Monday, October 28, 2019

Vauban's Wars Playtest: The Siege of Badajoz, March - April 1812

The siege of Badajoz was a key event in  Peninsular War, as Wellington was at last moving from the strategic defensive to the offense. It took place from  March 16 - April 6th, 1812. Wellington was eager to get the siege over with as quickly as possible, before any of the advancing French could intervene. Badajoz lies on the river Guadiana, on the frontier between Spain and Portugal. 

French:  Under General de Brigade Armand Philippon 5,000 men
British: Under Earl of Wellington and General Picton  27,000 men

FRENCH (Defenders/Garrison)

Badajoz is rated as a "STRONG" Fortress, with a base defense grade of 6; Thus Gates and Bastions will be class 7 (take 70 hits to breach), Walls Grade 6 (60 hits), and Ravelins Grade 5 (50 hits). 

4 Bastions, 24 Siege purchase Points (6 points for each bastion).

4 Fortress guns in Bastions,  (one in each). (free)
1 Governor (free) (Philippon) LD 12
1 General (free)  LD 10
1 Miner (free)
4 Line Infantry 4 pts
1 Light Infantry  2 pts
1 Grenadier Infantry 2 pts (I forgot to put the Grenadier unit out!)
3 Heavy guns 9 pts
3 Sappers  6 pts
1 Spy 1 pt

Food Supply: As a "Well stocked" Fortress, Badajoz rolled 5 D6 and added 12, and wound up with 28
Supply Die:  D4 (higher is better; D4 is usual for Fortress)
Powder Supply: 10 (D6 plus 6)
Security Die: D8  (can vary from D6 [bad] to D10 [good]). Used to defend against Espionage and some other events. 
Siege Morale Points (SMP): 16 (Low; John rolled... poorly!)
Popular Support Die: D6 (the Spanish populace was indifferent at best to the French Garrison). It probably should have been a D8 (Lot of discontent), maybe even D10 (openly hostile)). 

BRITISH (Attackers/Besiegers)

With the Fortress having 4 bastions/24 points, the attackers will get  twice as many points to spend = 48):

2 Free Siege Guns (1 per 2 bastions)
1 Free Miner
1 Free Commander (Wellington) LD 12+1
1 Free General (picton)  LD 12
4 more Siege artillery 16 pts
4 Sappers  8 pts
1 Spy  1 pt
8 Line Infantry 8 pts
2 Lightt Infantry 4 pts
2 Grenadiers 2 pts (Highlanders/Fusiliers)
1 Guard Infantry 3 pts
Add 1 to Powder Supply  4 pts
2 Heavy Mortars 2 pts

Supply Die: D6 (Average for attackers)
Powder Supply: 13 (D6 +6; Barry rolled well, and had an additional one purchased!)
Security Die: D8 (average)
Siege Morale Points: 30 (average for strength of besieging force).

Early on in the game, British sappers start their saps from the 1st parallel towards the Fortress, as John/Philippon looks on confidently from behind the walls! The 1st parallel is at long range from the Fort. 

Another view early in the siege; the first TWO turns eneded in tied die rolls before any cards were played. Actually, that was a bit historical, as Wellington was delayed for a time by the slowness of the advance of his siege train over the poor Peninsular roads. 

The saps advance; one British sapper has started construction of a segment of the 2nd parallell, at medium range from the Fortress. Disease has taken a heavy toll on the participants, especially the Defenders!

A British sapper has constructed a Gun emplacement (and paid for it with his life; the British lost a LOT of sappers in this game, in part due to an oversight on my part; sappers are an additional DOWN 2 as a target! The first (ineffective) shot has been fired at the walls. Note the Siege Mortar waiting in the 1st parallel. 

 After a lot of losses, the saps have advanced and gun positions have been constructed allowing shelling of two of the Fortresses' Bastions. 

Accurate fire by John's defenders is wreaking havoc on the British gunners (too accurate; they should have been another DOWN 1 as a target!). More Disease thins the ranks and drains the Morale of both Besiegers and Garrison alike. 

The British have made modest progress at battering two of the Bastions, but are a long way from achieving a Breach!

The triangular structures are Ravelins; they must be destroyed before the walls beyond can be targeted. 

 The British guns burn up powder like crazy... as do the French defenders!

Heavy Mortars fire on the town beyond the walls, hoping to shake the Morale of the defenders. In the end, however , it is the British that run out of Siege Morale points first. The siege is lifted, and Wellington must return to Portugal to try again another time!

A short video on the Siege of Badajoz

    I made a LOT of mistakes in running this game, but we still had a blast with it. Eric Burgess's Vauban's Wars rules are nearing their final version, and have developed a lot from the earlier version we had play tested a number of years ago. We will probably do another run of this game soon (with new rolls for the setup, and possibly some minor changes in the forces. I made the fortress walls and Bastions all in the past week, and hope to pretty them up some, plus add representation for the Glacis/Covered Way beyond the ditch for that game. 


  1. Thanks for playtesting Peter! Can't wait for the second go round with all the adjustments.

  2. Neat looking game, Peter! Those heavy mortars are HUGE! Who makes your nifty castle?

    1. The castle is an old, old resin model by Gallia. I think I got it circa 1988. Actually, that is just the Keep; I have a full set of walls and towers, but those are all pretty old style for the Vauban era and beyond.

  3. looked like fun. Need a QRS for up&downs, eh?! Maybe next time.

    1. We had one, but only for me; next time QRS all around! :-)

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  5. Great writeup. I've been looking forward to these rules for quite some time.

    1. The additional time in development and playtesting has definitely honed them. I plan to do another test game again soon.

  6. What an impressive table, love the fortifications...and the stunning Heavy Mortars, excellent!

  7. Peter - this post feels like a leaked spy document - game looks good. It's been a long while - I'm still hoping I'll live to see Vauban's Wars published. I shall study your report again for clues on how the rules hang together! Thanks for posting.

    1. Eric's goal is to publish in the first quarter of 202, and I think it likely he will make it. The next write up may be more detailed; this one was a challenge to get everything on the table and get everyone comfortable with the basic rules.

  8. Nice set up for a very historic siege!

  9. A game with a difference. Nicely set up and very interesting!

    1. A big change of pace requiring a whole different approach tom command.

  10. That is great, and the rules sound like just the thing to make an interesting siege game.

    1. They really do, and we didn't really use the espionage or Trench Raid features of the game... this time!

  11. Cool! I did a game - siege of Charleston, AWI - with an early set of the rules many years ago and even with its imperfections at the time gave a fun game. Looking forward to the final set.

    1. We did a couple of playtest games way back when as well. They have evolved nicely over time!

  12. Thanks everybody for your interest in Vauban's Wars and siege warfare! I know this has taken quite some time, but it will be worth it. I had to completely change the core from Piquet impetus driven to Field of Battle initiative, along with the combat mechanics of each. Sieges are complicated affairs and VW will provide a fun narrative to your siege warfare games!

  13. Of you want to learn more about the rules look through my blog posts:

    1. Thanks, Eric; it is well worth checking out Eric's blog posts on these rules!

    2. Thanks Peter! Some of the earlier VW posts have the theory behind the certain aspects of the rules.

  14. A great looking game Peter, nothing beats a good siege in my opinion!

  15. Excellent to see the siege works being presented on the tabletop.

    1. Thank you! We should see them here again within the next month or so.

  16. Excellent siege write up,I'm building walls now and hope to do a siege game soon!
    Best Iain

  17. It is very different kind of action, but a nice change of pace. I am updating the Fortress components with some stonework "wallpaper".