Thursday, May 19, 2011

Portable Wargame: Quatre Bras

I find myself strangely compelled by "The Portable Wargame" by Bob Cordery... it really appeals to my sense of simplicity and abstraction. So I decided today to put the rules under a bit of "stress" by posing a historical of my favorites,... the 1815 Napoleonic Battle of Quatre Bras. I used the order of battle found on Wikipedia to get a proportional set of armies...and I was off and running.

I used a larger hexboard that I pirated from  another Command and Colors Game "epic scale board" that system.

The units in the game equated to brigades in the historical battle. The order of battle breaks down in units as follows:


15 infantry units
3 Field Artillery units
2 Light Artillery
1 Dragoon unit
1 Cuirassier unit
1 Guard Lancer unit
2 light cavalry units
1 command unit of 25 units plus 1 command


11 infantry units
5 artillery units
2 cavalry units
1 command unit
total of 18 plus one command

as I am still getting used to the rules so I didn't differentiate for "guards," "lights,"  and such but I think such distinctions can be integrated into the rules later.

the French advance...

the Brunswickers occupy Gemioncourt Farm...

The battle was fought as per the rules with the addition of my "squares rule" mentioned in the last post.

The French came on in fine style and made good progress initially  by turning out the Brunswickers from Gemioncourt Farm in the early stages... but not without losses.

Eventually the French assault gathered momentum and the assault on Gemioncourt became a full scale fight.

The French captured the farm after a sharp fight...and then consolidated to make an assault on the Quatre Bras ridge.

but in the process the British force held on doggedly and caused significant casualties...the French send light cavalry unit around the British left flank but it meets the firm defensive squares of the Highlanders

a view of the attacking French columns

Wellington moves to the crisis point!
the British hold firm!
...ultimately, the French make a game assault on the village of Quatre Bras but their strength is spent...and a final flurry of musketry from  the British Guards seals their fate and they remain in possession of Gemioncourt Wood as well as the crossroads of Quatre Bras....

...and as the Iron Duke would say..."it was damned near run thing!"

The rules again gave a good game in 1 hour...and the rules worked for a historic scenario, which in my book is real test!....again, the rules are bloody, but as Ross noted in the last game, it demands that commander be aware of his reserves...and that was decisive in this it was in history. the French exhausted all their infantry, and at the end the British had 3 brigades of infantry intact, hanging on to Quatre Bras,... so the battle went to Wellington!

One of the interesting things about this battle was that the forces were unequal...the Brits were outnumbered, but the managed to hold the French as in the original battle...a very good outcome for the rules, and one that begs to be tried again.

I am interested in developing a better use for the command unit...instead of being just a seems like it runs from the enemy instead of moving to the crisis points. Perhaps it can influence combats in the vicinity or such...

I have a new interest in my 6/10mm because of these rules!!


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

Reading this blog entry was a joy!

As you say, if you can re-fight an historical battle and get a fairly reasonable result, then the rules must work fairly well.

One idea that I have considered (but have not yet included in the rules) is giving the Command Unit the ability to 'reinforce' other Units by its presence (i.e. if the Command Unit is in an adjacent hex to an other Unit (or Units) it improves their fighting ability by increasing its Close Combat value by 1 or adding 1 to any firing dice scores).

All the best,


Ross Mac said...

Is that all you did yesterday? :)

Excellent thought and game. Looked great too. The game is oddly compelling isn't it? and flexible.

littlejohn said...

@Ross, lol...I made sure I was done and packed away before the blouse&skirt returned...and the Portable Wargame is just the ticket for a quick battle under the pressure of time...and the authorities ;)

@Bob, I'll give that command idea a try and let you know. Thanks again for those cool rules...and of course a tip of the hat to Mr Morschauer.