Thursday, 10 October 2013

San Lorenzo - a French-Mexican AAR using BFE2

After the debacle of Vigésimo tercero de Septiembre the French mounted a dawn raid on the victorious Republican forces at San Lorenzo to try and recapture the wagons.

This scenario is taken from Tim Tilson's Colonial Campaigns book Maximilian in Mexico. Tim's scenarios use The Sword and the Flame rules but I use Chris Leach's Battles For Empire V2.

For this game we used the BFE V2 Combat chart (CC) for melees but shooting used BFE V1 CC

In BFE2 each unit can take 8 casualties before being destroyed

V2 CC has each hit causing a casualty with 1 hit also causing disorder and 2 or more hits making the target become shaken.

V1 CC has 1 hit  causing disorder, 2 hits making the target become shaken, 3 hits shaken and a casualty and 4 hits shaken and 2 casualties. If a unit is already shaken then 2 hits causes a casualty

I felt that using the V2 CC made shooting very powerful in this period. This is not a problem in a standard colonial game where the European army tries to gun down loads of natives before being overwhelmed. However when both sides are essentially European armies then shooting needs to be toned down.

The Republican  forces

Shaun and Paul

Unit Number Abilities
Line Infantry 4 Companies 1st Rate MLR, Regulars
State Militia 5 Companies 2nd Rate MLR, Colonial Recruits
Regular Cavalry2 SquadronsRegulars - no firearms, can not dismount
Artillery1 gun2nd rate SB
Wagons3move 6"
Padre TedSpecialmedic
moves 9"
can heal 1D3 of hits per turn at end of turn

The troops set up anywhere in the village. They are in camp so cannot move or shoot until they organise themselves. If they are contacted by a enemy unit whilst disorganised then they count as being attacked in the rear.

To get organised each unit must roll less than or equal to the current turn on a 1D6. Regulars subtract 1 from the dice and the wagons add 1 to the dice.

The supply train must exit the table by the northern road. The wagons must start 5 turns away from the exit ie if wagons move 6 inches then the exit must be 30 inches away

The French  forces

Dave and Rodge

Unit Number Abilities
Foreign Legion5 CompaniesElite, 1st Rate MLR, Regulars
Zouaves1 CompanyElite, 1st Rate MLR, Regulars
Chasseurs d'Afrique1 Squadron2nd Rate MLR, Regulars, can dismount
Contras1 Squadron2nd Rate MLR, Colonial Recruits, can dismount
Artillery2 guns1st rate SB
The Lost PatrolSpecialmarksman
moves 9"
1D6 to shoot at enemy unit or roll on Critical hit vs enemy officer

The French deploy along the southern edge of the board with the option to have up to 3 units appear anywhere on the western edge from Turn 3 onward.


The French get victory points for capturing the wagons and the gun. The Republicans get victory points for getting the wagons and the gun off the northern edge of the table. Both sides get points for killing the enemy

The game

The French decided to have the Chasseurs d'Afrique and a company of Legionaires as the flanking force. With hindsight they should have added the Contras to aid the Chasseurs but they thought that the Republicans had forces other than those sleeping off the victory celebrations in San Lorenzo so wanted to cover their rear.

The remainder of their force massed to the south west of the village and advanced north.

The Republicans had mixed results getting their forces up and about. Those in the western half of the village were mainly organised by Turn 2 but those in the Church yard which included the wagons and the gun remained snoozing until Turn 3.

Once they were roused however the wagons, the gun and a covering squadron of cavalry headed north as fast as they could.

The French deployed their flanking force on Turn 4 with the Chasseurs riding ahead to cut off the escape column. With some very helpful initiative rolls they caught the Republican cavalry in column and destroyed then after a couple of turns of melee. They were then presented with 3 targets  - the wagons, the gun and a Militia infantry company.

They charged the infantry in the hope of  clearing a space to take out the wagons but a well executed volley from the Militia, poor melee dice and a wounded commander shattered them leaving the way clear for the wagons and gun to escape.

On realizing that they were being flanked the Republicans in the village started withdrawn north to face this new threat leaving a weak rearguard to hold up the French main force advanced from the south.

This movement left them open to several flank and rear attacks as the French caught up with them. As a result the Republicans lost units as the French took out their frustration at seeing the supply train about to disappear.

The tenth and final turn saw the game hanging in the balance. The French had rushed the Contras forward to a position where they could capture the last wagon in the column. This wagon had just enough movement to exit the table.

BFE uses initiative rolls to decide who goes first in each turn with the French adding +1 their roll for better command. The highest roller decides whether to go first or second. Both sides needed to go first in this last turn, the French to capture the wagon, the Republicans to move it off the table.

Lady Luck decided that the day would go to the Republicans as they rolled highest leaving the Contras to choke in dust of the high-tailing supply train

Victory Points

The Republicans got the 3 wagons (1 VP each) and the gun (1 VP) off the table and destroyed 1 French unit - the Chasseurs (1 VP) making 5 VP

The French destroyed 4 Regular units - 2 infantry and 2 cavalry (1 VP) making 4 VP. They also destroyed 2 Militia units but needed to kill 3 Militia units to get an extra 1 VP

So once again the Republicans claimed the day albeit a Pyrrhic victory as they lost 50% of their fighting force


Congratulations to the Republicans for saving the wagons at the expense of half their army.

I think putting both cavalry squadrons in the French flanking force and not worrying about sober Republicans would have won them the game

The BFE V1 Combat Charts worked very well causing disorder and shaking units without destroying them in long distance fire-fights. It certainly made the French fight in their traditional Furia Francese style. The charts fit neatly into BFE2.

Finally well done to Tim Tilson for putting together a very finely  balanced scenario which went right down to the wire and could have easily gone to the French. This scenario has potential for any period - a Zulu kraal with herds of cattle for instance.

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