We each chose a "special" extra unit. So we diced for the usual Neil Thomas order of battle for 6 x units, but got to choose an additional unit. I was already "blessed" with the OOB for having 2 x Artillery batteries, so I chose a unit of the Old Guard. Alex wisely chose a skirmisher detachment of the 95th Rifles/South Essex! We can only hope Sean Bean was in command.
|Looking towards the village of Quatre Bras from the French stepping off point. Field is 3' by 3'|
|French stepping off from the road onto the attack. Note the cavalry moving to the right|
|French Brigades deploying for battle! Ney directs the brigades personally!|
|Dutch Brigades falling back towards the village crossroads - note the artillery firing at the French down the road|
|Beginning of Turn 2. Alex has fired his artillery at my cavalry who are crossing in the open. French Cavalry has a casualty marker on it.|
|Red X is my out of ammo marker for the battery.|
|The Corps Commander's fight! Getting these brigades into position and placing his artillery!|
|Cavalry having a tough time getting around Gemioncourt and my French Brigades are still shaking out to get at the Dutch.|
|Turn 6 Wellington steals the initiative away from Ney.|
|My Brigades getting "stuck in" while the Artillery just watches...|
|Lower left Brigade has 6 hits and is in trouble. Alex is doing a great job of keeping them at bay. Some good shooting drives off the Dutch Artillery Battery! At least something goes the French's way!|
|Some hard shooting from the center Brigade knocks out the Dutch Artillery. Thank heavens!|
|Ney heads back and grabs the artillery commander to get up into the fight.|
|The left-most brigade is about to be annihilated.|
You are sequencing things, so staff work is important! Alex and I noted that we were constantly making decisions about the main effort and centers of gravity.
|Center Brigade goes into the attack with artillery firing in support. It's gratifying progress but I'm not where I need to be and Alex's reinforcements (the British) are almost here.|
|The Dutch scatter!|
|You would be forgiven for thinking things were going the French way right now.|
|Finishing off the Dutch - or at least trying to.|
|Guard in the lower-center of picture moving up.|
|The Guard marching up the road|
|The fight at the crossroads heats up. We can still win this thing!|
|Alot resting on the shoulders of the troops at the Crossroads now! The Cavalry is almost spent (they get 5 points) and the infantry, too.|
If a Brigade rolls a 4+ on a 1D6, they may rally off 1 hit. If they roll a "6" they rally off 2 hits. It's a vital order and can keep your units in the fight much longer. Alex asked the question as the Dutch brigade withered assault after assault. I'm embarrassed that I forgot it!!! Alex starts rallying off the Dutch hits as the British get into position behind them. Attached commanders lend a +1 to the rally, also.
|Try as they might, the French were never able to winkle out that Dutch unit.|
|And just like that, there were more French regulars in the fight!|
Turn 9 I roll a "6" for initiative and I know this is it! I've captured the initiative! It's all good unless Alex rolls a 6....
|Alex rolls a 6, too. The British still have the initiative for this turn.|
|British line units under Picton move into position.|
|Wellington moves to rally the Dutch. I never could rid myself of this Brigade!|
|Wellington spends the rest of this battle rallying the Dutch, who gave a good account of themselves.|
Alex wins by a comfortable margin with all of my French units wiped out. In retrospect, I should have moved in a more concerted and supportive manner. I left my artillery behind which was foolhardy. Additionally, the Cavalry should have been closer to the action directly behind the advancing infantry and artillery.
We switch sides and play a second time and Alex uses this exact same strategy keeping the infantry mutually supporting. He also wisely uses his Cavalry to screen the advance. In ONE HOUR GRAND TACTICAL, re-positioning a Brigade, pivoting in wargame terms, eats up half of your movement. Alex chose to speed his Brigades into position and to protect their flanks, used his Cavalry to guard the road on which the British would show up. It's a great move and it takes me a long time to knock that Cavalry unit out of position.
|Alex taking over as Ney. I'm on my way to Paris to meet the guillotine.|
The fire combat aspect works very well, and I believe the close combat / assault aspect also works very well. Scenario-dependent, most infantry brigades will be allowed to fire 1 "skirmish die" at 2 base widths, and 3 "volley dice" at 1 base width. In honesty, your most valuable tool are your infantry brigades, who assault with great power if you've conserved them well enough. They can run out of steam quickly, though, so combat power needs to be shepherded for the decisive blow. Most infantry brigades will start a battle with 7 strength points and if going into assault at full strength will assault with 7 dice! That's very powerful.
Artillery is potent and very powerful but cannot be unsupported with only 3 strength points, as they can be driven off by a single brigade or skirmisher detachment easily. Cavalry, too, should be used appropriately as they only have 5 strength points. Cavalry is blown rather quickly after a charge and so they should be committed to assaulting to break through an already weak unit.
Alex and I didn't play with GO STATIONARY but we did "try" it as an experiment and it would have been lethal on the attacker. So GO STATIONARY is a useful tool for holding a position as well. It enables you as the defender to fire a 3 dice volley at the enemy prior to close combat even starting. If you roll well, this could be a huge boon to your defense and might just turn the tide in the combat. It also makes rooting out troops in cover that much tougher as the attacker loses a die against units in cover. Make sure you have the artillery when assaulting troops in cover...
Additionally, we discussed the MARCH order at great length. If using a MARCH order, your brigade is sacrificing safety in the interest of speed and it will take a turn to "reform" into combat formations. Some units will be better than others at this (IE French over 1806 Prussians). Units utilizing a MARCH order cannot enter into combat on the turn they march. Still working out the particulars of this, but as-played it gave Alex and I much flexibility on the tabletop.
These games showed some great strengths and nuances of the rules and we will definitely play them again. I feel they should work well within the confines of Neil Thomas' scenarios, as well as for "open" play, however with some adjustments for orders if using a historical OOB. There could even be more commanders / Aides markers on the table to enable even more flexibility.
Many readers have commented on a small, fixed number of orders based on the commander's talents and abilities. So perhaps a solid French commander rates 2+1D6 for orders, while the Prince of Orange only rates 1D6. Personally I love this especially for adding flavor to an order of battle.
The game gave a great time and I can't wait to play it again. Already looking forward to applying it to more linear, 18th century games especially the Seven Years War and the American War for Independence. Alex timed our second game and despite a small intrusion from rain, we were pretty much at 1 solid hour to play out the entire game. Mission accomplished!
Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to go paint Orcs!