Monday, 17 February 2014

Waterloo 200 - the first practice game.

This Sunday about half of the 2 dozen Waterloo 200 Hall of Heroes project team met for our inaugural practice game using Black Powder rules. We will be holding these games every few months until the big weekend on the 200th anniversary when we will be refighting the climax of the 100 days campaign 'in the grand manner!'

On this occasion we just concentrated on one third of the ultimate table area - from La Haie Sainte to Papelotte. On the actual day we will have the same size of table area again for the Eastern half of the field from Hougomont to LHS, and a third section running at right angles off the Eastern end for the area around Plancenoit.

So you can see we are not doing things by halves! Well, actually we are, as we have planned to represent all of the Formations, with only 50% of their units present on table, at a 1:20 figure scale. This will equate to around 5,000 miniatures!

So as a first game we started off with a fairly generic scenario - the Allied army along the ridge and defending LHS, theoretically benefitting form the reverse slope position. I say theoretically because of course one of the team wanted more than a passive game - but more anon!

The Allied Team was led by Philip, who is also one of our 2 key rules 'lawyers', and included young Cameron, and the slightly less young Vic, Terry and Rob. The allied army was un-historically homogenous, with only the 2 Hanoverian brigades provided by Rob representing the high proportion of non British troops present at the actual battle - we have many project members working keenly on painting up the various Allied contingents. Of course some of us are taking shortcuts by buying prepainted troops from Fons and his Mabuhay Miniature Painting Service, who is supporting the project handsomely, as well as providing handsome figures. If you haven't visited the website his services are strongly recommended. He also did a wonderful job of custom building LHS for us, and as he is Belgian and was a regular visitor to the battlefield, we know he has done a good job!

The French team was led by Bryan, who is the other of our rules' guardians, and supported by Austin, Caesar and myself. As it happened we all hail from Wollongong, so today it was also a bit of a North - South thing against the Sydneysiders!

Bryan's plan was suitably historical - to concentrate on pushing up the Charleroi to Brussels highway - which probably meant capturing LHS!

The Prussian team was led by our very own 'Marshal Vorwarts', Jason, and he lost no time in bringing pressure to bear on the French left flank, where, in order to concentrate our efforts further to the West, we had left Caesar with just 2 Brigades of Middle Guard to fend off the Black Hordes!

Now Caesar is something of an 18th Century buff, and I think it showed in his deployment!

However, to be fair, how else do you hold the entire flank with just 6 battalions other than form them into line? Without giving too much away, it has to be said that he did manage to hold throughout the game... just!

Right over on the French left flank, Bryan lost no time in putting the boot in against the gallant 2nd Light Bn KGL who were garrisoning LHS...

This garrison was entirely nominal for this practice game, but rest assured we will have figures to represent Major Baring and his gallant men for the real thing! Successive attacks managed to break into the front orchard, but the farm itself was too tough a nut to crack! Nothing daunted, Bryan decided to commit our strategic reserve early - 3 large battalions of the Old Guard!

Elsewhere, Austin and I in the centre were trying to support Bryan's punch as much as possible without leaving the centre wide open - Philip had not yet unleashed Terry with his Brigade of Heavy British Cavalry!

Further over, Rob had gotten bored with simply sheltering behind the ridge and receiving the odd hit from artillery, and decided to cooperate with the Prussians to add to Caesar's woes!

Fortunately, the antidote to bold Hanoverians was easily to hand - a pair of Old Guard 12 Pounder batteries - the Emperor's beautiful daughters - they soon cooled the froward Teutons down!

Back at the point of decision, around LHS, a couple of Command Blunders made the Allied position look a little bare at times - so the British Heavy Cavalry was committed! 
That duly put the brakes on the French advance as squares were hurriedly but safely formed...However, that's not a Heavy Cavalry Brigade - this is!
The resulting all-arms stoush - referred to by the players involved as the 'Mosh Pit' for the benefit of old 'Bad Manners' fans like myself - really did test our knowledge of Black Powder rules for multiple combats, but with Philip and Bryan on the case I assume all was skilfully untangled... 

To get us out of our old bad habits of using house rules, and to learn how to apply the new special rules and stats in Albion Triumphant 2, this was very much a learning exercise with frequent halts in the action to discuss teaching points. We still managed to get in 8-9 pairs of moves, but not enough to fight the game to a conclusion.

We didn't manage to break through down the high road to Brussels, whilst on the Eastern flank despite putting some very real pressure on Caesar, the combined efforts of the Prussians and Hanoverians buckled, but did not break, his lines.

Here we see Wellington, sorry Philip, with his habitual cup of tea at half mast, perhaps in tribute to the stoic defenders of LHS?

Despite the practice and learning aspect of the game, and the fact that we are still very much in the early stages of putting together the models and terrain - we still have over a year to run - I did feel that all present had a fun game. I also got a sense of the superb once-in-a-lifetime wargaming experience that we can all work together to bring off for the 200th anniversary of that iconic battle - 


Next Practice game? Sunday 15th June, at the Hall of Heroes, Campbelltown, New South Wales!


  1. That is a very impressive setup! Should look absolutely amazing on the big day!

    1. Thanks mate! Yes I'm pleasantly surprised at how well things are coming together - we are on track for a grand spectacle!

  2. Will you be playing Abba on the day? ;-)

    1. "Waterloo - Couldn't escape if I wanted to,
      Waterloo - Knowing my fate is to be with you,
      Waterloo - Finally facing my Waterloo."

  3. Always amazing to read about and look at your "big" historical Napoleonic games.


  4. What a huge, great looking, table! Very impressive!

  5. An important lesson for me was never to assume Prussians wearing shakos are light cavalry. Jason's dragoons gave me a nasty surprise when I attempted to countercharge them with hussars!


  6. Looks great mate, hope to get up one practice to have a bo peep.


  7. Ralph top notch as usual. We game in 28mm on a 9x5 table with 24 man infantry units and 12 cavalry fig units with 1 gun on-table per battery. Space is the big problem in scenario set up so more and more i'm going to have to limit terrain and divisions/brigades on-table.units in line for example take up 12"x 2.5" Otherwise Lt cavalry becomes superfluous & trying to get guard or any sort of reserves in nigh impossible. do you guys use any rule to get initial front line shaken units etc out of the way to send in fresh units/reserves? how does 2 guns notable per battery work out gaming wise i.e.; where to measure firing from and if contacted by enemy or giving support to friends.
    Any ideas gratefully accepted, as my opponent is starting to loose interest in BP. Perhaps i should narrow down the focus of a historical battle to -2 or 3 brigades a side only? Maybe go for more pick up battles for example using the points systems given in the two AT supplements is something i need to try too????
    I wish Warlordgames would release AT3 finally for the continental side of things, I spoke to Ady(the supplements author) at sheffield triples last year and he said its been written for ages . Likewise it needs an ACW version too.
    cheers Peter

    1. Thanks Peter!

      I think the solution in your case might be to provide more clarity with the use of a map or whiteboard what the position of reserve units are, and plan the game in phases, recce, first attack, second attack, Reseve Cav, etc, almost playing each one as a seperate game then totting up the total as an overall result.
      Another option as you say is to break the battle down into the two flanks and play each one as a seperate game, then even out the result...

      Our 2 guns are just there for show, they are still just single batteries.

      I hear you about the supplement, esp, the ACW one - they are crazy not to have done that one first given the size of the US market!

  8. Ralph thanks for the interesting game set up options etc they will def get a go soon. Re; the 2 batteries on-table i was only wondering where you measure the firing from as in BP they use only 1 model & it says from the gun barrel ,but now there are 2 :-) I suppose the same goes for combat contact/flanks and interpenetration. Really interested in how you play it using the 2 models.
    Also what movement distances/firing ranges would you think would work best on a 9x5 table using 28mm figs Ralph,keep the triple moves?
    again thank for your input---Peter

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