Thursday 22 June 2017

Battle for Hoeke Valley - the wrap-up

Sorry for the delay (and Tony has been hassling me over it! :-) ) but this post will attempt to wrap up what we saw and have learned from my battle report in the previous two posts. Thanks again for all the great comments and particularly for those compliments received in person at AMG 17 recently.

Just to prove I was there (second from right)
Here is the final score chart, which was a bit astonishing considering how hard fought the game had seemed.

So FRENCH 37 Victory Points to only 7 for the ALLIES! Neither side gained much for taking the opposition's high ground (area gained) but the French scored highly for complete destruction of enemy units and objective locations either held or gained.

The Allies attributed their losses chiefly to the highly effective French light cavalry. The Guard Lancers were Elite, and "shock" in the first round of melee. Line Lancers were also "shock" in the first round. Providing shock cavalry win a melee they automatically destroy what remains of the enemy infantry unit. We think this is too drastic and will change it to "rout" the remainder. Kevin is resistant to reducing the effect of Lancers since the real QB refight will depend on it, but the role of the Guard Light cavalry will be very restricted in our refight. (I encouraged Kevin to place them "up front" in this test just to prove the point). The Allies did have British Foot Guards on the table early so also had some very good troops and used them to hold on a long time.

All three Imperial Guard Lancer "squadrons" arranged  by Graham for attack
 by squadron column

Another Allied point was that the steep slope I had built with the stream at the bottom slowed them up a lot (we made it half speed up or down) and made their cavalry counter attack especially vulnerable. I sympathise to some extent, but it did help them thwart Graham's infantry attack West of Piron Woods. In our defence the whole terrain was designed by me but the objectives were decided by Kevin - he was stuck with what I wanted to build to a give varied flowing game that would look pretty spectacular. I had both the ridges in store in part finished form and was desperate for a game big enough to justify putting them on one table.  We learned that we need to make all the slopes in the QB refight "gentle" for movement yet ensure we allow plenty of dead ground by the undulations.

Allied cavalry "cautiously" sweep down hill
Looking down from the Ramskapelle Heights on the swirling cavalry attacks 

The Allied centre and right flank did suffer badly from enemy artillery fire, but the DB and Brunswick guns on their left gave as good as they got. If James' and Ken's infantry and cavalry counter attacks were broken up by fire then I can confirm that Graham and I found Richard's batteries on the other flank equally destructive and space limiting. So it balanced to some extent, but we mustn't detract from Tony's and Roy's expert combination of distance fire from Foot guns on the ridges and Horse artillery in the valley weakening the units they were attacking. We won't be changing this since in the real QB battle the French did use their artillery superiority well and several Allied batteries were considerably discomforted by them. As with any wargame, a lot of it depends on how the players use what they have!

The French Foot artillery batteries mostly occupied key ridge-top positions 

The other thing I introduced to the rules, given that our real refight will cover 4 day's playing time, was the idea that units could fall back to recover stands, but only up to one above 50% strength. They have to retreat to a place of safety in cover, or out of artillery range, or off the table and then get the right succession of rally dice, aided by appropriate generals and unit class. It's difficult but not impossible if a player is prepared to take one or more generals out of the fight to rally them.   I found the loss of two leaders on the French right made it not worth trying but Tony did it to effect, especially with the 1st Chasseurs. Kevin and I got the impression James would have done better if he had tried it with his Hanoverians ejected early on from the Chatelet area. Kevin likes the system and wants to keep it for the real refights.

Once some of these French battalions had lost their leader and broke from
losses it proved far too difficulty to rally them off table
But this rather poor photo shows the 1st Chasseurs coming back for more
late in the game

And while mentioning Kevin East, the man deserves an accolade from me. He will admit he's not very experienced at organising games but he planned this for a couple of months, worked up the detailed orbats and briefs for each side, spent a day at my place organising the units and status bases for everything, as well as providing the largest share of the 2,500 figures, and the model buildings used. He then umpired solidly for two days, masterminding both sides feeding in reserves, and while maybe not all umpiring decisions were rock solid, I think everybody seemed to enjoy themselves, including me, so thanks a lot Kev. Thanks are also due to James and Tony for their considerable efforts with creating great looking new units needed for the refight and which got an airing at Hoeke Valley.

Clipboard in hand Kevin was the tireless match official!

Now for me? - Lots more blogging, not least on the wonderful AMG 17 weekend, and then onto hosting another HoW game in the Cotswolds, followed by what remains of the Summer making four Hanoverian Landwehr battalions for QB...oh..... and the 12 foot x 8 foot terrain! ...and that's just my hobby.......

The victorious General Reille used up his reroll!


  1. Great looking game Chris. I honestly could look at yours and Kevin's figures all day if I was allowed to. Beautiful terrain and figures all enjoyed with friends. Perfect if you ask me!

    1. Thank you Carlo. You have my permission to look at my blog as long as you like , mate!

  2. Superb looking game with plenty of inspiration in those photographs. lancers are one of the difficult things to get right in the Napoleonic era - if they were that good there would have been more of them. The fact that there wasn't either means that training them took to long for their role in the field or that they looked mean but didn't always deliver. I look forward to seeing how you resolve this conundrum.

    1. Thanks Paul, as ever, for your support and useful comments. We don't play as often as you do so these Nap games are a treat in themselves and practising for QB, where historically they were about one third of the cavalry force, means we like to have the lancers on the table and give them a chance to do serious damage. The Allies will have less cavalry so I think they will form more squares, and lances and shock cavalry are no better than swords against square under Rank and File. Also Kevin plans to use Charles Grant style "chance envelopes" for the historical conundrums such as how free the Imperial Guard cavalry will be to get stuck in as opposed to just look pretty .

  3. Superb series of posts Chris. Beautiful terrain, great looking figures and excellent photos = inspiration plus for the distant ones and great fun and pleasure for participants.
    Super stuff!

    1. Thanks very much James it is our pleasure to give pleasure. Talking of which just reviewed your superb efforts recording all those worldwide Warterloo games. Did you ever catch up with our West Country Hougoumont?

    2. Most certainly did Chris.
      You'll find it mentioned several times here:

    3. Your 1:100 one too. Links on the 2015 : 1815 tab, or just spend a few days scrolling the blog, drooling at all of the great games that people did across all of the bicentennial years!

    4. The jolly casino spammers are getting quite annoying (and prolific), hey?!

    5. Well I just have James and I cannot find a reference anywhere on them to my report on our actual game which I did not get round to till long after the event, but it is , hopefully, a worthwhile part of the history you have compiled - and the French won!

    6. Ah, I see. I had your La Haie Sainte game listed in the blog (five links) and the 1:100 with three links. As it was done during the bicentennial and is now a 'memorial', I've not added anything done since.

    7. James
      The game was played over three days in Sept 2015 and was last and most spectacular of our four Waterloo weekends. It's just that I did not get round to blogging the AAR and masses of photos till April this year as I wanted to do it justice. Pity not to put it in your list.

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