Turn 1 - Chemin de Placenoit
First blood was spilled in the Waterloo Campaign last Friday when Jeff, Martin, Jean and I played out the forlorn hope of the Household and Union brigades against Lobau’s entire Corps in the Chemin de Plancenoit area.
Because the French had a more than 50% advantage in troops moving into the area, the French force consisted of a Line Division and two supports, rather than the standard one, against a British Infantry Division and one support, for which his only option was Dragoons; a reserve support. The French commander chose a Veteran Infantry support and a Light Cavalry support, both of which are organic, so the entire French force would begin the battle on the table, while the British had to roll for their reserves to enter. Adding to a grim starting proposition for the British, they then proceeded to roll to be the defender (so 2 more battalions for the French), and had to set up first.
However, through a combination of some canny tactics, some good dice rolling in early combats, the result was much closer than might have been expected. Turns out I’m a terrible miniatures photographer, too, so bear with me on the pictures…
The British were playing for a draw; their forces having been moved into the area in the hopes of blocking or slowing the French. They therefore deployed on their side of the table, essentially in a line (angling back to the edge of the table on their right when they ran out of troops!), and dared the French to attack them, which the French were only too happy to do. The French deployed in columns with a strong infantry effort on their right, and cavalry on their left, and smaller force of infantry connecting these two wings.
The prospects of the British were improved when their reserves arrived on the 4th turn of the game, and this first picture shows the situation at about that point, with the French still in march column trying to get to grips with the British as quickly as possible, and the British waiting for them.
(I apologize especially for this horribly out-of-focus picture, but it is the only area shot I took early that gives the overall picture of dispositions early in the game).
Wellington is looking relaxed, and his forces orderly and confident.
The Dragoons have arrived!
The French attempted to press home their attack on the right.
But when the British didn’t just disengage and fall back (which they did frequently), they threw back the French attacks, and even counterattacked. The French weren’t losing units, but they were losing time, and as a result, the French centre had to start getting more involved.
Meanwhile, the cavalry continued to stare at each other.
As the French centre pushed steadily in, taking the British back to their baseline, the British left suddenly collapsed, and columns of French began streaming towards the objective (represented by the French officer leading his horse on the right of this picture).
One of the units of British cavalry finally engaged the more numerous French cavalry facing it, while the other unit drove into the left flank of the French centre in a desperate attempt to stem the tide. After breaking one French unit which thought fighting cavalry in square was unsporting, this unit had shot its bolt.
But by this time, we were already rolling for end of battle, so the British still had a chance to achieve their objective, force a draw and slow the entire French advance. But once one of the last British infantry units on the table succumbed, after being surrounded by three French battalions, and with a French artillery battery in their rear…
…it was finally time to roll army morale, and the British broke. In the end, a close run things, and a good time was had by all!
I realized through this battle that I need to make a modification to my original campaign rules for battle results. Requiring losses of no more than 10% for the attacking side to achieve a decisive victory is too little. A standard base force and one attachment will have an army morale score in the mid-20s; even with 2 supports, it will only push up into the mid-30s. So 10% losses means only one small unit lost, which is too limiting, even for a force with 2 attachments. I am therefore going to change the rules to state that a side achieves a decisive victory if it breaks its opponent while losing no more than 4 army morale points.
Using this rule, the result at Chemin de Plancenoit was a French decisive victory, which certainly matches the state of things at the end of the battle. The British cavalry brigades will have to retreat, and the French forces will remain in the area, but we'll do all the retreats and advances once the results of all the battles are known. I will also calculate the casualties and update the divisions' strengths.
I also realized I need to add another option to the list of battle situations. So I have updated the first post in the Waterloo Campaign thread with these options.