Sunday, August 14, 2016

Quatre Bras clash with Black Powder!

Brian came over today and we fought the Battle of Quatre Bras using my 10mm Napoleonic troops with the "Black Powder" wargame rules. (Figs were mostly Old Glory and some GHQ in there as well).  I played the French and Brian played the British.  We used the scenario from Warlord Games' "Albion Triumphant: Vol 2" which features great battles from the 100 Days campaign.

Gemioncourt left side of pic.  Quatre Bras in the center with no troops deployed yet

The Albion Triumphant scenario mostly centers around the French center attack, north of the Gemioncourt farm and it's a real meatgrinder!

The French outnumber the British for half of the game but the Duke of Brunswick arrives on or about turn 4 (provided you can get him moving!) to even the score in favor the allies.

As the French player I had some initial troubles with "traffic management" getting my battalions off the start line and into the attack.  No easy feat considering your starting area is the area around the Gemioncourt farm.  Brian expertly placed the defending Dutch, Belgian, Hanoverian, and British troops in mutually supporting locations and behind a reverse slope in the fields north of Gemioncourt.  He placed the Hanoverians (the clowns) into woods anchoring his right, with the intent of sending his Cavalry on an end-run around his left flank and into my right, in an attempt to pin some French battalions there.

French deployment crowding Gemioncourt as Bachelu and Foy's Divisions mass to attack

Brian placed his troops in great positions (giving the Rifles and his artillery good fields of fire!)
The French failed some important Brigade orders at the onset of the game so some units failed to move at all, and effectively blocked Pire's Cavalry division from even showing up until turn 3!

French in attack columns making them much easier to move!

moving out towards Quatre Bras!
 While I had wanted to launch attacks against the whole of the Anglo-British line, I failed to coordinate the entire force and each Brigade went in piecemeal and suffered against combined British shooting, rifle, and artillery fire!  ugly!  The French rolled LOTS of morale saves....

Bylandt surveying the Battlefield with Wellington checking on things
 My advance up to the Allied front line is painful and my lead battalions are taking a beating.  My plan starts to shift from a Brigade attack "hoping" for a breakthrough to a massive, irresistible Cavalry charge against....the Dutch Belgians!
Dutch militia Battalion
Vinke's Hanoverian "clowns" on the British left.  Brian put them in the trees.  Their artillery made my life very difficult.
Ney urging Foy's Division forward.  They would need extra encouragement in a few turns...

You can see the French attack developing in the top of the picture.  Foy's guys moving up in column got hammered with artillery fire on the road.
French attack plan starting to develop now.  Note the center and French left.  But none of the Brigades are on time!!!
The Allies don't even flinch!

Ney offers his SR 8 and gets some units moving!

Hanoverians holding their positions

Rifles and Kempt's Brigade holding the center with Picton cussing them out the whole way.

Dutch Jagers.  


French attack moves into position

Beautiful looking field!  The echelon left might not have been effective but it sure was pretty!  The French know how to deploy!

Closer look

move those cannon faster you scum!  
lead french elements, at least the ones not disordered by Allied shooting, reach the hill.  The center brigade would eventually retire due to casualties.

The French cavalry and Kellerman's brigade make an appearance.  The entire battle now hinges upon the cavalry folding the allied right flank (Dutch).  I plan on softening them up with musketfire and then charging straight through them on turn 7.  Nothing like a photo finish!
French heavy cavalry from Pire's Division score an impressive roll and move out, positioning themselves for the planned charge next turn.  Kellerman's lancers to the right.  They are supposed to deliver the crippling blow to Wellington's right flank.
  Finally the French start shooting...

Dutch casualties from a firefight in the center

Hanoverian casualties from a firefight on the French right.  I never did drive that Battery off...
 Brian's troops are holding!

far left - French heavy cavalry ready to ride into the British position.  Then - they FAIL their command roll!  It's over!!!

Dutch with British behind them for support.  This would have been a tough slog.

Belgian dragoons (yes they're actually Brits) launch a charge.  My troops win the melee but are forced back shaken

Kempt's highlanders ready to reinforce the line

A huge line of Brunswickers moves up through Quatre Bras.  With the dissolution of the French Center, they could technically split the French force in 2.

And my French cavalry division just sits there!!!  

Dutch Jagers continue to fire at the French

the line holds!

Van Merlin

Picton is still cursing his men forward

Rifle Battalion

French Cavalry sitting there.

British supports with Pack watching.
WOW an epic game.  Lots of pictures, lots of troops, and a great solid 3 hours of gaming with lessons learned.  Not bad for a Sunday afternoon.

As you can tell from the pictures this was a French loss.

Brian handled the British very well and used his resources (good generals) wisely, moving Wellington about to get the poorer troops moving when they needed to, and I definitely learned the lessons of rallying off hits on units with local leadership.
Brian also used his artillery very effectively and positioned all his troops to get the most out of them.  I could have done a few things differently, especially with positioning my Brigade and Divisional officers, as well as my artillery.  My artillery was mostly moving the entire game and not doing any shooting which was a huge mistake as I could have been softening those troops up prior to advancing against them.
There were some notable moments as well - like my 2 x Battalion assault (in columns) against a British Battalion.  The British won the melee and BOTH Battalions rolled a "6" (minus 2) on their break test and evaporated!!!!
Also the French dice were hot when rolling for morale saves against British fire, but not so much when they were doing the firing.
For me, the most memorable moment was on turn 7 when I NEEDED my heavy cavalry to launch an assault against the Dutch line and they failed to a single horse to even move!  The game was up at that point.  I would have needed another turn to assault the British behind them if I was going to be in a position to threaten the objectives.  In this instance - I wasn't even close.  This was a comfortable British victory - and a TON of fun.

I think I will continue painting up my 10mm forces in anticipation of more Napoleonics.  This was a great, epic game.  Thanks for reading!


  1. Great commentary mate. Almost felt like I was there - and looks like a hard fought game.
    Some great rules mechanisms at work there too - though I still struggle with the command roll in BP in that it is very unforgiving/arbitrary.
    I suppose I have been spoilt a little with Maurice and Field of Battle, in that though your resources are finite, you still get some choice in terms of where to spend them, while in BP one bad die roll can really ruin your day.
    Looks like a great game and fantastic pics. The 10mm looks great.

    1. Cheers, Darren. Glad you enjoyed the Batrep.

      Black Powder can definitely be frustrating that's for sure. Imagine all that combat power just simply sitting there not moving!
      There is a little bit of resource management in BP I will say - Brian taught me that - putting the right leader (IE command support) in the right place can make a huge difference. The trick apparently is finding the unit that is the "main effort" and basically moving the overall commander with that element to ensure the battle moves the way you want it to.

      It was a great game and we were really happy with the 10mm troops on the table. Makes me want to paint more up!

  2. Very interesting to me as I have done this battle and would like to improve a second attempt. I quite like the way BP can halt movement, history is littered with examples of what we think 'should' have happened ...... but didn't. It also makes the same scenario quite replayable.

    1. Norm,
      I rather like not always being in total control of my battles. BP has a nice way of adding fate's intervention and also showcasing how a "good" army can be quite good and a bad army can be bad.

  3. One of my favorite batles! Great looking game sir, love the mass effects on the pictures...

    1. Thanks Phil it was a blast playing. the 10mm kit really stole the show.