Intro to the Game
Brave Little Belgium recreates events of August 1914, when the Germans crossed neutral Belgium to reach their declared enemy, France. Belgium objected and, with the help of the French and British, resisted - to no avail, in this reality at least. The goal of the game is - as the Germans - match the achievements of Wilhelm II's army by reaching three objectives: destroy the forts at Liege and Namur, and crossing the 'Victory line' that runs along the western perimeter of the map. The Entente (the Allies) must simply prevent them from doing so... play proceeds through a chit draw - more on that in a moment.
Intro to this report
All right. Fingers flexed, knuckles cracked, boots polished. This is my third and final session report of Brave Little Belgium - if you want to read through the others they are here and here, and if not - spoiler alert - it's maybe pertinent to know that my previous attempts to halt the Germans storming across the open fields of the pays ended in defeat for the Entente, and I was determined that this final report see the Entente make a better fist of things.
As with previous writings, German chit draws are underlined and in bold; Entente chit draws are merely underlined.
German Generals: are Von Kluck, Von Hausen, Von Bulow, and Albrecht (arrives in round three)
The Entente are made up Prince Albert; De Cary and Lanrezac (France) and John French (Britain). Also dotted around the country are the Guard Civique, whose strength is unknown until the Germans arrive in the city. Sometimes the strength is zero.
Event chits are a mixed bag: Big Bertha and Zeppelins help the Germans, Sabotage helps the Entente. Both sides have a Forced March chit in the bowl... and three Turn End chits need to come out to draw a round to its conclusion.
I made notes on my phone and came across a lot of predictive text/auto-correct issues, which I will try not to let break the spell.
Before the first round, all German cavalry are allowed to activate, and Von Kluck sends his horses to Tongeren, and Von Hausen's orders are to proceed to Marche. The others linger with their respective armies.
Round 1 - 4th-6th August
Von Hausen starts things off: taking his infantry as far as La-Roche-en-Ardenne and halting. His cavalry await him at Marche.
Zeppelins come out next. Not a bad start for the Germans.
Then a flurry of what-ifs as Turn end 1 is followed by Sabotage is followed by Entente Forced March.
Von Kluck stirs. For now though, he simply catches up with his cavalry at Tongeren. The early hours are very cagey.
Von Bulow doesn't do cagey - he attacks Liege! With Zeppelins at his back, he does 3 damage, Liege only does 2 and it’s besiegement time.
German Forced March is followed by Turn end 2, and then Big Bertha.
Turn end 3 arrives, heralding the end of the round! No Albert.
Round 2 - 7th-9th August
Lanrezac joins proceedings.
First out of the bowl, however, is Turn End 1.
But then: Zeppelins.
Turn end 2 arrives. A good omen, perhaps.
Entente Forced March is hot on its heels. Let's see.
Big Bertha comes out and now both she and the Zeppelins are at the German disposal. But! The next chit is Turn end 3!
Not a single general has been seen (or as my phone put it, no Genevieve) so, taking advantage of the German capacity to activate anyway, Von Bulow does so, risking an atrocity. Five atrocities, remember, is instant defeat... - but no atrocity is rolled! - and he takes zeppelins to Liege again; AND Big Bertha. Liege is razed to the ground! That didn't last long at all. Von Bulow only takes two hits, and dismissively blows the dust off his jacket.
Von Kluck activates too - still no atrocity! - and matches north to Hasselt. They lay waste to Alberts cavalry. Not only that, being mob-handed and taking no hits, he advances to Diest. Alberts 3rd army succumb there too, but halt Von Kluck by dealing him one hit, like the Balrog having the last laugh on Gandalf as he fell off a pedestrian bridge. Maybe. The comparison is rife with issues, I admit.
It's going very well for the Germans.
Anyway - emboldened by these huge successes, Von Hausen activates as well - still no atrocity! - and reaches Namur as the sun goes down. He only hits on fives now, but that’s enough to do three damage. The armies fall with nary a sigh but the Fort itself hits back doing four damage - Von Hausen is made to retreat!
Round 3 - 10th-12th August
Albrecht and De Cary arrive.
But first out of the bowl is Big Bertha.
Von Bulow follows. The glory of the Battle of Namur is short-lived, as he returns with Bertha in tow - only one damage to the Fort, but they’ve been up all night partying and do absolute zero in return. Besieged!!!
Turn end 1
Albert!! Finally. Not so much fashionably late as completely out of season, he stumbles in red-faced and muttering something about buses. His 1st, 2nd and 6th attack Von Kluck at Diest. Unbelievably, the rest of his men are already dead. Is this the last we’ll see of Albert?
Possibly - it doesn't go well. They deal 2 damage but take four. The 6th are lost; everyone else falls back to Louvain to lick their wounds.
Albrecht emerges. He heads west to Arlon.
Zeppelins! This is not good.
Von Kluck takes Zeppelins to Antwerp, staying as far as he can from the emerging allies. Antwerp falls, double-quick-time. As it's over the Victory Line, the Germans have hit two objectives already and are working on the third - Namur.
Von Hausen reaches Marche. Everything feels horribly inevitable.
German Forced March
De Cary! I actually yelp aloud.
No Forced March available, but the Entente need him to reach Namur post-haste, so his entire army go to Givet and spend the night praying.
Turn end 2
Entente Forced March
Then it's Lanrezac - he uses Forced March to reach Namur!!!!! Not only that, he deals no less than five damage to Von Bulow. Von Bulow doesn't know what's hit him and does zero damage in return. Did the war just swing its pendulum towards the Entente???
Turn end 3
Round 4 - 13th-15th August
John French arrives, and goes into the chit bowl.
Argh! Big Bertha is out early again though - not what the Entente wanted at all.
Then it's De Cary - He joins the Guard Civique at Dinant to block Von Hausen’s path. Seeing as the Germans could easily go around them though, De Cary's cavalry actually attack - it’s a suicide mission, but could at least minimally damage the German masses with some crazy luck? Yes. They are of course lost, but not before dealing out a hit and mildly irritating Von Hausen...
Lanrezac follows - and goes on the offensive too! Over Half his army charge into Marche and do ABSOLUTELY NO DAMAGE AT ALL. Oh bloody hell, Lanrezac...
Von Hausen gives them a spanking - four hits - and Lanrezac wishes he’d stayed in bed.
Zeppelins. I call out to the heavens. The kids come in from the other room and ask if I'm all right.
Von Kluck is almost cackling - he has his feet up at Antwerp. Should he get involved? He’s kind of done his bit, but sends a couple of weakened units south, just so as not to be teased by his colleagues later. Is he being too casual...?
Entente Forced March
Turn end 1
Albert again. It's probably madness to attack Antwerp, but he could try and halt Von Kluck’s other just-briefed units...? No. Let them march. Instead he heads south while he can to join the weakened Lanrezac at Namur.
Von Bulowhas no army left.
Albrecht - can’t reach Namur yet, and Von Kluck‘s presence at Marche stops him doing much of anything. Two units join Von Kluck and the rest wait at Neufchâteau.
Turn end 2...
French. Uses Forced March to reach Charleroi.
Turn end 3!
Von Hausen activates anyway as he has both Big Bertha and Zeppelins at his disposal.
Bah, humbag. He could wrap it all up here. But he’s weakened... this is pivotal. He deals four hits to Albert and Lanrezac‘s men. They hit him for three and that is disaster for the Entente!!! Namur besieged.
Round 5 - 16th-18th August
De Cary is up early! He piles into Namur to try an deplete Von Hausen. Takes one hit but does three. Go De Cary! What’s left of Von Hausen retreats to Marche.
Von Hausen. Inflamed, he storms straight back in. He might not survive, but his final selfless gesture could go down in the history books as a turning point - when Namur lost heart and belief. But Namur blasts him out of existence and Von Hausens' name is associated with vainglorious foolishness instead.
Von Bulow is still/also without an army.
Entente Forced March
French. Making a mockery of his previous lives (in my other games) as a hedge-betting back-stop merchant, he marches through Namur to attack Albrecht’s two units at Marche. He deals three hits to Albrecht’s one (I'd forgotten this rule about his units doing an extra hit when they attack together...) and the Germans fall back to Neufchâteau. I feel a swelling of optimism.
German Forced March comes a little late to do much good.
Albert - stays at Namur. That is the primary focus for everyone.
Albrecht gets in the phone to Von Kluck and tells him if they’re to win this war it’s down to the two of them to act, and act now. He starts things off by moving en masse against French at Marche. But they do only two damage while French does three. Back you go, Albrecht!!!
Turn end 1
Von Kluck heads south! Leaving just two units to defend the almost-certainly-safe Antwerp, everyone else musters at Louvain, where the Guard Civique are wiped out - but not before weakening Von Kluck further...
Turn end 2
Zeppelins loom. But they loom a bit late.
Lanrezac sits pat at Namur, except for one sacrificial unit sent to Tienen to hold up Von Kluck's march south. We see you, Kluck!
Turn end 3
Round 6 - 19th-21st August
It's do or die for the Germans - this is the last round in which they can win,as achieving their objectives in round seven only scrapes them a draw. To that end, Albrecht appears and is disappointed that there is no Bertha and no Zeppelins. He grits his teeth and heads north. He cannot reach Namur though, as French’s last unit blocks his way. The British unit falls, but they have played a big part though.
The best the Germans can hope for now is a victory at Gembloux with no hits, in order to advance to Namur. It's a long shot to say the least.
Entente Forced March follows, then Sabotage.
German Forced March.
French, Von Hausen, Zeppelins, Big Bertha.
De Cary could attack Albrecht. But with the odds now stacked in the Entente's favour, it's better for him in the fort. He lights another cigarette and stares moodily over the battlements.
Turn end 1
Von Kluck. Albert and co didn’t really want to see him at all, but he still has his work cut out. He avoids De Cary's men at Tienen and goes to Wavre, by way of Brussels. The Guard Civique don’t exist. He's within touching distance of Namur, but has to get past Gembloux first... the Guard Civique are present though, in theory at least.
Turn end 2
Albert can do nothing but wait.
Lanrezac stays in the fort too. Let the Germans come, he says.
Turn end 3 - victory has been denied the Germans. They can still force a draw, but belief is ebbing out of them.
Round 7 - 22nd-24th August
Big Bertha appears first. A sliver of hope for Germany.
It's followed by German Forced March
French can do nothing - then it's Turn end 1
Lanrezec remains ensconced in the fort, with the exception of his sacrificial nomadic unit that manoevres west to join the guard Civique at Gembloux.
Entente Forced March is followed by Albert, Sabotage, Turn end 2!
Zeppelins arrive. Von Kluck and Albrecht peer into the clouds. But...
Turn end 3!
Albrecht activates anyway - second atrocity! - and marches on Namur. The Germans are desperate!
With Zeppelins he still only does one damage. But with Big Bertha, Namur is down to its last point! And for all the massed ranks of Entente, they only do a single hit. Namur besieged once more, although at this point the question of to siege or not to siege is irrelevant. The Germans are out of time.
Von Kluck activates too - third atrocity! - and attacks Gembloux, trying to reach Namur. If they do well - very well - they could advance to the fort. They have enough units to qualify for an advance. But they only do one damage! De Cary and the Guard Civique do two and Von Kluck is forced back!
Round 8 - 25th-27th August
The Germans can still draw but it all comes down to this. They need Bertha to come out, followed by a German General. Specifically, Albrecht, as Von Kluck - even if he wipes out De Cary at Gembloux - doesn't have enough units to reach Namur. If Bertha arrives after Albrecht has already activated, they are done for. If it comes out before, the Germans can force a draw.
Von Bulow is first. The tension is palpable.
Then... Albrecht! He did NOT want to come out this early. But he has, so must attack Namur. Without Bertha or the Zeppelins, the best he can hope for is to weaken the French troops with the angry man's logic of I've messed things up anyway so what difference does it make.
He does two damage, takes three and retreats. It's all over for Germany! Out of respect, I continue the chit pull to see the round out. In a twist of fate that must send Albrecht apopletic, the Zeppelins are next.
Von Kluck hits Gembloux with everything he has. De Cary’s men finally fall, but even double-checking the rules doesn't help them: Von Kluck can't advance.
The remaining pulls change nothing - it's Victory for the Entente!!!
A first victory for the Entente under my command. Of course, I was commanding the Germans too, so as much as I can claim the glory I also have my share of the blame. But I can handle that.
This is a fun game. It manages to compress an epic story into 40 minutes with twists and turns aplenty, and replete with air-punching and hand-wringing moments. I've played it six times already and look forward to more. Though by no means a default wargamer, I do like a game that tells a story, and Brave Little Belgium certainly ticks that box. I recommend it.
I love reading your summaries and I am very glad that your Entente finally managed a win.