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Subject: Feeble Foreign Foes Flee From Fierce French Fighting Force rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
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Quatre Bras


French Generaled by Da Pyrate
Anglo-Dutch Generaled by Heath P. Avery
Battle Fought via email during April, 2009



Background to the Game

I have never met Heath face-to-face. He first contacted me last year about a trade – I wasn’t interested in the trade but Heath was kind enough to give me the game that he tried to trade with me – what a nice guy!

A few weeks ago he suggested that we play a simple wargame by email and use a web-based dice service to resolve combat.

After some negotiation we decided upon Napoleon’s Last Battles and the Quatre Bras scenario. It wasn’t so much negotiation as me not having many games that would be suitable as an introduction to PBeM. Quatre Bras seemed to me to be an obvious choice due to the small number of units involved.

Heath told me that I was going to take control of the French and I said that was fine but I refused to use the optional French reinforcements – I have found that the game can be quite tense and well balanced without any additional French units becoming involved. Heath decided that we should use the Combined Arms optional rule – I felt that it would have only a limited role due to the small amount of artillery and cavalry available but found that it had more impact on the game than I had expected.

I have played NLB a few times and Quatre Bras many times. I only found out later that this was Heath’s first time – if I had known perhaps I would have been more gentle (but then again, perhaps not!). Despite Heath’s inexperience with the game, he did know the rules better than I did. We were both a tad careless with the accuracy of our written orders. I learnt quickly and after a couple of mis-starts we were up and running.



The Times – June 20th, 1815

The Ogre Once Again Threatens European Peace

From our battlefield correspondent

Quatre Bras
June 16th – 1400 Hours


It was two o’clock on a glorious Belgian summer afternoon. I was near the town of Gemincourt with the Van Opstal artillery battalion. I heard them long before I saw them – more than two French corps were approaching down the road in column. The French deployed for battle upon seeing the Weimar and Bijlandt brigades.

The French launched a 3:1 attack against the Weimar brigade and a 5:1 attack (utilising combined arms) against the Bijlandt brigade. The 5:1 attack was the more important, having a two-thirds chance of eliminating the defending unit. As it was, both Anglo-dutch units received DR results and fell back in good order.

As French units advanced after each attack both Bijlandt and Weimar were pinned in place and Anglo-Dutch movement options were quite limited as reinforcements started to trickle down the road from Brussels and Waterloo. The Anglo-Dutch forces put in a couple of small attacks (1:2 against hex 1512 and 1:1 against hex 1812) and in both cases the attacking units were forced to withdraw in good order.


From the journal of Marshal da Pyrate
1500 Hours


The main thrust of the attack continues down the road to Quatre Bras. Pire’s cavalry force is sent to hex 1910 to provide a threat on the enemy’s left flank while Lef-desn and L’Hertier’s cavalry forces are sent to threaten the enemy’s right flank.

Three attacks are made. A 5:1 attack against Weimar (with combined arms) eliminates the defender. The other two attacks (at 3:1 and 4:1) simply push the defenders back towards Quatre Bras.

The allied army responds by sending the 2nd Hussars to threaten my right flank – given the situation there they don’t have enough strength to seriously threaten me. Vinke moves back to 1507 to cover the allied left flank from my two cavalry units.

The allied attacks are made at 1:1, 1:3 and 4:1. All are inconclusive with AR, DR and DR. I was mightily surprised to see the allied attack at 1:3 prove successful.

At the end of the second turn the French have 5 points from eliminating an allied unit. The allies have two points for occupying Quatre Bras.



1600 hours

The third hour of the battle was very much like the second. My French cavalry continue to try to threaten the allied flanks while the main force pushes down the road towards Quatre Bras.

Three attacks are made. 5:1 (with combined arms) against Kempt eliminates the defender. Three units attack Van Opstal at 5:1 resulting in an exchange. The 3:1 attack against Butler forced the allied unit to retreat.

Turn 3 sees the allied player move withdraw his cavalry from my right flank – the threat was too small. Vinke moves to hex 1506 to block my cavalry with the help of forests. Allies reinforcements are coming down the road from the direction of Nivelles.

Two allied attacks at 2:1 and 1:1 see more push and shove in the centre of the battlefield.

The score is now 7 points for the French (Weimar and Van Opstal eliminated) and 5 for the allies (3 points for Quatre Bras and 2 points for Marcillac dieing in an exchange).


1700 hours


The hour has come. The first three hours of battle have been indecisive but at last the French are in a position where they can surround enemy units and destroy them by cutting off retreats.

The first move is a gamble – Lef-Desn and L’Hertier are sent westwards to surround the lead elements of the allied reinforcements. That gives me a 50% chance of eliminating them - it will probably result in the elimination of my cavalry as even more allied reinforcements come down the road, but at least they will die gloriously. Even if unsuccessful they will still slow down the allied reinforcements and give my main force time to take control of the crossroads.

There are six French attacks.

The lead elements of the allied reinforcements (Kielmnsge and Halkett) are eliminated when surround by my cavalry.

The defenders of Quatre Bras again repulse a 1:1 French attack.

The remaining four combats around and to the east of Quatre Bras result in three DR’s and an exchange. The exchange was disappointing – d’Hurbal attacked Merlen at 4:1 and the resulting exchange cost me a lot more than it cost the allies.

The allied response was surprising as some strong units left the vicinity of Quatre Bras to assist the allied reinforcements attacking my cavalry that had successfully launched the surprise attack previously.

The resulting combats saw the elimination of one of my cavalry and more push and shove around Quatre Bras.

The score is now 24 points to the French (leaving the allies one point short of demoralization) and the allies with 10 points.


1800 hours


The French finally manage to surround the main allied force and eliminate most of them although the defenders of Quatre Bras again prove too strong.

The allies put in four attacks, mostly at low odds. The dice thrown for these attacks were 6, 6, 6 and 5. The allies were destroyed by these, mostly, AE results.

As the French player it is almost anti-climactic to see the allied player destroyed by his own puny attacks.

The battle is now over as 40 points of allied units have been destroy and the allied army reaches its disintegration level.


I felt that the French had a relatively easy time as we were able to threaten both flanks without much opposition and my cavalry attack not only was lucky enough to eliminate two allied units but actually drew strength away from the main battle rather than just slowing down the reinforcements.

The last two turns were quite exhilarating for the French commander.






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matt tolman
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David G. Cox Esq.
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heath p avery wrote:
An excellent description of the battle.....I was smashed 41-19 on the points table and so much for my thoughts of the NLB CRT being bloodless
Boy that 6 point artillery unit the french had,combined with a foot and cav charge turned the game !!!! Plus rolling a pile of 6's at the edn for a pile of AE's never helped
Arghhhh


The game and CRT are quite subtle. I had the advantage of having played the system many times and this was your first time. The power of surrounding enemy units is quite mind-blowing. The sequencing of the attacks during the last two turns was quite important so as to maximise the chances of cutting off retreats.

The sixes you rolled at the end didn't make much difference as far as I can tell as I should have been able to finish them off myself during turn six.

What I thought was most crucial was Merlen's cavalry not blocking my cavalry as they came through the forest on turn 1. Even though Merlen was only a 1 strength point, my cavalry would have been halved if attacking from the forest and it was possible you could even have scored an Exchange result which would have been costly for me.

Also, I felt that taking Bijlandt away from the main fight to help the reinforcements meant the total destruction of the valiant defenders of Quatre Bras.

I look forward to the rematch where we swap hats.
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