Finally happy(-ish) with the rules, I invited a group to my place for a good playtest and another go at Waterloo (being 200th and all). Like herding cats, trying to get the guys all here and knowing the rules had the game start an hour and a half late. As weekday evening, at only mid game were the complaints of "gotta go" heard. And this after tea/coffee was ready and served. Perhaps I will need to offer RedBull instead.....
I knew the likelihood of the reconvening was almost nil, so I slowly worked through the game myself, trying to follow the initial plans by the French and try to play out each side as well as possible. Of course, being solo, I could co-ordinate the various commands which would be less likely with different players commanding each, but the dice seem to enjoy making this more difficult than one would believe !
The Allies win again in a very close near-run-thing!
The rules are specifically designed for the convention setting so simplicity is the key and I was happy to find that the players had the concept by Turn 4.
The deployments were historical but each side were allowed to develop their own strategy.
The French decided to ignore the historical strongpoints of Hougomont and La Haye Sainte. It was apparent from the initial moves that Reille and Kellerman's heavy cavalry were to move against the Allies right flank, dErlon to pin the Allies centre with Milhaud's cuirassiers and Lobau to attack between Hougomont and La Haye Sainte. At least that is what I surmised looking at the initial moves. Other than the Young Guard and the cavalry having moved to the right to counter the Prussians just coming on the table, was the only move by the French Imperial Guard. It stayed well to the rear. Whether by design so it would not be overly committed in any one direction so to exploit any of the various attacks, will not be known. It was not helped forward as Napoleon was on his "sick-bed" for extended periods during the game.
This rule had a 50-50 roll whether Napoleon was on the field and could a) contribute to any formations movement and b) move the Middle and Old Guard (the 4 infantry elements) as only he personally allowed.
The Allies had less decisions to make in their defensive role behind a ridge. However, coordination between commands would prove troublesome (even as a solo effort) due to the tight confines of the battlefield.
The battlefield is one of the most known of history and quite easy to replicate. I did not make the ridgeline but used a road to indicate the crest, with movement unaffected but artillery random if firing across (only allowed one shot per element and at a major minus). Initial reaction by the players seemed to think this was fine and simulates the historical situation well enough. All strongpoints could be defended - but were in any event not attacked. But the Allies still had to defend with the historical elite troops despite.
I will let the photo captions do most of the talking.
|Closer view with the initial French moves done and the Allied players positioning their Generals.|
|Picton's command behind the ridge and the Allies Heavy Horse behind.|
|French army in full display. La Belle Alliance in the centre of this photo.|
|Showing the French moves on their left. Hougomont upper centre, La Haye Sainte upper right, La Belle Alliance slightly south. A tight battlefield even by the standards of the day. But still lots of maneuver room with 28mm on a 8x5' table.|
|Reille's Corps ignoring Hougomont and rounding it's west side.|
|Close-up of the Allied right/west flank. The multiple commands in this area made coordination of the different arms difficult. One wonders how Wellington made it work.|
|The Prussians would make little impact this day. Bulow's poor consistently poor command rolls would not allow much forward movement.|
|Forced into action, d'Erlon attacks would ultimately fail.|
|Finally off his sick bed, Napoleon personally led his Guardsmen. The Brunswickers ( in black) would not stand.|
|The Highlanders of Picton's command could finally move and thus defeated the Guard in a flank attack.|
The initial game ended at the start of Turn 8 with very little combat. I had played the game out until Turn 15 but the game starts to increase its tempo (shorter real time game turns) as morale/combat effectiveness collapses in ever increasing amounts. Rather like the real thing. At Turn 15 only the French Guard was left and the one element loss to the Highlanders meant Napoleon could no longer force his army forward.