Thursday, 2 July 2015

The French Cavalry Charge at Waterloo - A Black Powder AAR

I wasn't sure what sort of scenario Dave was going to concoct for our final Nappies game. After last weeks sojourn in the Peninsular War, I was expecting it to be a follow on from that scenario. In fact it was something completely different. 

Basically it was an excuse for Dave to get a lot of rarely used toys on the table and to see how cavalry performed when faced by infantry in formed squares. So the scenario was based upon Ney's cavalry charge when the Allied troops retreated from the ridge at Waterloo, a sort of 'what if' action. 

In the face of massed French artillery fire, the Allied troops have moved back from the ridge at Waterloo. Ney believing that the Allies are in retreat, has ordered his cavalry to attack and open up the road to Brussels. In support are the French Young Guard. The Dutch troops hearing the thunder of horses hooves have formed up in Battalion squares to try and block the Brussels road.

The Dutch have formed up with some artillery units in support. The French cavalry and infantry arrive over a period of 6 Turns, to reflect the nature of the French attack. Some of the units have supporting artillery

The French cavalry is a mix of Dragoons, Lancers and Cuirassiers. The artillery is a mix of horse and foot drawn.  The commanders are rated CV8 but have the bonus of being Reliable and when in Attack Column, thus often rated at CV10.

The Dutch are all standard Line Infantry with a unit of Hussars and their sole commander is also rated CV8.

The Battle
The Dutch deployed behind the ridge line and astride the Brussels road. The French units all begin off table and arrive as specified by the scenario.

The first French cavalry units arrive, Hussars and Lancers, on their right flank, with the aim of moving up into position but shielded from view by the ridge.
As the French first wave advances, Dragoons and Cuirassiers arrive with artillery support. The Dutch try and move an artillery unit to face the threat to their left flank, but fail their command roll .
The French advance with Dave waiting for his commander to do something.
As the French move into position on the right flank, yet more cavalry (fail to) arrive in support, this time astride the road to allow them some room for manouevre (when they appear that is). In response the Dutch Hussars move towards their left flank.
As the French group up for the attack on the right, yet more French cavalry suddenly appear on the left. The cavalry astride the road fail to appear once again, but French artillery deploys in the centre and starts firing at the Dutch squares.
The cavalry in full flow as Dave prepares the next batch of troops to arrive on the table.
The reluctant French cavalry, who are supposed to be the best in Europe.
The Hussars and Lancers charge over the hill into the Dutch Battalion squares.
The initial cavalry charge is easily repulsed, leading to the loss of the Lancers. However, with the artillery deployed, further cavalry units line up to continue the attack.
Disordered and Shaken troops await the next cavalry charge...
...which goes in but it doesn't augur well for one unit. At least the Young Guard have arrived and moved smartly up to support the cavalry. The Dutch lose one infantry unit in the centre, which leaves their artillery gun somewhat exposed
Not a good idea to charge past infantry and a deployed artuillery unit. Rather unsuprisingly this unit failed its morale save.
Mon Dieu! C'est L'Empereur! Well in fact it wasn't (yet) as Le Petit Corporal blundered and delayed his arrival. This was an unexpected re-inforcement as Napoleon arrived with the Middle Guard.
The cavalry continued their attacks on their right flank with those on the left reluctant to meet the fate of their comrades. The Young Guard move towards the road to attack the Dutch centre.
The Dutch and French cavalry meet, with the Dutch coming off second best.
The Dutch are still in a good position whilst the French cavalry are slowy being reduced in numbers, due to repeated charges at the Battalion squares.
The arrival of Napoleon really seems to stir the French into action. The Young Guard move through the gap in the ridge to attack the Dutch centre/left flank, ably supported by yet more cavalry attacks. The Middle Guard move up towards the centre as well whilst a Grand Battery of artillery is in the process of being formed. The exposed Dutch gun is charged in the flank, which sees its demise.
The Young Guard in Attack column.
Napoleon organises the Grand Battery and moves the Middle Guard ready to support the attacks of the Young Guard.
The cavalry overwhelm the unsupported Dutch gun.
The Dutch still stand firm despite pressure on their centre and flanks.
The French attack right across the Dutch front.
The French artillery move up ready to deploy whilst the Young Guard charge in supported by the valiant cavalry.
With no supporting artillery, the Dutch right flank seems a little exposed.
French pressure starts to bear and the Dutch begin to buckle under the weight of the attacks.
The Young Guard shake into Line to fire more effectively at the Dutch infantry in Battalion square.
The Dutch in a last desperate bid to stave off defeat, move into line to face the Young Guard.

The End
Sadly at this point the clock defeated us. We looked at the situation and agreed that after one or two Turns the French would have reduced the Dutch line to a point that the cavalry could have advanced on towards Brussels whilst the Young and Middle Guard mopped up any remants.

Post Game Thoughts
Well once again a very enjoyable game of Black Powder and very different from all the previous games. The scenario was very enjoyable and we weren't sure how the rules would cope with cavalry versus Battalion squares, butwe both agreed that the rules worked very well. So a few post game thoughts.

  • With so much cavalry at my disposal I was not quite sure how best to use it. From previous games I made sure that they had room to manouevre, hence the attacks on either flank. Dave complimented me on my use of the cavalry , which was nice.
  • Dave also pointed out that I tend to be conservative in my use of artillery, deploying it at long range where it is less useful. I will take this on board to try and get them into Medium range and the die and morale benefits that this confers.
  • It was great fun to have played out a part of the Battle of Waterloo, even as bit of a 'what if?' scenario. For Dave it was the first outing for some of his Elite troops, so nice for him to see them on  the table.
  • I must admit that I'm now a Napoleonics convert. This is in large part due to the nice scenarios that Dave has come up with plus the gentlemanly manner in which he plays. Looking back at my club days, the experience would have been somewhat different shall we say. It will be some time before I collect some Napoleonic armies, given the lead mountain that I have. However at least the wooden blocks can be used until such time the proper soldiers can make it onto the field of battle.
So after a brief chat our next foray will be with Hail Caeser! and most likely Teutons versus Mongols. Time to get reading the rulebook but at least the mechanics are the same.


  1. Always good to get some of the older stuff on the table Steve, that's quite a collecton Dave has put together.

    1. Hi Stu,
      yep Dave has a pretty comprehensive collection. IIRC a lot of these are some of the original Minifigs Napoleonics and ones that Dave bought when he first started wargaming. So for him it was great to see some of these figures finally getting a run out on the table.

  2. Nice toys and a gentlemanly opponent - nice! Beware the Napoleonics bug, it bites hard and the resulting sickness is chronic!

    1. Dave certainly is a gentlemanly opponent Michael, which makes our weekly get togethers a pleasure. As for the Nappies bug, I'm planning some games with my wooden blocks to sate my appetite until such time as I plunge into the period. Not sure whether to go Peninsualr or Austrians vs French. Plenty of time to decide:)