Waterloo 200th Anniversary Battle report
A group of local wargamers here in Auckland, NZ decided to refight the Waterloo battle to coincide with the 200th anniversary. We started planning and collecting figures approximately 6 months before the planned battle, and it was very helpful that some of us already had figures for it, but many more were needed. The rules we originally chose were the Fast Play Grand Armee rules by Sam Mustafa. Later on we changed to the full Grand Armee (GA) rules as prior experience with the fast play rules showed a few gaps in the rules and the GA rules were fast enough for us!
After painting, basing and planning for almost 6 months, we were almost ready. We organised a warmup game 2 weeks prior to the actual event, so we could get familiar with the rules, and iron out anything else that came up. This proved very valuable and it meant on the day of the refight, the main game ran very smoothly.
On the big day we had 5 players (3 French and 2 Allied), a 10x6 foot table setup and thousands of 6mm figures. The game lasted for almost 7 hours before we ran out of (real) time. It was truly an epic experience which was enjpyed by all involved and one we are keen to repeat.
Terrain and figure details The terrain mats were field mats by Hotz Mats, the buildings mostly Total Battle Minatures (who had released a lovely range in time for the 200th anniversary) with a few Timecast models, and the figures were almost all Baccus along with a few Heroics and Ros. The roads were made by me for the game and were based on the map in the Grand Armee rulebook and the terrain laid out according the this. However we stuffed up on the day with a couple of things like forgetting to bring any hills and forgetting to put down the village of Placenoit until 1/3rd through the battle! However these little hiccups didnt impact the game and the overall look of the game was very impressive.
Other battle reports
A lovely report with some great maps by Miniature Addiction report
Johns report almost straight after the game, and from a spectators perspective. See it on Wargaming.info
Onto the game
Click on the thumbnails to see the full sized image. Note these are about 4 times large than real so it isn't very flattering!
Game setup and starting positions
The deployment of troops followed the scenario laid out in the Grand Armee rule book with a few minor differences. eg the Brunswickers were split into a different command. The French deployed with the I Corp (commanded by Ney) on their right flank along with the IV Cavalry Corp, in the centre was the VI Corp and Grand Battery (commanded by Napoleon), and on the French left flank was the II Corp (commanded by Reille). Finally behind them in reserve, was the French Imperial Guard. On the right is the forested areas where the Prussian would arrive from. Note Placenoit was missing from the table during the deployment (probably because of the all the French troops in the way!)
These pictures show the main tourist attractions for a discerning traveller. We have Hougomont, La Belle Alliance and Fischermont which are all based on the actual buildings. The little signs were very nice and helped the spectators to identify the various landmarks. Also you can see the special Garrison units that Roundie made espeically for the battle.
The opening phases
The first few phases of the first turn mimicked the warmup game we had. The French 1st Corp along with the IV Cavalry Corp advanced rapidly, while in the centre the VI Corp and the Grand Battery advanced slightly slower and the II Corp also advanced. The garrisons at Hougomont and La Haye Saint held up the French advance a little and the II Corp took a wide berth around Hougomont ignoring it for the entire battle. Meanwhile the Allies were pulling back Oranges Corp a little to give themselves more time before the French reached them. In the centre the Grand battery formed up and the VI Corp advanced towards La Haye Sainte.
The first turn lasted 4 phases and then we rolled at the end of the turn for the Prussians to arrive, but without success! A 1 or 2 was needed on a D6. At this point the Allies were a lot better shape at this stage of the game compared to the warm up game and felling confident while the French commanders were blaming each other.
The end of turn one
At the end of the first turn the Allies Reserve Corp was fighting along with the Reserve cavalry and Vandaleurs division, against the French 1st Corp and some of the French Curraissers. The French 6th Corp hadn't engaged the allies yet (The Allies had pulled back slightly) and the Grand battery in the middle was struggling to find a target. The occupation of La Haye Sainte by an Allied garrison unit held up the French in the middle for most of the first turn while they tried repeatedly to capture it, and did eventually, wiping out the defenders.
The second turn
During the second turn the 1st and 2nd Allied corps began fighting against the 6th Corp, while in the middle the French began to advance. The Guard also activated to get into position against the Prussians. Meanwhile the Allied reserve and Brunswickers slogged it out against the 1st French Corp. Loses were heavy on both sides with the Allied Reserve corp down to about 60% starting strength and Vandaleurs division was almost wiped out, but the French 1st Corp was in worse shape with only a few effective units. They had captured the main heights in the centre, but the units that were holding it were being repelled by a counter attack from the Brunswickers. Meanwhile heated discussions ensured with the French commander of the 1 Corp asking for reinforcements from the Guard! However limited chits, bad dice and a higher chance of the Prussians arriving meant the Guard were slow to manoeuvre. Also later in the turn, the French commander released the Young Guard to help the 1st Corp.
The second turn continues
At this point the game was finely balanced. Although the Allies were weakened the French had also suffered and their attacks (especially the 6th Corp) were slower than they would have liked. The dice roll to see if the Prussians would arrive would be vital. Another turn of fighting may have meant the Allies broke if the attack by the 6th Corp ws pushed home. The Allied commanders agreed that it was going to be difficult to hang on if the Prussians didn't arrive and bolster the armies morale level.
The tension builds
The second turn was shorter than the first turn with only 3 phases completed before it ended. However the Allied 1st and 2nd Corps were coming off second best again the French, but had still managed to hold on. So the Allies again rolled for the arrival of the Prussians, and they were successful! The odds for turn had improved and now a 1-4 was needed on a D6.
Third turn starts
This began with the French having the initiative, so the Guard and other reserves continued towards the expected Prussian entry points and the Emperors daughters were set up on the outskirts of Placenoit. Now it became a matter of who would break first as the French had bloodied the Anglo-Allies but had not broken them, and the French had suffered quite a lot of casualties. The Allies continued to hold on and the French 1st Corp was down to 3-4 weakened units along with some artillery. However the Allied reserve infantry and cavalry were getting in the way of each other (a problem all game!), and they tried to line up their artillery to blast the remaining French Curaissers and infantry away. The command of the Brunswickers was handed over to the other Allied commander (Orange) and the plan was to shuffle them sideways towards to help support the Allied 1/2nd Corps, and the Allied reserve would hopefully follow shortly afterwards. My plan (being the British Allied reserve /Prussian commander) with the Reserve cavalry was to push forward towards the French reserve, to help tie them down and assist the Prussians.
More action in the third turn
Meanwhile the Prussians advanced as fast as they could aided by some good movement rolls. The French Guard continued setup around the village of Placenoit to oppose them. On the other flank the French 6th Corp was slowly destroying the Prince of Oranges command but was taking longer than the French had hoped. This was a critical part of the battle because the Allied forces were not as strong as the French. In the second phase of turn three, there was more of the same with a couple of weakened units on both sides being destroyed. The French Guard and the Prussians continued to advance and setup facing each other for a big showdown.
Unfortunately at this point we had run out of time and sadly we had to start packing up at a stage when the game was so finely balanced. The result was declared a draw and there was a lot of what-if discussions during the packing up, that wargamers are so fond of post-game. Although it was a shame to end there, everyone agreed what a great game it was and how enjoyable it had been. The warmup game had really helped make the main day go well and there was a good atmosphere on the day with 10-12 spectators at various times. We all agreed that we would like to play it again because it was such an enjoyable game, and to make the most of the effort that went into it. Hopefully it is a game we can roll out every year on the anniversary of Waterloo.
Note I was commanding the Allied reserve and Prussians so most of the battle was written from that perspective and I tried to incorporate views from the other palyers.