Quatre Batailles en Espagne

I finally got to play this game, one of the series by Didier Rouy of Napoleonic battles. In this box you get Ocana, Salamanca, Vitoria, and Sauren.

I have played through Ocana to a resolution a few times, and am now on my umpteenth attempt at Salamanca.

The strength of the series is that you get good maps (though the absence of hex numbers is a pain), good looking counters, and a system that at its core, works. The main drawback is that to get historical results, you need to use the command and control rules. And these are not presented as a package, but us a menu of options. Without them, for example, the superior manpower (not quality) of the anti-French forces in Ocana, means the French are unlikely to repeat their historical success. However, the command rules don’t give you the starting orders for each side meaning you have to do some legwork before you can start playing – unless you want to just line them up and let them have it.

I managed to get Ocana to work (I think).

With Salamanca, I went down a different route. I said elsewhere that I really liked the Gamers’ Napoleonic Battles Series system. The scales are similar, but NBS is much faster to play because it does away with infantry fire other than for skirmishers. In particular, NBS allows the quality of the troops to have a real impact on close combat. In this system, numbers give you the edge. So, I have been trying to fit the close combat stuff from NBS into these battles, starting with Salamanca. Let’s just say, it’s not easy. But it is fun. I have been inspired to do more reading up on the subject, and each time come back to the table with something new to try out. It’s probably a case of me enjoying the journey, because I’ll probably never get to a decent finish.

It does also make me curious about how others play these games. But that’s a post for another time.