Last Sunday I taught my brother the ins and outs of Commands & Colors: Napoleonics. He and I played a fair amount of Ancients between 2006-2008, so this was just a new twist on an old favorite for him. True to my vow to never return to a scenario until I had played through all of them once, I picked the next on my list, the Battle of River Coa. While this is a small scenario, it’s still fascinating; the British can exit units off the map via the bridge over the River
Kwai Coa for victory banners if they choose. Also, each player only has four cards in his hand, so forming square drops your hand size by 25%! After a brief rules explanation, we were off and running.
I knew I had to drive hard to catch Mike’s units before they exited the map, but my cavalry started far away from his units. With few cards to move my cavalry, I instead advanced my infantry in the center, intent on knocking out his Portuguese light infantry before they could exit. (Also, the French infantry in the center start in range of the British artillery, so your only options are to retreat out or range or close and do damage.) Along the way, my units took some hits, but I was successful in knocking out one enemy unit.
However, in my haste to catch some of his units furthest away from the bridge, I advanced some unsupported light cavalry on my right, intent on catching his Rifles napping. Mike quickly formed square and sent some line infantry sailing in to drive my cavalry back and inflict heavy losses. Later on I attempted to bring in some infantry support, but they never really got in the fight.
As the battle progressed, I worked to cycle out hurt units in the center and replace them with fresh troops. This worked well, and I actually managed to destroy a few British artillery units at the same time. Meanwhile, a few more British units exited the map and we were tied 3-3. Eventually the card draws started working in my favor, and I was able to move some heavy cavalry up my left flank. In a moment of daring, they vaulted over the breastworks of the beleaguered Portuguese light infantry, who were promptly cut down.
Set back on his heels a bit, my brother did what any good board game general would do–he suggested we sample some beer! I was ahead, 5-4.
After the break for beer, the few remaining British units set up in the most defensive posture possible on the hills in the center and on my right flank. I took my time, cycled in fresh troops, and brought up more heavy cavalry to fully block off the approach to the bridge over the River
Kwai Coa. I focused on my goal and used the the tactical advice I received from a recently-arrived comrade, fresh from a rejuvenating nap:
This was a simple, short, and exciting scenario. The overwhelming size of the French force is mitigated by the distance they have to cover before the British slip away, and the small hand size makes every decision to “form square!” agony. I look forward to playing this again once I’ve played through the entire scenario book once. If I play the British in the future, I plan on moving my crack rifles into the fortifications that protect the approach to the bridge. From there, they can pick off any French troops trying to cut off the Allies’ only exit.