Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Waterloo Day: Quatre Bras - Part One

The French players led by General Du Gourmand examine the field, while 
Icecream checks the rules on his phone. 

I wrote some time ago of the Waterloo Day we planned for the 200th anniversary of the battle.  I gave a rough description of what occurred, but I think the time has come to give an excellent days gaming it's due.  

General TK views the few Dutch and Belgians arrayed against him. 

Quatre Bras was quite a demanding scenario to write to be honest, as I wanted to capture some of the pressure the allies must have felt, hanging on for dear life while the Duke marched to their aid. This necessitated beginning the game with very few troops on the table, which leaves players with little to do.  I'm not generally a fan of this, but I did my best to find a compromise that allowed the game to proceed at a decent clip and get everyone involved while still keeping the essence of Quatre Bras. 

Kellerman's light cavalry moving forward

I allowed the players to do their own deployment so the French reversed their left and right with Kellerman's cavalry on the right.  Du Gourmand was definitely channelling Ney as he chivy'd his fellows forward.  

General DeCasey began to wonder if the suspiciously empty allied half of the board meant that the Belgians were hidden in ambush. 

"No" says General Du Gourmand, it's not a trap, I've read the 
scenario - now get a wriggle on and get 'em!

The first cavalry skirmish on the allied left. 

The break point for both sides was eighteen units, that is, if they could wipe out eighteen enemy units, they would drive them from the field.  However, this would be lowered to thirteen units if you also held Quatre Bras. The Allies obviously enough began in possession, but were seriously outnumbered, thirty two units to seven at one point, so the pressure was on the French to get to grips and in jig time. 

Ended badly for the Dutch as the Polish lancers  sliced through their opposition and drove the supporting infantry into square. 

"It's OK boss, I've got this under control."  

This was not the first time command relationships in this game were based on something other than unalloyed truth and integrity. 

General Ney examines the situation on the French right as McShannon pours on the pressure. King Billy (centre) ably portrayed by the Unlikely Douglas McKenzie is beginning to feel the pinch.  

"How many Frenchmen are over there?" 

Icecream begins to realise that there are a lot of men in blue coats coming. 

Fortunately, the red coats had started to arrive, just as the last Dutch infantrymen were being unceremoniously booted out of the woods. 

General De Casey looks distinctly unimpressed with the number of Allied reinforcements. 

"The code word is Get 'Em Boys!"

General Du Gourmand gives General McShannon the benefit of his wisdom.  We gave the Allies two "hesitation points", which forced one player to miss a turn in order to model Rielle's hesitation to close.  Rielle had faced Wellington in the Peninsula and was not sure that the apparent Allied weakness at Quatre Bras wasn't a variation on the Duke's ploy of concealing the main strength of his army. 

These hesitation points were represented by small individually wrapped cheeses from Lidl, which had to be offered to the "hesitant" player with the phrase "Sir, of course you could do that, but would not rather enjoy this delicious piece of cheese."

Icecream came back what he described as "...the most insulting unFrench cheese" I could find. I regret to say we did not take a picture, but I believe it was a Lidl variant of Laughing Cow. 

TK looks chipper as he drives the Allies out of the woods. Quatre Bras is now in range of his artillery. The Allies have managed to bring on some reinforcements, but they are mostly on the right. 

Icecream moves some Hanoverian landwehr onto the board, while Marshall-Ney-for-a-day (Du Gourmand) takes over the reins of the French right. General De Casey had to head home as he had just recently become a father. It was good to see him, even if only for a little while. 

Little Miss DeCasey is a beautiful, but demanding mistress. 

"I thought I ordered you to charge!"

Marshall-Ney-for-a-day comes down to the French right to find out how things are going, only to discovered that despite the recent reinforcements of cuirassiers, General McShannon had not pressed the beleaguered Belgians.  

"But they were right there, you had them right where you wanted them!"

"What were you thinking?!?!"

This was probably one of the best moments in the game, not least because General Du Gourmand is a notoriously cavalier subordinate himself who routinely disregards orders in his usual pursuit of l'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace! He trusts in that classic Irish saying, "It is easier to ask forgiveness, than permission" and hopes that success will pardon his disobedience. 

He said afterwards, "Really, it's only funny when I do it."


General McShannon looks on while Marshall-Ney-for-a-day delivers a classic evil villain, why-am-I-surrounded-by-idiots-speech to the door. 

Marshall-Ney-for-a-day seeks spiritual solace. 

Which appears to do the trick.  Icecream (right)appears skeptical. 

"McShannon, I can't help but feel we got off on the wrong foot, but we really need to push on here.  If you drive him back, we can turn the whole position." 

"There are damn few of them there McShannon and best we wallop 'em before their mates turn up."

TK keeps 'em rolling forward

The pressure is building in the centre.  Wellington arrived, but the French are closing in on Quatre Bras.  Casualties are mounting on both sides, but with the Allies holding the cross roads they could afford to spend more blood if it meant halting the French advance. 

Suddenly Picton!

After a really hard run of luck on the Allied left, the 3rd Division finally showed up. General Von Kerrigan celebrated in the most Picton like manner he could think of - waving a top hat in the air and shouting! 

With more redcoats coming onto the field and his hoped for big push on the right having failed to materialise, Marshall-Ney-for-a-day considers his options. 

Will the 3rd Division be able to stem the French tide on the left? 

Can Quatre Bras be held in the face of overwhelming numbers? 

More soon gentlemen. 


  1. Is this command and colors? Where are the hexes?

    1. It is - the hexes are marked on the mat, but lightly. They're pretty clear when you see them up close.

      It's our own big battle variant of Command & Colours.

  2. To heck with the final outcome! You Gentlemen appear to be having a blast. That is enough to satisfy me.

    1. We did. It was a really good game for table talk and conviviality.

  3. Looks like a great game.
    Having played the battle (in different disguises as well as the dress version) it is a surprisingly hard battle for the French to win isn't it?

    1. It depends. I've looked at a couple of different versions and unless the French have something to slow down their advance a little bit, they can quite easily steam roller the Allies. The trick is I suppose that Rielle didn't know what was ahead of him, while the wargamer has perfect information.

  4. Excellent looking tabletop. Fantastic looking troops. Good friends obviously having a great time. Well done Mr. Kinch! Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

    1. Thank you very much. I was hoping to get it all into one report, but there was just too much.

  5. Replies
    1. Oh - I don't know, being there was pretty good too.

      I was very happy with how the game went as I had my doubts about my version of the scenario to be honest.

  6. wish i'd been there if only to command the French cavalry, game over in 5 minutes, you know my style, bet General G missed my get in there charges, great to see the lads having fun, well done to you all
    cheers Old John

    1. I would have expected nothing less of you john!

    2. General Du GourmandSeptember 4, 2015 at 1:11 AM

      attacking without orders just shows bravery

  7. Sounds like you've nailed the pacing on the scenario. Also, this is a highly entertaining read ;)