AOR box art

Army of Roussillon: Les Folies d'Espagne

Volume XI in the Lace Wars series

By order of his Most Royal and Ausgust Presence, the KING, you are hereby appointed Viceroy of Catalonia. Your instructions are to carry the war to the enemy in whatever manner you see fit, but not so as to endanger either the King's rule or the royal purse. If you fail, there will be... displeasure. Your duties commence at once. Do not return without victory.

AOR is the eleventh volume of Red Sash Games' Lace Wars series, and begins a new subject, the Nine Years War, fought against King Louis XIV of France between 1688 and 1697.

The Game

Army of Roussillon is the first in a set of four dealing with the War of the Grand Alliance (1688-1697). This war, sometimes called the War of the League of Augsburg or the Nine Years War, was the second of the three great wars of Louis XIV. As a young man he waged the Dutch War to expand France's borders. This was a war of aggression. As an old man he fought the War of the Spanish Succession to put his grandson on the throne of Spain. Despite the King's ultimate aim this was a defensive war. The War of the Grand Alliance was Louis' war of middle age - a war of grinding attrition involving nearly a million men.

Spain, then ruled by the Bourbon kings' great rival, the House of Habsburg, joined the Grand Alliance, but she soon wished she had not. The Army of the Sun King was the premiere military machine of its age, the Spanish Army a fallen titan. Nevertheless, the Spanish saw the war through to its end. While her exhausted allies struck secret peace deals, Spain fought on. Only with the taking of Barcelona in 1697 did she sue for peace - and the decision to capitulate came from Madrid, not its garrison. Barcelona held for 63 days against a massive bombardment and multiple assaults that left 15,000 French dead on her glacis and in her shattered bastions. By the end, both sides were wondering if they would have the strength to fight another round.

Catalonia was a secondary front. For much of the war the French fielded fewer men than the Spanish and were kept on a tight leash. The man in charge, Anne Jules de Noailles, II Duc de Noailles, was governor of Roussillon, formerly part of Catalonia. His Intendant, or 'commissar', was a Catalan. They hoped to harness one of the periodic peasant revolts that plagued the region and 'win hearts and minds' for France - or at least keep the Army of Spain dancing to their tune. Unfortunately, Noailles could not get his subordinates to buy into this program; the arrogance inherent in traditional military culture alienated the population and the French found themselves involved in a nasty guerrilla war. Only after Spain's allies began to withdraw from the struggle were the French able to bring overwhelming force to bear against her.

In Army of Roussillon, you will have a chance to change history - and even if you cannot, perhaps you can win enough glory to write your name in the history books.

As the French, will you pursue a hearts and minds strategy, or try for all out conquest? Will you occupy territory or make surgical strikes aided by your fleet? (Be warned, the family that runs the Ministry of Marine is at odds with the family that runs the Ministry of War.) The French Army is state-of-the-art. You have more artillery, the latest equipment (bayonets instead of pikes), and acess to an administrative machine capable of supporting nearly 500,000 men. But you command a secondary front. Versailles will forever be taking regiments away from you, forcing you to rely on local militia and even Catalan renegades. If you garrison every post, you will be too weak to go on the offensive. If you give up captured fortesses to concentrate, the local population will believe you are weak and rise against you. If you do nothing, you will lose the respect of the Sun King and the Court ladies.

As the Spanish, can you keep the French at bay? Or can you damage them enough to try a counter-invasion of Roussillon? Will the English send their fleet and land troops to aid you? Or, will the Holy Roman Emperor divert his attention from the Turks long enough to spare you some Imperial regiments? The Spanish Army, led by a succession of viceroys who often found themselves more in conflict with the local Catalan government than with the French, is a motley collection of regular regiments (the tercios), decent cavalry, poorly motivated and equipped militia, and mercenaries. Spain's best assets are her guerrillas, the migueletes, assisted by vigilante bands known as somaten, and the mountainous Catalan terrain.

Like the other games in the series, Army of Roussillon focuses on the operational art rather than tactics or grand strategy. You are the theatre commander, subject to dicates from on high and only partial able to guide the action. Your main goal is to acquire Prestige. Your playing pieces represent battalions and regiments, which you must deploy wisely, deciding how strong to make your garrisons, and how many units to group into mobile formations for attack or defence. These formations are commanded by Leaders, rated for their skill and their temperament (and their political pull), and assisted by Auxiliaries. These last are specialists such as grenadiers, pioneers, or the migueletes mentioned above. Once you are organised, be sure you pick the right time to fight. You have few men to start with and it is likely you will not get any more!

The combat system has a tactical feel, addressing the key issues of frontage, reserves, and supports, as well as firepower and morale. Sieges depend on good planning. Screen your besieging army with another to keep the enemy at bay and make sure you have lots of siege guns and sappers - unless you are Spanish, in which case you have none. Supply is critical. You can live of the land, but it is safer to build a string of depots. Operational tempo is driven by the accumulation of 'operations points', which must be expended in order to act aggressively. A player may have the Initiative for a while and dicate the pace of the game, but eventually, he will run out of steam and have to pause to accumulate more points. Special rules in Army of Roussillon deal with the guerrilla war, particularly the need to supply isolated garrisons by convoys, which can be ambushed. Other rules cover the naval war, the peasant revolt - the Revolta del Barretines - the structure of each side's army, and poltical events that can influence your actions. The game ends when peace breaks out - something you have little control over - so be sure to acquire Prestige as fast as you can!

Components

1) TWO full colour map sheets at 1 league per hex, representing the northeast corner of Spain in the late 17th Century.
[NB sample map image is low-res].

2) 600 counters representing the forces of the French and the Spanish and their allies.
[NB sample counter images are low-res].

pic of AOR game components

3) A set of charts and tables, plus display cards.

4) A series rulebook - 3rd Edition (3.75) - called the King's Regulations and Orders (KR&Os), a game-exclusive rulebook, scenario & OOB information, and an historical commentary.