Monday, 22 June 2015

Quatre Bras - A Black Powder 200th Anniversary Game

Having finished out SYW campaign, we agreed that we had to commemorate the Waterloo campaign in some shape or form the following week. As we could only meet up on Tuesday 16th June, it had to be Quater Bras or Ligny. Being a complete Napoleonics novice, I left the choice up to Dave, as once again he was supplying the troops.

Scenario & Forces
In the end Dave plumped for scaled down Quatre Bras that would, fingers crossed, be playable in an evening. I won't replicate the scenario or OOBs, as a famous battle such as this is eminently well covered by various Blogs and Wikipaedia etc. 

The Battle
As it was my first game of Nappies, Dave decided it would be best for me to be the French, whilst he took on the role of the Allies. This naturally gave me plenty of excuses for Pythonesque French accents along with derisorary comments about the French from Dave.

The French started off the table two Divisions, with two more due on later Turns and a cavalry Division on a random die roll from Turn 2. The Allies deployed in and around the houses of Quatre Bras, with the option of some Prussians arriving later on during the game. It was therefore paramount that I attacked with speed and vigour before 'Die Kinder' arrived...
The Allies safely esconced within their farmhouses. The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted some Minions in French Napoleonics uniforms. These were being used as objective markers and frankly tickled me pink. Even my daughter thought they were cool!
By-and-large the French advanced quickly onto the table in Attack Column.
The view towards the farmhouses.
The French shake out into line to be ready to fire at the Allied troops. The British 95th Rifles moved up to try and slow the French down, whilst the Allied cavalry moved to be adjacent to the farmhouse and in a better position to attack.
The French advance towards the 95th.
Allied Light Infantry in the woods, with a Minion objective marker.
Another Divison of French reinforcements arrives
The first line of the French left wing advances towards the woods, with a second line ready to support or exploit a breakthrough.
The 95th stubbornly resist all that the French can throw at them, despite the risk of being flanked.
Achtung! There's thousands of them there Froggies!!!
Despite overwhelming odds, the Allies line refuses to break.
The woods still remain in Allied hands.
The Brave 95th hold on, despite the presence of Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry.
Prepearing to advance and possibly storm the farmhouse.
More French reserves arrive and the woods finally fall to the French. But in the distance the Prussians can be seen, arriving not a moment too late.
The French now have a clear run in to the farmhouse, but the resistance by the 95th has meant that the Prussians have a great chance to form a strong defensive line.
The French simply cannot bring their numbers to bear.
The French begin the assault on the farmhouse.
The Minion looks suitably startled by it all.
Despite wave after wave of French attacks, the farmhouse holds out.
Shortly after this the French numbers finally tell, routing the Allied cavalry and leaving the way open to Allied Lines-of-Communication.

The End
Once again time defeated us but the French were in a position to exploit the gap on the Allied right flank and advance into the rear to control the crossroads. So a sort of French victory, but one that had taken sometime to achieve, largely down to the brave 95th and the stubborn defence of the farmhouse. If we ran it again we would add a time limit to reflect the fact that the French attacked late and that nightfall limited their ability to gain a victory.

Post Game Thoughts
Well for a first game of Nappies I had a great time and really enjoyed it. After the slow movement of the SYW, this was so fast and dynamic in comparison. You can see why gamers love this period. So as always a few post game thoughts:
  • It was a steep learning curve in terms of Napoleonic tactics and one I need to learn more about for future games. 
  • As per the last SYW game I played the week before, learning how best to deploy your troops is crucial. Things happen so quickly in terms of movement you really have to think ahead to avoid bottlenecks etc.
  • I didn't make the best use of my artillery. I deployed it too early and it limited my ability to use, due to either being too far to be of much use, or it being blocked by more useful infantry. In future I need to think in advance where I want it and how best I can use it to support my Line infantry.
  • Farmhouses etc are damned tough nuts to crack. Wave after wave of french attacks went in to little or no effect. I should have used my artillery to really wear the defenders down before assaulting, or simply to have pinned them in place then moved around their flanks so that they became isolated. Another lesson learnt I hope.
  • I didn't get chance to use my cavalry, so still plenty of opportunity to learn how to use chaps and how to get the most out of them.
  • Make sure you are both using the same edition rulebook, or at least have the latest amendments. We had one point in the game where I was saying one thing, and Dave couldn't understand where I was getting my 'interpretation' from. It turned out that he was using the first print one and I the last, with mine having subtle but important changes in the text. Quite funny really when we realised why we couldn't understand each other, but for some gamers I know they would have been throwing the toys out of the pram at this point!
So, not a bad way to commemorate Waterloo and I'm already looking forward to our next game. It may be more Nappies or something esle, I'm not sure which yet.

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