Friday 31 July 2015

Thoughts on Vintage Waterloo

It was really useful to be able to lay out the terrain and troops with Roy last week, as it’s helped me to sort out some ideas for the full game scenario. Our aim is to be able to play the game in a single day and run it for eight turns and this will be difficult to achieve unless everything is worked through in advance.

Click the image to zoom in and examine the table.

Eight turns will take a minimum of eight hours, so it will be necessary to condense the action if we’re going to be able to include the fight for La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont, a mass cavalry charge or two, an attack by the Old Guard and the arrival of the Prussians. The last item is perhaps the hardest to get right in any refight of Waterloo – I’ve read plenty of Waterloo AAR’s where the players run out of time before the Prussians really get a look in and I want to avoid this. So the idea is to have the Prussians fully deployed on the French right flank in front of Plancenoit but to have them fixed in position until released as follows:

Turn 1 – skirmishers may move
Turn 2 – skirmishers and cavalry may move
Turn 3 – All troops free to move

Because the table is a rectangle we’re not able to place Plancenoit behind the French flank but the built up area is really a representation of Paplotte, Frischamont and Plancenoit combined to present an obstacle to the Prussian advance. This should mean at least five turns of fighting for the Prussians, enough to see them seriously involved in the action.

To balance things on the French side we’re going to allow them to move ‘reserve’ troops to any point on the table within their own lines. The maximum number of units that can be moved this way per turn will be four – starting from turn 2 onwards. This may seem a bit extreme but I think it’s a good way to keep the action flowing when we have a limited number of turns to play. It would for instance allow for the rapid redeployment of the Young Guard to Plancenoit or perhaps allow the French heavy cavalry or the Old Guard to move rapidly forward to attack.

Vintage Waterloo - click on the map to zoom in.

I’ve drawn up a map showing the troops as we deployed them for the playtest but there may be some tweaking before the actual game. One of the things I was pleased to find was that the OOB’s were surprisingly balanced considering that Roy and I have built up our forces independently. Roy of course is providing the lion’s share of the figures having pulled off the truly Herculean task of assembling and basing over 1,800 troops in five months!

Although fairly evenly matched in numbers to the French, the Allied and Prussian forces both have quite a few Landwehr troops (rated ‘C’ grade in my rules). The French have 10 Guard units of which 5 are Old Guard (‘A+’ rating) and this mixture of quality adds a bit of an unknown quantity to the way the game will play out - I really do think it could go either way.

Please feel free to chip in with any ideas for the game via comments.

I drew the map using MappingBoard an excellent bit of free software and well worth checking out if you’re into that sort of thing.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Vintage Waterloo – more photos

Here (in no particular order) are a few more photos from the Vintage Waterloo play-test game that Roy and I had last week. Remember that you can click on an image to zoom right in (I don't use the lightbox feature for that reason).

Looking just a tad Gilder-esque - even if I do say so myself!

The Prussian lancers in the front rank are the DK Landwehr ones superbly painted for me by the talented Matt B. My Naumarkisches Dragoons are supporting them to make up one ad-hoc 12 figure unit.

You can never have too many Jagers - the Prussian skirmish screen presses on towards Placenoit.

On the other side of the village a division from D'Erlon's corps moves to block the Prussian advance (yes I know there were no Swiss troops at Waterloo but there was NO way I was leaving them off the table!).

You can never have too many Riflemen - this slightly imbalanced the skirmishing in favour of the allies but who cares as I was playing Wellington.

Another shot of the Emperor and his staff near La Belle Alliance. There are three batteries of Guard foot artillery about to trundle up the road and start bombarding La Haye Sainte.

Reille's corps, supported by heavy cavalry, move forward towards Hougoumont. There were eight infantry battalions to represent Reille's command.

Wellington and his staff looking nervously down the road towards La Haye Sainte. These are all personality figures from my own collection - from left to right, Picton, Uxbridge, Alten, Wellington, Delancy & Hill.

I still don’t feel that these photos adequately convey the full spectacle of the table but I hope they give a glimpse at least – I’ll try harder next time.

Friday 24 July 2015

Vintage Waterloo – Playtest

Today Roy and I finally got together for a playtest of Vintage Waterloo and we had a great time laying out the troops and shuffling the terrain about. This was the first time that we’d got all the figures together in one place and we weren’t disappointed with the result – spectacular is an understatement and I must say that my photos really don’t do it justice!

The Emperor at his command post near La Belle Alliance. This is Roy's version of Napoleon and staff - very nice.

Excuse the camera wobble but at least this shot gives some impression of the size and scale of the game. Looking east along the battlefield with Hougoumont in the foreground.

Roy’s main table (yes he has two) is 12 x 5 foot and we had no trouble completely filling it with Hinton Hunts, at least 2,000 of them. Just setting the figures up was a delight and Roy to his credit, knowing that I am a perfectionist about such things, humoured me by letting me do it my way.

Reille's corps getting ready to take on the British defending chateau Hougoumont.

Barings KGL riflemen crammed into La Haye Sainte. These are the figures currently on loan for the Vintage Waterloo project. Note to self: you've put the farm on the wrong side of the road - doh!

Vorwarts mein children, I vill shoot any man I zee with pity in his eyes!

It took until lunchtime to get everything ready which left very little time for actually playing but the point of the day was to work out the terrain, dispositions and orders of battle. We did however manage to play two whole turns which considering the scale of the thing, and the fact that there were just the two of us, was very good going.

Picton's men stand ready to take on d'Erlon. The highland brigade are lining the hedge with my own 42nd Black Watch on the right.

Ponsonby with the British heavy cavalry in reserve behind the ridge - ready to gallop at everything.

The Guard - Young Guard in the front, Old Guard behind, five units of each. They look like they could just steamroller straight through the British line and be in Brussels for tea!

I took so many photos that it will take me a while to sort through the blurry ones and find the half decent ones so those posted here are just a taster – more to follow.

My thanks to Roy for a splendid day and excellent gourmet lunch.

Friday 17 July 2015


Well, not really mercenaries as these tough looking chaps are only on loan having been sent to me this week by a kind blog follower to help bolster the British forces for Vintage Waterloo. As you can see they are mostly Hinton Hunt but there are a few Alberken and SHQ figures as well.

 With this many British riflemen on the table any mounted French officers had better keep a sharp lookout!

As there is a full unit of 24 figures I was thinking that maybe they could represent Major Baring’s KGL rifles at La Haye Sainte although Roy may already have this covered.

The oversized hand on this officer is a nice example of Hinton Hunt flash metal. The painting of the buttons and lace is exquisite (click image to zoom in).

Also arriving here this week have been the 30th Foot (painted by Lee) and a squadron of Prussian Landwehr cavalry (painted by Matt B) together with a mystery personality figure – more on these once I get them based up.

Roy and I are hoping to get together next Friday – I have no idea just how much stuff Roy has managed to assemble but I’m thinking it will be a lot!

Friday 10 July 2015

More Carabiniers

Not to be outdone by Roy (well of course actually I have been) I’ve managed to increase my own contribution towards Vintage Waterloo by adding a further 6 figures to my existing French Carabinier squadron thereby bringing them up to a full 12 figure regiment.

In total I will be able to add 4 French cavalry units to Roy’s assembled host giving the Emperor a very respectable cavalry arm on the day.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

More from Roy

Roy just sent me these pictures of his new French cavalry units based up and ready for Vintage Waterloo.

Excellent - loads of Curiassiers, just what we need but we may have a bit of a problem fielding two Napoleons!

Wonderful composite Guard Lancer unit - I'm assuming these are the two-piece figure (correct me if I'm wrong Roy).

Impressive stuff I’m sure you’ll agree – well done that man!

Sunday 5 July 2015

Muskets & Marshals (version 5)

In preparation for Vintage Waterloo I thought I had better get on and make the rule revisions to Muskets & Marshals that Roy and I discussed after our last game. One of the main changes was to make cavalry units 12 figures strong rather than the 18 figure establishment we had before. The reason for this change was chiefly because finding 18 Hinton Hunt figures of the same type is well-nigh impossible but also to make cavalry units a bit more manoeuvrable and numerous.

When I originally devised the rules I had in mind a game with 5 or 6 units per side, lots of dice rolling (I’m sorry but to me it isn’t a wargame without the thrills and spills of dice rolling) and of course – casualty figure removal (a great way to get an instant visual appraisal of the state of play). Both of these activities are quite time consuming and for a game the size of Vintage Waterloo they may prove a bit unwieldy but we’ll have to wait and see.

The game does make for some fairly brutal outcomes with units being whittled away rapidly in combat but then the idea is to have a result within about eight turns of play. With a bigger battle combat situations will inevitably be more complex and I think artillery in particular will be a bit of an unknown quantity – possibly being too effective.

Cavalry though is perhaps the hardest element to get right in a Napoleonic wargame so this afternoon I had a quick run through with the revised rules to see how they worked out. I picked a simple scenario, 3 French cavalry regiments against 2 British foot regiments. I chose to keep the British units in line rather than square because even in line, steady troops like redcoats ought to be able to beat off a frontal attack from cavalry.

France's finest ready to take on the British - the guard cavalry is nearest the camera with the Horse Grenadiers (second rank) about to experience their first combat.

It's first combat for the 42nd Black Watch too - steady lads!

Having survived their morale tests (although the 42nd became disordered) the British volley fire was devastating. This was partly because there was a saving throw modifier for 'first volley' but mainly because British troops get to re-roll 4 dice per volley (this has now been amended to 2!). Every one of my newly painted Horse Grenadiers are hors-de-combat.

At least the Polish Lancers didn't break, but they won't be charging home either.

The French reserves come foward...

 ...and meet the same fate - not a single British casualty!

Second attempt - this time the British have already taken casualties (the guards are disordered) and are assumed to have already fired so no longer qualify for the 'first volley' modifier.

 The guard cavalry fair no better than before - although at least the horse artillery has finally scored a hit!

However, the lancers and Chasseurs have broken the guards who are now routing. This is more like it but they probably would have survived had they formed square.

So I think the lesson is don’t attack infantry in line with your cavalry unless the infantry are showing signs of wavering. Marshal Ney take note.

To view or download Muskets & Marshals 5.1 click here.