Today, of course, is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Quatre Bras and yesterday at the Shed we fought a celebratory re-enactment (sort of) using Black Powder and 10mm troops. There were six of us, seven at one point, and we played for three hours. I will let Eric describe the battle on his blog in due course.
My British command yesterday: light cavalry, artillery, 95th Rifles, two units of line infantry and some Highlanders
This was the first Napoleonic wargame I have played since 1974 and confirms my view that this is the period for big battle wargaming. I have now come to realise that I will never be able to paint figures in 28mm for this period, sadly, as they just take too long. My sole completed unit, the Dutch 27th Jaegers, took seven years to complete! I don't usually like smaller scale figures but these 10mm ones looked splendid. Sadly, some subsequent research has shown that no-one does a comprehensive range of Napoleonics in this scale. There is always 18mm, of course, but I paint these the same way I paint 28mm figures so, apart from using less paint, the time constraints would be the same.
The Quatre Bras crossroads. I send my infantry forward to take possession of it right at the start
Quatre Bras is my favourite Napoleonic battle and I always thought it would be easier to replicate on the table top than Waterloo, so my acquisition of the Perry Dutch was supposed to be the first step towards this. Eric's version was modified geographically somewhat and he had no Dutch (or Brunswickers) but the aim of the game was for either side to capture and hold the crossroads.
My British infantry deploy at the crossroads while my light cavalry try to catch up
The Old Bat has no concept of history whatsoever and I was trying to explain the importance of the Battle of Waterloo to her today, but it was fairly hopeless. "Why were the British fighting in Denmark anyway?" she asked, confused. Her grasp of European geography is loose, to say the least.
My immediate opposition emerges form the wood: The Imperial Guard!
This was the first time I had played Black Powder (we converted all the movement distances and firing ranges from inches to centimetres) and. as Eric noted, was akin to Warmaster, not surprisingly given its progenitor. Personally, I found it odd having no casualty removal and I still can't get my head around stands but despite some oddities (allowing for some huge moves by cavalry, for example) it did actually work very well.
My old games in the seventies were played using the Charles Grant rules and Airfix plastics. None of these were painted, so both sides were basically cream coloured, except the British light cavalry (reddish brown) and the British horse artillery (grey). I also didn't base them, so if you bumped into the board they all fell over! I never owned the French Imperial Guard which didn't come out until 1975 and by then my friends and I were only doing World War 2. We used the American War of Independence British Grenadiers as a substitute. I had the Airfix Waterloo farm house and my friend Bean Kid had made a splendid Hougoumont from plans in Military Modelling, which I bought off him for £5.
The thin red line prepares to see off Kellerman's heavy cavalry
For the game I, in the centre, had to hold the crossroads while Mark (on the right) and Alastair (on the left) had to stop the French reinforcements arriving. The wings both saw quite a bit of manouevre while my infantry force basically stayed put in the centre. My light cavalry milled around ineffectually until one regiment decided to charge the battery of guns which was pounding my infantry. They were completely destroyed as a result but did take out one gun which, I think, relieved some pressure on my foot.
I still hold the crossroads at the end of the game
Despite being harried by heavy cavalry, which necessitated forming square and assaulted by French infantry and artillery forces from the left, centre and right, my stubborn British held on to hold the crossroads. So, thanks again to Giles and a shed full of shedizens for another brilliant game.