Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Meeting my Waterloo Part I - A Napoleon's War session report

Battle of Waterloo scenario setup

Game Store Tony and I embarked on a little project to play all three of the 2010 class of Napoloenic battle games riffing off the same historical scenario -- in this case the Battle of Waterloo.
We started with Napoleon's War - The 100 Days. I took the French while Tony took the Anglo-Allied side. While Tony was new to the game system, he has played quite a bit of the Commands & Colors system, especially Memoir' 44 and Battle Cry, so the basic concepts of this game were familar to him.
I decided to make my main effort on the right flank, basically the French I Corps sector. I did this in part because that's the zone featured in the scenarios from the other two games -- Commands & Colors: Napoleonics and Battles of Napoleon: The Eagle and the Lion -- and parttly because I think that sector is generally the most promising for the French in Waterllo battle games of any sort. I think Hougoumont, especially, is best avoided.
In this game that seemed a good call because Tony's first few moves were devoted to shoring up that flank, occupying the fortfified sites with guns, guys and generals and just making it very unappetizing to go that way. Aside from a stray potshot there was no activity on the French Left at all.
Instead I pushed on the right, with my first target being that end-most Dutch infantry unit. As it turned out they made their square die roll and the charging cavalry and guns and infantry seemed to bounce off them like they were all Clark Kents.
So the battle on that side ebbed and flowed, with counterthrust and melee. Soon some Prussians joined in,a s did the French Guard and other troops and by turn 12 the French were on the verge of defeat, with the victory point score at 6-5 in the Prussian-Anglo-Allied favor. As the British only needed 7 VP to win this was looking pretty bad for ol' Nappy. As a matter of fact it came down to one die roll that turn, as a Prussian horse unit charged some French guns and killed 1 of the 2 cannons! Even worse, a Prussian unit had stolen a march on Napoleon and was one double-time move away from capturing Placenoit! Placenoit is worth 3 victory points for the British.
So it came down to the French needing to win on their half of Turn 13 if they were to win at all. A blast from the surviving gun at the adjacent Prussian cavalry missed entirely, but Tony's celebration was cut short when a second French gun unit rolled much better and rolled 2 sixes out of three dice and wiped the cavalry out. Victory Point No. 6!
So now it came down to the fate of Frischermont, where that very same Dutch infanrty unit that had shrugged off my first attacks had taken refuge. The French Guard heavy cavalry attacked first. It wasn't a charge, so the cavalry would only hit on 6s, but that turned out to be enough as one of the two dice WAS a six. So now the Dutch were down to one figure. A French infantry unit in Papelotte beat the pas de charge and spalshed across the Smohain stream. It had but one die to roll (-1 die for the fortified building and -1 die for the stream) but it was a shock attack so there was a 1/3 chance of success. Sure enough, a 6 was rolled, the last Dutch figure was removed for Victory Point No. 7 and the French infantry advanced into the building and captured Victory Point No. 8 for the win!
So overall a very close game.
It took just 10 minutes to set up the game and the entire episode lasted 82 minutes including setup, explaining the rules and a couple of brief interruptions while Tony attended to customers.

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