Friday, 17 July 2015

Talavera - Dawn Attack, Game One

"a tremendous cannonade - shots and shells were falling in every direction - but none of the enemy were to be seen - the men were all lying in their ranks, and except at the very spot where a shot or shell fell, there was not the least motion - I have not seen men killed in the ranks by cannon shots - those immediately around the spot would remove the mutilated corpse to the rear, they would then lie down as if nothing had occurred and remain in the ranks, steady as before. The common men could be brought to face the greatest danger, there is a spirit which tells me it is possible, but I could not believe that they could remain without emotion, when attacked not knowing from whence. Such, however, was the conduct of our men I speak particularly of the Brigade on the 28th July, and from this steadiness so few suffered as by remaining quiet the shots bounded over their heads."  
An Ensign in the Third Guards describing the dawn barrage on the 28th July 1809 at Talavera

Dawn Attack scenario map showing the units and objective points for the French. The divisions of Villate and Ruffin are supported by Merlin's and Beaumont's cavalry
The attack on the Cerro de Medellin by General Ruffin's division at Talavera is like the attacks made by Ney and Reynier's troops at Busacco ridge almost exactly a year later a seemingly thankless task for any prospective French commander.

The prospect of marching up a steep slope through a screen of British light infantry, getting shot by British guns only to get volleyed and charged back down said steep slope by a British line, does not seem that appealing to most aspiring French commanders.

We of course have the benefit of two hundred years of hindsight and analysis that influences our thinking. Generals Ruffin, Ney, Reynier and the troops they commanded were not so informed and thus recreating the situation they faced in the vain hope that our well read wargamer will follow in their footsteps and reveal hidden truths on the tabletop, is a challenge to the scenario designer, to say the least.

The plan of action that Marshal Victor came up with on July 28th 1809 was based on his experience of battle too date facing the Austrians, Prussians and Russians that clearly showed that a rapid advance by his infantry in multiple columns screened by his light troops and with a preparatory bombardment of the enemy line by his massed artillery, coupled with the élan of his veteran infantry, used to victory, would be all that was needed to overcome the British defenders on the Cerro de Medellin. 

At this stage of the Empire, the rapier had given way to the bludgeon and as manpower was in plentiful supply, he ordered that both Ruffin and Villatte's divisions, twenty-one battalions, should make the assault.

The French artillery commence their barrage with half their batteries as they attempt to get the range
Our scenario was prefaced on this original plan and assumed that Villatte's division is alongside that of General Ruffin's ready to reinforce the success of assaulting the summit with a follow up attack on the lower slopes in the centre of the British line enabling French forces to turn the whole Allied  position and leave them exposed to the massed ranks of French cavalry ready to take up the pursuit. This is the first play-test with the emphasis very much on test designed to throw up more questions about what is needed to make this an interesting challenge for both players.

General Villatte could only advance into the attack once Ruffin's men had established themselves on the summit and the whole operation had to be completed in slightly under four hours to replicate the original design.

In reality, for some unknown reason, Villatte never made the supporting assault and Ruffin's troops were bloodily repulsed losing 1,300 men in little over forty minutes. I think possibly the effect of seeing his veterans running back down the slope they had only previously gone over must have come as a distinct shock to Victor and perhaps just stayed his hand before launching his second division into the attack.

To aid General Ruffin in his task, the massed guns of I Corps plus the light cavalry brigades of Beaumont, Ormancey and Strolz were at his command and he could design his barrage to last for thirty or forty-five minutes before advancing to the objective.

The French guns having found the mark pour on the fire at full effect causing a retaliatory response from the KGL brigades on the forward slopes of the Medellin. The red halt markers indicate the stress felt by the light battalions arrayed across the forward slopes
With the signal gun fired at 05.00 the early morning dawn was shattered as French guns fired along the line. In front of the Medellin thirty eight cannon blasted the British position and the brigade light battalions, artillery brigades and those unfortunate forward battalions started to take casualties

The 1st Battalion of Detachments fall back over the crest to take cover alongside Stuart's Light Battalion
Within fifteen minutes of the first salvo the barrage reached a crescendo as the the French gunners went to work bringing in all their guns aligned to their first ranging shots (C&G rewards attention to detail and by only firing the batteries at 50% the fatigue on the gunners is reduced whilst their accuracy rises to full effect on the second turn of firing, when a 100% gives the greatest number of hits.)

After a forty-five minute barrage the French guns fall silent as the 9e Legere advance across the Portina, supported by Beaumont's light cavalry
General Ruffin (Tom) had opted for a full forty five minute (three turn) barrage of the forward British/KGL units and two of the light battalions fell back over the crest with General Hill (Steve) pulling the 1st Detachments back on the crest following early casualties.

Stuart's Light Battalion move out over the crest supported by the fire from the KGL guns
Just as quickly as it had started, the barrage suddenly stopped replaced by the steady methodical beat of the pas de charge as the 9e Legere moved through the gun line and down into the Portina valley.

The KGL batteries of Rettberg and Heyse plied the French troops with 6lbr shot but the columns simply closed ranks and continued on leaving a trail of blue clad shapes littering the ground in their wake.

The light company men of Stuart's Light Battalion had been badly shaken by the French barrage. None of the men had ever experienced such a shock and the veterans of Vimeiro were equally as astonished by the violence as the newest recruits. The battalion fell back in considerable disorder and drew the attention of Sir Arthur Wellesley, who joined the battalion and pointed out that they would have experienced much worse in 1803 at Assaye and to return to their positions. Immediately galvanised into action the light bobs worked their way back down the forward slopes, calmly finding cover and watching the French infantry approach.

Beaumont's cavalry moved up to Valdefuentes Farm in support of the Legere
From his crest line position General Hill eyed the French columns and took note of multiple ranks of French cavalry moving behind them in squadron column, picking their way carefully along the floor of the valley, with artillery moving in their wake.

At that moment Wellesley trotted up along side and passed his compliments.
"I trust you had a good night following the spot of nuisance from our French friends, General Hill?"

"Capital my Lord, capital and I fancy we are in for more fun and games before the morning is out if that French cavalry and artillery are any sign."

"Mmm, I think we may be wise to match their cavalry with a little of our own. Captain, my compliments to General Payne and please ask him to send me General's Fane and Anson's brigades to this side of the hill under my command."

Wellesley redeploys Fane's and Anson's cavalry brigades to his threatened flank. The 3rd Dragoon Guards charge the 1/9e Legere at Vadefuentes Farm
The first hour of the day had started bright enough but gradually gave way to an overcast sky with light rain, that together with the cannon smoke that had accumulated in the valley greatly reduced the visibility and the British gun fire became sporadic as the French columns disappeared into the murk, their approach marked only by the steady beat of their drummers getting closer.

As the British artillery reduced its outputs, the battle was taken up by the light battalions of both sides as muskets and rifles cracked away and individuals could be seen to fall. As the French troops appeared to be working their way down the valley, Rettberg's brigade limbered up and moved off along the ridge with orders to support the cavalry brigades assembling under the command of General Wellesley.

Charge and react markers blossom as the action gets close and the tension mounts. The battle reaches a climax, as the lines and artillery deploy
It was about 0700 as the first voltigeur screens started to climb the northern slope of the Medellin as the 1/9e Legere shook out into line near the small farm as the French skirmish line reached the crest it progress was checked by a sudden volley from the 1st Detachments supported by Stuart's light bobs.

On the other side of the farm the 2e Hussars and 5e Chasseurs a Cheval were shaking out into line. Suddenly a shout of warning rang out from the Legere as out of the mist loomed two squadrons of British heavy dragoons who were gathering speed as they approached from off the crest.

With British infantry above them and British heavy cavalry charging to their front, Major Dauture commanding in the place of Colonel Meunier, promoted to brigade commander, ordered the "Incomparable" to present arms. The British cavalry looked irresistible until the volley was unleashed, but the French commander was unable to prevent his men from backing away.

The volley had stopped the charge fifty paces short leaving thirty of the red-coated cavalrymen dead or wounded and the the heavy dragoons disordered next to the farm buildings. The 9e Legere however were equally disordered and by falling back had uncovered the flank of the 1/3e Artillerie a Cheval as they unlimbered in preparation to bombard the British infantry on the crest with canister.

The 1st Detachments fire into the voltigeurs screening the 9e Legere, just before charging downhill and upsetting the whole French attack plan
With his supporting squadrons and those of Anson's brigade moving up, General Fane was quick to rally the 3rd Dragoon Guards who promptly smashed their way into the French horse gunners taken completely by surprise. At the same time the 1st Detachments, charged through the voltigeur screen to take the 1/9e Legere in the flank, driving them back, with the French being saved by the tiredness of the British troops; having been in action and marching most of the previous night.

The French bring up horse artillery to support their attack on the ridge as the 24e Ligne approach the lower slopes
As the British launched their counter-punch before the French attack even got going, they also moved Tilson's brigade in behind Stuarts presenting the French command with a double wall of redcoat lines supported by artillery at each end and elite British cavalry threatening to roam at will along the northern valley.

Both sides rush supports to the threatened area around Valdefuentes
To their credit, the 9e Legere held their discipline and their ground as they recoiled back from the British attack. The French horse gunners were equally determined to stand their ground and were almost wiped out bar one corporal who made it back unharmed with the only gun salvaged from the other five that fell into British hands.

Suddenly the battle turns. The 3rd Dragoon Guards strike the French horse guns as the French infantry are driven back by the tiring Detachments
We had played ten turns out of the fifteen planned and self evidently the French would not be able to force their way on to the Medellin in time and settled for a withdraw back into the mist covered by their cavalry.

British cavalry move threateningly off the slopes of the Medellin
Just as it seemed the mornings action was over, General Francois Ormancey had to be relieved of his command after suffering what his officers described as a nervous break down during the latter stages of the battle, with General Merlin assuming command of the covering force as the French troops fell back to the Cascajal (This is the first time C&G has thrown out this kind of issue with a General Officer and it immediately put the Vistula Lancers and Westphalian Light Horse on a "No Advance").

With only five turns remaining and the French assault stalled, we called it a night
The butchers bill below, for the mornings action, shows the small scattering of casualties distributed among the various units because of the artillery and skirmish attacks going on throughout the two and a half hours of fighting. The heaviest casualties falling on those units caught up in the British counter-attack.

The 1st Battalion of Detachments, a mongrel battalion, performed admirably, particularly after getting caught in the first fifteen minutes of the French bombardment and with it carrying the fatigue from the previous nights fighting.

The change in the early morning weather to include a drizzle that reduced visibility to 400 paces at one stage, severely limited long range artillery and the use of bringing up horse guns for a bit of close range work seemed to have been a particularly inspired move by Tom until they got chopped up by the 3rd DG.

This first test has given an early steer towards making this a challenge for both sides. Clearly the French command would be acutely aware of any change in the British defence in response to their first moves. This position was not the classic "Wellingtonian" reverse slope with the ability to reposition troops unobserved and thus it seems likely that troops moved to defend against Ruffin could trigger an attack from Villatte. This needs to be built in to create a similar pressure on our tabletop commanders. Thus a successful attack from Ruffin could be getting on to the ridge or drawing away troops from the British centre, which would trigger a reinforcement.

Our battles are going to get larger as we progress and we need to improve our playing methods to allow more efficient use of time. With more play experience with C&G we are much quicker cycling through the sequence, but small things like introducing the coloured counters add greatly to making command and control simpler for the players and worked well. We used white for no advance, red for halt, red with a casualty figure for retire and yellow for rout.

I am looking at producing a simple little laminated card that can be used by players to quietly let the game master know about any change of orders without alerting the opposition.

Tom, taking the French, played a very safe and limited game and was reluctant to go hell for leather at the Medellin in daylight, however the attack needed to be pressed and the 24e Ligne should have set off with the Legere to pin Tilson's brigade. We were acutely aware that Steve playing the British was too knowledgeable about the constraints placed on the French and knowing Villatte would not attack whilst Ruffin was kept off the crest allowed him the comfort to shift his assets more freely than Wellesley would have felt, and a level of uncertainty as discussed above needs to be created to keep the British commander honest. I am keen to allow the French commander to go for a minimalist assault as this would work well in a linked campaign where the French commander would want to strive to reduce his casualties but be rewarded for doing better than the historical attack, Thus getting away with a minor British victory would be a reward with the main attack still to come. To qualify as a minimalist attack, it would require the French commander to commit (to be defined) all nine battalions of Ruffin's division as was the case and perhaps there should be a penalty in a series of linked games for not reaching that minimum level of compliance with Victor's orders.

Still this was the first test and I feel I have a better idea on timings and mechanisms that could be included in test two. In addition I think I need to see if we can play out fifteen turns up to 9am with a full out attack to gauge the limits of this scenario. Perhaps I'll have to get Tom up on the Medellin and see if his old Dad can get him off.

Talavera - Dawn Attack

[D] denotes Dispersed and removed from the field
[W] denotes No Advance
[R] denotes Halt or Retire
[Y] denotes Routing

Army Sir Arthur Wellesley
[501] Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley - Active A [1500 paces]
[550] Eliott's Brigade 0/ 151 [ 6] C Good Fresh
[551] Rettberg's Brigade 12/ 132 [ 6] C Good Fresh
[552] Heyse's Brigade 0/ 149 [ 6] C Good Tiring

Division William Payne - Defend
[503] Lieutenant General William Payne - Active C+ [725 paces]

Brigade Henry Fane - Defend
[504] Brigadier General Henry Fane - Active B- [400 paces]
[501] 3rd Dragoon Guards A 28/ 227 C+ Good Tiring
[502] 3rd Dragoon Guards B 0/ 273 C+ Ex'lent Fresh
[503] 4th Dragoons A 0/ 279 C Good Fresh
[504] 4th Dragoons B 0/ 271 C Good Fresh
Brigade Stapleton Cotton - Defend
[505] Brigadier General Stapleton Cotton - Active B+ [500 paces]
[505] 14th Light Dragoons A 0/ 240 C [sk] Good Fresh
[506] 14th Light Dragoons B 0/ 229 C [sk] Good Fresh
[507] 16th Light Dragoons A 0/ 253 C [sk] Good Fresh
[508] 16th Light Dragoons B 0/ 271 C [sk] Good Fresh
Brigade George Anson - Defend
[506] Brigadier General George Anson - Active B- [400 paces]
[509] 23rd Light Dragoons A 0/ 229 C [sk] Good Fresh
[510] 23rd Light Dragoons B 0/ 224 C [sk] Good Fresh
[511] 1st Light Dragoons KGL A 0/ 220 C+ [sk] Good Fresh
[512] 1st Light Dragoons KGL B 0/ 228 C+ [sk] Good Fresh

Division John Coape Sherbrooke - Defend
[507] Lieutenant General John Coape Sherbrooke - Active B- [800 paces]

Brigade Ernest Baron Langwerth - Defend
[510] Brigadier General Ernest Baron Langwerth - Active B- [350 paces]
[519] 1st KGL Line Battalion 0/ 544 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[520] 2nd KGL Line Battalion 0/ 610 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[521] Langwerth's Bde. Light Bn. 14/ 220 C [sk] Good Fresh
Brigade Sigismund Baron Low - Defend
[511] Brigadier General Sigismund Baron Low - Active C+ [450 paces]
[522] 5th KGL Line Battalion 20/ 529 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[523] 7th KGL Line Battalion 34/ 467 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[D] [524] Low's Bde. Light Bn. 33/ 84 C [sk] Poor Tired

Division Rowland Hill - Defend
[512] Major General Rowland Hill - Active B- [950 paces]

Brigade Christopher Tilson - Defend
[513] Brigadier General Christopher Tilson - Active C+ [350 paces]
[525] 1/3rd Foot 0/ 671 C+ [sk] Good Fresh
[526] 2/48th Foot 0/ 510 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[527] 2/66th Foot 0/ 473 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[R] [528] Tilson's Bde. Light Bn. 38/ 199 C [sk] Good Tiring
Brigade Richard Stewart - Defend
[514] Brigadier General Richard Stewart - Active B [450 paces]
[529] 29th Foot 0/ 538 C+ [sk] Good Fresh
[530] 1/48th Foot 0/ 726 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[531] 1st Battalion of Detachments 92/ 456 C- [sk] Good Tired
[532] Stuart's Bde. Light Bn. 77/ 125 C [sk] Good Acceptable

Brigade Rufane Donkin - Defend
[516] Colonel Rufane Donkin - Active B- [350 paces]
[537] 2/87th Foot 0/ 539 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[538] 1/88th Foot 0/ 539 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[539] 5/60th Rifles 0/ 220 B- [sk] Ex'lent Fresh
[540] Donkin's Bde. Light Bn. 0/ 175 C [sk] Good Fresh

308/ 7625 Bayonets
28/ 2944 Sabres
12/ 432 Artillerists
0/ 18 Cannon
348/ 11001 Total of all arms
Talavera - Dawn Attack

[D] denotes Dispersed and removed from the field
[W] denotes No Advance
[R] denotes Halt or Retire
[Y] denotes Routing

Corps Claude-Victor Perrin
[104] Marechal d'Empire Claude-Victor Perrin - Active B- [1300 paces]
[101] 6/8me Artillerie a Pied 11/ 182 [ 8] C Good Fresh
[102] 2/6me Artillerie a Cheval 6/ 150 [ 6] B- Ex'lent Fresh
[103] 1/8me Artillerie a Pied 0/ 195 [ 8] C Good Fresh

Division Francois Amable Ruffin - Attack
[105] General de Division Francois Amable Ruffin - Active D+ [650 paces]
[190] 4/8me Artillerie a Pied 6/ 203 [ 8] C+ Good Fresh

Brigade Claude-Marie Meunier - Attack
[106] General de Brigade Claude-Marie Meunier - Active B- [400 paces]
[191] 1/9me Regiment de Legere 67/ 400 C [sk] Average Acceptable
[192] 2/9me Regiment de Legere 27/ 470 C [sk] Good Fresh
[193] 3/9me Regiment de Legere 0/ 491 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[194] 1/24me Regiment de Ligne 10/ 462 C [sk] Good Fresh
[195] 2/24me Regiment de Ligne 23/ 448 C [sk] Good Fresh
[196] 3/24me Regiment de Ligne 7/ 490 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[Y] [197] 9me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 108/ 200 C [sk] Poor Acceptable
[R] [198] 24me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 33/ 275 C [sk] Poor Exhausted
Brigade Pierre Barrois - Attack
[107] General de Brigade Pierre Barrois - Active B [450 paces]
[199] 1/96me Regiment de Ligne. 0/ 513 C [sk] Good Fresh
[200] 2/96me Regiment de Ligne. 0/ 507 C [sk] Good Fresh
[201] 3/96me Regiment de Ligne. 0/ 476 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[202] 96me Regt. Voltiguer Bn. 0/ 288 C [sk] Good Acceptable

Division Eugene Villatte - Support
[111] General de Division Eugene Villatte - Active B [875 paces]
[120] 2/8me Artillerie a Pied 3/ 195 [ 8] C+ Good Acceptable

Brigade Baron Louis-Victorin Cassagne - Support
[112] General de Brigade Baron Louis-Victorin Cassagne - Active C+ [400 paces]
[121] 1/27me Regiment de Legere 0/ 424 C [sk] Good Fresh
[122] 2/27me Regiment de Legere 0/ 409 C [sk] Good Fresh
[123] 3/27me Regiment de Legere 0/ 428 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[124] 1/63me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 432 C [sk] Good Fresh
[125] 2/63me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 411 C [sk] Good Fresh
[126] 3/63me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 422 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[127] 27me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 0/ 261 C [sk] Good Fresh
[128] 63me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 0/ 261 C [sk] Good Fresh
Brigade Jacques Puthod - Support
[113] General de Brigade Jacques Puthod - Active C [350 paces]
[129] 1/94me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 414 C [sk] Good Fresh
[130] 2/94me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 434 C [sk] Good Fresh
[131] 3/94me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 441 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[132] 1/95me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 447 C [sk] Good Fresh
[133] 2/95me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 447 C [sk] Good Fresh
[134] 3/95me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 419 C- [sk] Good Fresh
[135] 94me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 0/ 251 C [sk] Good Fresh
[136] 95me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 0/ 250 C [sk] Good Fresh

Brigade Louis Carriere, Baron Beaumont - Attack
[114] General de Brigade Louis Carriere, Baron Beaumont - Active C+ [400 paces]
[Y] [137] 1/3me Artillerie a Cheval 143/ 1 [ 1] B- Average Tiring
[138] 2me Regiment de Hussards A 0/ 228 C [sk] Good Fresh
[139] 2me Regiment de Hussards B 0/ 243 C Good Fresh
[140] 5me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval A 0/ 259 C Good Fresh
[141] 5me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval B 0/ 255 C [sk] Good Fresh

Division Antoine Christophe Merlin - Attack
[123] General de Brigade Antoine Christophe Merlin - Active C- [725 paces]

Brigade Jean Baptiste Alexandre Strolz - Attack
[124] Colonel Jean Baptiste Alexandre Strolz - Active D+ [300 paces]
[178] 10me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval 0/ 327 C [sk] Good Fresh
[179] 26me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval 0/ 216 C [sk] Good Fresh
Division Francois-Leon Ormancey - Attack
[125] Colonel Francois-Leon Ormancey - Active C- [650 paces]
[180] 1st Vistula Legion Lancers A 0/ 224 C [sk] Good Fresh
[181] 1st Vistula Legion Lancers B 0/ 206 C [sk] Good Fresh
[182] Westplalian Light Horse 0/ 210 C [sk] Good Fresh

275/ 11171 Bayonets
0/ 2168 Sabres
169/ 926 Artillerists
5/ 39 Cannon
444/ 14265 Total of all arms
7 Standards present

Talavera - Dawn Attack
Minor victory for the British Army

The British Army has suffered losses of:
[3%] 432 men of all arms
[2%] 332 dead and wounded
[0%] 84 missing
[0%] 16 prisoners
[4%] 392 bayonets
[0%] 28 sabres
[2%] 12 artillerists
Honours: [ 531] 1st Battalion of Detachments

The French Army has suffered losses of:
[4%] 645 men of all arms
[2%] 427 dead and wounded
[1%] 201 missing
[0%] 17 prisoners
[4%] 475 bayonets
[0%] 0 sabres
[15%] 170 artillerists
5 cannon[s] lost
Honours: [101] 6/8me Artillerie a Pied

Next up, I'm off up to Attack 2015 in Devizes this weekend following a thoroughly enjoyable show last year, so report and pictures to come, and the 2/96e Ligne is on the painting schedule.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Engel. Early days with this scenario and looking forward to trying out some new ideas in game two.

  2. I look at my one completed unit then look at your table and think one day you never know, but as I have to sell miniatures to fund my own this may take some time !
    That was a great read thank you Jonathan.
    Regards Furphy .

    1. Hi Furphy, thank you. The one thing I have found in life is that nothing stays the same and I used to think the same thing looking at Peter Gilder's amazing tables and collection, thinking one day I'm going to do that.

      I also think that there is a time and place for everything, and I am glad I didn't start a project like this ten years ago because my painting and modelling skills weren't good enough for me and it's taken me time to get to be able to work consistently at the right level, to be able to enjoy it. I reckon painting for others to drive your hobby and skill set is a really good way to make progress, and I still paint for friends in periods that are completely different as a way of helping others develop their collections and I get to practice with a new colour palette and learn something.

      The other nice thing is that while I was learning to paint the boys were watching and joining in with Dad's daft hobby and now they enjoy messing around with toys, so the time spent was more than worth it.


  3. JJ,

    I love your posts - both the beautifully painted miniatures and the detailed AARs of your stunning games. I'm finally soon to be in a position where I don't live in a box and have might even get the collection out to game! Hence my thoughts turn towards rules...I'm a fan of GdB but I love the detail of your C&G reports. Read your article from 2014, but would love to hear more.

    1. Hi Rupert, thank you and I wish you well in getting your gaming space sorted. If you love your hobby, you just have to have a bit of space, even if you just want to board game.
      I should say I have both General de Brigade and Republic to Empire and consider them as great examples of a really good battalion level sets of paper rules, and yet I prefer to use C&G.
      The key reasons why I prefer playing my games with C&G are, the fatigue mechanism, the pleasure of just playing and commanding, using a very detailed set of rules without constant reference to them and, as icing on the cake, a level of detail provided in the outputs from the system that enables me to capture the character of a battle as you would read in the chapters of Oman, Foy or Napier.
      I get all that fun, and in addition my friends and I never walk away from the table at the end of a full day of playing C&G in a state of mental fatigue.
      The common push back I hear from those who wouldn't use C&G or a computer set of rules, normally fall into the "I like to roll my own dice and be in charge of my own destiny" category the "I can't see how the calculation is arrived at and therefore I am forced to trust a system that I can't always predict what will happen" group or “I find the need to feed the information into the computer cumbersome" and a bit of all three.
      If you feel those aspects are important to you then that's fine and you will be happier with the paper rule set of your choice. I would only say that if you think that rolling dice keeps you in control of the action, then you are deluding yourself. Dice are the chance we create in a game and chance by its very nature is uncontrollable, limited, but uncontrollable.
      The "I can't trust a black box to play my games" view point is a little more understandable and my response to that is, play a few games to see if the system matches your own appreciation of likely outcomes. I have found that aspect to be excellent and on occasion when I have wanted to understand better what the parameters of possible outcomes would look like, particularly with putting scenarios together, Nigel is always very prompt and forthcoming on information to explain and help.
      I get the “computer inputting” argument. I personally think the next generation of these rules and systems like them will move up another notch when all players can link up on tablets. Tom and I have played taking turns doing the inputting whilst playing. I really enjoy the game management as much as playing.
      The real massive improvement in game play that I have never experienced to the same degree with any paper set of rules, is the fatigue component built into C&G. You will not be able to keep driving troops to action like most paper rules will allow and these aspects really force you to manage your forces and try to rest or conserve their potential and have the last fresh reserve to punish the enemy, all the while trying to prevent your opponent from doing the same thing and that applies across all arms including artillery; where you start to appreciate why the odd battery is shown on battle maps, parked up in the reserve.
      There is a really active and friendly support group of fellow players who share ideas on the Yahoo forum and Nigel Marsh is always very prompt at answering emails and posts. Likewise, with my more limited experience, I am happy to answer queries if I can. I have no reservations in recommending C&G to anyone apart from the one caveat that applies to all rule sets. Like a good pair of shoes, find the ones that fit you.
      I hope that helps