Wednesday 7 September 2011

The Battle of the Cherro Rico road

The following battle was the second engagement of the 1820 Cordeguayan Civil War. It was fought using my collection of Del Prado 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures, and the rules were the latest draft of my PORTABLE WARGAME 2 wargames rules.

General Branco's Constitutionalist Army was finally assembled. It comprised:
  • English Infantry (British Legion)
  • Scottish Infantry (British Legion)
  • The Rifles (British Legion)
  • British Artillery (British Legion)
  • 1st (Northern) Cavalry
  • 2nd (Northern) Cavalry
  • 3rd (Southern) Cavalry
  • 4th (Southern) Cavalry
  • 1st (Northern) Artillery
  • 2nd (Southern) Artillery
  • 1st (Northern) Infantry
  • 2nd Northern) Infantry
  • 3rd (Northern) Infantry
  • 4th (Southern) Infantry
  • 5th (Southern) Infantry
  • 6th (Southern) Infantry
The Constitutionalist Army had encamped astride the main road from the capital, Ciudad Santa Maria (previously Ciudad Cordeguay and recently renamed in honour of President-for-Life General Santa Maria), to the mining town of Cerro Rico.

News of this had reached the ears of President-for-Life General Santa Maria (the leader of the Presidential Army), and he saw it as an opportunity to destroy at a single stroke the only serious opposition to his 'lawful' regime. The units that had suffered serious losses during the the Battle of the Bridge over the Rio Blanco had been brought back up to full strength, and he felt confident enough to move his army forward to attack the Constitutionalists before they could advance upon Ciudad Santa Maria. His army included:
  • 1st Presidential Guard Infantry
  • 2nd Presidential Guard Infantry
  • Presidential Guard Foot Artillery
  • 1st Cuirassiers
  • 2nd Cuirassiers
  • 3rd Lancers
  • 4th Carabineers
  • 5th Hussars
  • 1st Foot Artillery
  • 2nd Foot Artillery
  • 1st Regular Infantry
  • 2nd Regular Infantry
  • 3rd Regular Infantry
  • 4th Regular Infantry
  • 5th Regular Infantry
  • 6th Militia Infantry
  • 7th Militia Infantry
  • 8th Militia Infantry
  • 9th Militia Infantry
  • 10th Militia Infantry
Turn 1
The Constitutionalist Army was encamped astride the main road, and had deployed to make the best use of the ground and whatever cover there was.

The British Legion had thrown up fieldworks in front of their positions in the centre and on the right. The Constitutionalist left flank was protected by a dense forest that was impassable to everyone except the local peasants.

The Presidential Army was formed up with the Regular and Reserve Infantry in a double line in the centre. The 1st and 2nd Artillery Units were stationed on either flank of the Infantry, and the Cavalry was positioned on the left to threaten the open end of the Constitutionalist line. The Presidential Guard remained in reserve, and General Santa Maria positioned himself where he thought that he would have the best view of the forthcoming battle.

The only Unit that was capable of firing at an enemy Unit was the Presidential 2nd Artillery Unit, which fired at the British Legion Rifles. The cannon fire had no effect as the fieldworks afforded the Rifles sufficient protection from it.

Turn 2
The Presidential 2nd Artillery Unit fired at the Rifles for a second time ... but yet again they were unable to inflict any damage.

The Presidential Army had the initiative this turn, and began by moving their Cavalry Units forward to threaten the Constitutionalist forces to their front. The first line of the Presidential Infantry (which was made up of the Regular Infantry Units) moved forward. The second line, which was the Reserve Infantry Units, followed this advance, accompanied by the 1st Artillery Unit.

The Constitutionalist reply was swift ... and deadly! The Rifles fired at the Presidential 1st Cuirassiers Unit, and emptied so many saddles that the Unit ceased to exist as an effective fighting unit.

The Constitutionalists chose not to move any of their Units as they felt that their position gave them an advantage over the Presidential Army.

Turn 3
The Presidential 2nd Artillery Unit fired yet again at the Rifles but were unable to inflict any casualties on them.

In return, the British Legion’s Artillery Unit fired at the Presidential 3rd Regular Infantry Unit – which was destroyed – and the 1st (Northern) Artillery Unit shot the 4th Carabineers Unit to pieces with very accurate cannon fire.

The Presidential Army again had the initiative, and began by charging the right wing of the Constitutionalist Army with the majority of their Cavalry Units. The 3rd Lancers hit the Constitutionalist 3rd (Northern) Infantry Unit with such force the latter dissolved and the survivors fled from the battlefield.

The 3rd Lancers continued their attack by swinging through ninety degrees and attacking the 2nd (Northern) Infantry Unit in the flank.

The latter turned out to be made of sterner stuff than the 3rd (Northern) Infantry Unit, and after a stiff fight they beat off the 3rd Lancers, who withdrew and took no further part in the battle.

It was then the turn of the Presidential 2nd Cuirassiers to charge the 2nd (Northern) Infantry Unit.

The Cuirassier Unit had obviously lost some of its momentum charging uphill, and although it dispersed the 2nd (Northern) Infantry Unit, they only managed it by exhausting themselves to the point where they were unable to fight any more that day.

The remaining Presidential Cavalry Unit – the 5th Hussars – did not charge the remaining Constitutionalist forces on the hill to its front. Instead it moved forward so as to threaten their flank.

The remainder of the Presidential Army continued its inexorable advance.

This movement brought the Presidential 1st Regular Infantry Unit into range of the British Legion's Rifle Unit ...

... whose devastating gunfire destroyed the Presidential Infantry Unit.

The only movement the Constitutionalists undertook was to turn the 1st (Northern) Artillery and 3rd (Northern) Infantry Units to face the threat from the 5th Hussars.

Turn 4
The Constitutionalist 1st (Northern) Artillery Unit fired at the 5th Hussars and forced them to disperse, thus leaving the Presidential Army with no effective Cavalry Units on the field of battle. The British Artillery Unit failed to inflict any damage on the Presidential 2nd Regular Infantry Unit, and the Constitutionalist 2nd (Southern) Artillery Unit was equally unsuccessful when they fired at the 5th Regular Infantry Unit.

The Constitutionalists had the initiative, and other than turning the 3rd (Northern) Infantry Unit back to face the bulk of the Presidential Army, none of its Units moved or fired.

The front rank of the Presidential Army now moved forward into musket range, and fired at the British Legion's position, but to no effect.

Turn 5
The Constitutionalist Artillery fired at the oncoming Presidential Army. The British Legion Artillery Unit’s fire swept away the 2nd Regular Infantry Unit, but the Constitutionalist 2nd (Southern) Artillery Unit had no luck when it engaged the 5th Regular Infantry Unit.

The Presidential Army had the initiative, and its front line of troops swept forward to engage the Constitutionalist forces. The Presidential 4th Regular Infantry Unit fought hand-to-hand with the British Legion's Scottish Infantry Unit, but failed to dislodge the latter and paid the price for their failure.

The 5th Regular Infantry Unit had more success as it was able to attack the Scottish Infantry Unit's flank. Both sides fought well ... too well, as both ceased to be effective fighting Units as a result.

The Presidential Reserve Infantry Units had now moved up, and the 6th Militia Infantry Unit engaged the British Legion's Rifles with musket fire. They were unable to cause any casualties on the Rifles, who returned fire as initiative had now passed the Constitutionalist side. They were, however, equally unable to hit their target.

Now that the Constitutionalists were able to fire, the English Infantry Unit of the British Legion opened fire on the Presidential 6th Militia Infantry Unit, which was destroyed.

At this point President-for-Life General Santa Maria's nerve broke, and he ordered his Presidential Guard Units to cover his withdrawal ... which they did. The remainder of his army fought on as best they could, but without their Commander-in-Chief their morale soon broke, and all along the battlefront individuals and then whole Units began to surrender. The Civil War looked as if it were over ... but was it?

Notes and Conclusions
The battle was also fought on a 15 square x 15 square grid, with books under the cloth to create the hills that the Constitutionalist Army occupied.

This was – like its predecessor – a fun battle to fight although the outcome was again affected by the run of good luck with their dice throws that that the Constitutionalists enjoyed.

The changes that were incorporated into the most recent draft of the rules did improve the game from my point of view. There is still some room for improvement, but this has more to do with trying to include a method of grading Units than any need to make drastic changes to the basic mechanisms.


  1. Excellent battle report. Really enjoyed it, and plenty of pictures to boot. Thanks for putting this up.

  2. Looking good Bob - cry havoc and let slip the sloths of war!

  3. Blaxkleric,

    I am glad that you enjoyed reading the battle report; I certainly enjoyed fighting the battle!

    All the best,


  4. Cracking report, Bob. That's starting to look like a properly epic Napoleonic battle. Makes me want to get my own Napoleonic Portable Wargame project moving properly.

    I find it fascinating the way you've taken PW2 back closer to its origins, although I did like the way PW1 had evolved. And the one-page rules structure is clear and easy to follow. If only certain other writers of thick, glossy hardback rulebooks had your level of clarity.

    I'm going to try to make time to give PW2 a whirl sometime next week.

  5. Dr Vesuvius,

    Many thanks for your very kind comments, especially about the way the rules have been structured.

    The rules seemed to work at least as well as I had hoped they would, and I felt that the battle 'flowed' quite well.

    As you have surmised, I feel that PW2 is a better set of rules than PW1, and I hope to develop them in due course for other historical eras.

    All the best,


    PS. I refought the battle after I had written this battle report, and the result was a lot more of a close run thing. In the end the Constitutionalists just won, but only after their Cavalry mounted a last-ditch charge that caused the Presidential Guard to rout from the battlefield.

  6. Good to see you and the wee lads having a game at last! I do like the look of the latest version. I especially like the reduced to-hit scores and the reversion to front and flank melee values.

    I'm looking forward to trying them out and to seeing what you come up with for troop quality. My I first starting playing with Morschauser, I just adjusted melee values since militia seems to have been better at long range fire than close assaults.

  7. I'm following your reports with interest, as you know I am trying out your PW 2 rules as well. In fact I have another battle on the table, doing a bit at a time what with work and all.
    These rules do have the advantage of playing quickly, so it's quite feasible to do as you did and refight a battle.
    I am interested in your comment about adapting for other periods, as most of my current games are either SYW era or (soon) Colonial.
    Another thing these rules lend themselves to is tinkering, but I'm resisting that until I give the rules as written a fair shake (maybe a couple more games or so).

  8. Hi Bob,

    Great report as ever - it really brightened up my evening! The rules seemed to flow very smoothly which adds to the unfolding drama.

    There is nothing more irritating than a set of rules that slows down the pace of the action so top marks for putting the gaming back in war!

    Can't wait to see whats next - both with the rules and the civil war!

    All the best,


  9. Will have to get my Del Prado figs out if I can remember where they are and give it a try I have the battlefield maps as well suppose I could grid them.

  10. Ross Mac,

    It was a very enjoyable battle to fight!

    I think that going back to the original Morschauser rules and using them as the basis for PW2 was the right thing to do. PW1 worked ... but making changes was becoming more difficult because - as the Irish say - 'if I was going there, I wouldn't have started from here'.

    The next change I want to make is to include different troop quailities ... but I want to make sure that it is as simple as it can be so that players will use it and not forget it during the 'heat of battle'.

    All the best,


  11. Fitz-Badger,

    I look forward to reading your next battle report with interest.

    I have several ideas about variants for other historical periods, including Colonial and World War II, but my first priority is to include a simple mechanism that will take into account differences in troop qualities e.g. Guards, Line, and Militia all having different 'staying power'.

    All the best (and enjoy tinkering with the rules!0,


  12. David Crook,

    I am glad that you enjoyed reading this battle report.

    As to what will happen next in the Cordeguayan Civil War ... well, General Santa Maria has fled abroad ... but you never know if and when he will come back!

    All the best,


  13. Johntheone,

    Good luck! If your Del Prado figures have been sitting unused for as long as mine were, I am sure that they will appreciate being used on the tabletop.

    All the best,


  14. As well as being a good game, the visual effect was stunning, very much how I imagine "Polemos" to look.
    I haven't forgotten the 20th Century version of PW (should that be PWWW2?) and will send you the results of a playtest set in the Chaco War in the next few days.



  15. Nic101,

    Thank you for your very kind comment.

    I suppose that POLEMOS would have looked like the sort of layout I had on the tabletop, especially the way I have draped the cloth over books to create the hills.

    I look forward to reading your Chaco War battle report in the near future.

    All the best,


  16. Bob,

    A very entertaining battle report, as always.

    I thought the squared cloth terrain - very like that shown in the Illustrated London News engraving of Polemos - looked much nicer than the Heroscape hexes you've used for some other games, and much easier to create.


  17. Arthur1815,

    Many thanks for your kind remarks.

    I take your point about the cloth. It is relatively cheap - and easy - to make, and it has a more map-like quality about it than a hexed terrain. The squares also seem to be less intrusive to the eye than hexes.

    My problem is that I have invested heavily in hexed terrain systems ... but for a truly portable wargame, the cloth wins hands down.

    All the best,


  18. Like it:

    I have two thoughts running through my head.

    One: This is a good use as any for a "bunch of old 20mm plastics I have lying around

    Two: I think it will look really good with the 2mm Napoleonics I have

  19. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

    Then why not give one (or both) a go!

    What do you have to lose? Less than you have to gain!

    All the best,


  20. Bob,

    I know you have a lot of irons in the fire right now, but when things calm down, please consider putting together a book of all of your sets of rules, your thoughts on armies and terrain, using gridded battlefields, and so on. I know much of this is already available on various blogs and websites, but your ideas and enthusiasm for the hobby deserve a much wider audience!

    I'd be in the front of the line for a copy--and best of all, you'd have to do all the work! It's a WIN-WIN. Anybody with me on this?

    Best regards,


  21. Chris,

    You are not the first person to make that suggestion ... and I am giving it serious consideration.

    If or when I do write a book about my gridded wargames, I will certainly let people know via my blog.

    All the best,



Thank you for leaving a comment. Please note that any comments that are spam or contain phishing messages or that come from Google Accounts that are 'Unknown' will be deleted.