Friday, 29 May 2015

Battle of Waterloo - Enfilade 2015 - the player's deployment

Having completed the historical affair, we reset for the "what-Napoleon-could-have-done-with-his-deployment" game.

French Commanders:
Ron - Lobau,  Reille and Milhaud
Doug - D'Erlon with detached Guard guns
Bob - Druout and Kellerman

Allied Commanders
Stephen - Perponcher and Picton
James - Uxbridge and Prince of Orange
Seth - Clinton and Brunswick

Having a better grip on things, I recorded the players and their commands, and as was playing this time, had a bit better grasp upon the events.  But only a bit better mind you.
The view high above the Allies right flank from the west.  For those viewing from the upper bleachers, Hougomont is in the near middle with La Haye Sainte, and Papalotte in the middle and upper middle respectively.  Allies to the left, French on the right. 
Milhaud's Cuirassier Division deployed just to the east of La Belle Alliance 
For this battle, James took the Allied commands of Uxbridge and Prince of Orange while Steven, our newest "recruit" and fresh from deployment in Afghanistan and in his second game, took Perponcher and Picton, with Seth taking Clinton and Brunswick's forces.
The French were Bob with the Guard and Kellerman's heavy horse; Ron with Reille, Lobau and Milhaud and myself with D'Erlon and much of the French artillery.

The French planned to have the Guard swing around Hougomont to assault the Allied right flank rolling it up along the crest line while Lobau's corps will take on any reserves in the area and D'Erlon will  hold the attention on the Allies left with pinning attacks and heavy artillery bombardments.
The left wheel punch by the French but the Allies still holding the ridge ( represented by the road ) as it is difficult to coordinate combined arms attacks in the confined area this battlefield offers.  No doubt in the back of Wellington's mind.
Reille's forces under Ron's command.  Both he and I had very poor dice luck this game.
The French plan was perhaps good but our dice luck was extremely poor.  I rolled four 1's in consecutive turns for maneuver and thus could not bring up much of my numerous artillery to any thing like full effect ( I guess the ground was STILL muddy ! )  and even with hits, these were brushed away by equalling rolls by the Allied players.  Sigh.
The Allies withdraw from the crest to avoid the French random artillery fire - ineffective as it proved firing blind over the crest line and unable to maneuver to the crest.  The columns of French moving seemingly without much enthusiasm due to my pathetic dice.
On the French left, the Guard detached half of the Young Guard and a portion of the Old Guard to screen Hogoumount from their advance, with Kellerman's cuirassiers sweeping out around the French left. As they approached the ridge, the Guard cavalry took advantage of several mistakes on the part of Clinton and beat back the Foot Guards from the crest line, combining charges with barrages from the Guard horse artillery and bayonets from the Young Guard. Though they were pushed back quite a distance from the crest line, Clinton managed to re-organize and establish a new defensive position a short distance away. As Clinton was being pushed back from the ridge, Kellerman's cuirassiers found the Brunswick infantry exposed in open ground outside of Braine L'Alleud.   Brunswick attempted to stem the tide of cuirassiers around the allied right, and in the process made a powerful claim to assume the name "Die Hards" from the Battle of Albuera fame. Despite catastrophic losses, the Brunswickers refused to quit the field, merely falling back to a position where they could support and be supported in turn by Clinton's Foot Guards. At this point the French center and right had been pushed back from the ridgeline, and the assault was largely spent. The screening force around Hogoumont was still fresh, but likely too little to late, and the French acknowledged that the First Empire had likely well and truly run its course.
Lobau's Corps.  The green labels can be removed and replaced with other commander names for other scenarios. The black dice record combat effectiveness.  Paperless. Just the way I like it!
The French left earlier at the start of the battle before it went downhill :-))
The Allies kept commands tight, unlike in the historical affair.  One does wonder about Wellington's command structure, and it would suggest he allowed all his commanders only local control and was predicated on the idea that he would arrive in time to control in any disaster. It seemed to work however.  The hand is moving the Dutch 6th Hussars representing the Merlen's Brigade of light horse.
One of my infantry brigades in square - note the cube marker on the right - having bounced the Netherland horse (in the distance ) but now about to receive close fire from the Royal Horse Artillery supported by the Belgian heavy horse et al.
the action from Action 5 News 'copter!


Like the veterans of Napoleon some thirty further years into their lives as old men looking back at the good-old-days, we wargamers remember only the glory of the battle, won or lost, on the war-game table some days after the event.




Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Battle of Waterloo at Enfilade 2015 - historical deployment

With our small but dedicated band of our homegrown GdC rules devotees in place we started out Friday gaming with the historical deployments for both the Allies and French.

French Commanders
Dave – D’Erlon and Milhaud          
James – Guard (Druout) and Lobau      
Bob – Reille and Kellerman

Allied Commanders
Stephen – Clinton and Prince of Orange
Ron – Uxbridge and Perponcher
Rod – Picton and Brunswick

Seth and I were the "umpires" and helpers.

 Of course we did have the occasional person wander by to ask which battle it was.  Ah! was the reaction when they could view the deployments from the south; that is from the view as the French facing the upper part of the field in the same orientation which most maps portray the battle!

As I was still quite flustered from the drive down, the set up and various missed items and having to get all the guys up to speed on the new variations of the rules, along with all the early adjudication of play, I must admit I did not actually follow the narrative flow of the battle itself very well.

Here, Doug, I think you need something stronger than a soda....
On the French right wing the grand battery opened events up by shelling the two elements of Picton's command stuck on the wrong side of the ridge. Both of these elements took noticeable losses before withdrawing behind the relative safety of the crestline. The grand battery then continued their bombardment of the obscured allied infantry and cavalry, as D'Erlon and Lobau's infantry advanced in the center and Milhaud's cavalry moved to the east around D'Erlon. As the French under Lobau neared the ridgeline and La Haye Sainte, they passed west of the farm house. As they did so, the Highland regiments lost their discipline and charged over the crestline into the head of Lobau's column and the left wing of D'Erlon's infantry.  The highlanders assault turned into a general advance of Perponcher and Picton's commands, which did manage to force D'Erlon's corps to Fall Back after fierce fighting along the ridge line. However, the space vacated by D'Erlon was quickly filled with the raging gunfire of the Grand Battery. Weakened after their assault, both Perponcher and Picton voluntarily withdrew behind the ridge line in the face of the withering fire. Under cover of the renewed barrage, D'Erlon re-organized and along with Lobau pressed home the French assault along the ridgeline between La Haye Sainte and Papelotte. D'Erlon's easternmost forces screened Papelotte while Milhaud's cavalry charged home into the Allied cavalry just west of the village. In a vain effort to save the day, Uxbridge charged his heavy cavalry into Lobau's infantry in square. After being repulsed, the heavies too fell victim to the unrelenting fire of the Grand Battery. Between the artillery on their right and Milhaud's Cuirassier on their left, Uxbridge could no longer stand and quit the field. Shortly thereafter Picton also crumbled under the pressure from D'Erlon's infantry. As Picton and Uxbridge withdrew, the Prussians under Zeithen and Bulow arrived from the East, but they were too little too late and did little more than push in D'Erlon's screen around Papelotte.

The road represents the crest line and the defending Allies on the left have crossed one to assault the advancing French.  

The Allied heavy horse following up on the charging Highlanders.  [ the green dowel is our measuring stick as I prefer these to the eye sore and dangerous tape measures ]
The western part of the battlefield from the French perspective with Hougomont in the centre and Braine L'Alleud upper left.
Events on the West side of the field that at about the same time Picton and Uxbridge were withdrawing, Reille and Kellerman's heavies were making inroads agains the Allied right flank and the Imperial Guard were pressing their attack against Clinton and the Prince of Orange west of La Haye Sainte.    Reille was given the task of neutralizing Hougomont while his forces moved around the Allied right flank.  While the armchair generals proposed this move by Napoleon as the 'correct' strategy, the player quickly realizes that it takes much time and is restricted by Braine L'Alleud and indeed the ridge.  In the many plays of the battle the French players have found the restriction of area limits the opportunity for combined arms attacks - as the French commanders found during the actual affair!

The French Imperial Guard Infantry with the Young Guard in the fore.
D'Erlon's infantry supported by the Guard Horse Grenadier a Cheval and Red Lancers both in campaign dress representing the heavy and light horse contingents of the guard in the 100 Days Campaign.
 Together with the ill fortune of the Allied right flank, Wellington was losing his command quickly and near the end, it was thought the French would swing right to meet the Prussian onslaught in due time.

This was indeed my fifth play of Waterloo and I think the best part of the experience is the discovering the difficulties the French historically faced based on their deployment.  The small battlefield area and restrictions - the 'corridors' created by the farmhouses and the long ridge line - and the need for rapid attacks so no slow build up or wide maneuver well knowing the Prussians will eventually arrive making any hope of victory unattainable.  These tabletop reenactments make these points understandable now for us armchair generals.
So, with that in mind, and time left in the convention session, that while the French won this affair as the Allies did not, as Wellington had, glued themselves to the ridge, we reset the deployments for the "how-Napoleon-could-have-done-it" game as we shall see in the next blog post.





Monday, 18 May 2015

More Napoleonic French Allied troops

 A quick display of the Napoleonic troops painted in the last few (ahem...) many weeks.

The Westphalian corps fought at Borodino but were either lightly committed or perhaps ? punished for either their actions, or for their leadership, as they were given the unenviable job of "cleaning up" the battlefield at its conclusion, with all that entails.

A box of Warlord French line infantry in mostly overcoats serve for the Westphalians. While it might be considered a sin by the "true Napoleonic" fan to not paint up these boys in their full-dress white uniforms, I was very happy to just paint up a few of the command and have the single flag give representation to this contingent.  I generally hate painting white, so the overcoats provide an easy escape!
My Westphalian Corps
Only one box of the Warlord French Infantry provided enough for this corps gathered for the 1812 Russian campaign, some 10,000 or so.

[ As an aside, the box cover says 36 figures but my particular box came with an extra sprue as to give me 42 figures so I could do up the full 4 x 10 elements ]


I indicated the Westphalian leadership may have been lacking.  Well, Jerome, King of Westphalia and Napoleon's brother, got in a snit, and left for the pleasures of his German palace putting Junot in command. Junot was apparently showing signs of his mental illness during the Russian campaign which will have him commit suicide a year later.
Perry's "Jerome" casting which has a very good family resemblance, I think.
The Polish allies were some of the French's more staunch supporters, as the Duchy of Warsaw being pinned between Prussia and Russia.  However unlike their German allies, the Poles did not really follow French military fashion for the most part and so had a different and distinctive uniforms.  The most obvious being the square topped headdress.  Much debated on how the top was decorated, after much research, and much of it conflicting even from respected authors, I finally decided on the "showy" white tape cross on the top and crown of the chapka as I wanted these to be obviously Polish on the tabletop.
The Polish infantry marching into action

the distinctive caps of much of the Polish army

Murawski Figures I used for the Poles and nicely detailed they are.  Paul Hicks sculpts.  I was given an extra casualty pack as complimentary compensation for an order mix-up [ very kind, that! ] and decided to use these to make a "mini stand" to place near any of my overcoat elements as to give a visual suggestion that they are Polish at the start of a game should I need more than the two elements I have painted.
the small additional stand giving credence for having the French in overcoat be a Polish contingent

Along with the infantry, I have added hussars for the Westphalian light horse contingent and for the Saxons.   The Perry box of plastic French hussars proves very useful as with only a few modifications many of the hussars of different nations can be constructed.  For example the Westphalian 2nd Hussars are the full dress version as I decided to add the pelisse and tall plume and shako cords as these are distinctive uniform items for this unit; while for the Saxons I made them more "campaign dress" with covered shako and no pelisse. Perhaps more experienced and thus a better unit it could be conferred. As the Saxons did not use the "wolfsteeth" with their sheepskin saddle cloth and were smaller in nature,  I could scrape off those bits as these are plastics.  I wouldn't even try if in metal!
my Westphalian 2nd Hussars representing that corps attached light horse division in the Russian campaign
my Saxon Hussars ready for action

Showing how the plastics can be easily modified to give distinctive looks along with the colour differences.


I think that concludes the French Allies contingents I need to fight most of the battles of the era's later years.  Gotta stop at some point!

Monday, 11 May 2015

GdC mass look

Like the new Sam Mustafa rules of "Blucher", our home-brew Napoleonic era "GdC  General de Corps" could be much like a 6mm game but in this case set to a 28mm figure sizing.

The photo shows a French attack on the Allies position at Waterloo with D'Erlon's attack in column with Milhaud's entire heavy cavalry corps in column alongside its right flank. Each stand represents a brigade.  Each has a small black die whose pip number can be changed to indicate any change in status and the green labels show the commander of each and are only temporarily attached and thus can be changed according to the battle/scenario.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

ACW balloon

While tossing about boxes in the household storage looking for something, a box of very old and unused Christmas stuff fell and out rolled a plastic tree bobble.  I intended to quickly stuff it back in, when I was stuck by the shape and size.  My wargamer brain kicked in immediately and I thought...hmmm....it may just work!

So later that evening I put everything else aside and tried to be inventive.  What I had seen was a balloon, a 15mm-ish sized balloon from the 'ribbing' typical of the Christmas tree ornaments.  Well, long story short, I finally came up with a facsimile of a period balloon.  Certainly not historic by any means and certainly not even structurally feasible, probably not aerodynamic to be sure, but kinda looks the part.

Absolutely no mathematics was involved in the following!  I merely started by eyeballing the height which I thought was high enough to look the business but as low as possible to not make it too top heavy. (ed. ~8")  Needing to firmly anchor the, thankfully, light weight bobble/balloon I used a rod of aluminum which I twisted around a real twig/ scale tree. It was further anchored by using one of the 15mm OldGlory weird poses, in this case a soldier heaving a large rock over his head (!) and drilled a hole through what would have the rock and fed the rod through the now grasping hands and then up into another hole drilled in a solid cube of balsa wood forming the basket and thus finally into the hollow interior of the upside-down bobble.

"Engineeringly speaking" I have thus placed all this light weight directly over the anchor point for stability which is further helped by the tree "buttress". All this on a card stand with a surprising and welcomed, small table "footprint".
 I gathered some 'green stuff' to to create the loose part of the balloon under the inflated part which further hides the wire.  The wire, while very thick in scale (hey it was what I had at hand!) was painted to look like rope. While ideally I would have liked to have more soldiers holding the rope none were at hand, so I would hate to be that poor soldier who seems to be that close to being suspended himself, but he makes the use of the wire look like a guiding rope hanging from the basket and thus perhaps the illusion of a flying American Civil War observation balloon.

 A few quick photos before I get on to other more pressing stuff.