Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Waterloo Project: More on the Test game - Part 3

Thank you for the nice comments on the first two parts of this photo report. Here is  a link to more-on-test-game-part two

First, how did Luneburg Battalion react under the horse artillery fire?
They were not being pressed even though French cavalry were still in the vicinity,
so they formed company march columns and marched to a new position a bit further
 away and formed square again taking more shelter from the farm walls. You can still see
part of a company on the right marching into place.
Here are the Horse Artillery, still at in the late afternoon sunlight
And in close up: From Kevin's collection at left, and Paul's at right to make up
the numbers on the day
But that move still didn't completely stop the persecution from artillery so they abandoned
square and formed a thick line along the hedge and the sunken road - safe at last! 
So the French HA no longer had any viable targets!
Meanwhile the brave men of the Luneburg Battalion rifle company were manning the front
wall of the farm to allow their fellow green-clad allies in the 95th time to reform
while the French pushed past them!
Behind them the 27th Foot were marching up to reinforce. Here still in close
march column......
....and then gradually spacing out into company column to confront the French
at the side of the farm
While depleted Rifle companies pulled back bringing some prisoners with them
To be replaced in the farm by Grenadier and Light companies of the 27th
You will recall from the early report of this action that British Foot Artillery had been
constantly weakening the French battalion threatening the side wall of the farm.
The Voltigeur company had gone; in the foreground is the remains of the Grenadier company,
and behind them the Fusilier companies. It's only the determination of their mounted
Chef de Battalion (designated an "inspirational commander" +1 to Morale) that will stop them
running off the field completely
So Kevin ordered his heavy (12 pdr) battery to switch targets from the farm house ,
which was well on fire by now, to the British Foot artillery on the hilltop.
Much to our alarm his round shot and shell demolished the crews in the front line
 and damaged all three guns in only two salvoes. The range was a scale
 approximate 400 metres.  Much discussion and a rules amendment followed!
I showed in the previous post the KGL Hussars piling into the Cuirassiers
but the result was inconclusive and the numbers and weight of
French cavalry surrounded the Hussars, with the French Lancers lending weight frontally.
That hole you see was filled with Hussars - we definitely need some casualty markers!
Beyond that combat  a weakened 1st Squadron 4th Cuirassiers was piling up
against the small square of  2nd Bn KGL Light companies
A closer view shows the Royal Scots Greys attacking the 2nd Squadron of Cuirassiers
 and a squadron of Life Guards just arriving on the scene  
Here is a close-up
A general overview catches the mass of supporting French in the lowering sunlight
The Scots Greys saw off their opponents (who have retreated at left) and now
confront the Lancers
In the centre of this photo the KGL square has seen off 1st Squadron of Cuirassiers after a tense fight. The latter can be seen retreating in disorder back through the Dragoons. Scots Greys and Lancers are mixing it by the hedged field
Here is a close up of that.
2nd Cuirassiers squadron is rallying back by the hedge accompanied by KGL Hussar prisoners
The French Dragoons advance across the stream to threaten the
 KGL Hussars 3rd Squadron. French skirmishers keep up the pressure on
their weakened KGL Light Infantry counterparts....... 
..........who soon give up and hurry back behind the shelter of the ridge  now
that 5th KGL Line Infantry have formed a solid line on the ridge crest (below)

Across the valley French infantry continue to advance
Back at the farm the French have brought another battalion round the side
and it is shaping up for a firefight if the 27th can form their company column into a line
And more French line up to press on into the farmyard
Well, if you've stuck with me this far through the two posts on the first day's test, and then the latest three on the second day, give yourself the legion d'honneur and a long service medal! If you were looking for a result I'm sorry, but this was only a test game and this is as far as it got. Three moves with two players on the first day and four moves with four players on the second nevertheless gave us a lot of test situations.

I had to revise artillery fire so that gun crews were not so vulnerable, and a lot of time was spent in discussion over the nature of squares and fighting round them. Whether, at this scale, infantry can inflict fire damage while the cavalry mill round fairly uselessly is a feature of many contemporary accounts of Waterloo. I had tried hard to avoid "special rules for squares", thinking, it's just a line that can't be outflanked, but some of my collaborators have convinced me that if infantry are stationary in a "proper square", i.e. a scale 4 ranks deep, then two ranks can still fire effectively while the front two ranks kneeling are fending off the horses and troopers with 5 or 6 feet of musket and bayonet. So we'll be tweaking the rules to encourage some advantage for deep rank squares, and taking the initiative sequence into account for close range fire. But we won't be changing the fundamental melee rules or bumping up effect or morale for the infantry artificially.

We realised that when fighting La Haye Sainte the length of the table we need slightly longer cavalry move distances which should ensure all the squadrons get some chance to gain their objectives during our simulated "longest afternoon".  And that means our "longest ever wargame" as we are now scheduling three full days to play out 18 - 20 x 15 minute moves with about 3000 figures, and, for Murdock's benefit, that means 16 player-days of those so far signed up.

Oh, and I should mention we had great fun with my rules for rocket firing. The French dragoons lost small numbers of men and horses when the rockets found a target among those masses, but none of the resulting morale rolls for "panic" resulted in any adverse effects during our game.

I'll leave you with two of Kevin's photos
A bird's eye view across the centre field at the end of our play time.
James listens politely while CG pontificates over some point of the rules!
All the green-clad riflemen, the Luneburgers, and 2nd and 3rd Squadrons of  KGL Hussars are mine.
KGL Line and most of the cavalry, artillery and French infantry are by Kevin East.
Modest numbers were swelling the ranks throughout, and a French battalion, from the collection of Paul D.
Some French dragoons by Richard Newcombe
British 27th Foot by James Fergusson
Buildings - Hovels resin painted by Kevin
Trees - hand made by Kevin
Hedges  - hand made by CG  about 10 years ago
Stream pieces - hand made by CG back in circa 1987 for my 15mm Napoleonics, it's worn well!
Cornfield - experimenting with carpet off cuts, powder paint and PVA glue (never waste anything from a house renovation!)
Rubbery road sections by Total Battle Miniatures
Plastic status trays and blocks by with grateful thanks to Martin for the discount for our Waterloo project. Get your discount by mentioning this blog, see record-keeping-and status markers


  1. Magnificent Chris! You and the lads have put together an outstanding collection of figures and they are all painted to such an incredibly high standard. Thanks so much for allowing us to see yours and your friends project.

  2. Carlo
    Not a question of allowing, I count it as a privilege that you visit. I know Kevin and I are thriving on the knowledge that our project is giving pleasure to wargamers round the world, it'll be a shame when it's over!

  3. Excellent work in the reporting of the games play-test also!

    At 1:3 scale the close quarter battles (CQB) are important.

    I do not know if you have hand-to-hand combat rules sorted out for when a column closes on a line, yet here are my immediate 2 cents worth.

    1) morale situation for the advancing foot (with the usual bonus for flank/rear coverage); if they are elite or guard they ought to have a better chance to 'go in with bayonet' than line or (gasp) conscripts; add in the elan factor for a good fire eating officer and that should cover the 'charge in' factors.

    2) likewise morale for the 'standing' unit to receive the foot, for British Regulars this will be pretty good for line, perhaps a bonus to stand in square ... yet against foot? the column smashing into a square's face will have a major impact, and while Ney failed to have the foot in place to support the Grande Charge that he conducted historically, it ought to still be possible for a skilled player to use combined arms to break the square. Dutch-Belgians also ought to be easier to crack in square - especially if they have been pounded first by French artillery (they do have recent experience 1813-14 in what power those 20# and 12# can deliver) as they may not want to face the combined arms attack. Yes the 4 ranks deep will have some effect, yet all it will take is for one 'face of the square to crack and then local squadrons of lurking cavalry get to have a heyday, striking from flank and rear of the other three faces of the square.

    Morale issues aside, if you have man-to-man combat, then this is where French Dragoons and Chasseurs were excellent at close support of infantry in the attack. Company commanders would be watching for where the close cavalry support was and once the horse was 'in the charge' often the company officer would halt his advance and give fire only while the horse slammed into isolated enemy companies. It was close in support like this at Jena and Wagram that saw Prussians then Austrians cut to pieces even in squares.

    And yes I agree that the French army of 1815 is not the same as 1806-9, yet these Chasseurs and Dragoons are supposed to partly be from the Guard that slipped away from Germany in 1813, and similar victories were had vs European squares.

    You have the advantage of a very fine tactical game to examine such close support and contact of two important arms, Cavalry and Infantry in a way that almost no other games even attempt to simulate.

    In the end the Austrians resorted to Battalion Mass to stop the French from being able to rip up their squares.

  4. Truly impressive. Wonderful.

  5. A stunningly beautiful game.

    Best Regards,


  6. Its the magnitude of the table size that comes clear with the wider angle photos.

    And your game is close enough to 'smell the garlic' ... ;)

  7. Thanks all for your appreciation, and to Murdock for such thoughtful input. In answer suffice to say that every aspect of troop types at La Hay Sainte and Hougoumont (but not elsewhere at Waterloo) is taken into account in three ways - different amounts of figures per die for Firing (eg KGL Light 3 figs and French line - 7 Figs per die) and Melee (eg Cuirassiers -2 and Artillery crew 5 per die) and a Morale Factor of 4 to 6. This gives a satisfactory variety without being complicated. CQB is simplified and everything boils down to casualty attrition really so there are a few Morale checks for events but mostly every 10% of figures lost. As I hope you see from the test games there is still a lot of eb and flow despite the big units, and the initiative system we use gives such variation that it helps to simulate the fog of war by blind allocation of a number to commanders each turn. Yes we have "fire eating" leaders, and ordinary ones, and no one can charge without being led from the front. As for fine tactics, the formation change is tricky if it involves really big units and so there are risks when cavalry are about - hence the opportunity to bring up horse artillery and infantry as you suggest. I'll probably publish a PDF of the rules after the event.

    1. Looking forward to the game notes and follow up as well.

  8. I'm beginning to get this picture of some........ hmm.....Seasoned.... Wargamers some 20 years from now fondly trading favorite old, somewhat hazy, and possibly somewhat enhanced, tales of the day they fought in the Great Battle at Waterloo.

  9. Ha ha! Ross, lovely imagery. Having only recently been cleared of my cancer I'm doing it now as I may not be here in twenty years to tell those tales.......but there is still lots more wargaming to achieve beyond Waterloo 200, such as back to my 18th Century Imagi-Nations.

  10. Absolutely stunning! What an awesome sight. Very hard to beat a large Napoleonic game like this, with wonderful looking troops and great terrain for being such a spectacular sight!

  11. Wow, your deployments become bigger and bigger. Great pictures, great battle and figures. I love it!!