After the game last year there was a lot of discussion about how it could be improved, and these changes were applied to the game we played. Firstly we made the table narrower so troops got into action more quickly and so that the Allied strongpoints weren't so far from their main line that their defence was futile. Secondly we removed the separate Plancenoit table we'd used last year. To adjust for this we also ditched one French and one Prussian corps, and had their activities off-table and outside the scope of the game.
Here's the table set up ready for the battle. In the foreground is Hougoumont, beyond it La Haye Sainte and in the far distance the settlements of Papalotte and Frischermont. All of these were held by the Allies, but worth victory points to the French; 2VP each for the first two and 1VP each for the latter two. There were also 2VP up for grabs for hlding the crossroads on the Allied ridge. As you can see, there were 8VP on the table, and the Allies held them all at the start. Victory would go to the side that held a majority at nightfall. An army could also win by breaking the enemy army.
The players. We all seemed to have decided that blue was the colour of the day.
Take a moment to marvel at Caesar's Blucher movement measuring device, converted from some scrap sprue. I won't give the training course that we had.
Here's the initial setup around Hougoumont, before the units were revealed. At this stage the game looks like the opening credits of Dad's Army.
A view along the ridge. Daniel was commanding Rielle's troops, tasked with taking Hougoumont.
D'Erlon's Corps advanced to take Papelotte and Frichermont.
The advance on Hougoumont.
The Allies revealed.
Caesar alternated between commanding D'Erlon's Corp, and keeping us on the straight and narrow with his knowledge of the rules.
An early combat - Allied light cavalry attacked some advancing French infantry.
Another view along the ridge, with more figures on the table.
The attack against Papelotte and Frichermont developed slowly. Time was of the essence, though, because the Prussians would be turning up soon.
On the other flank Rielle was engaging the Allies along the line, whilst trying to take Hougoumont.
To the right of them, the Guard were advancing on La Haye Sainte. We reasoned we could secure a win by taking and holding all of the objectives in front of the ridge, leaving the Allies with the crossroads.
The fighting intensified around Papelotte. The cards on the table are the French cavalry, which had been assigned from the reserve to this flank in order to counter any sneaky Prussian moves.
Meanwhile, in the centre, the Guard advanced on La Haye Sainte.
The Prussians arrived!
They were quickly revealed. The French cavalry charged in, to stop them attacking the two settlements, one of which was now in French hands.
On the other flank the French were taking heavy casualties, but managed to take Hougoumont. All they now had to do was hold it until nightfall. Despite massive casualties, they did so.
The latter part of the battle, with all of the figures on the table, and fierce fighting around all of the key objectives. By this stage the French controlled everything but the crossroads, but were going to have to fight to hold their win.
The Allied cavalry appeared to try and win the day for Wellington in the centre.
With only a couple of turns left, the Prussians took Papelotte.
The Prussians were putting D'Erlon's troops under a great deal of pressure, whilst the French cavalry did what it could to help. Which wasn't much. Incidentally, I was running the French cavalry.
Fighting was fierce around La Haye Sainte, but the French held the objective.
The Prussians captured Frichermont as well. The game was now tied. Caesar tried to retake Papelotte, but failed. There was one French turn left.
Enter Napoleon ...
Napoleon is fairly inactive in this scenario, and could only use his leadership ability every three turns. But we'd saved him up, and used him at the end to order a series of attacks on the two Prussian-held objectives. Any attack ordered by Napoleon in this way gets bonus, an it was used to great effect. The Prussians were thrown out of both objectives by the French, giving us a 6-2 victory as night fell.
The scenario worked really well, and we played it to a conclusion well within the day at a fairly relaxed pace, which just goes to show the strength of Blucher for gaming battles of this size. We tried a method of speeding up the allocation of MO, where each side only got a single D6 worth of points (rolled secretly by the other side), but with each command (player) being able to make their moves using the whole score. It seemed like we wouldn't have enough to do anything, but in fact with careful planning of moves all players generally got to do a decent move each turn, and keep the battle moving.
Thanks to Ralph for organising the scenario, and various others - Gary, Ralph and Caesar - for providing figures and terrain.
Update: Ralph's report includes more photos, more information on what was happening in the centre and around Hougoumont, and information on the actual setup of the game and the commands.