Commands and Colors: The British Left at Vimeiro - The Impact of Command Cards

Command Cards are the lifeblood of Commands and Colors. The number of command cards is specified per side at the start of a scenario. Better commanders have more command cards. Each command card can represent a specified number of orders for a section of the battlefield or an in-game action. One command card is played per side per turn. At the end of each turn, a new card is drawn to maintain the specified level of cards per side.

 During yesterday's battle I moved and fired without command cards. Today, I moved and fired based on the number of orders I was issued per command card played.  Playing with command cards introduces uncertainty into the game and a layer of planning.  You might not have the right card at any point in the battle to accomplish what you planned and so you can either pass on your turn or execute an order that may or may not fit into your battleplan.

I've read that the command card system is sometimes very frustrating for players but so far, I like it. Having read a little bit about this period, not every order was obeyed on the battlefield and messengers were often waylaid by the opposing army.

Vimeiro, Portugal, August 21, 1808:  The French general Junot has split his force sending his Grenadiers, cavalry and artillery against the town of Vimeiro while to the north, 2 brigades of French Line infantry supported by a Foot artillery battery and a detachment of cavalry have sought to turn the left flank of Wellington's army of Portugal.    

The French move though has been observed by Wellington and a brigade of British infantry under General Craufurd, supported by three regiments of Portugese Line Infantry and Portugese Cazadores (light infantry) have used a line of hills to move unobserved into a blocking position in front of the French column.  

The scenario below is my representation of this part of the battle and it is not to my knowledge covered in the scenario booklet that comes with the game.

The British commander General Craufurd has 4 command cards and the French General Solignac has three cards. 

The French column can be seen approaching the waiting British brigade under Craufurd.  The British position is elevated with a regiment of Light infantry deployed on the left flank and a regiment of Portugese Cazadores deployed at Ventosa farm in a forward position.    Col. Nicolas Trant's other Portugese regiments and two batteries of British artillery are hidden behind the line of hills.  A hill terrain tile removes 1 die to ranged fire and melee combat for the units fighting uphill.

The French move first   However, a weak hand of command cards only allows two issued orders.  I swing the heavy cavalry out to the British right and move a regiment of line infantry to engage the British Light infantry on Craufurd's left.  

Portugese Cazadores in action at Ventosa farm.  The Portugese did not move and are light infantry and get to roll 4 dice for battles.  They inflict two losses and the white flag sends the remaining French block into retreat.
A couple of turns later the action has heated up.  The British Light infantry after engaging with three French Line regiments were forced to retreat after losing 50% of it's strength (downed blocks show losses). Seeing the French make a play to turn the flank I move a Line infantry regiment off the hill to engage.  On the French left, the Portugese Cazadores have almost destroyed a French line infantry regiment.  The French cavalry have been disrupted, their strength halved by the British foot artillery I have moved up onto the line of  hills.
As the French player I played the Short supply card which is an interesting mechanic.  I was able to order the British regiment to the backline of the map of the British position to resupply.  This significantly weakened the British left flank (pictured below). The counter-attack card was played by the British the next turn to move the French cavalry detachment that was trying to flank my line on the right to the French backline for resupply, thereby frustrating French plans. 
The two positions after these cards are played. You can see the British line infantry regiment on the backline and in the distance the French cavalry block on the French backline.
Most of my gaming occurs at night or early in the morning before my kids wakeup. My son, now playing as the French general Solginac has arrived and quickly takes over the die rolling, changes the rules and then starts to add terrain tiles to the map to make things more interesting.  The battle he and I had on the map was not very blog worthy though I can say the French never seemed to lose troops and many British blocks defected over to the French side after seeing his excellent generalship.


Miguel said…
I enjoyed greatly this post, Chris. The comments on the mystery French General that turned up by the end of the session were most entertaining :)
Chris said…
Hah! Thanks Miguel! He is very skillful!