain for use with the Command & Colours rule set and it was great to be able to see all this for real.

The Spanish light cavalry shown here are all Hinton Hunt although Tony's armies have troops from just about every 20mm figure maker. Tony and I were eager to throw away our cavalry needlessly (we're both that sort of general) but we had to wait several turns before we could achieve this.
Spanish militia in the woods on the far right of our line. These militia boys put up a splendid fight, clearly Bruce Quarrie's rules were never translated into Spanish.
Those of you who follow Tony’s blog will know that he primarily wargames the Peninsular War and he has a truly stunning collection of 20mm figures for the period. It looked to me as if he has every single battalion of British, Portuguese, Spanish and French troops that ever took part but if not he can’t be far off that total.

The French cavalry were mostly comprised of Dragoons. I think these are Les Higgins (Tony, put me right).
The game started with a French assault on our outpost at Tribaldos. Our defending grenadiers made a great fight of it with an action that resembled La Haye Sainte or Hougoumont. Although the Spanish were eventually ejected we ground down the French so much that no further serious action occurred on this flank.
There can’t be many wargamers who have a Spanish Napoleonic army but Tony’s is well researched and spectacular to look at. My own prejudice against having one stems I think from Bruce Quarrie’s rules in the 70s which incorporated rather biased national characteristics that made a Spanish army pretty much unusable. Why waste time collecting one when you could have a division of British regulars instead?

A view of the Spanish left flank - the fighting around Tribaldos continues in the distance.
And here's a view of the right flank - French reinforcements are arriving on the far table edge.
As it turned out the game was highly enjoyable and provided a realistic ebb and flow that is hard to find with most conventional miniatures rules. Once you get away from worries about unit facings and formations (although there is a cunning rule for squares) and focus instead on the tricky command decisions you have to make C&C becomes a very gripping game.

Eventually the action on the right flank developed into a serious clash of arms. At the end of play each side had 7VP's which was a very good result for the Spanish. If we had played on my suspicion is that the French would have picked up the required 10VP's for a victory before we did.
I came away very impressed with both Tony’s fantastic figure collection and the C&C rules and am looking forward to another game at some point in the future. My thanks to Tony and Mrs Foy for their hospitality (we had lunch in the garden – in Scotland in April!) and to my travelling companion and opponent General Goya. A grand day out.

For a full battle report hop on over to Tony's blog here.