Monday, 6 July 2015

Waterloo 200 Blucher game - Sunset in the East


Yes, yet another Waterloo game! Well it is the 200th Anniversary! But this is the last one for a while, honest! So on the evening of the 18th July 2015, the actual anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, after a day of solo wargaming D'Erlon's abortive attack, I wearily but happily wended my way to the uni club to complete my trilogy of anniversary games. But how to play Waterloo, or even just half of it, in an evening?

Unidentified dark masses appear on the French right flank - probably Prussians...
The answer of course is to use Sam Mustafa's Blucher rules!

Looking south over the Ohain road and ridge to Plancenoit

Accordingly I had hastily drawn up a scenario addressing the later stages of the battle on the Eastern flank, principally gaming the Prussian arrival, but also with the potential for the Anglo-Allied remnants to participate in the general advance as dusk gathered...To simulate the battle exhaustion of the Anglo Allied units and of D'Erlon's corps facing them, these units started with some of their elan points already gone. The Prussians however would start the game fresh despite their gruelling march to battle. A copy of the scenario can be found on Sam's forum in the Blucher Scenario bucket:

To be honest, I hadn't expect too much of a visual spectacle, since the terrain was hastily put together, and we were using 15mm figures from our collections which few of us had completed rebasing to Blucher card sized bases. However the net effect was still quite pleasing. I personally don't like using the cards under units to denote status and attributes, but as we still haven't come up with an agreed token or marker solution, it seemed the best way forward. It still looks ok, but presented problems for allied units on the reverse slope - they kept sliding off! Mind you, at that stage of the battle, you can hardly blame them! 
The allied ridge and remants of D'Erlon's I Corps

We played the game 2 ways, with John G playing the Anglo Allies, John T and myself the Prussians, and David the French. Caesar umpired. 
John G launches the Allies forward off the ridge - 'Which way Sir? Why that way to be sure!
A blow by blow account of the action was faithfully recorded by Kaptain Kobold on his blog: Waterloo Sunset so I shan't attempt to replicate his exciting account of the battle. 

The man himself - Papa Blucher - photo courtesy of Kaptain Kobold and SOVFOTO

 However if you'll indulge me, I will pad out this post with a couple of observations about using 15mm figures with Blucher rules.

I should point out before going too far in praise of the Blucher rules that most of us at the uni club were involved in the latter part of the very long play test period. So naturally we all think they're the mutt's nuts! 

For me the very essence of them is their ability to lay on a big, multi corps battle in an evening - hence our choice of these rules for our evening anniversary game. Each unit represents a Brigade, and whilst both this and the suggested base width unit is highly flexible, we had come to think of a unit's foot print as the same size as a playing card. Not, you might think, the ideal base size to cram on a brigade of infantry or cavalry, or, in the case of mixed brigades, a little of both.
The last throw of the dice - the Old Guard is committed!
Particularly since I am nothing if not a 'big battalion'man. I think that a small number of large units has a much greater impact that a large number of small units. I guess I have been influenced by what seems like an excessive amount of my 25 year career in uniform being spent on parade grounds. Some of that has rubbed off, so I have come to see a sad cluster of 12 - 24 figures as no larger than a Corporals' Guard rather than a battalion of 500 plus! 

Gary's Prussians on his mag bases - each base really looks like a brigade of 3 battalions in column!

As this game was the first one in which we were able to field all the units as figures, rather than just the cards, a lot was riding on my future use of Blucher rules - would I have to resort to the dreaded 6mil blobs, just at the time of life when I need all manner of aids to make out detail?
The Old Guard outflank the Prussians who outflank the French...Pic courtesy of Kaptain Kobold and SOVFOTO

Well, I think you can see that not only do the 15mm figures look good en masse, but that each unit can be modelled to actually resemble a brigade - 2 or 3 distinct battalions.  Probably need to work on the terrain though...


  1. Great post with interesting observations. I also was impressed with the overall look of figures with Blucher and with the large reserves of 15mm surfacing at the club it seems a shame not to make good use of them. Meanwhile, Russians are gradually taking shape on my painting desk although I can only manage a modest corps at this stage.


  2. I considered the 2mm 'mini' blobs (irregular) for Blucher, they do after all look very similar to that printed on the cards...

  3. Always beautiful and always impressive Sparker!

  4. I'm a great fan of the Blucher rules too, but unfortunately living in rural Wiltshire oppenents are thin on the ground :-(