Quatre Bras refight with the boys

June 28, 2015

I hosted my Don Featherstone Quatre Bras game with the guys from the game group.  There were four of us playing.  Matthew and Brian were the French while Chris and I were the Engl…er…British.  Matthew did not no much about the Napoleonic wars but did quite well considering he really didn’t know much about the tactics of the time.  Brian knew about the battle and did fine.  Chris also knew something of the period and despite his incredible (bad) luck with the dice, also managed to fight in true Dutch-Belgian style.   Stuff went right.  Stuff went wrong.  But he held up the French advance long enough for the reinforcements to arrive.  Some pictures that carry us through the “high water mark.”

A view of the battlefield.  The 2nd Division is in position around Gemioncourt and the Bosu Woods.

A view of the battlefield. The 2nd Division is in position around Gemioncourt and the Bosu Woods.

The French Advance.  Note:  Someone (me) forgot to move the 95th.

The French Advance. Note: Someone (me) forgot to move the 95th.

Bachlu sends 1 brigade to take Thyle.  The other brigade is sent in support of Foy's division.

Bachlu sends 1 brigade to take Thyle. The other brigade is sent in support of Foy’s division.

A whiff of grapeshot.  The Chasseurs attempt to overrun the Dutch battery.

A whiff of grapeshot. The Chasseurs attempt to overrun the Dutch battery.

3:00.  Jerome arrives on the field with his division.  The allies are barely holding on.

3:00. Jerome arrives on the field with his division. The allies are barely holding on.

No resistance.  Bachlus 2nd brigade advances from Thyle to rejoin the fight.

No resistance. Bachlus 2nd brigade advances from Thyle to rejoin the fight.

3:00 Wellington arrives along with the 5th division.  The regiment of Dutch Hussars near the woods would take massive casualties from artillery fire and quit the field.

3:00 Wellington arrives along with the 5th division. The regiment of Dutch Hussars near the woods would take massive casualties from artillery fire and quit the field.

Kellerman arrives with his division.  The French lines have rapidly advanced and now are deployed.

Kellerman arrives with his division. The French lines have rapidly advanced and now are deployed.

4:00.  The Brunswick legion enter the fray.  The light infantry help restore the deteriorating situation in the woods.

4:00. The Brunswick legion enter the fray. The light infantry help restore the deteriorating situation in the woods.

It was getting late and I must have gotten engrossed in the battle because I forgot to take any more pictures.  To sum up, the French threw in their heavy cavalry against the Hanoverian Landwehr and drive them back.  Unfortunately, the militia managed to retreat out of the cavalry range and the charge lost steam.  The Dragoons hit a British battery head on but could not manage to get that 4th hit to wipe them out.  To make matters worse, the dragoons were driven back.  I guess the Colonel leading the charge lost his nerve.  In the woods, the Dutch and Nassau regiments fought valiantly.  The Dutch regiment got pinned down and spent most of the game near its starting position taking casualties from just about everywhere.  It held on for a surprisingly long time and even inflicted a few casualties on the heavy battery that rolled into musket range.   The Belgian militia and the Jagers did well in the battle holding back the tide of the advancing French.  In short, the battle ebbed and flowed as it did in the real battle.

Brian thought the battle was a Pyrrhic French victory…not too different from history.  I felt the French still had a chance but I do admit that they did not inflict enough casualties to even the odds before reinforcements arrived.  It was a great day of fun and games.  There was plenty of game talk, anecdotes and other banter at the table and we still managed 8 turns in about 4 hours.   The game moved along at a good pace and I don’t think anyone was bored waiting for their turn.

The rules still have some minor issues.  Cavalry seem a bit too susceptible to shooting casualties.  A suggestion was to have infantry fire at long range when cavalry are charging.  Maybe artillery won’t fire double canister at charging cavalry as they may want to run before the cavalry get so close!  Also, I am not sure if the close to contact roll is warranted.  The “being charged” check works fine and dictates what the unit does.  however, really the “charging check” is a matter of they close to contact or they don’t.  In Don’s original rules, a charging unit gets stopped cold if it receives 25% or more casualties when charging.  Otherwise, it charges home.   It’s a nice off and on effect and is still dictated by the casualties received.  Two things worth testing.


Quatre Bras Battle Report

May 21, 2015

While not all units were available yet (guards need a paint job!) Ian and I played out the Quatre Bras scenario on the battle field to see how the rules would handle some full terrain features.  The game flowed well.  Ian deployed his Militia in the woods, his Jagers in Gemioncourt and the 1st and 2nd regiments of the 2nd brigade in the open.  I advanced more or less historically.  I was able to take the farmhouse easily as massed artillery caused significant casualties on the jagers.  The Militia gave ground stubbornly in the woods and they held their ground until the Prince of Orange was mortally wounded.   At this point, the 5th division arrived.  I figured I’d better put it into gear so ordered elements of Bachleus and Foys division on a bayonet charge against the disordered Dutch/Belgian/Nassau troops.  I drove them back to the road.  I made the 5th pay with a barrage of artillery and was driving the allied line everywhere.   My attack petered out at the road and one of the batteries of artillery fired double canister into the side of one of Jeromes line units as it advanced to the outskirts of town.  The game degenerated into a tale of two flanks.  The Militia units were roughly handling Jeromes elements in Bosu woods while Bachleu’s division gave a good account of itself on the English left.

This is as close as it gets. One of Jerome's brigades gets a whif of grapeshot....twice!

This is as close as it gets. One of Jerome’s brigades gets a whif of grapeshot….twice!

I summoned Obi-Wan to use his Jedi Mind tricks but the English proclaimed that they would have no effect.  :D

I summoned Obi-Wan to use his Jedi Mind tricks but the English proclaimed that they would have no effect. :D

Brunswick cavalry stalled in front of Bachleu's division.

Brunswick cavalry stalled in front of Bachleu’s division.  Note the last bayonet charge by one of Foy’s brigades.  It would fail miserably and flee the Nassauers.

Kellerman arrives and is put to immediate use.  The Curassiers took close range canister and vaporized.  The Dragoons faltered and never charged home.  Lucky Nassauers!

Kellerman arrives and is put to immediate use. The Curassiers took close range canister and vaporized. The Dragoons faltered and never charged home. Lucky Nassauers!

A view of the battle for the woods looking east.  Pack's Hanoverian militia attempt to charge but falter and fall back.

A view of the battle for the woods looking east. Pack’s Hanoverian militia attempt to charge but falter and fall back.

The battle saw Foy, Jerome and Bachleu all fall in combat.  On the allied side, Picton, Perponcher and Slender Billy were casualties.  It was a fun game played over two nights.  We called it when we realized that it would have ended in a bloody slug-fest.  The allies had plenty of infantry and the French plenty of cavalry.  Minor victory to the Allies.

Side note: The roads are made of paper.  They can be purchased from Wargame Vault.  my only gripe is that they slide very easily.  Toward the end of the game we didn’t bother straightening them.  I may try adding a bit of sand paper to the bottom to see if that helps.


One Hour Wargames with my son

May 19, 2015

I’ve been getting a fair bit of wargaming in lately…A fair bit for me anyway.  My son was watching my friend Ian and I play out some of the Quatre Bras game as a play-test.  Naturally he asked when we would get to play “…and not the Hobbit again.” he said.    Not that he didn’t like The Hobbit but that he wanted to try something on a bigger scale, or so I supposed.  So, I put together a One Hour Wargames Dark Ages battle.  Essentially, we ended up with Britons vs more Britons.  I setup the first scenario in the book “Pitched Battle.”  Essentially, the battlefield consists of a hill at the center of each baseline and flat plane everywhere else.  The armies were 6 units strong.  He had a cavalry, 4 heavy infantry and a skirmisher.  I had a cavalry, 4 heavy infantry and warband.

I suspect I had the advantage but opted to charge straight ahead.  he charged straight ahead in the same fashion.  The cavalry and infantry were all locked up by turn 4 and formed 6 little struggles all over the battlefield.  The skirmishers managed 2 shots during the game but scored no hits.  They did considerably better in hand to hand combat.  I rolled many 1’s (I was playing a 7 year old after all!).  He managed the first kill on my Warband.  As it was near the flank, he opted to maneuver to the flank of my cavalry and charge it a turn later.  He then had 2 units running free.  He charged into the flanks of my heavy infantry units in the center.  He then destroyed the one fighting his other heavy infantry unit in the center.  My other heavy infantry unit finally destroyed first his skirmishers and then turned and destroyed his cavalry.  On or about turn 8 he finished me off by destroying one of my heavy infantry units on the right straight up.  The other unit was destroyed by a flank charge.

My son’s impression of the game was not favorable.  He said that it was too boring.  “How do you mean?” I asked. Units just get stuck and nothing really happens except die rolling he said.    To translate, I suspect he means there were not enough tactical decisions to be made.  He did say, “I think these guys with bows should be able to retreat from combat after the enemy attacks them.”  Came up with that all by himself and it is not really a bad rule.  7 years old and already tinkering!

My impressions were a bit different.  I thought it worked pretty well for Dark Age warfare.  You can form a shield wall and go at it while trying to gain that little edge that might win you the battle.  The battle will turn based on what happens in the first few turns.  Had I really been playing, I would have ignored his skirmishers and doubled up one of his heavy infantry units.  Even with my poor die rolling, it would have been a much closer game that way.  The other possibility would be to have my warband go after the flank of one of his heavies while isolating his light infantry on the other side of the line.

The warfare of the period is just a simplified version of classical warfare and to this point, the game delivers.  So, this may not be the game for him.  I also have “Throw me a 6” on my “Old School” page.  It has a few more intricacies and even has some retreating as a combat result so maybe that will be more to his liking.  Maybe.


Pennies From Heaven!

April 29, 2015

I’ve been on the lookout from some modular tables to make a 6X4 folding terrain table set.  I saw some such tables at BJ’s Wholesale club.  They were about $40 each.  I decided to “think about it” and did not purchase them.  When I finally resolved to take the plunge, when i went back, they were all sold out.  Every last one of them.  They did have 30″X6′ but that was not as useful for everyday use.  While searching online, Amazon sent me an e-mail showing a 2’X4′ adjustable height table.  Also while looking, there was a note on the screen saying that my Citi rewards points could be used.  $140 is a lot for tables, even with the free shipping.  So I linked my card to see what I had.  As it turns out I had enough points for $148 worth of credit.  So, I shall have my free tables in 2 days!  I guess the old saying is really true that  “Good things come to those who wait.”  At least in this case it works.


Quatre Bras Allied Order of Battle

April 29, 2015

It’s been a couple of weeks.  I’ve been busy planning a birthday party for my daughter.  The skills I’ve honed in the hobby are being put to good use.  Several minecraft paper craft figures have been made for a custom Minecraft cake that I’ll be making tonight?  What does this have to do with the Allied order of battle?  Not much except it explains why no pictures have materialized and that I am just now getting to the issue at hand.

In order of appearance:

On the board:

2nd Division Perponcher

1st brigade 24 Figures green.  Dutch Jager regiment 12 figures regulars

2nd brigade 2 regiments each of 24 figures regulars (This brigade was the size of a division!)

Cavalry brigade Merlin 12 figures light

1 field artillery stand

5th division Picton

2 brigades of veteran infantry 24 figures each.

1 rifle regiment 12 figures veteran

1 Landwehr brigade green 24 figures

1 field artillery stand

Brunswick legion Duke of Brunswick

1 brigade of line infantry regulars 24 figures

2 regiments of light infantry 12 figures each regular

1 brigade of light cavalry 12 figures regular

1 field artillery stand

3rd division Alten

2 brigades of infantry regular (Hannover and English) 24 figures each

1 regiment of rifles 12 figures regular

1 field artillery stand

Guards division Cooke

2 brigades of guards veteran grenadiers 24 figures each

1 field artillery stand

I’ve made a few shifts from the real order of battle.  The jagers in the 3rd division and the Brunswick advant guarde both had some rifles.  I’ve chosen to shift them to the jagers (KGL) for balance purposes.  I don’t want the allies to have a preponderance of rifle regiments at the outset of the battle.


Quatre Bras French Order of Battle

April 13, 2015

It is getting pretty close to the 16th of June.  I should probably get my order of battles down in writing.  I’ll start here with the French.

5th Division Foy 2 Line brigades each of 24 figures 1 light regiment of 12 figures

6th Division Jerome 2 line brigades each of 24 figures 3 light regiments each of 12 figures

9th Division Bachleu 2 line brigades each of 24 figures

Cavalry Division Pire 1 lancer brigade 1 chasseurs brigade

1 heavy battery 1 field battery 1 horse battery

Cavalry Division Kellerman 1 currasier brigade 1 dragoon brigade

CinC Marshal Ney  2nd in command Marshal Reille

The units are not strict 1 for 1 matches with the actual battle in terms of numbers.  Line units, for instance, represent about 2000 men though some will represent slightly more or less.  The artillery was a bit tricky for the French as each stand represents 2 actual batteries.  Since they had 3 field batteries, 1 heavy battery and  1 horse battery it was somewhat difficult to assign numbers to each unit but we must consider that the French had some of the best gunners in the world at the time.  So giving them 1 battery of each, if nothing else, the number of guns represented (48) are close in number  that actually fought in the battle (46).

I’ve had no time to setup and take photos of my troops.  As for progress, I am finishing up the last unit of Brunswickers.  I only have 2 units of British guards to paint for the infantry.  Then it is 5 stands of Allied artillery, a few allied generals and 2 French generals.


Sometimes it’s good to be a pack rat!

April 6, 2015

I’m moving along quite well with my Quatre Bras project.  I’ve made some adjustments to the Brunswick AAR.  The final tally for them should be 1 Line Brigade, 2 Light Regiments, 1 Light Cavalry Brigade and 1 artillery battery.  This cuts down on my painting a bit and I don’t have to paint any drummers!  The command figure is a Hussar waving his saber complete with shako and tall plume…the uniform of the Duke of Brunswick.

Speaking of commanders, I was stumped as to what figure I would use for the Prince of Orange.  It seems that “Slender Billy” had a hybrid uniform.  He wore a Dutch Hussars uniform with a dolman and a bicorne common to most generals and marshals of the time – a head swap I suppose would do.  While rummaging through my bag of Old Glory French command looking for a couple of suitable figures for Reille and Foy (generic generals really), I came across a figure with a bicorne and a dolman slunk across his shoulder.  He even has stripes sculpted on the side of his pants.  Billy!  I’ve found you!


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