Saturday, August 8, 2015

Quatre Bras, 1815

This game was an attempt to refight Quatre Bras - without the French realising what it was and being able to apply any benefits of historical hindsight. I planned it all quite carefully, and disguised the battlefield by making up place-names (well, fans of Tin Tin may realise some aren't as made up as they look!) and swapping west and east. All went swimmingly from that perspective - the French (played by Ross and Jim) didn't click to the nature of the thing till quite late in the day. Andrew and Paul commanded the Allies.

Alias Quatre Bras - the map
The table, looking south - the stream was removed before the French players arrived to add yet more Fog of War

However, in a classic example of careless design and umpire hubris, I completely wrecked it by mistiming the whole thing. I kicked off at 1pm - the time around which the French started to seriously engage the Dutch - but started the French player way too far back. I should have either let them deploy much further north, or set the game time to start an hour or two earlier. As a result, by the time the French forces approached the Dutch line, pre-programmed Allied reinforcements were already starting to pour in. I could probably have resurrected the timeline by pausing the game-time, but I didn't realise how badly out things were out of sync till far too much had already arrived in the Allied rear.
Looking north from the French rear - the French forces are shown by markers at this stage to keep the Allies guessing
 Interestingly, our French players made the same call as Ney did historically - Bachelau's troops were sent left (equivalent to the historical right, or east - keep up!) across the more open country, which was also (in a spooky parallel) weakly held by almost the same Dutch-Belgians who had in reality.

Action imminent - Bachelau's men assault the Dutch defences around the farm...
... and evict them in short order.

The Dutch fall back on their main line - which, unhistorically, already exists!
The French push on...
... but so many Allied reinforcements have now arrived unreasonably early that there is no way the French can attack this position with the forces available. Ah, if only D'Erlon was here...
 So, apologies again to the participants for the waste of a good opportunity; an enjoyable enough day was had I think (and the pies, at least, were good!) but relatively little action occurred and the French were on a hiding to nothing from the start.

Paul has put a fuller description of events and a lot more photos on his blog.

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