Sunday, November 24, 2013

Quatre-Bra-less Napoleon at War Game at the Rat Palace Redux!

We got together to play Napoleon at War on Saturday. We played a game loosely based upon Francisco's (from Austin group) really cool Quatre Bras scenario.  After the first turn, the game turned into one of our usual tabletop "brawls" but was quite fun all the same. I won't bore you with a long, drawn out AAR but will hit some of the highlights of the game.  If you've not played at the Rat Palace Redux, you should give it a try. It's turned into a nice place to play and relax. 

My sister in law sent an appropriate birthday and re-opening present to me. Nothing like a Napoleon Bobblehead to "open the ball". THANKS!

The game centered on the village of Quatre Bra-less to the left and the stream in front of the village. There was a large dense forest to the right flank of the Allies. The British commander assigned the following forces to the battle: 2 Divisions of British and Brunswicker Infantry and the Heavy Cavalry division (without supports but with Horse Arty.) in reserve.

We played on a 8x6 table. The RPR can accommodate up to
a 12x6 but for a Saturday game with 3 players per side, an 8x6 is sufficient. It gave good figure density/visuals at least to me.

The buildings are all Crescent Root. I don't know how old they are or if they're still available. I'll just say several years old and you'll need to check out their site if they're still in business.  I usually use these for France 1940 Flames of War games. They work quite well for Napoleonics as well. I've still got over 25 years worth of 15mm/25mm buildings and stuff. I like the Crescent Root stuff best right now.   The forested areas are pretty cool to work with as well. The trees have pins attached to the bottom of their trunks. I can make a forest or woods look like a woods instead of using crappy felt pieces.  Players can "open and close" the wooded sections as they move through.

The French advanced quickly with Legere and occupied the wooded areas. The British resigned themselves to countering with the Brunswickers on the flank.  The Legere froze the Brunswickers in place while French Line Lanciers began to cross the stream.  The Brunswickers remained in column rather than deploying into line. Britsh Line infantry supported the Brunswick contingent.  No reserves on turn one.
French Lanciers got across the stream but the Brunswickers managed to form square and repulsed the Lanciers.  A French general was shot from the saddle at this time. This built the confidence of the British team.  The French just gave a typical Gallic shrug and muttered C'est la guerre!  

The British commanders were non plussed by the exhibition of l'audace by the French lanciers. They were just glad to see one less French general. 

The bridge in front of Quatre-Bra-less became a focal point as the French tried to assault across the entire width of the battlefield; pressing the flanks and demonstrating in the middle.  French Heavy Artillery cleared the field with very little response by the British and Brunswicker artillery.  It is my opinion that the British artillery are a weak link in the current Napoleon at War army lists. I understand that the French had a technological advantage in artillery shot weight but that should be countered by an extra gun in the British artillery batteries.  Using three gun batteries seems to be a game issue. They die quickly and do not have the staying power of the heavy artillery. This is just a whine on my part since MY French artillery is "under construction".
There are a lot of Frenchmen here. Not so many Anglais! The French were methodical in their approach but could not force the bridge.  You can see the French reserves having a "smoke 'em if you got 'em" break behind the walled chateau.  The British/Allied players were stoic in the defense throughout the game.  The British flank commander held a brigade in reserve at this time. This proved a wise choice as the French were pressing both flanks.  The Brunswickers gave as good as they got however; the Legere were shot down in due course.  As you can see, the field where the Brunswickers were is becoming more barren on both sides. That is a telling point.  This game and rules set is quite "bloody" and gives the players a quick resolution of both shooting and melee.
The Brunswick infantry and artillery have left the field after a force morale check.  The French have also cleared the bridge to the approach of Quatre-Bra-less.  My British Heavy cavalry division (Scots Greys, 2 regiments of Dragoons) finally got onto the battlefield. We randomized their arrival. Of course (another whine by me) they arrived 48" away from the place in which they should have arrived.  "Good Clay" surveys the big hole where the British cavalry should have been last turn as his Brunswick Uhlans and Hussars screened the British race down the road with their swords.  We finally got the the cavalry reserve sorted out as I fouled up the formation  by not moving down the road in line. I didn't do that because it looked stupid to me to do so. My bad. Sorry "Good Clay". 

Here's a kinda' close up of the Napoleon at War Scots Greys. True to their reputation, they were big men on big horses.  Again, true to the reputation in the "Waterloo" movie, they were the best cavalry on the field but the "worst led". They got smacked down by Lanciers (not Guard either).  It was one of those days for the British!  

The Napoleon at War cavalry are giants compared to my CGM Dragoons. I ended up purchasing another NaW Dragoon box set to match up with the Greys.  It's a major wart to me that these figures do not match well with other manufacturers.  Yeah, I'm the consumer and can buy what I want; but, once I started painting NaW figures, I wanted to complete the collection with NaW figures. Now, if Man at War in Spain would hurry up and put more figures into their ranges, it would be a lot more palatable.  I wonder if some of us could invest some USD into this company and move them along.  I did find that Newline Designs makes a great 20mm Napoleonic line that fits just fine with NaW figures. I've painted a load of Brunswickers and plan to order whatever Men at War do not carry such as Legere, French Dragoons, Hussars (both sides), and Guard Lanciers (Dutch and Polish).  This is an economic issue rather than a "want to" but is still a major irritant for me and could be a sales headache for NaW.  I don't want to see this rules set go the way of the dinosaur because the miniatures line could not compete.  

Here is "Evil Scott" pointing out that the British should probably pack up and get on down the road to Waterloo. He's probably right too!

I've read multiple posts on the Napoleon at War forum whining that the attacker cannot win a NaW game.  I don't see this in our games. Sure, one takes attacker's losses and the attacker WILL lose the game if they attack without proper "preparation".  Use the Heavy Artillery, use the cavalry to "pin" units either into square or into other formations if the player is either incredibly brave or thinks "the odds are in their favor" not to form square (dumb idea). After the units have been whittled down, then attack. It works as the French forces I've seen on the table usually outnumber the British by 1 or 2 batts. per brigade.

Looking at the game from the French side, it looked pretty strong for the French and not so much for the Brits.  The game ended up with the British cavalry getting whacked as the British infantry moved down the road to Waterloo.  
The French commander apparently had an easy time of it as he multi-tasked and beat the British at the same time.

My observations and lessons learned? Get more Brits on the field sooner. I'd better re-read the OBs for Brits and put them on the table correctly.  I should also paint a Light Infantry Division and more "fodder" allies such as Dutch-Belgians, Nassau, etc. to soak up some of the quick advancing French.  I don't know, I'm thinking my collection is big enough for me to play.  I've got a couple of batts. of Highlanders too. I put them up and quit painting them when I had to paint kilts in 15mm. They're a P.I.T.A. on a larger figure. I just don't want to deal with them on a 15mm.  They might help but not much.  All in all, we had a good game, and good day. That's what our hobby is all about! We're planning on playing Might of Arms ancients on the Friday after Thanksgiving. No "Black Friday" madness for us. 

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