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"How do you Waterloo?" Topic


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mpanko Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2012 8:37 a.m. PST

So everyone and their brother apparently on TMP has played Waterloo and is bored of it….to those who I am about to bore again – apologies in advance.

I am working through the OOBs of 1815 for the ultimate wargame – Waterloo of course. Currently planning on using Black Powder and have all units at the battle represented at the BN level. So yes a bit of an undertaking but 2+ years left until the anniversary and I like challenges.

I have played Waterloo a couple of times in the past but they were abstracted and at the DIV level – moving BDEs around like Napoleon's Battles.

After scouring the net I have only found the Wargames Centre in England showcasing a 28mm BN scale layout of Waterloo for a game. Even the setup they use compresses alot of the features of the battlefield for space trade off reasons. They use three sets of long tables to represent the battlefield.

I wanted to see what it will take to do a similar approach and my first stab at the setup is below:

This shows the whole battlefield using three rows of tables. Each table is 6 feet wide and 30 feet long – with the exception of the Placenoit sector I figured I could get away with a 10 long table. Between all of these rows of tables there will have to be a ~3' gap at a minimum to allow movement.

Aside from the fact that this game will be big, take alot of planning, gamers / umpires, effort, $ etc, I am looking to those who have run large efforts like this for their observations or lessons learned.

I know many of you have had your experiences with big games either running them or playing them – I lurk alot on these boards! I look forward to the discussion.

Thanks

Mike

Nasty Canasta Inactive Member13 Nov 2012 2:13 p.m. PST

Wow!

Pretty detailed. Does one inch equal one inch?

miniMo Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2012 2:40 p.m. PST

Ooh, that does look promising -- Do keep us posted please!

(Hopefully, eventually, the Waterloo haters will go find another hobby that's more fulfilling for them than hating on Waterloo.)

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2012 2:59 p.m. PST

Each square = 1 foot on the table. This will allow a decent translation of the BP rules for the game. There of course will need to have some scenario rules for dealing with the mud for the artillery – I was reading how ineffective the Grand Battery was in part due to the cannon balls burying themselves in the mud!

Mike

Timmo uk Inactive Member13 Nov 2012 3:37 p.m. PST

I'd be tempted to put a second table in the third row just so you can lay out the Imperial guard figures. That is unless you are using some sort of hidden deployment system, are you?

I played a bath-tubbed Waterloo years ago and since we used 'blinds' not that much was deployed on the allied side as they sat behind their ridge out of sight until the French closed.

Personal logo wrgmr1 Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2012 7:31 p.m. PST

My thoughts would be to use one 30' x 6' table for the main battlefield, and two reserve tables, one behind each side for holding and movement of reserves. One 10' by 5' or 6' for Placenoit. Similar to what our groupd is doing for Borodino in just over a week, using Shako 2 rules battalion level.

The difficulty as mpanko says, is having scenario rules which keep the French from literally running over the allies. They have 3 times as many heavy cavalry. Used in conjuction with infantry, they will be unstoppable. Possibley a timed release of units for the French?

Personal logo Martin Rapier Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 3:18 a.m. PST

We did Waterloo the hard way back in the mid 1980s using WRG 16xx-18xx with 20mm figures.

Rather than the standard 1:50 figure ratio I bathtubbed it at a ratio of 1:4 (so each gun model represented a full battery not a section of 2, and each 'battalion' represented a regiment or cavalry brigade). We kept the ground scales the same and I adjusted the terrain placement to suit (particularly the respective distances of the ridges). We played it on someone sliving room floor using carpet tiles for the hills.

Half a dozen of us played, left right and CinC cfor each side. We kept the historical Prussian arrival but modelled it as removing elements of Lobaus Corps rather than finding even more toys.

Good fun.

The French won.

Dexter Ward14 Nov 2012 4:22 a.m. PST

The French usually win Waterloo refights, no matter which rules are used.
Which tells us that either Wellington was very lucky, or that wargame rules are missing some FUBAR factor which stopped the French historically from over-running the allied position.

True Grit Inactive Member14 Nov 2012 5:42 a.m. PST

The FUBAR factor often not considered, is the terrain, with many hidden sunked roads on a 'tight' battlefield. Many table top waterloo games dont take this 'attakers nightmare' into consideration. When you do, it makes it much easier for the French to get it wrong.

Keraunos Inactive Member14 Nov 2012 5:44 a.m. PST

most of the times I have played, the Anglo -Allied win, so a lot depends upon the rules, and a lot more on the scenario / umpire.

One notable example involved resetting the table to 'restart' with each 'key phase', so the game was closer to the historical big events – the umpire really wanted the big cavalry charge, and he was determined to have it as the highlight of the day for him

This was fine for some players, but a real pain for whoever was winning at the point of reset, since it didn't count.


One recommendation I do have – forget weather rolls and prussian re-enfrcement arrival checks and all that stuff – its too random, and only really fun in a two player game.

For a big game, the umpire knows exactly what is going to happen and when – and just does it, the players can lump it (or think their dice roll has an effect, but if you are doing Black Powder, you have far too much dice rolling already, so no need to add more).

This ensures that – as one refight I was in did – you don't get all the french attacks in mud and then an early Prussian arrival – game over with only one small attack and not a single british casualty.


if you do want to give players the option to break from your historic start point, keep their pre-game options very limited – Welington, do you want to garrison Hugomont or not if yes, you can chose from this force or that force each in their entirity – no finessing.

Napoleon, do you want to go early in wet ground or not?

Will you defend stronger here or there ?

Even letting them pick whether to include Hal in the table / possible flank march area will change a lot about the battle.

If you let them change their initial dispoitions, or arrange flank marches, or any of that, you end up with nothing like the battle you signed people up for – and its realy easy for the guys who know the battle backwards to roll over teh guys who thought they should be pretty lose to the historic dispositions.

Last bit lesson – check your movement rates over your ground against your game timeframe.

We did Qatre bras once. Only the initial forces ever got to fight (basically the brunswickers vs all the French) – everything else was marrching along a huge table at normal speed for the entire day trying to get the the centre – not a lot of fun for those players, and made for one hell of a one sided battle.

Keraunos Inactive Member14 Nov 2012 5:44 a.m. PST

oh, and think about blogging the project

it gives you a record of it yourself too

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 6:48 a.m. PST

Thanks for the comments – I have thought about a blog and it seems a natural evolution for the scale of the project.

I agree to the earlier post that if Waterloo is run near the anniversary there will be an expectation that it at least starts with a historic setup.

The Prussians actually give me the most pause as to scenario ballance and timing. My concern is that the player(s) running the Prussians will need patience and will end up doing alot of moving of troops initially without coming to grips with the French….as compared to the other players who will be slugging it out from the word 'go.'

Mike

TelesticWarrior Inactive Member14 Nov 2012 7:43 a.m. PST

Strangely enough, we have just started talking about this exact same subject (why do the French usually win Waterloo re-fights) on the 'was Napoleon humbugged by Blucher' thread.

Keraunos Inactive Member14 Nov 2012 7:58 a.m. PST

given the work you are putting in,

i'd play the prussians myself if I was you.

you have enough to do for most of the game as umpire (and if the muppets don't know what to do by the time the Prussians arrive, then they deserve to lose), so no one needs to be stuck without something to do.

And you can ensure that the arrival of the Prussians is down to game-play, not luck or just to give some poor guy something to do.

If the french are walkign it, then you bring the prussians on early (or better, deeper into the rear). If the brits are having an easy time, then just straggle a division toward placenoit and bog them down.

And if you ahve a favourite, you can just ensure the outcome as you want it to be.

One of our many British victory games saw the Prussian Player (who brought his own figures) sit there for the whole day, and not get to unlimber a gun in anger, so unless youexpect some commands do be destroyed early in teh game entirely, its better to not have 'some poor sod' stuck on teh sideline.

Personal logo wrgmr1 Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 10:26 a.m. PST

If given a free hand with the forces involved the French will steam roller the allies. Keraunos mentioned Hal. If the French swing left and up onto the hill instead of slugging it out in Hougamont the Allies are sunk. Scenario rules and timed umpire release of French reserves will keep it in balance. Maybe evern get the Prussian player to roll some dice! I'm painting Prussians!!

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 10:49 a.m. PST

Given the scale of the game and the space needed to extend the battlefield I don't see expanding the game to include Hal.

I think the high expectations of folks involved 2+ years from now would be something that looked like Waterloo – at least at the start.

I think that placing some historic 'guide rails' on both sides will prevent that arm chair quarterback effect to some degree by limiting options to what the leaders were facing that day.

>> wrgmr1 – Please keep us posted on your Borodino fight…with lots of pics of course!

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 10:56 a.m. PST

Keraunos has a lot of good ideas for gaming Waterloo. I staged a refight several times, but using SYW Austrians (Brits) and Prussians (French) and Russians (Prussians) to fill the roles and disguise the scenario. Most people picked up on the scenario rather quickly.

You definitely want a full back table for Plancenoit and behind the French lines where the Imperial Garde deployed. It also gives you more space for French reserves and traffic management problems.

In my first game, I had the Russian player (Prussians and Blucher) roll D10 to see if the Russians would arrive. They started arriving on Turn 2. Lesson: let the players roll arrival dice to their hearts content, but don't tell them what they need to roll in order to get Blucher's troops to arrive. Have a definite idea in your mind when you want Blucher to arrive and stick with that.

Time the release of the Garde and the heavy cavalry brigades so that they can not all go marching up the ridge on the first turn. Again, have a time in your own mind as to when this should occur. Do not rely on dice to determine their activation or arrival – that only guarantees that the dice will roll against you and they will activate on the first couple of turns.

Forget the mud and weather conditions. They just present another variable that can screw up your scenario. You are going to have several thousand figures on the table. Trust me, the sheer number of figures will create plenty of unforeseen problems for you.

Don't assign the Prussians to anyone. Allocate those commands to players whose forces have been shot up and eliminated from the game. You don't want the Prussian players sitting around all game doing nothing.

DeRuyter Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 11:28 a.m. PST

I'd add to the comments about using fog of war. Blind set up by the Brits and variable arrival times, etc.

First time I played it with "Napoleon's Battles" the French marched the Guard and heavy cav straight up the road and cleaned up the Brits before the Prussians arrived. I did run another brigade level game (Grande Armee) where the Prussians came on earlier but were stopped and routed by the Guard, VI Corps and the heavy cav.

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 12:37 p.m. PST

Der Alt Fritz – thanks I have visited your sight several times and appreciate your sage counsel.

I think the concensus is that without having constraints on the French – timed releases and such, the seasoned wargamer will do a-historic things…commit the guard first like DeRuyter talked about.

So with all that being said should someone be saddled with the role of Napoleon given constraints on his freedom of action? I had always thought there would be a Napoleon and Blucher player but with the points raised so far perhaps this is not a good idea after all.

Timmo uk Inactive Member14 Nov 2012 1:09 p.m. PST

One of the real issues I see is that the Allied army needs to be really hidden (ie not deployed on the table) behind the ridge so the French can't see their initial deployment positions and where they are weak/strong. Assuming you don't tie the players to setting up historically.

I've always thought that 1815 be a more dynamic gaming experience if the campaign was fought rather than just Waterloo.

Rod MacArthur14 Nov 2012 1:56 p.m. PST

I was involved in a large refight of Waterloo in 1990. It took place in Minley Manor, an Army HQ just outside Camberley. We used modified "In the Grand Manner" rules on a massive table (normally used for teaching modern tactics) for the main battle and a separate one for the Prussian advance and battle. We had about six players each side and an umpire. We set up on the day before the game but it still took all day. It was a bit of a draw in the end, but I reckoned it was an allied victory, since the French had failed to smash the allies, and if we had gone on the Prussians would have joined the main battle (I was playing Wellington, not very well, so I would hold that view, wouldn't I).

Rod

Rod

Ligniere Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 2:31 p.m. PST

@mpanko
I applaud your worthy endeavor……

I've refought Waterloo about three times over the years, the last outing was as part of a campaign, which started with the battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras, and then plugged in the results of those battles to generate the orders of battle for Waterloo and Wavre, and permitted a non-historical initial setup on the Waterloo battlefield.

The French were triumphant in the two initial battles, which meant that the forces available to the Anglo-Allied armies at Waterloo were much reduced. They had basically lost Cooke's, Alten's and Picton's British and German divisions at Quatre Bras, and were forced to recall the Hal contingent to give them any hope of holding, let alone defeating, the French at Waterloo. The idea was for them to hold on whilst awaiting the arrival of the Prussians, who would deliver the coup de grace to the exhausted French. When the Prussians eventually arrived on the French flank the condition of the Anglo-Allied army was so bad, the Prussians elected to simply turn around and head back to Namur, rather than take on the fresh Imperial Guard who were amassed around Rossomme. Actually the player in the role of Blucher was ready to fight, but Gneisnau was having none of it….

I would like to say that the player in the role of Napoleon, Andy Zartolas, who has since sadly passed away, was one of the ablest wargamers I have had the pleasure to game with.

npm

Personal logo wrgmr1 Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 3:07 p.m. PST

mpanko,

I'll take lots of pictures of our Borodino re-fight and post them as I did our Wagram battle.
Cheers.

idontbelieveit14 Nov 2012 3:34 p.m. PST

I'd be curious how you handle command. Most games just throw the figures out and let folks move them around when and where they want. I like the idea of hidden set up for Brits, which is sort of a command thing. Any other ideas about how to handle the command aspects?

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2012 7:11 p.m. PST

My first thoughts are to give Commands that are roughly divisional in size. This will of course vary but for instance for D'Erlon's Corps I would probably split the 4 divisions amongst two players and give them some supporting cavalry as well.

I for one would not want to be saddled with a Reserve Cavalry Corps – waiting to be committed only to have a fleeting moment of glory until my entire Command is exhausted.

Following the line of thought from earlier it would make most sense if the players would recieve Reserves to allow them to continue to fight without getting tied down to a rigid approach of assigning an INF or CAV only Division.

So this may mean I would assign a player the 1st and 2d Division from the French I Corps but also give him the DIV Cav or perhaps some Cuirassiers from the Reserve Cavalry Corps. In the end he would have all the combat arms to employ.

Would need to think through the exact assignments across both sides so a total playe count could be determined.


Mike

Keraunos Inactive Member15 Nov 2012 2:41 a.m. PST

mpanko makes an interesting suggestion to expand on.

instead of giving each player a corp for the whole game, assign each player a division within that corp, and then only let one corp attack at a time.

first attack is corp x – brit players take one division each, french likewise.

when that attack ends, move to a new attack, reassign divisions within the new corp area and basically pull the other units back to reform outwith the game.

it might be too abstract for your players (but if you are using BP, I doubt it). but it means they are all fighting where the action is, and you control Napoleon, Wellington and Blucher, to ensure gameplay folows for everyones enjoyment.

One of the hardest things in a multiplayer is giving the guys who are suppsed to be waiting their turn something to do – the number of big gmaes I have seen ruined because they 'wait your turn' players refuse to wait, and its all over by lunchbreak as a consequence…

Anyway, everyone is always involved, and you can ensure that you dont get a (totally unhistoric) 'whole line will advance', and it also gives an easy way to esnsure you don't get a combined guard + cavalry attack on turn one.

And if you do have a couple of extras, they can fight out a desultery hugomont to their hearts content, and switch to placenoit later in the game.

CATenWolde15 Nov 2012 3:50 a.m. PST

It would take a bit of GM planning and duplicity … but how about just lying to the French and British players, and telling them that they are playing a "what if" game where the Prussians don't show up? Then tell them that since the battle is less balanced, the French will get more VP's for committing fewer formations to the battle. The French pick and choose what formations might be able to have the best chance to win, the British cringe and grasp the table edge … and then you bring out the boxes of Prussians!

Come to think of it, I'm putting that on my list! ;)

Cheers,

Christopher

Personal logo Martin Rapier Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 6:00 a.m. PST

"The Prussians actually give me the most pause as to scenario ballance and timing. My concern is that the player(s) running the Prussians will need patience and will end up doing alot of moving of troops initially without coming to grips with the French….as compared to the other players who will be slugging it out from the word 'go.'"

It is the Prussian arrival (or not) whch ultimately provides 'play balance' if you want to make an even game of it. One approach we tried which was very suucessful was to run the paired battles of Waterloo and Wavre, so the Prussians had to decide how much stuff to lae to stop Grouchy and of course Grouchy had ot figure out the best thing to do. You need to set the terrain up (thick muddy woods and endless streams!) to discourge Grouchy from simply tearing off towards Mont St Jean of course.

I suspect the French win most refights because they know the Prussians are coming so they get stuck in with their entire army asap and don't wait around skirmishing for Hougoment etc. Get the Imperial Guard lined up and charge…. and how many times has D'Erlon conducted an unsupported infantry attack in a wargame refight?

summerfield15 Nov 2012 6:08 a.m. PST

What is forgotten is the depth of deployment by Wellington who could react to any form of turning movement that the French could undertake.

Remember the French were in a very poor state, lacking ammunition and food. They had fought one major battle at Ligny and Quatre Bras.

The numbers given in the texts are not reliable. Remember horsemen need horses to be effective.

The allies in most of the wargames of the battle loose. This is where the capabilities of the French are over estimated and the very poor wet boggy ground not taken into account.
Stephen

Musketier Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 6:34 a.m. PST

Looking at the table set-up, my first reaction was that there'll be an awful lot of moving troops from one table to another – the attacking French if you follow the historical course of the battle. Given that the different "sectors" hardly influenced each other on the day, might it make more sense to slice the main battlefield North to South into three or more tables, and have a another one for the Plancenoit to La Belle Alliance sector?

As for the Prussians, somebody on another thread suggested a trickle effect which made sense to me: Have a couple of cavalry scouts appear early on, a full squadron a couple of turns later, then some vanguard battalion, more cavalry with a horse battery and so on, either according to a set schedule or at the umpire's discretion. That way the French player is kept aware of the building threat and cannot rely on having his right hand free, as it were, until the 4 pm turn.

Then again, if the full French army including the Guard is assumed to be available for attack from 11 am onward, that would suppose less rain during the night, so you would be justified in speeding up the Prussian approach to a similar degree.

Final option, unless you have a Prussian player eager to go: Abstract the Plancenoit sector altogether, dropping Bülow's and Pirch's Prussians, Lobau's (half-)corps and most of the Young Guard from your roster. You'd still get a few of Zieten's boys to reinforce Papelotte late in the day – ideally just as the Nassauers finally give way.

Out of curiosity, how many figures do you intend to field, and how many gamers are participating in the preparations?

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 6:54 a.m. PST

I agree…from everything that I have read it appears that Napoleon's best chance at victory was with the initial attack of D'Erlon's Corps. In a wargame sense you have to really look at the conditions that would make that assault fail if all of the forces are arrayed as they were historically. Bad dice day for the French players?

From a game refight perspective:
So think about it…you have an entire corps of infantry slogging their way across open terrain to attack Wellington's weakest position on the battle field (Adkin's book is a great help here showing this.) So the Corps gets battered on the way in by a few British guns and even may falter – since this is the main effort every available Corps leader, DIV leader etc would be in the area to provide extra dice for rallies etc.

Unless the British launch their cavalry early the French will make it to the road – here is where I think things become interesting. Assuming the French player will then assault across the sunken road the Allies will be doing their level best to disorder the formations facing them at a minimum. All rules I have ever played do not allow infantry units to change formation if they are disordered – which in this context would then set the lead French units up for the Allied cavalry to charge them and attempt a repeat of history.

I think the cavalry actions on the flank – La Haye Sainte is a side show at this point – determine the success of the attack. If there are enough French cavalry available to blunt the Allied charge then there is a real chance the French will punch through Wellington's line between La Haye Sainte and Papelotte.

Ok I have rambled enough without coffee…what do you think the Allies options are at this point?

My thoughts….In reality this might cause Wellington to fall back from his position unless he was assured that the Prussians were close. In a game setting I would imagine the Allies to refuse what is left of their flank line around La Haye Sainte and try to hold on the best they can until the Prussians arrive.

BullDog69 Inactive Member15 Nov 2012 7:31 a.m. PST

One thing that always puzzles me about Waterloo, and any re-fight thereof, is the time wasted waiting for the ground to dry out.

Would it really have been impossible for the French to advance several hours earlier than they did? Sure, it would be a bit muddier and harder going for artillery all the rest, but can a few hours delay really have transformed something from impassable quagmire to pristine cricket pitch? Was it really simply too wet to do anything at (say) 1000 hours or 1100 hours, but suddenly OK at 1200 hours? I have my doubts.

Did any French units struggle due to ground conditions when the attack was finally launched? Would it really have been so much worse half an hour earlier?

So if I was playing Napoleon, the first thing I'd want to do is to get on with things significantly earlier than happened in reality. And then it all comes down to the whole "you shouldn't be allowed to do that because he didn't" argument versus reasonable freedom of action.
So basically – would it have been reasonable / plausible for Napoleon to have commenced his attack earlier, and – if so – how much earlier do you 'let' him do it in your re-fights?

TelesticWarrior Inactive Member15 Nov 2012 8:13 a.m. PST

Bulldog69,
Put simply, I think the French commanders were worried their cannon balls would stick in the mud and not cause enough damage to the Allies. Napoleon waited for the ground to dry out, thinking he had more than enough time to beat Wellington even if he waited til midday.
With the benefit of hindsight, knowing as we do now about the size and impact of the Prussian assault, i'm sure Napoleon would have attacked much earlier, mud or no mud.
There has been a really interesting (and fierce) debate about these and related issues raging on the 'was Napoleon humbugged by Blucher' thread.
Hope this helps.

Keraunos Inactive Member15 Nov 2012 8:19 a.m. PST

the mud mattered.

Musketier Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 8:22 a.m. PST

The ground being too wet before mid-day had several implications, the lack of ricochet effect for artillery being perhaps more telling than the slowing of manoeuvres, as Napoleon's big guns were firing at pretty long range and even had to move forward a hundred yards or so after the initial salvoes.

However from recent readings, ground conditions on the field itself were not the main reason why the battle started late. Without wishing in the least to start another "humbug" war, it appears from some memoirs etc. that the French army was delayed by the road conditions and wasn't all assembled before noon, let alone rested after marching through the night or early morning. If memory serves, one author wrote that before reaching the scene, his unit had been hearing the artillery fire for some time.

If true, it would seem then that Napoleon in the morning had a similar dilemma to Blücher's in the afternoon: attack staightaway with what's available, or wait until reserves have come up and taken a breather? Interestingly, both commanders chose caution, delaying their attack until they had sufficient reserves to sustain it.

(This is what I referred to in my earlier post when saying that an early start of the French attack should be matched by an earlier arrival of the Prussians: road conditions were the same for both sides.)

Musketier Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 8:26 a.m. PST

PS Having to wade through the glorious Flanders mud in my garden whenever there's a day of heavy rainfall, I can attest to its ability to slow anything – man, horse or cannonball.

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 9:09 a.m. PST

musketier – to answer your question on number of players and the amount of figures…alot of each: 4 folks to umpire / run the game at a minimum; estimate the following for the teams:

7 French players at a minimum….each roughly handling about 12-15 BNs initially at a time

5-6 Anglo – Allied players at a minimum…same concept as the French above.

Prussians….think the approach march / entry would be an umpire event and then giving them to the Allies to run.

Unit count rough estimate – going strictly out of Adkins book…

French:
103 BNs @ ~24 each = 2472 foot;
34 cavalry regiments @ ~12 each = 288 cavalry;
34 batteries @ 2 guns each = 68 guns + 272 gunners. Probably more here as the French batteries typically were @ 8 guns each.

Anglo-Allied:
84 BNs @ ~24 each = 2016;
29 cavalry regiments @ 12 each = 348 cavalry;
24 batteries @ 2 guns each = 48 guns + 192 gunners.

Prussian – those that made it to the fight:
62 BNs @ 24 each = 1488 foot;
17 cavalry regiments @ 12 each = 204 cavalry
17 batteries @ 2 guns each = 34 batteries +196 gunners.

Davout1972 Inactive Member15 Nov 2012 9:13 a.m. PST

I have fought Waterloo 3 times at battalion level in miniature. In every case we did not use tables, as it simply would not do the terrain justice.

In our first battle (1978), we used a resturant floor. Each tile on the floor represented 1 hex from the Wellington's Victory mapsheet. We used this as it seemed to be the most reliable guide to terrain on the battlefield.

Though the French won, we were all sad to see the Prussians never made it into the fight. This also occurred in our second fight (1995 on a gym floor), though the imposing legions marching toward the field were something to see. Unfortunately, we all realized that the extra space in the battlefield was mostly used in watching the Prussians marching up, but never engaging.

On our third attempt (2002), we shortened the field. We began the battle at 1330 hrs, instead of the traditional 1130 hrs. This allowed the Prussians to draw even closer, and by 1500 hrs, they were finally engaged against the VI Corps. Happily, all of my friends were engaged in the fight, instead of sitting on their thumbs for hours. So, I recommend a 1330 begining to cocide with D'Erlon's attack, and that of Lobau's redeployment to face the Prussians.

Another often overlooked area of terrain you may want to consider adding is in the British Right sector. I have seen alot of Waterloos where the Reille player is intent on screening Hogoumont, and swinging wide left to engage Wellington's strength. It is often entertaining to watch the British player feed units into this defense, at the cost of opposing D'Erlon.

Finally, something should be said for limiting the amount of talking at the table. Commanders that are deployed thousands of yards apart can't converse, and the same should be said of the players. Read your paper orders and use your best judgement, not ask for clarification from the guy sitting next to you. Sometimes, bad handwriting can be blamed for losses!

If you feel the need to start the battle early (0900 hrs), it heavily favors the French. Mostly infantry fighting, but still overwhelmingly a French victory.

TelesticWarrior Inactive Member15 Nov 2012 9:23 a.m. PST

Using a gymnasium floor is a great idea.
My only worry is that I would step on my favourite battalion…

Davout1972 Inactive Member15 Nov 2012 12:46 p.m. PST

I have to admit my Horse Grenadiers suffered more casualties from Nike sneakers, than any British fire! It was great to use telescopes, to recon either what British could be seen, or the approaching Prussians.

Every commander moved a Corps, and we encouraged independent thought and action, even if that meant disobeying an order from your superior. Who would have thought that very animal would manifest itself in the form of Kellerman disobeying an order for support, from a distraught Reille? I had no idea of the animosity these players had for each other. Anyhow, Reille's center was broken by a determined British cav charge, while Kellerman observed.

At the time, I was Bleeped texted. In retrospect however, I'm glad it happened as it did. Much more realistic and surprising. Screwed my plans all to hell, but still so much fun!

Musketier Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 1:00 p.m. PST

I have seen a lot of Waterloos where the Reille player is intent on screening Hogoumont, and swinging wide left to engage Wellington's strength.

That would be the other Bonaparte in charge then – Jérôme, who together with several generals who had met Wellington in the field before advised just such a manoeuvre over breakfast allegedly, only to be soundly rebuffed by his brother.

An interesting what-if: "It's Waterloo, Sir, but not as we know it".

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 1:02 p.m. PST

Those games would have been great to see! You don't have any eye candy photos to share do you?

I think the idea of a later start with the Grand Battery already in position adresses alot of time issues up front. It would definitely see the Prussians arriving on the flank in short order….again with the premise of using historical guide rails to keep the game 'waterloo-ish'.

Musketier Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 1:06 p.m. PST

mpanko – wow!!! that sure is a big roster to organise in two years! Wish I could lend a hand – over here we'll have to "bathtub" it I'm afraid. Looking forward to your blog – do keep us posted!

Rod MacArthur15 Nov 2012 1:19 p.m. PST

In our 1990 refight we handled command by making all communication between the players on each side only being possible if you moved your general figure to contact the other general, or sent an ADC model with a written message. The umpire was quite ruthless in controlling this (he was an Army Brigadier, my former boss, who was also a keen wargamer) and he was not adverse to killing off the odd ADC to make you have to send messages more than once, with consequent delay.

Rod

Double G Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Nov 2012 6:25 p.m. PST

Goold luck with your project, please keep us posted on how you progress with this……….

Keraunos Inactive Member16 Nov 2012 12:51 a.m. PST

"It's Waterloo, Sir, but not as we know it"

fine on most days, but on the 200th anniversary?

If I was invited, I would expect to be pretty close to the historical deployment and command structure, and let the decisions be about which and when attacks to make, not where and how.

first hint of the allied right being turned, and I'm looking for extra beer, since its not the anniversary game as advertised.

its a bit like being asked to turn up wearing brazil vs argentina football kits, only to find its a rugby ball and we are playing shirts and skins.

arthur181516 Nov 2012 7:26 a.m. PST

If one starts with historical forces, deployment, orders and arrival time for the Prussians, isn't the result more a test of the ability of the rules to replicate the history than a 'game'?

Keraunos Inactive Member16 Nov 2012 8:29 a.m. PST

not at all.

there are plenty of plausable what ifs once the battle has started from within its initial parameters.

(and I don't think the prussian arrival need be fixed – but it should never be left to just a dice roll for reasons above)

the converse, however is aboslutely true.

if you start with all the potential allied and french forces in the vicinity,
and have a free deployment that could centre on the actual field, but could extend to include flank marches by major french corp,
or realignments and deployments to allow utter stupidity – such as a combined old guard and cavalry attack to open the day –
then it most certianly is not a Waterloo game.

not to say it wouldn't be a good day – but it will not be a Waterloo day, its just a big game with period figures.

depends on what you advertise it as, but given its to be played on the 200th, you have a duty to keep at least sensibly close to the thing in question.

mpanko Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2012 9:41 a.m. PST

I have to say I am leaning heavily towards a historic setup to start with and even kicking the game off at the start of the Grand Battery firing followed by D'Erlon's attack.

How D'Erlon arrays his attack and the support given to it will be the players decision – as well as the Allied response to it.

Additionally the movement of Lobau towards the Prussians began at about the same time that D'Erlon's assualt took place. So really right from the start of the game Napoleon already has a huge problem to deal with…how does he deal with the Prussians and press home his attack against the Allied line (simultaneously in progress).

That to me sets the start of the game – from that point foward I think the players shape the outcome. Some thought will need to go into the constraints on the Guard and Reserve Cavalry, or as pointed out above – you will see a completely ahistoric assualt of the guard, I Corps and the bulk of the Cavalry on turn I against the La Haye Saint and Papelotte area.

To be honest with you I don't really care what the outcome is…I think the experience, the scale, and the occaision itself is a pretty big treat in itself. This game has always been on my "gamer's bucket list" and since I won't be around to see the 300th anniversary I might as well go for it now!

Mike

Davout1972 Inactive Member16 Nov 2012 7:03 p.m. PST

I am sorry to say the only pictures that exist of those monster fights are in my head. But, a couple thoughts to make this game fun.

Really get into this event. Go out and buy a 3x5 British, French and Prussian flag and mount them on the appropriate table side. This clearly marks out the nationalities, and gives the players kinda a sense of belonging.

Get as many war tunes as you can dig up, and a stereo to blast them. Surprisingly inspiring, especially as the sunlight creeps through the window pane in the wee hours. During the heyday of the VCR and cassette tapes, I used to tape all the cool battlescenes to take to our fights. Braveheart, Gettysburg, Waterloo, so many good sound effects out of each of those movies.

Some kind of morale check needs to be taken by units of the I Corps, if they see units of VI Corps retreating from the Prussians. Remember, Napoleon didn't run around advertising the Prussians were coming. There should be some kind of surprise.

I would think the Guard should be the last Corps released from reserve. In other words, the Guard is not released until all French Corps are comitted. This really is not a big deal, as the II is already engaged. It only takes VI Corps and Ist to make this happen. That might prevent the Guard smashing up the middle.

A final thought. You might want to create a "Command Structure" for each army. How much pewter each player will be pushing. Don't know how much lead time you will give players to know who they will portray, but let the guys bask in it. At the final Waterloo I did, the Frech command were in uniform, and Napoleon gave out plastic medals for great performance! Hahaha! What fun!

Enjoy…

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