Sunday, 30 November 2014

Battle of Wavre 1815 refought

As Dave B. is an excellent sounding board ideas for developing the ongoing Napoleonic rules, a foisted upon him another Napoleonic game.

The Battle of Wavre was fought at the same time as Waterloo so gets little of the same treatment as it was considered a side show to Waterloo's main event.  Even the Prussians themselves knew this to be true and so left General Thielemann with less than his full corps to delay Marshal Grouchy ('Grew-she') while the rest of the Prussian army left to beat up on the Wellington's forces.
My "Marshal Grouchy"stand.  He is eating his strawberries as Gerard berates him to march to Napoleon's aid.

The Prussian defensive line was the difficult to cross Dyle River, so once again we are dealing with Napoleonic town fighting across the bridges at those points.
Looking from the south-east toward the direction of Waterloo, this photo shows the Dyle River.  Dave's initial French forces of Vandamme's infantry are assaulting both Bierge(center) and Wavre on the right while Exelmann's Dragoons look toward Limale on the left. Only the Prussian artillery are showing themselves on the far bank of the river near the villages.
I took the Prussians as they were pretty well stationary giving Dave the more decision making French command.  Historically, Grouchy followed what he believed to be the proper course of action from Napoleon's rather cloudy directives.  After the Battle of Ligny Napoleon gave Crouchy who previously led only a corps of cavalry, command over the infantry corps of General Gerard and Vandamme both of whom were heavily engaged at Ligny, along with the cavalry of Exelmann and Pajol.  Napoleon seemed to want to have Grouchy keep his sword in the back of the retreating Prussians while Gerard pressed for him to march to Napoleon's aid once the cannon fire from the direction of Waterloo was heard.  These two different actions formed the options - by secret die roll - which the French under Dave B. could take unknown to me, as the Prussians.  Thus I could not commit my reserves accordingly.
Dave moving an element between Limale(right) and Bierge(center) .  Note the large blank bases which form my potential hidden reserves.  These bases I kept from their previous use as our artillery bases, which are now considerably smaller.

Now to be honest I did not have much choice in my reserves deployment, nor did Thielemann,  as he was seriously outnumbered and most of his forces were already committed to the defence of each of the towns forming the crossing points and so placed them historically.  Again, historically, the French had little idea of the forces ranged against them, so I felt justified in the scenario to have many potential hidden forces for the Prussians keeping their numbers unknown to the French.

As it was only a medium sized game, we ended up playing one and half-ish games rewinding the clock several times as we came to grip with different ways of handling the town fighting rules.  In the past we had town fighting a function of the normal open field element combat with an addition of overwhelming modifier for the defenders. Lucky dice aside, the only way to defeat any defender was to attrition them and so a "conga-line" would enviably form with a long line of attacking elements cycling through until the defender was worn down enough to evict. While simple, I felt it did not feel right nor was it satisfying play for the commanders.

So the scenario was kinda set aside as Dave B and I myself tried various options.  In the end, while it still needs to be tested, we came up with combat much in the same vein as cavalry combat with squares as in the defenders stay put until voluntarily removed or eliminated (not literally but as a cohesive body of troops).  Combat itself is simply a die roll-off without modifiers.  Elites only have more staying power.  A bit more to it of course but it follows the rules approach we continue to strive for in simple "convention game" procedures. The effect works however.
The French of Vandamme's Corps assault the town led by the 2nd Foreign Regiment ("the Swiss") representing Habert's brigade

With much of the game in intellectual discussion, the scenario was not played out to any extent. I was worried about reinforcement timing as for the rules now more streamlined, can cause historical timing of forces entering the table to be difficult to establish.  This proved again to be the case and is but another item to be looked at, but the new town fighting rules might work now. Hopefully.

Hmm, I think I will have to re-roll that one!


  1. Replies
    1. it is IHMO. That is whenever we actually play it! :-]
      Cheers Rodger.

  2. Very impressive, love Grouchy's stand!

    1. One of my favourites which I re-modelled slightly from the Perry original
      [ see: ]

      Thanks for the kind comment

  3. Great looking troops and game as always, Doug. I have to say when I see road signs like that one, I always think of the evil SS troops switching the direction a la "Battle of the Bulge."

    1. Sheesh there Dean. You might give the current evil baddies a good idea to reconfigure the entire GPS system: the current road sign method. Prompting thousands of drivers plowing into sides of buildings or driving hundreds of miles into the scrub land looking for the McDonald's drive-through.

      Thanks for the visits as always. You will be happy to note that 'Waterloo' is on the other sign.

  4. you and your magic dice moments ...

    1. Yup. Taken from the game. Dice are not my friends. I should have a t-shirt made with the logo " Brilliant Tactician, Lousy Die Roller "

      as always thanks for the comments

  5. Wavre is tricky. I have almost finished developing a scenario for it for Napoleon's Battles. I can just about get the whole front on one table at 1" to 100 yards. That takes the battlefield from Bas Warve to Limale. Both sides will have command problems in covering such an extended area. The next trick is to come up with the terrain and I will be using the SPI boardgame Napoleon's Last Battles to help with that. Then it will just be modelling a few bridges.

    1. Yes, all that, plus the timing of the French of Gerard and Pajol coming up during the day. For that I teleportted them in with the provisos that they could not immediately enter towns nor attack the Prussians that turn. Marching figures around the table is redundant time for wargaming. The problem is the timing of the reinforcements. As we have changed some of our rules which, while good and speed up play considerably, have changed the correct historical entry timing of troops into the battle.

      Thielemann did not do much in the way of grand troop deployments mainly for the fact he had few to do any with! Borche's Brigade was already on its way to Waterloo and Stengel's lone regiment (the 19th IR) of Ziethen's corps offered only a few more to the cause. I had this formation be stationary in Limale. It would eventually move away to join its own corps the next morning but by then Grouchy had been informed of Napoleon's loss and will retreat back to France.

      At the scale you are using, Prussian deployment might be greatly affected by the French plans to either continue to pursue and attack the Prussians (vs Wavre) or to go to Napoleon's aid (via Limale) due to the limited resources and space. I had the French secretly roll and offered different victory conditions to each option. The Prussian player(s) would not immediately know the focus of the French plans and deploy appropriately thus allowing the French some advantage which might be helpful in the face of the difficult terrain and river.

      The whole exercise however does allow us wargamers to appreciate more the events and tribulations of the historical commanders.