Sunday, July 6, 2014

Action at Arroyo con Pollo - Scenario

Since Kevin is a Francophile in general and a devout Napoleonic Francophile in particular, a Napoleonic game set in Spain should be a welcome surprise when we gather at the gaming table on Sunday.  Arroyo con Pollo will be fought using a modified version of Old Trousers.

Having a string of reverses in the Peninsula, the British find themselves back on their heels, as the victorious French press on.  To gain time in order to allow the main body to make good its escape, a reinforced British brigade takes up a holding position across a defile.  The British holding force is tasked with preventing the French from advancing through the defile.  Failing that, the goal is to at least delay the French forces until the cover of darkness allows the holding force to sneak away.
View of the Defile
At this time of year, the arroyo running through the defile is dry with low scrub flanking its banks.  The ridges guarding the defile are rough ground allowing no cavalry or artillery maneuvers.  Before the arroyo disappears into the defile, a small enclave of farms can be found.  While the farm houses themselves are small, each farm is enclosed by adobe over brick walls and should provide some defensive benefit.  At one time these farms were used to produce poultry for the local markets.  
Poultry Farms
To hold the defile, the British have at hand, four line infantry battalions (two of them KGL), one KGL light infantry battalion, two six pound gun sections, and two squadrons of KGL hussars.  The line battalions can deploy two skirmishers each while the light battalion may deploy up to four.
The British Holding Force
In pursuit, the French muster four French line infantry battalions, one Swiss infantry battalion, one reserve grenadier battalion, one legere battalion, four squadrons of light cavalry, two squadrons of heavy cavalry, and two guns sections (one heavy).  French line infantry may deploy up to two skirmishers each while the grenadiers and the legere may deploy up to four.  The French have three commands: two foot and one horse.
The French Pursuers
The roster below illustrates the composition of each command.  Each MU is rated for Combat Effectiveness with the higher CE value representing a greater combat effectiveness, ceteris paribus.  Note that the British infantry show a modest CE advantage (6 to 5) over their French counterparts.
While British take up positions across the defile and behind the red line as shown in the photo below, the KGL light infantry may deploy forward of this line. The French march onto the table from the end shown by blue arrows.
The Battlefield
Given the situation as described and the order of battle listed, what would be YOUR initial plans of action for each of the combatants?  Can the advancing French pierce the British defensive line and push on through the defile?  Can the British blocking force hold on until nightfall? 

Of course, strategies and tactics are not confined to Old Trousers.  Assume this action will be fought using your favorite Napoleonic battalion level rules.  Battalion level in the sense that the basic maneuver unit is the infantry battalion or cavalry squadron.

I look forward to seeing suggestions on this tactical problem.


  1. I don't have any tactical suggestions (I wouldn't recommend anyone to follow my advice anyway), but am especially interested in this action - it looks good anyway, but, most especially, I'm interested in the rules. I take it this is Howard Whitehouse's "Old Trousers" (there is another ruleset with the same name)?

    I was greatly taken with OT, and spent some time fiddling around with them - I liked the simplicity and the common sense approach, but eventually I ran into a couple of areas where I found they didn't work so well (for me, at least), so since then i have mostly used them as a source of rules patches and as a sort of benchmark for easily-digested rules. I'm very interested in what rule tweaks have been used here.

    If, of course, this isn't Whitehouse's rules at all then i am still interested, I hasten to add!

    1. Whitehouse's "Old Trousers" indeed!

      I had a similar experience to yours. That is, some elements of the rules and play sequence just never quite made sense. I am particularly fond of the CV notion and have used it in many of my own designs. Besides, I like seeing whole units remain on the table top until no longer combat worthy.

  2. Great looking table and scenario Jonathan!

    In reference to Black Powder and from a British perspective, I'd probably try to get as much firepower (Artillery) up to the front of those hills in the initial deployment, hoping that any rolled 6's from the battery will disorder the enemy units, slowing down their advance significantly. The hussars would be deployed to lash out at any nearing FR cavalry. Perhaps this would carry me through to nightfall. From a French perspective, I'd probably use the field for cover (+1 to hit modifier) as I throw all cavalry at the enemy's guns (yes, the front cav. unit will get it from the closing fire, but it will be worth it, as artillery is almost certainly gone once the units go into close combat). Infantry tick-tacking up the middle using the farms as cover, before heading in for close combat. French Artillery will follow the infantry, concentrating French Fire Power.
    Perhaps using a "Follow me" order once the infantry are within 3 moves away from the Brits, enabling one unit to enter close combat, while the other advance less disturbed by the enemy fire.

    Now, I'm very interested in how this actually played out?


    1. Terrific plan, Soren! Good idea to tackle the British artillery in waves of cavalry attacks to remove that threat to the advancing infantry. The British hussars were used in exactly the manner you describe.

  3. Great looking terrain and troops. Haven't played Napoleonic for a few years - very enticing. Best, Dean

  4. Good one! As the Brits, the arroyo is a great bit to build a defense off of. I'd deploy heavy on my left, including all my artillery. I'd send the KGL up into the farms to jam or delay the French and back that with line troops. That looks like a real bottleneck for the French. They'd have to put their energies on the other side of the arroyo.

    On my right, I'd form up pretty close to the red line. If the Brits advance without regard to the other side of the arroyo, I'd be able to get some flanking fire with musket & artillery. The bonus is that as long as I have the French jammed in the village, French horse on the other flank couldn't get at my artillery due to the arroyo.

    There are some very interesting options for both players. Can't wait to hear how it turn out!

    1. Fantastic! Exactly the planning I was hoping to see and a solid plan too. Since the arroyo was dry, it offered only a slight impediment to movement but bottlenecks abound as you pointed out. An interesting problem for both commanders, for sure. Who executed their plan more effectively? We shall see...

  5. Not sure what I would do, but it sure looks great!


  6. I'll refrain from any tacical advice as well, but I agree the tabke looks great. I like the name you gave the scenario, being a bit of a Spanish language take off on *Arroz con Pollo"! Tasty! :-)

    1. Finally! Glad that my attempt at word play did not go unnoticed. When Kevin showed up to the game and saw the roster and scenario, he said, "so, we're fighting the battle of Chicken River?"

      Arroz con Pollo is a tasty dish!

    2. "Rice with Chicken" doesn't really do it justice, does it? Almost every Hispanic subculture has their own variation, too!


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