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Incredible Courage 100 Days: Quatre Bras» Forums » Sessions

Subject: If you go down to the woods today... rss

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Jim F
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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Started a game of Incredible Courage 100 Days: Quatre Bras recently with a group of very nice chaps I meet with once a month for a wargaming session. I was previously aware of the title as Napoleonics has always been a strong interest of mine and the Waterloo campaign something of an obsession. Even though my very first wargame was ‘Napoleon at Bay’, I should point out that most of my subsequent gaming experience with this period has been as a miniature gamer rather than with the boardgames. However, as well as ‘Napoleon at Bay’, I have played a few other Zucker titles, fooled around with the La Batt system and recently completed a couple of campaigns of ‘Waterloo 1815: Fallen Eagles’.

As for Incredible Courage 100 Days: Quatre Bras, I have to admit my initial impressions weren’t particularly positive, particularly after skimming through the rules. The mechanics seemed a bit laborious and being able to breakdown battalions into companies struck me as a potential disaster. The shadows lengthened. There was also the small matter of the price (not at all cheap at around £130) and the lack of any feedback on BGG. Both of these were sufficient to put me off taking a punt and buying it. If I was going to play this game then trying out someone else’s copy seemed like a very good idea. When I arrived at the location I saw the reinforcements had been neatly stacked on the turn track the night before. Excellent, once we had done our initial dispositions we would be good to go.



Set up is done via a smaller version on the map which shows the units in situ. There appeared to be a couple of errors on the set up map but nothing that a smattering of common sense couldn’t deal with. Also finding the counters was a bit of a struggle as the print is quite small. I should wear glasses now but keep putting it off, so can’t really blame the designer for that!



(The Prince of Orange hovers in the background trying to look busy)

I kept passing counters to my less visually impaired ally and after about forty minutes everything was correctly in place. I have to admit that despite the minor errors on the map, I personally prefer this visual approach to set up rather than reading hex numbers. I have some issues with remembering numbers so by the time I have read them and go to the map I have often forgotten what they are. After a while this becomes wearing.

Turn one the Allies won the initiative (d10) but we muffed our command roll. Basically, after you win the initiative you roll a d6 to activate commands. Any generals with a number equal to or less than the number rolled are activated. Those above the threshold have to wait until your opponent has had an activation roll. So, where is Wellington (rating 6) when you need him? Answer, he was chatting to Blucher away from the battlefield. The French rolled forward and the battle was joined.

The French attack was split in to three, with an advance on each flank and one up the centre. Because of the initial placement of the defenders, the bulk of the fighting took place around the two woods which are closest to the French lines (Bossu and Pierrepoint) on the British right flank. The Dutch Belgians holding the woods had been broken down in to companies and spread across what is a very wide frontage. Now I appreciated why breaking down in to companies was necessary and the stock of the game began to rise. Without it the French would have just rolled around the defenders. A small farm forward of the woods was quickly taken by the French although some damage was inflicted on the attackers. This brought another neat mechanic of the game in to play.

Casualties are inflicted via the breakdown of the cohesion of units rather than a body count. For example, a regular unit has 5 cohesion points which are reduced by fire/combat/failed morale in particular circumstances. Once that unit has lost 5 cohesion points, it absorbs the losses to cohesion by removing companies instead – effectively permanent losses. The loss of cohesion affects fire power and hand to hand combat but can be recovered by pulling troops out of the frontline and placing them with their commanders. The use of markers to denote this won’t be to everyone’s taste but I have to say, as a veteran SPQR player, I didn’t find it particularly fiddley. The process is considerably simplified by the fact that if you stack with units that have a cohesion loss marker on them, you adopt that level of cohesion loss!



The French attack on the British right was slow moving. Driving back the Dutch-Belgians in the woods was much harder work than was possibly anticipated and a couple of well-aimed local counter-attacks also slowed it down. We did have some discussion about these counterattack because the Allied troops in the woods were on ‘defend’ orders. The situation was solved by a quick email to the designer who clarified that local counterattacks are permitted. The issuing of orders in the game is done via a chain of command which is set out on a couple of charts. I think the layout of those charts was a bit difficult to follow initially but improves with familiarity.

In the centre meanwhile the French advanced on Gemincourt farm. The Dutch Belgian light troops defending the farm sent out a storm of fire which repulsed the initial attack, although they suffered the loss of one of their companies. Being entrenched in skirmish order made them much less easy targets for the batteries that were brought up to support the attack. I have to say that the Allied rolls have been particularly good during the game. We’ll see if the infamous white dice that inflicted those losses survives to the next session.



It was on the Allied left that things possibly went less well. Heavily outnumbered and surrounded by enemy cavalry and artillery a battalion of Dutch Belgians were cut down very quickly. The loss of this battalion was a sad but we will see how much time it, and the other doughty defenders deployed by the excellent Perponcher, have brought for the Allies, whose reinforcements are currently streaming down the Brussels road!



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Christopher Fasulo
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Jim,

Thank You for taking the time to write up comments on your experience playing the game. I take them seriously and enjoy seeing feedback. Your frank comments about why you hesitated to play or purchase the game are much appreciated.

I would like to address a few comments from your report.

1) You mention some small errors in the setup. From the pictures I have seen the map you are using is the Original design by Rick Barber and not the Final design and in box map. The orientation was changed so that linkup with the Ligny map would be easier. If you check the setup against the map that comes with the game you should not find those errors/anomalies.

2) You mention that "Basically, after you win the initiative you roll a d6 to activate commands. Any generals with a number equal to or less than the number rolled are activated. Those above the threshold have to wait until your opponent has had an activation roll." While I think this may work in the manner in which I intended it should be interpreted as written in section 3.3.2 "If the roll is less than or equal to an HQ’s Leadership Rating, that HQ’s Force is now activated and takes part in the Operations Step." An example of how the design should work is:
Wellington - Leadership 6
Picton - Leadership 5
Perponcher - Leadership 3
Prince of Orange - Leadership 3

On a d6 roll of 1, 2, or 3, ALL the leaders shown above would be activated.
On a d6 roll of 5 or 6 only Picton and Wellington would be activated.
On a d6 roll of 6 only Wellington would be activated.

And Wellington's activation means that himself, his Aides'/Dispatch Riders could move, no one else.

Regards,
Chris
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Jim F
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Hi Chris,

If it isn't clear from my comments, a lot of my initial reservations were overcome by the actual game play. After a couple of sessions we are still very much learning the game.

Btw I notice that this session report doesn't appear under wargames. I think this is the same issue with it won't appear there until enough people vote it as a wargame. If people have a spare couple of seconds.

To do this under the new layout, go to the game page and look for classification on the left hand side. Click on the blue graph symbol and then 'Go to poll' and vote.
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Steven Goodknecht
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Good session report, Jim! How do you think you would like a company level game for a larger battle? Say Waterloo or Ligny? Quatre Bras is a much smaller battle. I would think it would be massive.

Do you think the company level is preferable or advantageous over the battalion level with skirmishers? Or do the companies feel like skirmishers?

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Christopher Fasulo
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Steven,

I'm sure Jim will reply also as you asked him the question.

Too be clear, the game has Infantry Battalions and Cavalry Regiments and those CAN be broken down into their component Companies and Squadrons. After some loss they must be deployed as Companies and Squadrons, but can start the battle and remain as Infantry Battalions and Cavalry Regiments at your pleasure. This map of QB was rendered very exactly at 100m per hex. And that provides a much broader field of battle than previous games explored. Napoleonic battles have plenty of cases where you need a thin line of troops to hold a position. Economy of Force so to speak. And places like QB and Telnitz (Austerlitz) force you to spread out more and where a Battalion counter, even with a one hex extension, cannot be put to proper use. Waterloo conversely is jam packed with troops in the main area and my larger echelon units help in that battle space.

Regards,
Chris
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Jim F
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The Dutch Belgians - in this battle - have to deploy in to companies in order to cover the ground which they need to, to slow down the French. Those trained as light infantry can skirmish as an option. The downside being that unless the companies are in decent cover they are very vulnerable to being swept away.

The French in our battle so far, haven't used that option at all with their infantry. I do like having the option. In a bigger battle I am not sure how much I would use this option except for deploying skirmishers.
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Mike Hoyt

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OK, I'd post a vote for it as a wargame, but I don't know how with the new site... help me out and earn a vote...
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Steven Goodknecht
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On the left side is CLASSIFICATION. Click on the graph icon and a screen will come up. On that screen click "Go To Poll". That will take you to where you can vote.

It took awhile before I figured it out. I hate the new layout. But then I am a curmudgeon.
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Mike Hoyt

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Thanks. I chose "Party Games". Cause I'm a curmudgeon....

No, actually I make no apologies for my taste. Not liking something "new" doesn't make you a curmudgeon, you may have your reasons (like can't find the poll...). Not liking it just because it's new is curmudgeonly, but otherwise let's not fall victim to this idea that anybody who doesn't like the new just doesn't get it.

(it's funny how people have no qualms saying they don't like something just because it's old....)
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Steven Goodknecht
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I really don't like it because to me, it doesn't seem user friendly. The ratings by gamers are no longer in numerical order, I guess it's by whenever they posted their rating. I used to look at high and low ratings to get an idea about a game. Now I just get confused and quit if there are a lot of ratings. There are other examples also but I don't want to turn Jim's thread into a rant.

But I do admit that I usually am more adverse to anything that is new. It started in my mid 40's and has increased 20 years on.
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Jim F
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For those who are interested in this kind of thing, the pics were very kindly provided by Andy Loakes.

UPDATE: Thanks to the clicking efforts of the wargaming fraternity the game has now been officially recognised as a wargame!!!
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Andy Loakes
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Ashiefan wrote:

For those who are interested in this kind of thing, the pics were very kindly provided by Andy Loakes.


AKA Marshal Ney - and sweeping away vulnerable DB companies is now my favourite pastime; only said half in jest if you read my comments on the game.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/172067/incredible-courag...
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Jim F
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Have you got a link for those comments Andy - I assume they are on CSW?
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Andy Loakes
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Ashiefan wrote:

Have you got a link for those comments Andy - I assume they are on CSW?


Added a link above Jim; they are here on the game's page here on BGG
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Mike Hoyt

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No Expectations wrote:
I really don't like it because to me, it doesn't seem user friendly. The ratings by gamers are no longer in numerical order, I guess it's by whenever they posted their rating. I used to look at high and low ratings to get an idea about a game. Now I just get confused and quit if there are a lot of ratings. There are other examples also but I don't want to turn Jim's thread into a rant.

But I do admit that I usually am more adverse to anything that is new. It started in my mid 40's and has increased 20 years on.


I can help you with that one Steven. In the title bar immediately above the comments (not the one at the top of the screen), over on the right side there are several options. "Date" is the default and is grayed out, so yes you get the ratings by most recent, but right next to it is "Ranking" and if you click that you'll see the ratings in descending order. You can even use the next option to the right to choose to see just the ratings for a specific rating (like all the 1's or whatever).

Defaulting to most recent is, to me, reflective of the facebook mentality, there is obviously little value in that compared to being able to see the high or middle or low ratings....

Edit to add: There is a little blue "feedback" button, I used that to suggest defaulting the ratings to numeric order and allowing us to pick multiple values from the Specific Ratings dropdown, like all of 1,2 and 3.

OK, back to Napoleonics!
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Freddy Dekker
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Has anyone tried to play it solo?
 
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Eric Brosius
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blockhead wrote:
Thanks. I chose "Party Games". Cause I'm a curmudgeon....

We want to come to your parties!
 
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