Thursday, 20 November 2014

Napoleon's Battles Game at the NWS

Last Wednesday, amongst a host of other games being played at the NWS, we had a game of Napoleon's Battles and Mark B has provided the following excellent photographs of the game.  He was playing the Prussians (von Thielemann) and Stephen N the French (Marshall Grouchy).

Background to the game and some commentary can be found in this post about the hypothetical Battle of Ottignies 18 June 1815, basically a small scenario around the idea of what if Grouchy had marched to the sound of the gun?

Excelman's 2nd Cavalry Corps has deployed on the left with the six brigades of Vandamme's II Corps arrayed so that their right rests on the village of Ottignies on the River Dyle (the river forms the eastern border of the battlefield and was not depicted).  One brigade is held in reserve.

Thielemann has deployed the III Corps with von Hobe's cavalry on his right, ready to react against the French.  Stulpnagel's three regiments are held in reserve while the six other regiments are ready to contest the low rise.

The French move first and move in force on to the rise, passing the crest and staring down at the Prussians.  Grouchy knows that holding this position will allow Gerard's IV Corps to slip round behind and march to the Emperor's great battle.  It is 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

The Prussians out number the French and with their extra artillery should get the better in any long range fire fight.  The French generals are very prominent and they know the future of France rests on their shoulders. 

Initial long range fire has been limited in its effect.  One of the Prussian batteries has been damaged and disordered.

The long range fighting continues and still few casualties are caused, however the French brigade on their extreme right is now disordered and worryingly for the Prussians one of their central regiments has also become disordered (which until it recovers means no shooting and a -3 penalty on any close combat - but will the French close?)

Four thirty and everything happens.  The French have launched four attacks, each lead by a general, only the disordered brigade is held back on their right.  On their left the French brigade which was in reserve has come up to cover the left flank.  In turn it has been charged by the Prussian cavalry who see an advantage while their foe is distracted attacking a battery.  In order to seal this advantage the remaining Prussian cavalry have launched themselves at the French cavalry that could have interdicted.  Frustrating the French, Excelmann had failed his command roll which meant his second small cavalry division wasn't able to participate.

Grouchy is watching the horror as the Uhlans plough into the unprotected French infantry of the Lefol's 8th Division, who are unable to form square due to their commitment to carrying the enemy battery to their front.

A carefully posed hand to give reference to the games 15mm scale.  Note also the supply of free roll markers, three for each side, carefully stacked with the commander's base.

The French were victorious on their right were the 2nd Brigade of Berthezene's 11th Division and the 2nd Brigade of Habert's 10th Division, lead by Vandamme himself, have either routed or forced the withdrawal of the Prussians.  Vandamme can be seen waving his hat in an encouraging way. 

Judicious use of a free roll turned a French success to a push back for the other brigade of the 10th Division and a free roll had also ensured success for the Prussian Uhlans who had subsequently successfully maintained control to then go on and run down the routed enemy of the French 8th Division and also take out the French II Corps 12pdr battery, even threatening Grouchy himself, who was forced to make a dash for safety.

Lefol's other brigade of his 8th Division had been more successful, but suffered significant casualties.  It is one off dispersing and is faced by two Prussian batteries.

It is now five o'clock.  Excelmann's cavalry has been active and the Prussian cavalry is all but wasted.
The lead brigade of the French llth Division is feeling a little isolated.  The French 8th Division has dispersed and Vandamme's subsequent attack met with disaster even after the frantic use of French free roll markers.  The wind had gone out of his hat. 

If Vandamme can't rally his troops his corps will be fatigued.  Around half of the Prussian brigades are fatigued, but their reserve is still serviceable, although its foray onto the slope is subject to accurate artillery fire from Excelmann's horse artillery (previously seen using the artillery fire template to pick out their target).

And there we left the game.

We had played three turns out of a possible eight.  Gerard would have got round, but of course, he would have needed to start his march in the early morning, not midday, in order to influence the Battle of Waterloo.

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