|French Lt Cav Bde - Perry Plastic Hussars and Front Rank Polish Lancers|
We got a warm welcome by proprietor Matt and the large group of friendly gamers which frequent the store. Perhaps as a snobby Brit, I was surprised at the level of interest and knowledge in the Napoleonic era. Matt and the crowd had said that this was a day to introduce Black Powder rules, since they didn't have much experience with them. However even the newcomers made surprising progress with them as the afternoon progressed.
As it was very much an introductory day for most of the participants, we opted for a small scale version of a well known and iconic battle - Waterloo! However since understandably Matt wanted to showcase the potential of the new 28mm Napoleonic plastics that he stocks, he had asked that most of the figures be confined to these types, which effectively ruled out my large collection of Minifigs. In any case, putting on a smaller game was going to help newcomers into the period. So effectively we did Waterloo light...
The French had 2 brigades of infantry, a cavalry brigade and a massed battery. The Brits had two Brigades of Infantry, and the Prusssians a mixed Brigade of 3 Infantry Bns, a Foot Battery and a small unit of Uhlans. With 6 Line Infantry Bns against 9, clearly the French would have to fight hard to win!
Since Black Powder really moves things along fast, we were able to get two games in during the afternoon. The victory conditions were two fold; the French had to either get a single formed unit off up the Brussels road to spread alarm and despondency, or prevent the Prussians linking up with the Brits.
|Picton's Division, with the 71st Highland Light Infantry covering the flank...|
I should add at this stage that it was a pleasure to play on professionally constructed and detailed wargaming terrain, which made all players think harder that usual about the effects of terrain, dead ground, and so on, and perhaps lead to my obsession with using Hal defile to outflank the French...
|Dead ground can lead to unpleasant surprises! Front Rank Lancers await Calpe Prussians...|
Reese, commanding the all important central British Brigade covering the Brussels road, opted for a passive defence with his Line Battalions, but used his Artillery and skirmishers aggressively to disrupt and break up the French assaults for as long as possible...Meanwhile out on the British Flank, I planned a daring lightening stroke designed to single handly win the day! I would sneak my Bde up the 'Hal defile' on the Western edge of the table and emerge to outflank the French left, thus gaining eternal glory! My brilliant career was still born as a succession of poor command throws left my Bde stranded in the gulley, no real use to anyone....Effectively all I had contributed to the game was to weaken the British centre, which meant that eventually the repeated French attacks broke through to Brussels, handing victory to Gus and John despite the odds. Whilst I felt that the British could have done with more firepower, this should not detract from the achievement of the French players, since we all felt right to the end that they would be unable to break through.
After a brief break for lunch and some retail therapy - including some Perry plastic Prussians, we reconvened for a second game, but reshuffled the players, those that were prepared to fight a second battle swapping sides. So the Prussian command was given to Mark, and Phillip now joined me on the French team, John and Gus taking the Brits.
Since I have now played many games with Mark, I felt confident in making some assumptions that he would fight with the Prussians in his usual aggresive style and concentrate in achieving the victory conditions, heading straight for a link up with the Brits, thus exposing his flank. I thus suggested to Phillip that he take his infantry Bde and the Cavalry and concentrate on taking the Prussians in the flank, thus preventing a link up with the Brits; since we both agreed that the chances of achieving a second breakthrough to Brussels was unlikely...I would merely feint at the British centre and take advantage of any gaps that might develop, and pound away with the grand battery...
Imagine my consternation when Mark used his opening moves to promptly swing his Brigades, not to his right to link up, but straight across and around to attempt to hit us in our flank! Simultaneously, the entire British Line started to advance, edging towards the Prussians...Truly, no plan survives contact with the enemy!
|The British deploy forward...|
|The skirmishers conduct their 'petit guerre'|
|French Infantry assault the 26th Foot. Victrix leading, Perry in support.|
All in all a great day out, a chance to meet new mates, and increase our understanding of Black Powder rules, and hopefully raise the profile of Napoleonic gaming amongst the gaming community at large. My thanks to Matt and all at Hall of Heroes for making us so welcome!