Thursday, June 18, 2015

Waterloo Bicentennial Game

Today I commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo by playing a small Waterloo-themed game. Very appropriately, we had torrential rain last night, which finally gave way early this morning. Once the ground had dried out, I spent the early afternoon playing Scenario 4 "Take the High Ground" from Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames.

The game was accompanied by proper background music:

I treated the scenario as a small, fictitious portion of the French attack on the Anglo-Allied center. To win, either army needed to be the sole occupant of the hill at the end of turn 15. Here is how the battle unfolded:

Introduction: Two isolated British regiments occupy a forward position on a low hill in the center of the Anglo-Allied line. The French have spotted this, and have set out to seize the high ground before British reinforcements arrive.

Turn 1: The British send reinforcements down the road to get support near the hill as soon as possible. One regiment heads over open ground to support the two regiments already on the hill. The French send their cavalry up the road to delay the British reinforcements, while the light infantry follow them, intending to occupy the woods from which they can harass British movement on the road. The rest of the French force assaults the hill.

End of Turn 1

Turn 2: The French and British cavalry clash on the road, and the French infantry and artillery trade fire with the British regiments on the hill. The rest of the British troops move up, as the French light infantry occupy the woods.

End of Turn 2: I foolishly forgot the rule that says cavalry recoil after melee
unless they eliminate the opposing unit; hence the technically improper maintenance
of cavalry in base contact with each other at the end of several turns.

Turn 3: The French manage to rout one of the British regiments on the hill. Meanwhile, the British reinforcements begin to deploy, as the cavalry clash continues to rage.

End of Turn 3: I keep routing units on the table,
but off to the edge facing away from the enemy.

Turn 4: The British regiments on the hill adopt a "reverse slope" tactic, forcing the French to advance into their field of fire. Meanwhile the artillery and infantry of both sides continue to exchange fire, while the cavalry continue their melee.

End of Turn 4

Turn 5: The British artillery get the worse of their fire exchange and rout from the field. Two French infantry regiments advance onto the hill. For a moment, it looks like everything is going the Emperor's way.

End of Turn 5

Turn 6: Finally good news for the British – the cavalry have driven off their French counterparts. The British cavalry is near exhaustion however, and the French infantry turn to shoot at them, protecting the artillery and staying in line formation to maximize firepower against the fatigued horsemen.

End of Turn 6

Turn 6 Close-up: A furious exchange of volleys on the hill.

Turn 7: The British horse take flight before the withering volleys of the French infantry straddling the road. So far, half the British force has routed, while only one French unit has been eliminated. However, many of the French units are severely weakened and are approaching the limits of how much punishment they can take.

End of Turn 7

Turn 8: One of the weakened French infantry regiments attacking the hill is routed. The remaining French infantry and artillery push toward the hill to take its place, as the light infantry in the woods continue to exchange fire with the British infantry facing them. These two adversaries are both taking damage, but the British line infantry are inflicting more casualties than the French light infantry, despite the fact that the latter have the cover of the woods. 

End of Turn 8

Turn 9: The French drive one of the British regiments off the hill.

Turn 9 Close-up: Things are coming to a head on the hill.

Turn 9 Close-up: The firefight near the woods continues unabated.

Turn 10: The French infantry climb the hill to join the artillery in the firefight against the last enemy regiment there.

Turn 10 Close-up: Can the British hold the hill?

Turn 11: The British infantry finally get the better of the French skirmishers in the woods, driving them back.

End of Turn 11

Turn 11 Close-up: The French light infantry rout.

Turn 12: The British eliminate the French artillery on the hill, as the infantry previously facing the French in the woods turn to march on the hill. For the first time in the game, the French are outnumbered. The tactical situation is prickly as all the units remaining are very near to breaking, while their fields of fire are all over the place. The British infantry on the hill can currently fire on no one, and is being fired on from the flank by the French, who in turn will be fired on from the rear next turn. The question is who will hold?

Turn 12 Close-up: situation critical – the French are outnumbered, 
but maybe they have some positional compensation. 

Turn 13: The French eliminate the last British regiment on the hill, but start taking heavy damage from the English infantry to their rear. It will be very difficult for the French to reciprocate.

Turn 13 Close-up: even if they turn to face the British next turn, 
the French will be hard-pressed to survive a firefight.

Turn 14: The British go first each turn. They fire on the French to start this turn, as there is nothing else for them to do – infantry are not allowed to charge in these rules. They inflict severe damage that brings the French unit to 13 hits (a unit is eliminated at 15 hits and a fire attack does 1-6 hits worth of damage). Units cannot move and fire in the same turn. So, if the French turn to face the British, the French won't get to fire this turn. That means the British will get off a second volley at the start of turn 15 most likely killing the French unit and ending the game in a draw, since they themselves would not be able to move onto the hill after firing. BUT, the French don't have to stay where they are. Instead they move to a reverse slope position out of British line of sight, just as the British themselves had done back on turn 4! Only then do they turn about face. Now, if the British don't have enough movement to get up the hill, the French will win. Even if the British do manage to get up the hill, the French will have a final shot with a 50-50 chance of eliminating the British regiment, who is at 11 hits.

Turn 14 Close-up: The French found the positional tactic they needed
to shift the game back in their favor. Can the British make it up the hill?

Turn 15: The British fall just short! Their movement of four inches allows them to reach the base edge, but not to actually get onto the hill itself. The French win!

Turn 15 Close-up: Just out of curiosity, I rolled a die after the game
to see what the fire effect would have been if the British had made it up the hill. 
I rolled a four – just enough to kill the British unit anyway.

Looking on at the hill he'd just lost, Wellington shook his head. "It was a near run thing. The nearest run thing you ever saw in your life."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Waterloo Armies Ready to Go

The models are all based, so I'm all set for tomorrow's small Waterloo bicentennial game.

I'm using Scenario 4 from One-Hour Wargames, "Take the High Ground." It will be a fictitious, localized part of the French attack on the Anglo-Allied center. My terrain is prepared: 

Since I'm playing on a 2' x 2' surface rather than 3' x 3' all measurements will be reduced to 2/3. My measuring sticks are adapted accordingly: 

And last but not least, my color-coded roster sheet is ready: 

Vive l'Empereur!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Forced March: Setting Myself a Waterloo Anniversary Painting Challenge

Back to the painting table after a very long absence. Partly this was due to the usual real life suspects (semester from hell at work, new adorable pet, etc., etc., yeah, yeah you've heard it all before), and then later due to a three-and-a-half week stay in France after the semester ended. Being in France, I was of course reminded on numerous occasions that June 18 of this year marks the bicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

So this past weekend, I set myself a "Waterloo Anniversary Painting Challenge" to try and have a small French vs. British game using One-Hour Wargames on the 18th to commemorate the event in my own small way.

This was a tricky proposition since:

1) I decided I wanted to have units twice the size of those I used previously so I'd have to paint some more French than I already have; and

2) I had no painted British troops at all.

Fortuntately, the simple painting method I used before made this doable.

French: 48 Infantry to round out what I already have; 
British: 128 Infantry, 12 Cavalry, 2 Guns and 4 crew.

Here's how my "forced march" has broken down time-wise to this point, with only the final basing to go:

June 13 (four hours spread across multiple sessions): Early morning, stuck 194 unpainted 6mm minis (mostly in four-man strips) on tongue depressors with blu-tack, then primed them black. Afternoon, a first coat of color on all the jackets, then in the evening a second coat, and finally the British got a third coat (red always seems to need that extra layer) that night. I also painted the wooden bases they'll eventually get glued to.

June 14 (four hours spread across multiple sessions): Painted trousers, horses, artillery pieces, and the ground on each model/strip. Then touched up a number of sloppy bits with black.

June 15 (four hours spread across multiple sessions): Painted backpacks, weapons, and flesh.

June 16 (two hours in two sessions): Morning, touched up any little spots where I "went outside the lines." Afternoon, sprayed them with a protective clearcoat.

All that remains is to glue them to their wooden bases, which I'll do this evening or tomorrow morning, once the spray clear coat is completely dry. I expect that to take about one hour.

All told, I will have completed 194 miniatures start to finish in roughly 15 hours over four days. Looks like I'm good to go for June 18 with a day to spare. With any other size miniature cranking out this many models in so few days would have been impossible. I love 6mm.

Monday, June 15, 2015