Note that my opponent and me never played this game before. Yeah, well, he played it several years ago. But that was enough distance in the time and space continuum to merit the word 'never'. We did have experience with block games, even though what follows will probably let you believe otherwise.
Indeed, the result was that we made a lot of noob-rule-errors during this game. Some of which we tried to correct during the game, some we couldn't correct and some we probably never even spotted. As with all good games, at least those that I want to play again, I've now re-read the rules and marked the rules that got neglected the first time. There were none, but I'm sure some attentive reader might spot some flaws in the following report. The marker remains within reach!
Anyhow, here's the session report.
My friend is from the UK, so he takes Wellington.
I live close to Waterloo, so I decide to play Napoleon.
Okay, the latter makes no sense. I guess I just wanted to brag about where I live. When I was a kid (in age I mean) we used to go on school trips to the Waterloo Battlefield. To climb the stairs to the lion. A lion which is not made of melted cannonballs apparently. That was just a fairy tale they told us and everyone else. I also remember that whenever we mentioned Waterloo my father recalled his heroic tale from the days when he was a kid and fell of the stairs. Of which there are 226. Or about some ancestor who fought for Napoleon in Spain but we prefered and still do prefer the stairs-flight-down story.
More trivia you say?
There's actually a restaurant nearby Louvain which is called 'the bed of Napoleon'. According to the 'old ones' Mr. Bonaparte once 'slept' in this place. Deducting from the bed-size he must have been a short fellow indeed. All of which has absolutely nothing to do with the battle, let alone the game! Ha.
Yeah well, the session...
We have to start somewhere so we use the historical setup. When we try to put the units on the map we encounter our first problem. Lots and lots of blocks and a nice looking map with just tiny villages on it. These villages simply cannot hold them all. Squeezing the blocks is not an alternative. Maybe an army-holding sheet and some special army blocks might do the trick? Perhaps I could scan the map and reprint it double size? Or just go with it and stack em on top of each other? For now we decide to go with the latter.
When I look at the huge amount of red and black blocks I start to panick. Granted, I have a lot of blocks myself but why did I start this war? And how to proceed?!
I yell out: "What would the real Napoleon have done?!" but as no one replies I decide to aim for Ghent with a small diversionary force, chasing away some historically-setup enemies while I go. Hooray, the first casualties without firing a single shot!
Oh historic coincidence: due to the plexy-glass cover the roads are very slippery. The rest of my army I shove towards Brussels. My opponent replies with a defensive withdrawal, while I continue these maneuvers until I'm in force-march distance of Ghent and my diversion force begins to threaten his supply for real. But more about that later because I suddenly notice that he left a gap between his two main armies! Quatre-Bras is unoccupied and the road to Brussels is wide open. If I pretend to aim for Waterloo (where the Brits are) and at the same time manage to get close enough to the Prussian army I might be able to comletely surround those and attack with my almost complete army. Kind of what the real Napoleon did even though he was not able to prevent a retreat.
My friend was forced to deal with my diversion force near Ghent. Or rather, he believes -encouraged by me- that he is forced to deal with it even though we have no idea what impact the capture of Ghent might have. He attacks! The first battle in a place called Grammont.
A place that I've never before heared off, despite living on this map. But I think I mentioned that already.
We play this skirmish a few times over again as we make silly mistakes like moving forward with cavalry and attacking in the same turn, etc. You know, the usual when you play a new game. During the battle attempt nr. 3 I decide to retreat my troops, covered by a nice cavalry screen. Yep, I did read the example!
But we make another mistake. Despite me being Napoleon, I'm not entitled to be called 'attacker' and as such I'm not restricted by the 'attacker retreat rules'. So we do the retreat all over again and this time I actually end up much closer to Ghent, be it in a disrupted state. Bad result for my friend, but we both are happy because this first battle was so mistake-ridden and chaotic that it could have been a real disaster and gamefun-killer with more units.
It's a night turn now, so I can maneuver my armies around his Prussians. One small cavalry unit is enough to block his retreat from Ligny to Gembloux. He cannot push me out of there due to the night. Wait! At first dawn I will attack with full force. Uhu uhu.
Yes, you clever reader, this is where we made our most devastating mistake, one that we could not correct during the game.
Despite the huge print on the map and the clear rule about the turn track we much later on discover that I've been moving the turn marker after we both have taken our turn! Not after each player has moved. Which means that we both were convinced that it was a night turn and we both could not attack. Which explains the ease with which I could do that encirclement and the result. The almost complete annihilation of poor Blucher.
So this session report is not a valid one and kids, don't try this (night thing) at home!
Anyhow, on with the invalid session...
The main force remains in Ligny but I regroup some units into Gembloux, Quatre Bras and Wavre. Brussels here I come!
Due to the 3 campaign move limit for France I'm not able to concentrate all of my forces. A smaller, yet important force remains into the grasp of the vicious Duke. With bloodlust all over his face my opponents moves in for a kill. I manage to squeeze out a few units but as he's much older, wiser and a much more quick learner than me, he engaged on all columns this time and added some cavalry to the mix. I suffer a lot by rout! Ouch! The balance is still in my favour as in this battle a few more Prussians troops were killed. But we do not realise that yet.
Not entirely sure what happened next, probably stunned by that blow to my selfconfidence? I do clearly remember that I was able to move some cavalry into Brussels. He moved his main force into Waterloo again. Which I called stupid as he put his back to the forest of Soignies but underneath his elm tree he would not listen to reason. He mentioned something about visiting and picking out this site a year or so again. I did not get it.
Waterloo is where the final battle took place, very suiting indeed. Together with some fighting in Wavre. In the latter battle, which we actually played first, I decided to retreat. But before any harm was done, we both agreed that that was a dumb decision and I was allowed to replay and fight this time. Thanks to that decision and some very favourable dice rolls I won the battle which allowed me to regroup with more units into Brussels and allowed me as victor to reinforce the other battle in Waterloo. The cavalry unit of 1CV strenght, already in Brussels I moved to Ghent, just to taunt my opponent.
... Pause ...
We never fought the final battle. The Prussian army was annihilated in the previous turn without us noticing it. Those extra losses I did were enough to bring him down to 11 units. They simply vanished from the Waterloo battleboard. And the remaining British troops were not able to be reinforced while mine were. A large part of his army was covering Ghent by chasing my guerilla's so my first silly emotional decision to try and go there paid off in the end.
Which is how Napoleon won this battle.
We both agreed that it was a great game, despite the many mistakes we made. I was extremely lucky on the dice rolls, and with result of mistakes going my way. As such I'm afraid that I can't claim this as a personal victory.
But fun it was!
PS We did not want to play the same game again right after this. Instead we pulled out the Battleground Fantasy armies where he completely and without mercy wiped out my brave Orc army with his silly Humans!
Or how 'the universe balances itself', as someone wise once said.
Excellent article! Write some more!
Mon cher Napoleon, it was a glorious victoire and a splendide example of manouevre and destruction en detail. Zose stupid eenglishmen, with zer roast beef and zer riflemen, zey sit in Waterloo and imagine zat zer Prussian amis will come to zer rescue. And zose blundering dumkopfs with their saucissons and souvenirs of Frederick ze Grand, zey sit in Ligny and zey sleep like ze babies. And zen, you, Dieu des dieux, surround zese fools and slaughter zem to ze last man. Magnifique...
Well, something like that anyway. Actually, the rule problems were not significant. You won because you had good tactics on the day, and cut off my sleeping Prussians. This combined with the fact that my best British units were out tramping across the empty fields around Grammont meant that you could beat up each of my armies in turn.
ps I live nearer to Waterloo
This is Kyoshi, our adopted Shiba Inu.
Huzah! Vive l'Empereur!
- Last edited Fri Aug 10, 2007 4:32 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Aug 10, 2007 4:32 pm
Thanks for the nice comments!
Just found some other error we made during the battleboard fights.
Looks like you can move and shoot in any order you like. So artillery can first pound the enemy and in that same turn you can engage the opponent with infantry. Makes more sense as well.