The Fate of a Continent - The Battle of Ayacucho (1824)
Fast and Easy Rules for Students

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by Matt Fritz

Historical Background: By 1824 the liberation of South America from Spanish rule was nearly complete. The last remaining seat of Spanish power was in Peru. The final battle was fought on December 9 at Ayacucho. Shouting "Paso de vencedores (onward to victory)" General Cordoba led the right wing of the rebel army in the attack that finally broke the back of the royalist army. This decisive battle marked the end of Spanish colonial rule in South America.

Battle 1: The Republicans launched an all out attack.  They met with some success, and the cavalry captured two cannons.  Eventually, though, the superior numbers of the Royalists started to tell.  The Republican attack was slowed, then stopped, then reversed.  The result was a close run victory for the Royalists.

Building the Armies: Right now there aren't any 1/72 plastic soldiers designed for the Latin American wars of liberation. You can substitute Napoleonic era figures. Check out the Plastic Soldier Review to see the many figures that are available. Here are some paper soldiers you can print and use.

The Map: The battle was played on a 5' x 7.5' table. The battlefield was for the most part open ground and can be replayed without modeling any important terrain features.

Deployment: Republican and Royalist forces deploy at opposite ends of the battlefield. No unit can be closer than 18" from the enemy.

Orders of Battle: All units have six bases. Infantry units represent about 400 men, cavalry units represent about 200 men.

Republican Army (All units 6 bases)

General Antonio Jose de Sucre (Overall Commander)
1 cannon model

1st Colombian Division - Gen. Jacinto Lara
1 unit Rifles (British Legion)
2 units Infantry (Vencedor & Vargas Battalions)

2nd Colombian Division - Gen. Jose Cordoba
6 units Infantry (Bogota, Voltigeros, Pichincha, and Caracas Battalions)

Peru Division - Gen. Jose La Mar
3 units Infantry (1st, 2nd, & 3rd Peruvian Battalions, Peruvian Legion)

Cavalry - General Guillermo Miller
3 units Cavalry (Horse & Colombian Grenadiers, Junin & Colombian Hussars)

Royalist Army (All units 6 bases)

Viceroy Jose de La Serna (Overall Commander)
2 cannon models

Vanguard Division - Gen. Jeronimo Valdez
5 units Infantry (Cantabria, Centro, Castro, and 1st Imperial Alexandro Battalions)
2 cannon models

Monet's Division - Gen. Juan Antonio Monet
5 units Infantry (1st Burgos, Infante, Victoria, 2nd Guias, and 2nd Battalions

Villalobos' Division - Gen. Alejandro Villalobos
4 units Infantry (2nd Burgos, 2nd Imperial Alexandro, 1st Battalions)

Cavalry - Brig. Valentin Ferraz
5 units Cavalry (Guard Grenadiers, Fernando VII Hussars, Union & Peru Dragoons, San Carlos, Viceroy's Guards)

Turn Sequence:
1. Republicans Move
2. Republicans Shoot
3. Royalists Move
4. Royalists Shoot
5. Charges
6. Melees

Formations: There are only two formations for infantry - line and column. The names of these formations can be very confusing for the students. At school, when they are told to "get in line" they line up one behind the other, in what we call column formation. With the kids I call the formations "firing line" (like a firing squad), and "marching column." Lines may be single or double rank, and may bend. Columns are single company. Units may change formation at the start or end of their movement, but can only change formation once per turn. Cavalry stay in line formation at all times. Artillery don't have formations.

Movement: Infantry can move 6" if they are in line formation or 12" if they are in column formation. Cavalry and Commanders may move 12". Cannons can move 12" but may not fire on a turn when it was moved. A cannon which has moved and cannot fire should point away from the enemy. Cannons can pivot in place during movement and still fire. Units may not move within 1" of an enemy unit except when charging.

Shooting: Infantry that are in line formation and artillery that didn't move this turn may fire. Range is measured from the center of a unit to the nearest part of the target unit. Units may only fire to the front and may not fire through narrow gaps between friendly units. Roll one die per infantry base or two dice per cannon. The chart indicates the number needed for a hit. Remove one base for each hit rolled by the firing unit. It takes three hits in the same turn to remove a cannon. Note that you only use the 1" firing column when shooting at a charging unit. If a unit is reduced to a single surviving base then the last base is immediately removed. Units in column are good targets. Roll two extra dice when shooting at columns.

Movement Table
Unit Type












Cannons cannot shoot if they move
Shooting Table









Cannon (2 dice)



If the target is in column - add two dice

Charges: Both sides may charge during the charge phase. If it matters the Republicans charge first. Cavalry can charge 12", infantry can charge 6". Cannons do not charge. A unit may not declare a charge unless it is in line formation and can reach an enemy unit. A player may measure to see if a unit is within charge range. One enemy unit must be chosen as the target of the charge. A unit that wishes to charge must first pass a morale check. If the unit fails morale nothing happens, it cannot charge this turn. If the unit passes its morale check then the target must pass a morale check. If the target fails it loses one base and immediately retreats 12", the charging unit is moved into the position vacated by the retreating target unit. If artillery is the target and it fails morale it is eliminated. If the target passes the morale check it has the option of firing at the chargers (assuming the unit is eligible to fire this turn) or counter charging. If the unit counter charges the two units meet in the middle and fight a melee. If the target decides to fire at the chargers it does so at a range of 1". If the charging unit survives the fire it moves into contact with the target and they fight a melee.

Morale Checks: If a unit has to take a morale check Roll one die and add any modifiers. If the roll is less than or equal to the number of bases (plus a commander if one is present), then it has passed. If the roll is greater then it fails. Cannons pass on a roll of four.

Morale Die Roll Modifiers
Commander Present



Melee: If a charging unit contacts an enemy unit there will be a melee. Each side rolls a die and applies the modifiers. High roll wins. The loser removes a stand and retreats 12". If the roll is a tie each side removes a stand and rolls again.

Melee Die Roll Modifiers
More stands than opponent +1
Hitting the flank or rear +1
Commander leading charge +1
Cannon, or Column Formation -1
Cavalry +1

Commanders: A Commander may join or leave one of his units during movement. This unit gets a +1 bonus on all melee rolls and the officer counts as a base when testing morale. Every time a unit with an attached commander is completely eliminated by enemy fire (last base removed), or is engaged in a melee (win or lose) roll one die. If the roll is a 6 the commander is a casualty and is removed from play. This is the only way a commander can be eliminated.

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