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Subject: Quatre Bras Strategy Redux rss

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Albert Valente
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For some reason the French always lose in the Quatre Bras scenario. Reason being, the Allies have superior numbers, a superior Overall Commander, and need only play defense. Invariably, the French player follows the historical (Ney, "Charge"), with inevitable results. So, after extensive game play and testing, I humbly offer these campaign tips to help achieve a somewhat different outcome:

Tactics and Commanders: Play to the strengths of the French side. Marshall Ney was a brilliant cavalry commander, and General Reille an excellent infantry commander. So, use the classic Napoleonic strategy of maneuver, divide the enemy forces, then dominate the battlefield with local superiority in cavalry, infantry, and artillery.

Principal Strategy: To avoid historical outcomes the French must take and hold the Bois de Bossu Forest. This position occupies the center of the map, and controls alternate approaches to Quatre Bras.

Ney LIM: It's not just the Ney LIM that makes this scenario difficult, although that's a good part of it. To make battlefield management easier, maintain Pier's cavalry as a separate force. It is unlikely the French will need to activate Pier's cavalry, except to make rapid movement. So, as long as II-Corps cavalry is deployed elsewhere the Ney LIM only affects Rielle's infantry! Thereafter, advance French infantry and artillery with the Ney LIM in mind, and remember, he who hesitates is lost. That is, continually press forward up against enemy line less Ney's influence put French forces at risk. There's a 50-50 chance to pick the Ney LIM, but the French player can avoid the Ney LIM altogether by gaining the initiative. Therefore, continually engage at least two Allied corps. It's not necessary to attack every turn, only to challenge Wellington to use his command points in the Operational Phase if only to maintain his lines.

Cavalry. The French have the best cavalry in this scenario—so maneuver them. To begin, advance Pier's command as quickly as possible and proceed along the path around the west of Bois de Bossu Forest. By threatening Quatre Bras from the west General Perponcher will have to hold units in reserve to protect the crossroads, weakening his front line. Next, swing II-Corps cavalry around to the road north of the crossroads, and right up near the edge of the board to delay entry of Allied reinforcements. A one turn delay is all that's usually needed to help Reille's Infantry achieve important gains.

Chateau Gemoncourt: Bring Reille's infantry up using the Strategic Movement LIM (off-road movement), and immediately create a battle line using crests, etc., to foil the Allies' line of sight. The initial goal is to assault Chateau Gemoncourt, preferably with 5-1 odds or greater (i.e. 15-18 assault points). Employ Marshall Ney during the assault to gain a DR advantage. Once the chateau is under control, any remaining Dutch-Belgian defensive lines will evaporate.

Bois de Bossu Forest: With Gemoncourt in French hands expect General Perponcher to fall back into the Bois de Bossu forest. Don't let that happen! General Reille must quickly push right up the road towards Quatre Bras, isolating any Dutch/Belgian defenders already in the forest. Once cut-off from their command, remaining units in the forest become easy marks. The assault on Quatre Bras proper may only begin once the forest is cleared of the enemy.

Artillery: The French also have the best artillery in the scenario. Concentrate fire on massed formations and particularly on the flank nearest the crossroads. The Allies usually stack artillery in the front lines, making them a prime target. Avoid combined fire (Plltier + Valnet) as that doesn't move-up the fire table. Instead, use Valnet as a preparatory attack, then follow-up with Plltier. Any disruption of Allied units in this way gives the French infantry a distinct advantage.

Quatre Bras: When the time is right, move Pier's II-Corps cavalry along the road to the west to prevent the British I-Corps from moving-up in reserve. By dividing the Allied forces in this manner the capture of Quatre Bras is fairly inevitable. While pressing Allied lines in front of Quatre Bras, quietly advance additional French infantry to the northern tip of the forest and assault Quatre Bras from the west. Finally, use Ney to lead the assault in order to counter Wellington's defensive bonus.

Cavalry Reserve: The coup de' gras is the French heavy cavalry! However, they should be kept in reserve until 18:30 to help reduce the loss of VP's. Be advised, the battle will likely be won only in the waning hours of the day, so quickly advance the heavy cavalry round the west of Wellington's lines and attack the exposed flank nearest the crossroads.

Special Note: The Cavalry Reserve LIM must go into the cup along with the Ney LIM, etc., so, if lacking the initiative, activate (or attempt to activate) the Cavalry Reserve under the Orders' LIM if that option becomes available first. While it seems an odd waste of the Orders LIM, this will nullify the CR LIM, thus increasing chances of picking the II-Corps LIM. Ney's CP's may also be used help assure the CR is activated in the Op. Phase.

Spoiler Alert: Assuming the other player has read this article too, one must consider possible Allied counter-measures. As the French have the initiative until Wellington arrives, there is little the Dutch-Belgians can do to halt the advance of Pier's cavalry. Still, they may try. So, if General Perponcher's forces become over-exposed, move to shake/shatter the Dutch-Belgian Corps ASAP. Should this happen early enough in the game the goal of occupying the Bois de Bossu Forest will be all that much easier. Second, the main British tactics are to use their rifle advantage in extended formations and to employ light artillery in the front line. Still, Allied infantry is divided into rather small corps, which arrive piece meal and somewhat late. Thus, it's difficult for the Wellington to form a strong contiguous line unless the French allows him to. Therefore, the French must continually press the Allied lines. Use off-set line to best advantage, and limit shock attacks to the enemy's flank. The Allied player may attempt to use Wellington to bring-up the I-Corps reserves, but this leaves Allid lines at the crossroads open to exploitation in the No-LIM Phase. Another Allied strategy may be to burn 1-2 CP's to continually maintain the initiative. Again, press the Allied lines. Loss of CP's means one or two British CL's must make risky DR's to avoid activation in the No-LIM Phase. Finally, the Allies must make good work of what little cavalry they have, unfortunately their two little units cannot work in concert. So, with Pier's cavalry on detached assignment, the French must use the forest to protect their flank from cavalry attack. The French Cavalry Reserve arrives about the time the French infantry must move beyond the forest, and Allied light cavalry will quickly melt at the approach of heavy cavalry in force.

Good luck and good campaigning. Viv le Emperor!
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Neil Mooney
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Great write-up!

I've been playing the Jours de Gloire Quatre Bras scenario (based on Berg's Triumph & Glory system) and I will try this strategy in that game as well.
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Andreas E. Gebhardt
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DerTroof wrote:
Great write-up!

I've been playing the Jours de Gloire Quatre Bras scenario (based on Berg's Triumph & Glory system) and I will try this strategy in that game as well.

That's a great idea!!

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Neil Mooney
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521tiger wrote:
DerTroof wrote:
Great write-up!

I've been playing the Jours de Gloire Quatre Bras scenario (based on Berg's Triumph & Glory system) and I will try this strategy in that game as well.

That's a great idea!!



Thanks Andreas.

I also have BoW and have played the QB scenario for it, but not the other ones yet (well, except for the very small Hougemont scenario). I plan on getting back to that game too, using all the great work Albert has put into it.
 
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Albert Valente
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Endgame--French Victory

Red=Allies
Blue=French

French
a. Off-set line covering the flank
b. Ney, in Quatre Bras with infantry and light artillery
c. Flanking infantry--clearing allies from Quatre Bras ZOC
d. Heavy Artillery covering approaches to Quatre Bras
e. Heavy Cavalry, sweeping around flank (now blown)
f. Pier's II-Corps cavalry in delaying action

Allies
a. Army Reserve, with square formation at end of line
b. Wellington and Brunswick Division, pushed back from crossroads and in disarray
c. Dutch-Belgians, shaken and useless at this point
d. I-Corps. Blocked by enemy cavalry.
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