Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Quatre Bras III - Bloody Big Battles (or mid-sized)

Here’s the tale of our third game test for our Quatre Bras scenario. Third time’s the charm.


Jay missed our last meeting. He got a crack at our new scenario in a hastily arranged game with Bill as his chief of staff. Jay had the reins but relied on suggestions from the less engaged Bill. It was a better command arrangement than the divided command of our last game. Jay decided before to take the role of Wellington. The French deploy first, so they were already set up. We started just before 10:30. Bill was delayed searching for a parking spot. He arrived shortly after the battle began. Allied units are in Italics. Yellow discs = disruption, blue markers = spent units, yellow arrows = retreats, red arrows = attacks and exploitation. Stars = objectives, red for allied held, blue for French held.


My movement dice lit up and everyone fell on Picton. He disrupted Bachelu’s advance but failed to stop the veterans from closing. Badly outnumbered and shot up by offensive fire, Picton fell back spent. Things looked grim for the Allies. During this extremely busy turn, I wandered into the kitchen to check on lunch. I had a unit that could exploit but didn’t think it could affect an assault that wasn’t yet resolved. When I returned, Jay had consulted the rules and found that exploiting units can indeed do so. This was yet another of Picton’s woes. I returned the gentlemanly assistance a bit later but don’t recall which rule was specified or what turn I it was. On the right of the photo the Guard light cavalry can be seen hunkering in a valley to avoid being artillery targets. There are restrictions on their use since Napoleon had warned Ney not to get them shot up. But they did a reasonable job of covering my right flank since Jay wasn’t interested in moving forward and releasing elite cavalry.


We broke for lunch. Jay and Bill hadn’t seen each other in a while; it was a leisurely lunch. Then we discovered that Bill had somehow missed Warren Zevon, so we went to the PC and played some of Zevon’s work. Then we resumed play. The Brunswick horse and foot arrived and put in a smashing counterattack, aided by Kruse.

Again, decent movement dice allowed me to put together a fairly coordinated attack and Brunswick was sent to the north edge of the table, spent. Bachelu attempted to take Quatre Bras on the hop but was bounced by Best’s Landwehr. Soye chased off Dutch-Belgian artillery.


The center fell into stasis; there aren’t many French infantry and many of them were battered.

Jay always plays with victory conditions firmly in mind. I am a tad blood-thirsty and channeled Ney. This would cost me.


Alten and every unspent unit charged in the center and sent the French reeling back. In the upper left hand corner of the photo, Cooke’s artillery can be seen firing into the flank of Wathiez’s chasseur brigade. They got a hit and dispersed the brigade. Should have kept the cavalry back. Sigh.


My artillery returned the favor against Merlen’s Dutch cavalry. Reille can be seen on the left most objective, sans escort. Another dicey idea. But wait, there’s more.

Alten’s attack nullified Bauduin’s zone of control, allowing the Brunswick cavalry to ride into a spot deep in my left center. I figured my cavalry would swat them away. Alten had a modest win but the real damage was done before the assault was resolved.


I thought I’d taken photos of turn 7 but apparently not.

On my French turn, Baudin supported by Picquet’s cuirassiers attacked Alten. Guiton’s cuirassiers rode out to strike Alten’s flank but were shot down by musketry from Best and flanking artillery fire from Brunswick artillery, a foolish mistake. Bauduin’s charge was halted by musket fire. Hubert’s chasseurs charged the Brunswick cavalry but were repulsed. Reille was alone in the woods at the objective in the Bois de Bossu, another mistake. On the Allied turn, the Brunswick cavalry had a healthy movement roll. They rallied off the disruption from the cavalry fight and got a full move. They marched into the woods, captured the objective and overran Reille. Night fell after turn 7, ending the game.


French losses were 6 infantry bases, 2 ran off, 2 cavalry, 2 ran off, and Reille for 7 Allied points.

Allied losses were 7 infantry, 2 ran off, 2 cavalry, 1 ran off and 1 artillery, 1 ran off for 7 French points.

The French held Gemioncourt for 1, plus 7 = 8 points.

The Allies held Quatre Bras and Bois de Bossu for 2, plus 7 = 9 points and the razor-thin win.


My rough estimate of losses, French lost 3,000 infantry, 500 cavalry and a corps CO.

The Allies lost 3,500 infantry, 500 cavalry and 12 guns.


It took us about 4 hours to play 7 turns, but we weren’t in a hurry and returned to the rule book a few times, clarifying rules not often used, like the exploitation into a standing assault and others.


We had a fine time. Jay was very happy with the scenario. He also found a couple typos, including one where the Marshal was spelled Nay. I think it’s a fun scenario and doesn’t use more than a couple Napoleonic rule mods. It’s ready for prime time with just cosmetic changes.


It occurs to me that more assaults strike home in early periods since fewer attacks get stopped by small arms fire. Amazing how the obvious can hide in plain sight.


ChrisBBB said...

What a great report of what sounds like a great game, with lots of drmatic changes of fortune. Yo-yoing on a see-saw!

Konstantinos Travlos said...

Sounds like a blast!

ChrisBBB said...

Updated version of the scenario available here:

Phil said...

A bloody and intense battle, great report!