Friday 14 July 2023

Waterloo in the Hut

On Wednesday Tony, Nigel, Goya and I gathered in the Hinton Hut to fight out Waterloo. The figures were drawn from the collections of Goya and I and were mostly Hinton Hunt with a smattering of other 20 mils.

We drew cards to determine our commands, I ended up playing Uxbridge (allied left) Goya was Silly Billy on my right, Tony (who attended if full regalia) was Marshal Soult (French right) and Nigel calmly drew the card for Marshal Ney (French left). We had no overall commander and each side played by committee whilst Wellington and Napoleon looked on impassively.

The game was scheduled to last for 8 turns with reserves entering for each side starting on turn 2, to speed things up the reserves could be deployed up to 2 foot forward of the player baseline. This meant that reserves (cavalry for the allies and the Guard for the French) could suddenly appear in unexpected areas. There was also a cunning system of drawing playing cards from the start of turn 3 (and for each subsequent turn) that allowed the possibility of either Groucy or the Prussians (or neither) showing up on the French right flank for added suspense.

"Well that opens the ball!"
We began the game with an initial round of artillery fire from both sides. For the British this included a rather nice Rocket Battery from Goya's collection. Firing the rockets was fun but they weren't overly effective.
Tony brought Wellington's tree with him - no wargame is complete without it.

I started by pushing forward on the left with the 11th Light Dragoons supported by some very nice KGL Hussars.
The Belgians were soon taking a bit of a battering from Tony's grand battery on the other side of the valley and Picton had to ride forward to steady them to avoid a 'disordered' morale score.
Turn 2 and a curious movement by Tony's infantry who turned their columns left rather than advance ahead. I never did quite get to the bottom of the purpose of this but then "Anything that wastes time is good!"
Nigel's men were also inclining to the left putting pressure on our right flank.
The Nassauers in Hougoumont seemed to be his main target.

Goya brought his own troops forward to fill the gap between Hougoumont and the end of the ridge. The Fusiliers (bottom left) were one of several units getting their baptism of fire in this game.
A general view of the table at the end of turn 2 (from the allied left with Papelotte in the foreground).
And from the other end of the table.
After some desperate hand-to-hand fighting the Nassauers fought off the attempt to take Hougoumont. The 1st Light Infantry were another of the newbies and they took heavy casualties is this assault.
Nigel started to make some threatening movements with his heavy cavalry. I think it was about this time that Marshal Ney received a mortal wound during a morale test that prompted Tony to comment that "At least he won't be able to throw the cavalry away in this game!"

More manoeuvring from Tony's infantry - are they heading for La Haye Sainte? 
Turn 3 and would you believe it? The Prussians arrive! Fortunately the French were able to bring on the Young Guard at the same time.
Just beyond the Young Guard a serious cavalry clash was developing that would eventually draw in  6 units of cavalry in a running melee that lasted for the rest of the game.
As Tony's infantry moved off to my right I took the opportunity to advance the 42nd Highlanders down from the ridge to bolster the Dutch-Belgian line.
Meanwhile over on our right Goya had brought on the Greys and Inniskillings from our reserve.
Nigel's men try to regroup after the failed attack on Hougoumont.
The 6th Chasseurs move forward supported by the 8th Cuirassiers.
This must be the end of turn 4 or 5. The action is pretty much confined to each flank as the French infantry seem very wary of getting within range of the KGL Rifles in La Haye Sainte.
The Prussians charge the Young Guard with mixed results whilst the cavalry melee continues behind them.
The Light Dragoons take a hammering from the Guard Lancers.
I try to make an infantry line below the ridge as Tony finally starts to move forward.
Nigel resorts to using a time machine to nip back to the 1960s to see if he can find a set of more favourable rules.
The view from Hougoumont along Goya's line. Top right you can just see that the Brunswick Hussars and 6th Chasseurs have crossed sabres.
The result was not too good for the Brunswickers who are routing.
The Silesian Musketeers have been routed by the Young Guard whilst Silesian Landwehr and Fusiliers are fighting the Guard Marines.
Tony "comes on the same old style"- actually no as he has sensibly adopted line formation in the face of my artillery and rockets.
But his own artillery have been blazing away all day causing me quite a few problems as well.
The view from behind the French left - in the distance you can see that the Old Guard have arrived but instead of heading for Hougoumont Nigel has them standing back in line formation - "never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake!"

A second attack on Hougoumont is beaten off. Where are those Old Guardsmen with their extra melee plus when you need them?

Goya's line is holding but is under pressure "Give me night or give me Blucher!"
But then then 8th Cuirassiers ride to destruction in front of Mercer's battery. Apparently Nigel "just wanted to see what would happen" if he charged the guns, well, now we know.
Poor Picton is down trying to steady the 92nd Gordon Highlanders - "I like the cut of your men Gordon!"
Hurrah for the Scots Greys! They see off the 6th Chasseurs and so ends the French cavalry threat to our right.
You'll be pleased to know that not a single Old Guardsman was injured in this fight although it is rumoured that one did get splashed with a bit of mud - shame.

The end of turn 7 and the end of the game. The French really needed to take either Papelotte, La Haye Sainte or Hougoumont to stand a chance of winning.

It was a great day and even though we only made it to turn 7 before time ran out, we did at least have a clear conclusion – a resounding win for the Duke.

My thanks to Tony and Nigel for threading their way through the early morning traffic to get here and to Goya who had to resort to public transport at the last minute. Good show all round!

Monday 10 July 2023

The Eve of Waterloo

Well almost, actually we're playing the game on Wednesday but today with Goya's assistance I finished setting up the table. I can't believe it's almost a year since we last played a game of Muskets & Marshals in the Hut, how time flies.

Not quite on the scale of Vintage Waterloo but we will still have upwards of 900 figures on the table.
The playing area is my maximum 8' x 4' and the troops are drawn from mine and Goya's collections.

I think I did say you can never have enough FN5 Fusiliers!

Now who left them out front?
Goya just completed this excellent Airfix Papelotte conversion.

And on the subject of wargames, last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to Tony's for a full-scale trial of his Corporal John rules for the War of the Spanish Succession. As always Tony's table was stunning full of beautifully painted Les Higgins figures. I won't attempt a narrative but here are a few photos to give you a flavour of the game.

Another of Tony's amazing looking tables. I played the Franco-Bavarians (nearest the camera) and he played the Allies.
Mt left-wing cavalry just itching to get across the stream but that was to prove difficult.

My lads go forward in the centre aided by some very useful Command Cards.

Some intense cavalry action on the right flank - a whirl of sabres/
My elite cavalry on the hill just before they delivered the coup de grace.

It was nice to win a game (although only just) after the recent drubbing at Goya's.