I have recently felt a desire to play a tactical Napoleonic game and have been looking around for a system. I narrowed it down to La Bat and Vive l’Empereur, it was tough call between the two but as I am also embroiled in games of ASL and just about to begin playing MMP’s War of the Suns I was leaning towards the Vive l’Empereur system as it had less of a rules overhead. Calandale’s video replay of all four battles of the 100 days’ campaign using Le Retour de l’Empereur game really caught my imagination.
I tracked down a copy at Second Chance Games (in the UK) and two days later it arrived. I read the rules – made some notes – and set up the battle of Quarte Bras (historical version). Recorded here is my first play of the game, no doubt I have made some rules errors. I am playing with all the advanced rules – command level 3: tactical orders.
I tried to stack as little as possible so I could see the units. When in column the unit on the left is the unit on top.
After setup I issued the starting orders. This seemed quite straightforward, Reille is given ‘attack’ and the Prince of Orange ‘defense.’ I placed the order markers on the OOB sheet. In future I will probably use written orders but I will try this for now. (Re-reading the rules later it might have been better to give Reille a ‘march’ command which he could turn into an ‘attack’ at any time).
Initial strategies – I have little experience with Napoleonic tactics so I was expecting many of my ideas not to work during this first sceanrio!
Anglo-Allied plan - to fall back (if possible) to behind the stream around Gemioncourt and defend the two open hexes to the west. Hopefully, this would buy me enough time to organise the defence at Quatre Bras itself using the arriving reinforcements.
French plan – The initial question was what to do with Reille’s Lancers and Chasseurs as they began within charging distance of the Dutch troops covering the road to Quartre Bras. Looking at the Allied setup it looked possible that they could flank the Dutch artillery by swinging around to their right, although they would be fired upon in the process. Being new to the game I was not sure how risky it would be – but as it did look like an error in the Allied setup and I could really have done with moving those guns off the hill I decided to give it a go. The rest of the French troops moved up and formed a line running across the open land in front of Gemioncourt and up towards Piraumont.
Turn 1 – French
With an attack order at least a third of the II Corps must move at least four hexes towards the enemy and engage if possible, this was not an issue as all the French units moved rapidly towards the Allied line. The French chasseurs charged and the Dutch guns opportunity fired as they galloped across its field of fire at two hex range. The fire was ineffective and the guns were promptly charged in their flank! This attack triggered the first fatigue point for Reille’s II Corps. The Lancers took a safer route keeping out of opportunity fire range of the guns, moving towards Piraumont. The rest of the infantry moved up in column. The Voltigeurs on both side neutralising each other when they met.
I wont post a photo after every move but here are French after their first move.
The Dutch guns got to fire at the advancing columns of French causing a step loss on the 72nd Ligne but not impeding its progress. I checked through the rulebook to see if the shot was allowed as the guns were about to be charged in the flank, but I could not find any rule to say it couldn’t fire – I am surmising that this is to do with the simultaneous nature of a turn, the guns fired whilst the cavalry were still charging across the open and before the charge hit home. The charge resolution is not until the melee phase so the charge contact has not yet taken place – that is how it made sense to me. The chasseurs charged into the flank of the guns and even having to charge up the slope led to the predictable result and the guns were eliminated. With the guns swept aside the chasseurs thundered on into the flank of the adjacent Saxe-Nassau regiment – as the cavalry appeared from over the slope they had no opportunity to attempt to form a square. The infantry was disorganised and fell back. The chasseurs took a voluntary disorganisation and also fell back (marked with a 10 on the photo as there are no 0 markers in the game). Ney was very pleased with the progress so far.
Turn 1 – Allied.
Well it was not a great start losing my only guns! But the plan was still to form a defensive line around Gemioncourt. Full movement of the forces were needed and so a fatigue point was accrued for I Corps. A hasty defense line was formed but it was a hex further forward than I wanted it to be (it was still legal with my defense tactical order). Wellington was not the army commander until he entered the map and so he had his full movement (normally this is only half when using tactical command rules), still I was concerned that the French lancers to the east might threaten him – his only option was to gallop as fast as he could along the road from Ligny. In the distance, Kempt’s brigade marched towards the sound of battle as fast as they could.
Turn 2 – French
Nothing subtle about the French movement this turn, just running attack columns into the Dutch infantry in order to try and swat them away quickly whilst the remaining units spread out across the line. A Second fatigue point was acquired. Fine shooting from the Dutch caused some casualties to the French columns, which in turn disorganised the 108th Ligne but the accompanying 72nd held their nerve (despite the -2 morale modifier) and prepared for melee.
The French assault disorganised and drove a regiment of the Dutch into the forest. The second Dutch regiment, who had just driven off the French 108th, held against the assault of the 72nd. Wellington exclaimed, ‘Well done boys – you have bought me a little more time!’ In the rally phase the chasseurs failed to recover their good order – still too flushed with their achievements of the previous turn.
Turn 2 - Allied
Wellington gave himself a ‘march’ command. More reinforcements arrived – some cavalry at last! The disorganised Dutch regiment continued to move through the woods towards their line of communication. The remaining Saxe-Nassau force was well and truly stuck! It looked like his only option was to stand and fight as there was no one who could come to their aid. A retreat would have caused him to suffer opportunity fire and it lacked sufficient movement to change formation and flee any significant distance. The Bijland troops, stationed in the villages were not high morale and so I wanted to leave them in good cover for now. This allowed the I Corps to remove their only fatigue point. All I could do was to move the reinforcements on as quickly as possible, as these were the Reserve Corps, it gained a fatigue.
Turn 3 – French
Kellerman arrived with some line and heavy cavalry. No charge opportunities this turn but I needed to think carefully about my troop disposition. In another two turns it looks like the Allies would have sufficient forces on-board to form a formidable defensive line.
I wanted to get my guns on the slopes just north of the stream that fed the Etang Materne ready to fire on Allied units that moved in front of Quatre Bras. The slopes around Quatre Bras made assaulting there more difficult so I decided to move some units east and try and take the slopes from that direction, clearing it with my cavalry and following up with my infantry. For now I skirted around Gemioncourt, I knew I might take a step loss or two from opportunity fire but I wanted to get my assault on the slopes of Quarte Bras in motion as quickly as possible.
The remaining defending Dutch regiment became disorganised and fell back under the onslaught of three French columns. Their defiance was not in vain as they eliminated the French 72nd as a fighting force. The II Corps picked up another fatigue (total now 3).
Turn 3 – allied
The Brunswick contingent arrived and began its march toward Quatre Bras. This turn the focus was clearly to form some kind of defensible line. The Reserve Corps picked up another fatigue as the units force marched to the defence of Quarte Bras. The Dutch unit garrisoned in Gemioncourt attempted to pull back to friendly lines before it was surrounded, but picked up an unlucky hit from skirmishers of the 61st Ligne and became disorganised.
A defensive line, of sorts, was established with Merlen’s cavalry taking up a position on the Allied right to counter the French cavalry there. Wellington switched his march order to a defence order.
Turn 4 – French
The French needed to be mindful of their fatigue as it was currently on three and they would need to pause for a turn or two shortly. But first they need to take advantage of the Allied position between Quatre Bras and the woods to the west as it had only disorganised units as defenders. They pushed as many French units at the weak spot as they could. The rest of the French infantry formed up in line opposite the remaining Allied line. The artillery had made it to the slopes in front of Gemioncourt but had not yet unlimbered. Kellerman had swung around to the east following the road on a wide flanking manoeuvre.
Here is the position before any fire or melee:
The Allied fire was ineffective. The French was better with Kempt’s brigade taking a few losses but still holding its ground. However, the melee was decisive with the Dutch troops routing from the field and the Allied right flank in doubt.
In the photo you can see the fleeing Saxe-Nassau and Bijland brigades – they have the double ‘5’ markers on them.
Turn 4 – Allied.
Lots of problems – a hole in right flank, but plugging that should not be too difficult – the real concern was Kellermann’s line and heavy cavalry swinging around the left, The Allies really have little to stand up to them apart from a few more Brunswick lights. The Allies would have to be careful managing that flank.
The hole in the right was plugged by the questionable troops of Best’s brigade. The Brunswick infantry moved to the left. There was not quite enough movement points to get the Reserve artillery in the line this turn. Fatigue for the Reserve increased to 3. Knowing that the French would have to halt their attack because of fatigue build up or risk fighting with reduced morale was the allied great hope at that moment.
I will post more shortly...
- Last edited Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:05 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:39 pm
Isle of Skye
Re: Quatre Bras – a learning game (turns 1-4)
Many thanks for the detailed report. I've looked at this game many times wondering if I would enjoy it. Your session report is really useful in terms of giving a flavour of the mechanics, and is a good read too!
I'm currently playing a Vassal game of the La Bat Quatre Bras, and the situation at 3.20pm in that game is not wholly dissimilar to your game. Fascinating to see how the two systems handle the battle.
Thanks Alasdair, it will be interesting to compare both games at their conclusion - although I am not a great Napoleonic tactician and as you will see in the next part I failed to utilise the French advantage in cavalry!
The La Bat Quatre Bras was the La Bat game that tempted me. I will have to pick up a La Bat game at sometime...
Turn 5 – French
The French will have to take it easy this turn – They couldn’t afford for Reille’s II Corps to gain another fatigue and drop a morale. It did not appear to be clear quite how to manage the interplay between the fatigue rules and the tactical orders, this was not unexpected as the fatigue rules are still experimental. I played it that the attack order was put on hold when the Corps took actions that did not cause a fatigue – but this will require more thought. Although in my future games I will use written orders as these allow more command options.
Limited movement by the II Corps only allowed ½ movement, this to prevent another fatigue. The French columns on the left moved into line formation and the 61st moved up adjacent to Quarte Bras. The artillery moved forward toward the village of Quatre Bras with the intention of blasting it a short range.
Kellermann took a fatigue and continued his flanking movement. The guard units began their exit from the map towards Ligny.
Allied defensive fire ripped through the 2nd Ligne of the 6th Division causing it to pull back disorganised from the line. It passed through an artillery unit moving forward but that unit held its nerve. The 2nd ended its movement in the same hex as Ney and Reille. French return fire caused some damage, with one of Kempt’s brigades dropping a morale, but the line held. No melee was undertaken as that would have caused a fatigue.
The hole in the French line where the 2nd Ligne fell back
Turn 5 – Allied
The pause in the French attack was just what the Allies needed. Unfortunately, a fatigue was gained by the Reserve Corps as the full movement was needed to get the guns on the flank, opposite the French build up of cavalry.
The allied defence now looked a lot more solid – with plenty of reserves around La Baraque.
Turn 6 – French
There was no rush to launch an assault just yet. The French took a half move/no assault turn to keep their fatigue at 4. The French guns unlimbered in front of the gap in the Allied line. The guard exited the board. The firepower of the British units was impressive as they disorganised another French unit, the 92nd from the 9th Division. The guns on the Allied left started pounding the French light cavalry causing step losses but no disorganisation. The return French musket fire was ineffective but the two French artillery units blasted a regiment of Kempt’s brigade reducing it to a shadow of its former self. Both sides still had sufficient forces to block the gaps appearing in the line.
Turn 6 – Allies
The build up of French cavalry on the left was a ticking time bomb – one the Allies couldn’t diffuse easily. More reinforcements arrived, Kielmansegge’s brigade, but no more cavalry. Kempt’s mauled regiment pulled back one hex – they would have liked to move back further but it needed to remain in contact with the other Kempt regiment. The hole in the line was plugged with a Brunswick regiment. However, moving up the Brunswick unit used over half its movement points and so the Corps gained its fifth fatigue and the Corps morale dropped by 1. More guns were moved up into the line. Halkett’s brigade moved up to the edge of the Bois du Bossu.
This turn the French fire was ineffective. The Allied offensive fire cause multiple step losses but no French unit was disorganised.
A regiment of Hallet’s brigade supported by the whole of Best’s brigade assaulted the French 4th Leger in the most northerly hex of the Bois du Bossu. The 4th Leger was a good unit and with the aid of the forest the attack only went in at one to one. Fortunately for the allies they rolled a six and the French had to fall back. With the French 46th in front of Quatre Bras on its last step, the Prince of Orange personally led a regiment of foot from Pack’s brigade straight at it from out of the village of Quatre Bras itself. The French were driven back but due to orders the British could not advance after combat as they were already at the limit of their defense perimeter. The hard fought gains of the French had been repulsed nearly all the way along its frontline.
Although the Allied position looked strong there were a couple of difficult problems it faced. First was the impending cavalry attack on the left and and second were the two French artillery units battering the Allied front line. Neither of these two problems had an easy solution. Pulling the Allied infantry units back onto the reverse slop appeared to be the only possible solution to the artillery – and a favoured tactic of the Duke himself.
Turn 7 – French
Well last turn did not go well for the French and even though an aggressive turn would push them over the fatigue threshold they couldn’t wait to unleash the cavalry any longer.
The chasseurs launched a charge and Merlen and the Brunswick cavalry passed their morale and counter charged (unfortunately both had to counter because the chasseurs was a tough unit). The units met but the result was inconclusive, however, the charge of the chasseurs was stopped. The chasseurs took a voluntary disorganisation and retreated back two hexes. Next Kellermann’s cuirassiers and dragoons charged across the slopes at the allied cavalry. With no choice but to counter charge, the Allied units took a further morale check. The Brunswick cavalry lost their nerve with the sight of the heavy cavalry charging towards them but Merlens rode out to meet them. The cuirassiers took a step loss but cause Merlen’s cavalry fared worst and had to fall back disorganised. However, the initial charge of the cuirassiers was halted.
The French launched a massive assault towards the village of Quatre Bras, three large attack columns converged on the British unit defending it. The massed guns of the French caused the Brunswick troops on the ridge near the village to fall back in disorder. The Allied fire caused one of the attacking French columns, the 108th, to become disorganised and it also fell back.
The French assault cleared Quatre Bras and the Prince of Orange himself had to beat a hasty retreat. The village was occupied by the powerful 1st Leger of the 6th division – it would prove to be a tough unit to shift.
Turn 7 – Allied
With no time to worry about fatigue the Allies had to try and improve their position. The Allies had to shore up their wavering line with Kempt’s heavily depleted brigade as all other units possible are diverted to assault Quartre Bras. Fatigue moved up to 6. The French guns ripped through a stacked infantry and artillery outside Quatre Bras unit forcing it to fall back disorganised – the centre of the allied line was gone! Return Allied fire was ineffective.
The remaining Allied assault goes into Quartre Bras – and failed, all the units were forced back – disorganised.
This turn was a disaster for the Allies, not only did Quatre Bras fall but they had been effectively pushed off most of the slopes around the village. It was a very ill-advised assault on Quatre Bras. Looking over the loss sheet there are several French units that were now heavily expended and so not was all lost – but quite how the Allies could dislodge the powerful 1st Leger from Quatre Bras was not clear.
On the positive side one of the Saxe-Nassau routing units unexpectedly rallied, it needed a 4.
Turn 8 – French
Reille’s Corps was fatigued but so was Wellington’s Reserve Corps so there was no time to pause, the French wanted to push home their advantage. The British artillery looking over the French cavalry force was somewhat disconcerting to the French, the only charge options were either to gallop past the front of the guns or straight at them, neither of these options looked attractive. This dithering of the French cavalry would end up costing them dear.
The cavalry decided to bide its time until those guns were silenced.
Infantry and artillery were sent forward to support the 1st Leger stationed in Quatre Bras – this included a flank attack on Kempt’s weak unit on the slopes, removal of that unit would have led the artillery covering the French cavalry at risk.
The French units in Bois du Bossu were bogged down, unable to make progress but also unable to extricate themselves from the forest.
The French artillery that had just moved up adjacent to Quatre Bras was immediately reduced a step by accurate fire from the Saxe-Orange regiment, but held it still held its ground. The Kempt regiment managed a final volley at the advancing French before being swept away. The British guns kept up their fire on the cuirassiers causing another step loss, they were then fired upon by Brunwickers in the woods adjacent, and the cuirassiers were eliminated – they should have retreated when the Brunswicker’s entered those woods…
French offensive fire forced the Kempt regiment to retreat. The mass of disorganised Allied units on the reverse slopes around La Baraque was now a major headache and traffic-jam for the Allies.
Below you can see the French in control of Quatre Bras. The only Allied units still on the rise were a unit from Saxe-Orange (left in picture) and a Brunswick and British artillery unit (on the right). You can see the mass of Allied disorganised units in the background.
Turn 8 –Allies
Wellington took a rest from movement this turn in order to reduce his Corps fatigue, this was possible at the fast arriving reinforcements were under the Prince of Orange’s command. The Allied I Corps picked up a fatigue (total now only 1) and orders were issued to march, the leaders were stacked together so this was immediately followed. The problem of bringing on the reinforcements was that the only way to traverse the small rise around Quatre Bras and go to support the Brunswicker’s and artillery to the east, was to pass directly in front of French 1st Leger. The disorganised units to the rear were stacked so densely there was no way through.
The first unit to move were some questionable Bijland troops, they were opportunity fired upon, took a loss and fell back disorganised. Next were a regiment of Brunswickers, again the fire from the French hit home and these too fell back disorganised (The French had rolled two 6’s consecutively). No more good order units could reach the poor Allied units stuck out on the Allied left flank so they were on their own for now.
Maitland’s brigade, which were made of much sterner stuff, managed to make there way to the outskirts of Quatre Bras, followed by Byng. These were excellent troops and the all Allied hopes were now hanging on them.
Kielmansegge brigade began a march around the back of the Allied line towards the weakened left wing.
The French defensive fire was effective against the Brunswick and artillery units on the left flank causing some losses. Allied fire was sparse and ineffective.
A quick check on the army morale revealed neither army was very close to demoralisation yet, but the French loses were mounting and they would have to be mindful. Despite the state of the allied army they had taken relatively few step losses
French turn 9
Again no let up this turn, the French wanted to improve their position the best they could before having to deal with Maitland and Byng’s fresh and powerful brigades. The British guns were still hindering the cavalry, but it was hoped they they would have been silenced this turn. Kellermann pulled back and the Brunswick troops in the woods failed to cause any casualties. The French columns poured onto the small rise around Quatre Bras and deployed into line, this would stifle the deployment of the arriving Brigades of Maitland and Byng. The French lancers swung around away from the guns on the Allied left. Kellermann’s additional reinforcements swung around to the French right. It all looked pretty bad for the Allies.
Desperate fire from the Allies forced one of the French lines to waver and pull back, opening a small gap in the French line, a small ray of hope for the Allies. French offensive fire caused few difficulties for the defending Allies.
The French 93rd Ligne swept the Brunswickers from the small rise outside Quatre Bras and eliminate the British guns. The Brunswickers fell back through the overstacked disorganised Allied units forcing them to fall back further. The French had a successful rally phase.
The French were in control of the eastern side of the rise with a large cavalry force ready to run amok through the disorganised Allied units. The French then noticed that their army morale of the II Corps had crept up to 32– only five more was needed to demoralize them. That could turn the tide of battle. Unfortunately, Kellermann’s cavalry were feeling pretty good and it was unclear what the Allies can do about them!
Turn 9 – Allied
The situation was grim. Looking to the positives there were many Allied units that could possibly rally this turn – Wellington and the Prince were needed to help out rallying the most vital units. The lack of cavalry still looked to be a significant problem. The plan for the turn was to try and maximise casualties to the Reille’s II Corps and try and demoralize them – that could stabilise the situation.
A British line was formed. Orange’s I Corps accrued a fatigue point.
The three allied infantry units on the left flank moved into square, anticipating a charge from the French cavalry at any moment.
The Allied guns set up outside Quatre Bras began its slow reduction of the French inside. French fire was ineffective but the British response from their now re-formed lines was good. The French 1st Ligne of the 9th division fell back disorganised. Reille’s Corps was now on 34 army morale.
The better morale British units rallied, and apart from the French cavalry threat the Allies position did not as precarious as it did at the start of the turn.
Turn 10 – French
The army morale situation looks precarious but with the village of Quatre Bras in French hands it is currently on track for a French victory. No need to be rash this turn.
Kellermann sent his cuirassiers and carabineers to drive off the last of the good order Allied cavalry. The cavalry inconclusively clashed (in part due to the counter charging Brunswick unit rolling a 6).
Ney moved to Reille and ordered him to defend. Some artillery was moved up to rake Maitland’s troops at the edge of Quatre Bras and other units dropped back out of range of the deadly British fire.
British guns batter Quatre Bras but the French inside were still holding strong. The Dutch troops to the west of Quatre Bras were driven off by the French guns but elsewhere little is changed. Some French stragglers manage to rally but they are a turn or two off returning to the front line.
Turn 10 – Allied
The French have reorganised and removed any easy step losses the Allies could cause and the rallying of those French stragglers made the prospect of demoralizing the French II Corps appeared more difficult this turn. The British needed to drive the French guns from the small hill surrounding Quatre Bras before they start pounding the British units. The Allies were still not sure how to evict the French from Quatre Bras, it was still well garrisoned with four steps of French with another unit able to move in at a moments notice. The British would try to drive off the French surrounding the village and then try to take it – all in four turns! The Allied Corps gained fatigue.
The British advance in line.
The British offensive fire was very effective in driving a unit from the 6th division back in disorganised order and the British guns eliminating the depleted French lancers.
With the destruction of the Lancers and the disorganisation of the French infantry Reille’s Corps demoralization threshold was reached – I must remember never underestimate British line volley effectiveness again. The whole of the French Corps dropped one morale lower and any unit with a step loss took an immediate morale check – now at -2 (-1 for fatigue and another -1 for army morale).
Turn 11 - French
The battle has turned and the French are definitely on the back foot. The only saving grace is the 1st Leger holed up in Quatre Bras – if – and it is a big if – they could hold on for two more turns the French might yet gain a victory.
D’Erlon moved on to the south-east corner of the map – he has a long way to go to have any effect on the battle. Despite the British success in their counter-attacks the French still held Quatre Bras. The French could do with trying to drive the British line off the slopes east of the village but it was questionable if they had the firepower. The British are good troops but quite brittle with few steps, the un-blown French cavalry are currently out of position to aid in this and had to be relocated. On the French right horse artillery of Kellermann’s division unlimber in preparation of blasting the Allied squares. The 92nd Ligne also move up the threaten the squares. On the French left is it just a case of holding on until the cavalry can try and scare the British troops into square.
The reformed French line – the beleaguered 1st Leger remain inside Quatre Bras. On the right you can the guns and infantry moving up to attack the Brunswick troops on the slope.
Disaster! Point blank artillery fire at the 1st Leger forced them to fall back, the village was clear. The French fire at the Brunswick units on the French right flank caused them to disorder and fall back, but this is now no more than a sideshow.
Turn 11 – Allied
A huge turnaround over the last two turns, the French II Corps becoming demoralized has made them miss many of their morale checks. The 1st Leger would have been able to maintain its position if it was not for the -1 fatigue and -1 demoralization that cancelled out its +2 for being in a village. The French cavalry were still a threat but the Allies were feeling much more confident now. Wellington issued Orange with defense order and then rode off to personally oversee the defense of Quatre Bras. Allied units rushed in to support the defense of the strategic crossroads – it is beginning to look very difficult to see how the French would be able to take it back.
On the Allied left, the squares break into line, hoping that their own recently recovered light cavalry would be able to keep off the French. The Brunswick guns forced the French 4th Leger to fall back making any potential assault on Quatre Bras even more problematic.
Over on the Allied left, the Prince of Orange successfully brought two regiments back to good order. With only two turns left what, if anything, could the French do to recapture Quatre Bras.
Turn 12 – French
In reality the battle was now lost for the French. If I was playing a campaign game the French would now pull back join forces with d’Erlon and await further instructions from the Emperor. However as this was a learning game I would carry on and see if the French could achieve anything in their last two turns.
Ney issued Reille with an attack order and the cavalry charged the british on the slopes around Quatre Bras. The well trained British have no trouble forming square (11 morale) and the French decided to recall the cavalry and mark them as disorganised. On the French right the cuirassiers charged the tenacious Brunswick light cavalry, who in turn countercharge. Both sides took losses but a high roll for the Brunswickers’ kept them in good order. Note: The Allied light cavalry rolled extremely well throughout the battle and this tenacity really blunted some of the French cavalry options as the French assumed they would be able to brush the Allied cavalry away early in the battle, which was not the case.
Reille lead the 100th Ligne of the 9th Division in a direct attack on Quatre Bras. Two other reduced French units moved in column to assault the British squares. Good accurate fire from the Allies along with the reduced morale of the French caused two of the assault columns to fall back disorganised. Fire from the French columns did little to bother the British, but the guns on the French right eliminated the remains of the tenacious Brunswick cavalry – a little too late to have any significant effect on the outcome of the battle.
The assaulting weakened French columns were easily repulsed by the British, even those in squares. The French II Corps morale was now 54 and the forces become desperate.
Here is the situation with the French attack repulse just before the desperate morale checks were conducted.
After the morale checks the French force was shattered, even a unit from the advancing d’Erlon unit became disorganised in the rout.
The battle was over. Victory to Wellington – not a decisive victory as there was no way the Allies could hunt down Kellermann’s cavalry, north of Quatre Bras as they lack any good order cavalry. I don’t think Napoleon would have been happy with my last suicidal assault on the Allied line!
I was far too aggressive with the French infantry throughout the game and failed to make use of my superior combined forces. By launching unsupported infantry attacks the French did manage to make significant early gains but the cost in manpower was significant and led to their ultimate failure. Throughout the majority of the battle the French has the advantage, in troop numbers and in combined arms. I definitely mishandled the French cavalry, after it great performance in the opening turn I spent too much time waiting for a perfect charging opportunity. The French should have used their artillery more effectively to soften up the allies, use their superior cavalry numbers to force enemy infantry into squares and then follow up with infantry. I found placement of the artillery difficult, the gentle slopes caused many LOS problems.
Eventually it was the lack of my use of combined arms that led to the significant French casualties and ultimately to the drop in army morale which effectively ended the battle for the French. Both side did not manage their fatigue well, if the French had spent more time soften up the enemy with artillery it would have allowed the infantry to rest and recover.
The Allied army really has to react to the French, The French superiority in cavalry is a significant problem for the Allies and I am sure a more experienced French player would have caused the Allies more difficulties. That said the few Allied cavalry units did perform above expectations and things could have gone differently if they had not rolled so well. The saving grace for the Allies are the British units of Maitland and Byng, these are a little fragile have so few steps but their line firepower and 11 morale make them truly formidable. I think in the final French assault the ideas were sound: charge with the cavalry to make the British form square, and then assault with infantry. The French units that assaulted were too weak by the time this tactic was possible. Even better would have been to fire at the squares with massed guns, although the British would have probably just pulled back to the reverse slopes.
I very much enjoyed playing this and am ready to set up Ligny. I will use written orders this time. I have never fought Ligny and am quite interested in how it turns out. I have been reading as a much as possible about the battle. I will post how I get on with that battle but will probably not post such a detailed AAR as it is very time consuming.
Thanks for reading and thanks Didier for such an interesting game.
Isle of Skye
Great read once again David. Thanks for such a detailed AAR. I like the ebb and flow which the system appears to produce. I'm definitely tempted to pick this up at some point.
Please let me know how you game turns out.
Great read. I am going to have get this game out again. Such a great system.
I have played this battle a lot with this game and I must say, you have not been aggressive enough with the French even if you think you were. When I play the French side, I remain in column. I use the Guard Cavalry to protect my flank and also threaten Wellington's own flank. I don't use infantry fire (well, I still roll the dice, but remaining in column...) : I will rather assault the lines.
In Les Quatre Bras, speed is everything. You must break throught the Anglo-Allied line before it gets too strong, regardless of the losses. I usually win with around 5,000 killed and wounded...Far more than Allied losses, but they are all routed
When I play the Brits, I'll try to win some time as you did with Dutch troops so that British and Brunswick troops can reinforce. But I would only win if the French player is not aggressive enough.