Sunday, 21 June 2015

Our Small Tribute to Waterloo... or Waffles all around!

Last Saturday (yesterday), the Hamilton Road Games Group of London, ON decided to set up a small-ish game to commemorate the battle of Waterloo on its 200th anniversary. Just something to engage in the almost world-wide remembrance of Napoleon's last Huzzah, as it were. We used Arty Conliffe's Shako rules for Napoleonic battles and decided to do a "bath-tub" version. Well, it was more of a toilet bowl version since I didn't spend enough time organising it and setting parameters. However, the players appeared to enjoy the game although both Kevin and Andy might be buying new dice, since the ones they used were "toxic" and probably should be sealed in concrete and buried in a controlled landfill somewhere.

A "Bath-tub" game takes a larger campaign or huge battle and telescopes it down to a workable, playable level. This was not a true bath-tubbed game, but I don't show any other way to describe it. Martin, Andy, and Beth handled the Imperial French side. Martin fielded his Imperial Guard units for the first time ever in his attempt to honour his namesake, Marshal Lefebvre, as well as a division of French regulars. Andy commanded French troops while Beth commanded her Italians, who were leased for the day to the Empire and were issued French identity cards for the duration of the battle. On the other side, Kevin commanded two divisions of British troops, Bear commanded a division of Prussians, and I bravely led the Dutch-Belgian contingent, using my War of 1812 US troops and some Allied cavalry from Belgium and Hanover.

(Photos courtesy of Beth, Martin, Andy, and myself.)

A big view of the table during the set-up

The Dutch-Belgian contingent. No, that's not a Maryland flag you see; you're drunk again.

Martin and Andy consider a move or a cannon shot.

Beth and I in the middle of getting out the figures.
The British and Dutch-Belgians were set on the top of the ridge along the west side of the board (west in real directions) while the Prussians would enter on the north edge once Bear arrived or on the third turn if he was delayed. As it was, he got in early. The objective was for the Allies to hold the ridge and deny the French the road to Brussels. For the French, the objective was to push the Allies off the ridge or punch a hole in the line large enough for the columns to push through and gorge themselves on Belgian waffles in the national capitol.

As the game began, the Allies stuck to their ridge and the Prussians marched in. Beth turned to engage Bear and his Prussians and the battle flared up there. Martin and Andy began their advance toward the ridge and used their artillery to soften up the defenders, although the dice for artillery did not cooperate much.

Kevin attempts to entice the French forward with a portion of his sandwich.

Kevin's forces on the ridge with skirmishers deployed.

Baron Larrey and his ambulance unit make preparations.
Beth served in the US Navy as a medical corpsman and loves to field this set of figures.

A view of Beth's Italian division.
As I said they served as Frenchmen that day. Historically, the Italians were on a par with the French for the most part.
The troops of the Kingdom of Naples... somewhat less so. A LOT less so.

French light cavalry advances in the centre, passing the Sand pit and the farm of La Haye Faux and their cattle.
"Biftake tonight, boys!"

The heavy cavalry - Cuirassiers and lancers - follow up.
The Imperial Command including Boney (we're on a first name basis since we're "buds" and I painted him),
a marshal, a topographical engineer, a bodyguard from the Old Guard grenadiers, the Guard Chasseur a Cheval,
and the Horse Grenadiers.

Prussian regulars advance singing "Ein' Feste Burg ist unser Gott."
I realised that I hadn't painted any Prussian generals so General Andrew Jackson (the red-head on the horse)
 was detailed to lead The Boys from Berlin for the day, including a battalion of the Guards.
The small green die indicates one casualty on the unit. A side-ways stand denotes the unit is "shaken."

The Duke of Wellington hangs out under the tree and has the Big Green Die indicating turn behind him.

The Italians have taken some casualties, indicated by the small white rings.

The French light cavalry hit home. They hurt some of the British units, but were thrown back
... if memory serves.
Beth and Bear battled it out on the Allied left. Andy began an end run around a small woods held by the Rifles of the 95th of Foot on the Allied right. Martin kept trying to soften up the middle to send the Guard in. My Dutch-Belgians - all "second-rate" troops - took an occasional cannon ball but were left alone. I was surprised, to tell the truth.

The French advance.
It's pictures like this that explain why Napoleonics/Horse-&-Musket games are my favourite.
(Figures by various manufacturers.)

The Highland Light Infantry stand ready to receive. (Essex Miniatures with a Minifig gun crew)

The columns go forward while the Highlanders get ready for the assault.
Andy completed his end run and engaged the British light dragoons with his hussars and dragoons while his infantry smashed through the British Troops on the ridge. In Shako, attack columns cannot fire - only lines can - but columns can attack lines at a 3:1 advantage in hand-to-hand fighting, that is three battalions in column can attack one battalion in line. If one battalion is staggered by the line's fire the two others can still come on. At about this point, both Kevin and Andy cursed their dice and might set up a small auto-da-fé to punish the guilty and encourage the wavering.  Martin brought up the Guard, including the Marine de la Garde battalion and threw back rest of the defenders on the ridge. Wellington may have been captured; things got awfully confused at this point.

I pushed my Dutch-Belgians off the ridge to try to take some of the pressure off the British. I attacked an Italian horse battery with my Hanoverian hussars and got them thrown back by the close canister of the battery defending itself. I charged an Italian line battalion with Belgian light dragoons (rated 2nd Rate.) The infantry attempted to form hasty square... and FAILED! Now was my big chance! The infantry couldn't fire, but did fight with their full Morale Rating. So I charged... and was annihilated by the Italians! Soon after that, time was up and we called it a French victory. The position on the hill was pierced and the French columns were last seen headed for the waffle stands of Brussels. The Prussian were kept in check by the Italian and could not assist the defenders of the ridge. They each probably retired for stollen and cannoli respectively. The Dutch-Belgians had a good seat to watch the goings-on. It was not an easy game and neither side had a "walk-over."

I was not pleased with myself and my lack of organisation and planning for the game - a consistent fault of mine. (I even lost my temper at one point and had to visit the street outside the library for a breath of air, as it were.) Still the players appeared to enjoy it... and that's what really counts. As Bear reminded me and Andy had said before, any day you get to play is a good day.

Many of you reading this might have played larger games based on Waterloo and some of you might even have gone to the reenactment in Belgium. We just did what we could.

The French heavy/shock cavalry continue to take casualties, but they can take it.

Prussian reserve infantry battalions battle the Italian units hand to hand on the left.
On the right, the Dutch-Belgian light dragoons make their death ride into a unit that couldn't make hasty square.

The Guard begins its assault on the ridge.

I just got a new camera and we tried using the flash to see how it looked.
This is how it looked.

The Highland units had evaporated and the ridge is open on the right of the British position.

End game over-view. The French are all over the ridge. The Italians are in a fairly even fight with the Prussians.
The Dutch-Belgians are twiddling their thumbs.

Another view of the Guard's assault on the ridge. The Marine de la Garde are facing off with a British line battalion.
The brave heavy gun of the Royal Artillery continues to spit defiance.

The Marylanders of the Dutch-Belgian contingent.

Italian light horse, dragoons, artillery, and command, including Eugene and his pals.

Italian line infantry and skirmishers.
I'm including these because my wife does ther own painting for the most part. (I fill in with the weird and the special.)

Prussian line and reserve infantry and skirmishers
A division in column.
The valiant defenders of the ridge.
Andy's end run with his cavalry.

"When in doubt, consult the rules."

Bear's Prussians formed square at one point to head off an Italian cavalry charge.

That cavalry charge, in fact.

The British light dragoons having been thrown back, it doesn't look promising for the Allies.

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