Saturday, August 6, 2016

Quatre Bras - Grande

Yesterday Richard and I tried out a new Napoleon's Battles scenario for Quatre Bras.  There were two basic options, large or small sized units.  We took the large option.  The Allies are my figures and Richard took command of them while I played French using his figures.

We used a mix of the 3rd and 4th Edition of the rules.  Interpenetration as per the old rules (and there were lots of interpenetrations and without them there would have been a lot less action).  Fire combat on BUAs as per the new rules (essential).  Self rallying and self command from the new rules and very handy.  Special unit abilities from the new rules - seems like a great idea except we kept forgetting about them.

13:30 and Ney has arrived with the 5th and 9th Divisions plus the cavalry and artillery of the II Corps

An immediate attack is made on Grand Pierrepont.
(Note: it is held by a detachment.  This was the first game in which we have used the detachment rules even though they have been part of the rules since the 1st Edition).

Even with the use of a Free Roll it is a disaster.
 (Note: using 3rd Edition rules for attacking BUA meant the Allies used the LN factor while the French used COL, however I, as Ney, expected the mass of the French force to obliterate the detachment, but evidently not with my die rolling).

Bird's eye view at the end of 13:30.

Next the French assault Gemioncourt.  The infantry disperse the Dutch-Belgian guns defending the farm, but the cavalry infuriatingly fail to dislodge the enemy infantry (after Wellington skillfully used a Free Roll).

The Orange Nassau attack the French as they prepare for another attack on Grand Pierrepont.  This time the French have deployed into line and the Allies are repulsed, but the casualties are mounting on this brigade...

End of 14:30 turn.  Kellerman has arrived (and I made a mistake in pushing him so far forward as it blocked the II Corps artillery) and Jerome, having arrived in march column, is now deploying towards Thyle.  The Dutch-Belgian detachment holding Piraumont on the road to Thyle was dealt with by a brigade of the 9th Division.  I forgot that this would mean ending up disordered having carried a BAU and valuable time was lost as a result.

Pyrrhic victory at Grand Pierrepont.  The 5th Division's attack is finally successful, but accumulated losses and that last winner's loss see the attacking brigade disperse.

It's around 15:00 now and Ney feels his attack is at risk as he sees allied reinforcements arriving (Merlen's cavalry and the Brunswickers).  Even though they have had success the French are having command problems (Ney doesn't have the staff and has just a 5" command range as a result.  This produces congestion, not helped by the size of the various command stands, bit of a quandary there).

Jerome is heading to Thyle which is strategically significant as it blocks Wellington from sending reinforcements to the Prussians.  Ney intends to launch an attack on the allied left.

The 5th Division has pushed into the Bois de Bossu as the 9th Division starts to cross the Gemincourt stream.  The allies now have Picton's division up around Quatre Bras.

Jerome starts to threaten the allied left.

There has been some excitement.  Ney pushed his cavalry across and against Merlen, but Merlen evaded leaving the French stuck out in the open.  Before they could be slaughtered they voluntarily routed to safety.  This might have been the critical point of the battle.

The Orange-Nassau have rallied and are slowly heading to Grand Pierrepont (which is the key to the French left).  Ney will have to use his cavalry to keep them in check.

Around 16:00 and the battle has stalled.

The Orange-Nassau form square and the French cavalry bounce off.  This has stopped the allies from gaining Grand Pierrepont.

The view from the allied side around 18:00 with the arrival of the Guard Division.  The Brunswickers are contesting the Bois de Bossu and Jerome can be seen threatening the allied left flank.  

Ney has pulled the 5th Division back to defend Grand Pierrepont (successfully).  Jerome and the 6th Division on the other flank have given up their attack and are pulling back.  Rielle has gone to supervise so that Ney can concentrate on the left and centre.

The French defence of Thyle.

The Allied attack on Thyle is subject to flanking fire before it even develops.

The fighting for Grand Pierrepont continues.  Brunswickers (heavily disguised as Prussians) are now making their attack.

Ney personally leads a charge against the Brunswick cavalry and routs them and better still, stays in control.

Wellington is now having command problems trying to attack both the French left and right at the same time.  The French cavalry superiority and good defensive position will make any allied attack problematic. (Note: the grey felt bases denote the actual BUAs, the model houses are just for show and tend to float about the landscape).

Wellington does have the Guards up, but they would need an hour at least before they can launch an attack on the centre.  With only two hours left before darkness the fighting dies down.

While the allies hold Quatre Bras, the strategic value of Thyle, Gemioncourt Farm and Grand Pierrepont (i.e. victory points for those locations) is significant.

A challenging scenario.

We did use unit special abilities, although it took some effort to remember which units it applied to (easily fixed by annotating the labels).

We also did not count the BUAs as rough terrain.  That would have slowed the French further and also raised the question if being on road in march column would negate the rough terrain of a BUA.

At four foot by four foot the table size was perfect and much better than the previous scenario just using three foot square playing area.

The historical source for this scenario was slightly different to what I was used to along with deployment aspects and some terrain features.

Regardless it was fun even though it seemed to end in a stalemate.  We played for about five hours elapsed time and were slightly rusty with the rules (especially since we were using some features we hadn't tried before - namely detachments and abilities).

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