Saturday, May 9, 2015

Napoleonic warm up...

At about the Winter Solstice, a whole bunch of Christchurch gamers (plus one from Dunedin) will be pooling their armies for a weekend commemorative refight of Waterloo.  The rule in use for this occasion - not my favorite by any means - will be the General de Brigade set, modified somewhat for Waterloo.

In order to become accustomed to the play, not having played G-de-B since about 2007, it was deemed meet that some of us get together for a small pick-up action.  Although I will be Napoleon for the actual event, on this occasion I took my British along.  Mark (Chasseur) and Paul (Painting Little Soldiers) took the French and French Allies respectively.

The forces, as I say, were quite small:

British (and Allies):
5 Battalions of British
1 Battalion of Brunswick line infantry
Half battalion of skirmishing riflemen
1 Regiment of British Dragoons
1 Regiment British Light Dragoons
1 Foot Battery Allied Artillery
4 Battalions Line
Half Battalion Light
2 Regiments Chevau-legeres
1 Foot Battery

French Allies:
2 Battalions Westphalian Line
1 Battalion Neapolitan Line
Half Battalion Westphalian Garde Jager
1 regiment Cuirassiers.

None of us worried overmuch about refined tactics or deployment: it was going to be a straightforward bullheaded push against the thin red line - or perhaps the thin red smear, judging by the weight of those formidable columns.
French infantry: 4 Battalion columns and
chasseurs in skirmish order.  Light cavalry for the link
with the distant French-Allies.

The British right flank.  Sixty-ninth (South Lincolnshire) Foot
hold the line between the woods, with the Brunswickers in reserve,
and the 33rd (1st West Riding) watching the flank.

British horse, heavy and light dragoons.

Ground level view of the serried columns about to
launch their assault.

'Old School Shot' of the Western two-thirds of the
table.  Monochrome still has a certain period charm...

General view of the British right flank.

The attack begins... they come...

The stoicism of the British soldier: stands, hitches his belt...
and waits...

Paul and Mark checking out the rules...
 Paul's troops are mixed manufactures, mostly metals...
Mark's troops are Perry plastics finished in Mark's distinctive style.

The gun battery and the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers
defending the enclosures.  In the woods the riflemen
ply their trade...

The columns grind forward.  I did consider holding the 69th's

The French Allies lacked one battalion and artillery support...

A lacuna, here.  Although canister fire from the cannon devastated
 and stopped the centre (Westphalian) column, the Neapolitans
closed and chased off the gunners. Meanwhile the clash of the heavy
 horse takes place on the west flank.

The gallant fight of the 69th.  Stopping two of the 3 battalion
columns, they were struck on their right by the third...

The Fusiliers firm stand has cost the Westphalians dear.  Meanwhile
the French reserve of light horse switch to the west flank, coming to
the aid of the cuirassiers.  General 'Daddy' Hill begins to fear
For his left flank...

The south Lincolns have reformed, but the 33rd
 is being driven back with heavy loss.Perhaps the Brunswickers ought
to intervene...?

The old, bold 3/14th (Buckinghamshire) Foot advance to face off
 the Neapolitans and to recapture the cannon.  The 51st Light
infantry prepare to come to the aid of the Fusiliers.

That mass of French cavalry is a concern.  The British horse
are outmatched.

The British right is still holding, though the 33rd is about to be driven from the field...
A fire fight develops between the 14th Foot and
Neapolitan infantry.

The Brunswickers face the enveloping French units.  Too late...
The final cavalry battle:  British dragoons against French cuirassiers.
Bested once already, the dragoons could not turn the tables
this time, neither.
The 14th get the better of the musketry duel with the
The British right flank enveloped
time to call it a day

Using dice for casualty counters instead of removing figures
will probably prevent losing figures on the big day.

At the close of the action, the British cavalry had been entirely swept from the field on the western flank, and the eastern flank the line had been enveloped.  The British called it a day, and began their retreat.

Interesting battle.  The British lost about 30 figures, plus all 4 guns, out of 192; the French something like 45 out of 236.  Considering how relatively light the casualties, the fighting had an air of ferocity I like to see in my war games.  But there are a couple of points that concern me about the use of this rule set for the big Waterloo fight.  For one, coordinating a lot of players in a game set that requires initiative rolls each turn, and then alternating through six or eight phases looks like a tall order.   The second is: if it took so much failed effort to roll over in effect two battalions, the outlook for the French is not looking so rosy...