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Commanders, a wargame digest



Assault on Hougoumont

This is a three turn scenario from Hexasim’s Eagles package that covers the Waterloo battlefield.

Starting at 11am, with hourly turns, the French will win an instant victory if they capture the farmhouse. If this is not done by the end of the game, they will lose, unless the ridge behind Hougoumont is controlled by the French, in which case a draw occurs.

The farmhouse is fortified and a tough nut to crack in the game. The gardens, orchard and light woods around the farmhouse are all represented by orchard type terrain.

I am using the most recent ruleset (from the Quatre Bras module), including the rule that caps a stacks strength points at 20 if made into or out of non-open terrain, this is likely to disadvantage the French side.

And so it begins

The French open up at long range with their guns, without making much impact. Reille with so many men at his disposal is impatient and immediately launches infantry attacks to overwhelm the defenders in the orchards.

This opening attack has mixed results with 1st Léger pushing 2/1 Foot Guards back into the Farmhouse complex, while 2nd Léger completely wreck themselves attacking against Sandham’s guns. 3/1 Foot Guards make a heroic stand, suffering heavy casualties, but managing to hold back the main french thrust.

12 noon

The British continue to hold ground while taking very heavy losses. French guns are brought up within 400 metres of the farmhouse. Reille’s divisions are pushing deeper into the orchards, attacking Kühlmann’s horse artillery, causing them to lose half their guns and fall back a short distance, keeping alignment with Hougoumont’s flank.

Alone, his guns are vulnerable and cheers suddenly go up from the gunners as 2nd Nassau (counts as a British formation in this scenario) come down from the crest at the rear of the farmhouse and form up with the guns.

Heavy French artillery batters away at the Farmhouse, causing very heavy casualties amongst the Guards, but their morale holds up and they keep hold of the farm complex.

As the British perimeter shrinks, the French start to envelop the position and put in their strongest attack yet, attacking from three sides, but Kühlmann‘s artillery fires canister driving off 100 Ligne, while at the farmhouse, accurate fire from The Guards cause 2nd and 92nd Ligne to rout.

The fighting is growing in intensity - can the British hold on?

A last push!

The position is increasingly consuming Reille’s force, but surely one more push will do it!

Kühlmann‘s artillery becomes overwhelmed, having seen off 72nd Ligne, they are immediately counter-attacked by 100th Ligne and the gunners are lost. The farmhouse still stands in defiance ... but alone.

The Guards manage to repel another assault and then another and with both sides exhausted, the fighting dies down around Hougoumont. But any hopes of sustaining the defence for much longer diminish as 1st and 100th Ligne push 2nd Nassau off the ridge and they capture that ground. Hougoumont is now isolated.

Conclusion - British losses have been huge, 6 units have left the map and only the battered 2/3 Foot Guards remain - demoralised. But French losses have been equally significant with 2 units routing, 1 unit flipped and 5 units lost.

Though the French have failed to win the scenario, they can at least claim a draw due to their capture of the ridge.

With such a tight ending, I was of course compelled to play a fourth turn, just to see what may have happened. This saw the collapse of the British position at Hougoumont and a French victory, though at great cost. Playing this extra turn just showed how tight the scenario is. It makes for a good intro scenario, but is also an interesting mini-game in it’s own right.

Bataille Empire by Hervé Caille

Published by Onyx Editions and from the same stable as the well received L'Art De La Guerre, this is a tasty 256 page volume that has everything in it, including army lists an four scenarios that use either a 120cm x 80cm or 180cm x 120cm table - hoorah!

It is very nicely illustrated and seems just a nice thing to own and browse for the information on the various armies. You do get a rather nice double sided play aid card, I wish there were two, but I will look for a download version or just scan this one if I get stuck.

Looks to be around 68 pages of rules and then just a few optional rules. I read on a blog this morning that one player thought there were a few grey areas that were likely translation issues, but I really like the idea that this rule set is self contained and not of the add-on Codex ilk.

Now I just need two napoleonic armies ..... Oh Dear! :-)

Eagles of France Series

The Eagles of France series by Hexasim now has a solid line-up of four titles, waterloo, Austerlitz, Ligny and Quatre Bras.

Units are regiments, ground scale is 200 metres to the hex and each turn represents an hour of time.

There is a fairly long game time to each battle and 3 out of the 4 games are two mappers, though each game does have a smaller intro scenario. On the boardgame side of things, this is the series that I want to pursue as it seems to hit the right balance of play v simulation.

A look at the Ligny module, which has the excellent short scenario covering ‘The Streets of Ligny’ LINK

A look at the Quatre Bras module and a replay of scenario 3, introductory scenario. LINK

Another replay of Streets of Ligny AAR only. LINK

Eagles at Quatre Bras

These are my (beta) rules for getting a napoleonic game onto a hex grid that will give a good game on a 4' x 3' table. Scales are somewhat flexible to allow users to squeeze in some bigger battlefields or go the other way and have a more tactical game with units representing regiments. 

As it stands, the units represent brigades and artillery batteries. A 4' X 3' table will comfortably give a Quatre Bras sized game with four or so divisions per side plus support.

The rules are presently in a beta testing format, but the main principles of play seem pretty solid, thou amalgamating them with my ACW set might be a better way to go, to get a Horse and Musket set.

Eagles at Quatre Bras downloads (thank you DropBox)

Rules for hexed battles Quatre Bras scenario: (link to follow)

A scenario for the EaQB rules (link to follow)

An early AAR in the systems life LINK

Waterloo - Fading Glory

During the 200th Waterloo anniversary,  I played out the three days of fighting using the Fading Glory boardgame by GMT.  A rolling blog post started on 15th June to show the preliminary moves and general situation and then as each of the next three days were played on their anniversay date, the blog was updated to show the significant events of that day. 

The progress of those 4 days have been formatted onto a single account available the link below. Note, it was written as the action unfolded, nothing is commented upon retrospectively. LINK -

Austrian 28mm Infantry 1798 - 1809

My usual battalions are 18 figures on three bases, but to represent using column and line for napoleonics, I am moving to 20 figure battalions on 2 x 80mm bases.

Fortunately there are enough figures in the box to get two units, though it does mean that each unit will only have 1 flag.