Waterloo report

Waterloo (from the Le Retour de l’Empereur package by Pratzen) is the game. Here’s my recollection of how this went.

Initial Plans

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11:00 and all’s well. The skirmishers have not yet reported for duty, though.

The Allies had holding orders, with the cavalry and other reserves primed to be released on Wellington’s command.

The French plan was to get the artillery up and batter the hell out of the Allied line. At the same time, there were to be direct assaults on Hougoumont, Papellote, and Fichermont – but not La Haye Sainte – while I Corps was to make a focused, narrow front attack between La Haye Sainte and Papelotte, supported as required by VI Corps.

11:00

The battle gets underway. French assaults on the fortified areas are slow to form up, so not much action in the turn.

11:30

The French give the Allied defenders of the fortified areas a taste of cold steel, but with less than hoped for results. At Fichermont, there’s a stand-off. At Hougoumont and  Papelotte, the attackers are beaten back.

12:00

A hastily reorganized French assault takes Papelotte. Both sides are exchanging hot artillery fire. The 1 Corps attack is too piecemeal, and is stalled a bit. Both sides have a lot of disorganized units.

12:30

Fichermont falls. And the Allied line is close to snapping point as too many crucial units fail morale checks and flee. Wellington is getting ready to release some reserves. The Prussians are getting closer.

The Prussians will take a direct line to the battle.

The Prussians will take a direct line to the battle.

13:00

The first of the Prussians arrive. The French VI corps hits the Allied line, as the I Corps needs the help

13:30

Hougoumont falls. Elsewhere, the French have now broken the Allied first line at the point of impact, and are threatening to sweep away the Allies. But, just in time, the Allied cavalry appear on the scene and stop the French dead in their tracks. Both sides have a fair number of disorganized troops.

14:00

It’s the French turn to be there just in time, as their follow up units support the breakthrough. Unfortunately, the Allied riposte is also a good one. And the French have far too many soldiers out of action, desperately trying to rally. Worse, the Prussians are now forming up and getting ready for action.  The main French line regroups after its assaults on Hougoumont.

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There is a breach in the Allied line, but there are a lot of dead and disorganized French.

14:30

The Prussians wait a bit longer as more troops arrive. The troops forming the French breakthrough are suddenly feeling somewhat lonely.

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The French have an isolated breakthrough now.

15:00

This time around it’s the French cavalry who win the swirling battle around the broken Allied line. But, not enough to protect the flank of their fellow infantry. The Brunswickers are poised to plug one hole. Meantime, the Prussians have crashed into the French IV Cavalry and are doing real damage.

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The Prussians get their first success, and things are about to turn worse for the French.

15:30

It’s all over. Napoleon surrenders as the Prussians are swarming into his flank. The IV Cavalry is effectively wiped out, I Corps is way beyond demoralization, Ii Corps is almost demoralized, and the Allies have managed to get a defensive line back again. Worse, the Allied troops that were fleeing in a state of disorganization, have rallied too fast.

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The swarming Prussians are mid right of the page, now only opposed by a couple of Guard regiments. At the top of the page, the tip of the returning (rallied) Allied units. The Brunswickers and the British cavalry have driven off all the French interlopers, except for two small and  unsupported regiments.

Closing comments

And there you have it. In no particular order, my thoughts on this:

  1. The French lost because they did not strike swiftly enough, nor did they commit more of the Guard when required. I was too cautious with the French orders. Also, some crucial failed morale checks with the main assault caused a ripple effect. (The disadvantage of attacking on a narrow front.)
  2. Both sides had lots of units out of action, repeatedly failing morale checks to rally. I am thinking of using a house rule that does away with the -2 penalty for being disorganized if the rally attempt is more than four turns (two hours) after becoming disorganized.
  3. There were several incidents with troops failing morale checks from artillery fire and running away. Maybe too many. When a unit is only taking artillery fire, and has secure flanks, it should be more resolute. Another house rule, methinks.
  4. Artillery is strong, but I do not agree it is too strong. It is static, and if you can maneuver to its flank, it is very vulnerable.
  5. I do, though, wonder if it would be more realistic to stop artillery units firing in the player turn that they move.
  6. Great fun. There are a lot of games in the ‘to be played’ queue, but one day I hope to get back to this.