|"Oooh, look over there, Mon Empereur! It's Taylor Swift!"|
Caesar and Ralph did a lot of the pre-game organisation, putting together charts and play-aids, as well as organising who was bringing figures. The figures themselves came from a variety of people. We played in 15mm, because it gives a nice balance between pretty figures and the mass effect that Blucher cries out for. Here's some of the figures laid out before being put on Blucher sabot bases
Dave was the overall commander of the French. He sat alone, working out our plan.
The Coalition worked as a team, unaware that John G, (in the red shirt) was a French commander.
With the basic column dispositions and plan determined, the two commanders, Caesar for the Coalition and Dave for the French, sat down at the map to determine the structure of the battle.
Initial advances ...
All of the columns were on the move by this stage. The Coalition had already garnered a significant advantage in victory points. This would put teh French very much on the offensive in the forthcoming battle.
The battle decided. For this game we used eight squares to determine the battlefield, rather than the usual six. The French had all four of their columns engaged from the start. The Coalition had one which would appear as a reinforcement on the French right.
And here we are; all nine players Ralph, Peter, Me, Bryan, Gary, Caesar, John, Dave and John G.
The next stage was to finalise the terrain, both mandatory and optional. Dave placed a small village on the French right, whilst Caesar placed one on the Coalition left, opposite the French one. These would become the objectives for the battle, and would dictate that the bulk of the action would take place on the part of the table.
This was the other flank, destined to be relatively quiet. Gary advanced his infantry to the river to scout out the Coalition forces and prevent a sneaky crossing.
On the other flank the bulk of our force advanced rapidly towards the enemy-held village. The French had to hold both objectives at the end of the day; all the Coalition had to do to win was prevent this from happening.
On our right Ralph reinforced the village we held with our reserve troops; Coalition reinforcements would be appearing here at some stage and we wanted to be ready for them.
The French advanced in fine style.
In the centre Napoleon and Murat checked out the opposition cavalry.
These were my troops. Most of them spent the battle warily observing the enemy cavalry.
On our right, Dave was pushing forward his attack.
On our left we just watched and waited.
Coalition cavalry attacked our right, with mixed results. The battle had begun in earnest.
An overview of the field.
The French captured the enemy-held village!
Meanwhile Ralph prepared the defences of the other village.
More Coalition troops formed up in the centre, but with a long line of marshes there neither side felt willing to launch an attack.
The fighting on the Coalition left grew fiercer, as units began to be sucked in from elsewhere.
Another overview of the battlefield.
The Coalition got lucky; their reinforcements arrived very early indeed, piling into the rear of the main French attack.
The French were in trouble now, trapped between two enemy forces.
The village changed hands again; it would do so three or four times during the course of the battle.
French Guard units from the centre were now moving into action around the village.
Ralph held off Russian attacks on the French rear area.
Even I started to shift troops over to the main fighting, as we realised that there was to be no battle elsewhere on the table.
At this point we had to call time. The French were in a fair bit of trouble, with their main attack broken up through the timely arrival of the reinforcements. There were still attacks to be launched on the village, but the battle would now hinge on how quickly both sides could bring in troops from elsewhere on the battlefield. However the onus would always be on the French to attack, and this was proving more difficult as time went on. The French position wasn't helped by several consecutive poor rolls for movement points, which paralysed some troops in critical positions. As ever with this style of game, there was never enough command to go around.
Thanks to everyone involved in organising a great game. There are probably improvements we could make for future exercises of this nature, but it was well worth the effort as it stood. The figures looked magnificent and the rules coped very well with the size of game.