Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Age of Eagles Action! Quatre Bras (or something like it)

So maybe I didn't necessarily play Quatre Bras, but certainly a more scaled down version of it using the popular Age of Eagles rules based off Brigade Fire & Fury.  This was a great game full of dramatic reversals of fortune on both sides.  I love the "reserve movement" table you roll off, I love how melee is handled, and frankly I can't believe I haven't played this game sooner.  (I've owned it for 8 years now...)

Game featured the French attacking on a narrow frontage to secure a small village in the Dutch or Belgian countryside.
The French force arrayed for battle!  2 Divisions of 3 Brigades each with Division Artillery in support.  A few "elite" units thrown in for good measure. 
The Dutch (actually HaT British painted up to act as Portuguese but you get the idea!) Brigade.  None of the stands are flocked yet as my gaming "basing crisis" continues!
French advance!

Part of my "elite" units.  The Chasseur a Pied and Royal Grenadier Guards from my Peninsula force...

The right division, or as I would come to call the, the "le hesitant"

The right division would remain stuck in this spot for a number of turns, failing to move.  In fact the entire assault on the right was marked by the inability for any brigade to move on numerous turns.  And their introduction to combat was a complete disaster!

The French division commander who was commanding the right Division.

The Allied Defense

As the French draw near, the British move to supported line!

Enfilading cannon fire from a KGL battery forces a disorder result on the advancing French

The first French contact!  They would deploy and be forced back in disorder from this combat

meanwhile on the right - NOTHING IS HAPPENING!  Eventually I attached my French Division commander to the Brigade so they'd move a little more.  As you will see that was a very bad choice!

French deploy their heavy foot batter on the road.

The Royal Grenadier Guards move to assault the KGL Battery!  under shot and shell the entire time!

My snazzy casualty/disorder marker!

Brigade forced back in disorder!  But Grenadiers will come again!

This battery is eventually forced off, against Wellington's orders at "indulging" in counter-battery!

French Division Commander steps in to get this brigade moving again

Meanwhile the stubborn British brigade is pushed back in another round of combat!  They would be forced back again in disorder.

The French occupy the initial position.  It's looking grim for the Brits!

Turn 7 reinforcements arrive!!  

Beginning of Turn 7

Still NO movement on the right.  For any of the brigades...

The Brits leave the woodline

See that backrow?  Well you wont see them after this next die roll....

The French Division Commander on the right is CAPTURED after the Dutch Brigade unbelievably rolls a "12" (modified) and the French roll a "7" (modified) difference of -5.  That means the DC is captured, and the French lose an incredible 5 stands from that combat.

The brigade after their combat against the Dutch.  

Meanwhile the reinforcements arrive on the Allied left.  But is it too late?  Note the French brigade in the upper left of the picture, turning for the final assault on the village.

After chasing them halfway to Brussels, the Grenadiers finally take out that battery.

Turn 12 sees.....NOT A SINGLE FRENCH BRIGADE WILLING TO CONTINUE THE ADVANCE.... Can my rolling really be that bad?

Final dispositions.

The British set up for a final showdown so their comrades can escape the battlefield.  But wait!  The French arent' coming!

High drama in the low countries.  A worn brigade, a damaged battery holding off almost of Division of French troops.  The end of turn 12 though, not a single French Brigade can make an assault.  The battle is over.  The French withdraw in good order.  Ney was not pleased.

If you've gotten this far then I applaud your tenacity!  Sorry for the long post and abundance of pictures but that's what you get after an all-afternoon Napoleonic romp!  This battle was great fun and the result was constantly in question.
If anyone wants to know - technically, the British won the battle.  While points-wise it was a draw.  The British made 1 French Brigade worn and captured a Division Commander.  (2 points, 1 point each).  The French destroyed a British Battery (1 point) and made 1 British Brigade worn (1 point) so a total of 2 points to them.  That leaves the ultimate objective which was to defend the village.  The British ended turn 12 with a worn brigade in the village, about to receive an assault from 2 French Brigades.  In the British commander's head, he was about to throw in the towel and order a retreat.  Holding on until the end of turn 12 kept things in suspense until the final turn, in which everything rested on a French assault that never actually came.  How many stories in history can we think of where tired units were in similar situations?  You can't make this stuff up!

It was a great afternoon for Napoleonics and Age of Eagles delivered on all the promises on the back of the rulebook.  The Reserve Movement introduces a great fog of war feature and true to form, my Chasseurs never committed to the battle and actually ended the game still in reserve status.  The Fire and Fury/Age of Eagles system is SUPER easy to learn and easier to play.  I barely had to consult with the rulebook and the entire game was played off 2 sheets of paper (The QRS located in the back of the rules).

So given my ringing endorsement, what were some lessons we learned today?

Artillery Support:  Keep your artillery moving with your assaulting brigades if possible.  You technically can't move, unlimber, then fire but you CAN have them available if things go south in the combat.  Your brigade may be forced to withdraw in the face of the enemy and if you've brought guns along, you will have "final protective fires" the enemy will have to march into next turn.  This would have been helpful on the light division's advance on the French left.

It's not over yet!  In Age of Eagles (Fire and Fury) just because you lost a combat and were pushed out of a position it doesn't mean you've lost the battle!  in some other games, units do not have the ability to absorb punishment and recover as a viable fighting force.  The British were kicked a quarter of the way across the board but still (technically) won the game.  So solid tactics pay off in the face of bigger numbers.  Forcing the enemy to attack you slows him down and buys you time for your reinforcements to come up.

Expect the unexpected:  Who would have thought a small Dutch brigade would hold out against unbelievable odds, Twice?!  Just like on a battlefield, anything is possible in Age of Eagles and I like that.  With the tables, there is literally no such thing as a "typical" result.  You have to fight hard for victory just like in real life.

I will play AoE again!  Huzzah!


  1. Looks like a great game. When we do Quatre Bras, 'expect the unexpected' appears to be the order of the day too - with Dutch Belgians holding on for dear life in a most unexpected manner! Great looking pics too.

    1. Duke,
      It was an excellent game and the result was in question until the last turn! (which is how a good wargame ought to be). I did not expect the British to pull a win out but the Dutch defense was simply amazing - besting a much larger French brigade twice! I definitely did not see that coming.

      Thanks for commenting!

      I really enjoy Age of Eagles as a wargame system.

  2. Looks like a great game. When we do Quatre Bras, 'expect the unexpected' appears to be the order of the day too - with Dutch Belgians holding on for dear life in a most unexpected manner! Great looking pics too.

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  4. Now you've made me pull out AOE when i just finished learning LFS! :)

    1. Ken,
      No worries! No harm in trying AOE out! I don't think I gave it its fair try. Having done so, I'd like to play it again. (and also LFS).