Napoleon Invades Spain: Notes from Gabriel

I have played boardgames (mostly wargames) since 1978. Some games stand the passage of time better than others, as taste and life evolve. What has not changed is my admiration for (paraphrasing the first Duke of Wellington) "darn good" games, and SPI / Kevin Zucker´s  Napoleon´s Last Battles opened for me, many years ago, an unique window to playable Napoleonic warfare, and led to quite some reading, "recruiting" more than 60 Napoleonic-Era games and the unique experience of 13+ years of historical reenactment of our "Guerra de la Independencia", during which I met Kevin in his battlefield tour in Spain, a few years ago.

I happily joined the ranks of players of the  Library of Napoleonic Battles, and really enjoy both their beautiful and accurate maps and OOB and the outstanding level of historical detail in each one of them.

When Kevin contacted me on late 2020 for checking Spanish and Portuguese town names on the beautiful and detailed maps for this game, which I pre-ordered last year, a wonderful adventure began. Since then, I have re-learned almost everything I thought I knew about the four battles presented, and I can highly recommend them as both playable, interesting and insightful. They are also very different one from another.

Vimeiro, the first battle in Portugal of the newly arrived Sir Arthur Wellesley, considered by many at the time an obscure "sepoy general", was truly hard fought, and will be very rewarding to play. Rock-solid redcoats vs a very good French Army, which could have beaten them, in an interesting terrain.

Espinosa de los Monteros is a two-day battle with the skillful and brave defense of a strong position by the Spanish Army of the Left, reinforced by the "Division del Norte", with some of the best regiments in our Army, after their epic escape from Denmark. An excellent French Army beat them then at significant cost, and the game map, opening wide options, helped me understand at last why and how this battle was fought.

Tudela saw the (Spanish) victors of Bailén, under the competent General Castaños, defeated as much by a brilliant Marshall Lannes and an outstanding French Army as by command fragmentation, hard to avoid at this stage of the Spanish National Revolt against Napoleon. Castaños plan was sound, and the hard fought battle which it was -and this game is- could have gone differently...

La Coruña is as famous as is a very interesting battle, smaller -and maybe more playable- than others in previous games of the LONB, but well worth playing. Soult vs Sir John Moore, two superb armies, restrictive ground...

Napoleon came to Spain in October 1808 with 100.000+ veterans, after his failed takeover of the country earlier in the year, seeking a decisive battle, taking Madrid and ending a war he provoked but did not want. His excellent armies won several field battles (in this game we have 3) and soon grew to a quarter million men force.
Napoleon never came back to Spain. Six years, many more (20+) battles, hundreds of "actions" and two dozen of sieges later, the rock-paper scissors combination of the ever present Spanish Army, the Nation in Arms / Guerrilla and the outstanding Anglo-Portuguese Army, supported by the British Navy, defeated him and became decisive in his downfall. When guns went silent at La Coruña and the British Army re-embarked, covered by the Spanish garrison and forts, all this was yet to happen...
Kind regards,