Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Napoleonics 20: Waterloo

I just got a copy of Fading Glory, which is GMT's reissue of four Napoleonics 20 games from Victory Point Games: Waterloo, Salamanca, Smolensk, Borodino. Waterloo is first in the scenario book, so I started with that one. The rules are pretty simple, and any old-school wargamer who grew up with SPI and Avalon Hill will already know the basics: hex based, zones of control, CRT.
No optional rules in effect for this play through, which mosts importantly mean "no leaders".

Turn 1: The French center/right assaults Ligny, committing the Guard and launching diversionary attacks on the Prussian units outside the fortress. Victory comes at a heavy cost--II Cavalry and IV Corp--but the Prussian III Corps breaks and the Guard takes Ligny. On the west, the battle with the British is indecisive. The British reserve moves forward to Quatre Bras.

Turn 2: The French win a Pyrrhic victory, losing two infantry corps in exchange for the British I Corps. They fare better in the east, breaking a second Prussian unit. The Allies have only two units on the map now; the British Reserves pull back west of Genappes to prevent a flanking maneuver by a French cavalry unit in the woods, and the surviving Prussian corps marches into Quatre Bras. At this point the Allies have three Broken units, but the French have 4 and spent one Morale to commit the Guard (the second commit was free thanks to a card draw); Allied morale is 8, French is 6.

Turn 3: The French march toward Quatre Bras. The Allies use a card to attempt to rally the British I corps, but blow the roll and the unit is eliminated. In retrospect, the Allies should have spent a Morale Point to provide a +1 DRM; that, plus the Elite status of that unit, would have kept it in Limbo instead of being destroyed.

Turn 4 (Night): The French maneuver against Quatre Bras; the British bring on Uxbridge at Nivelles; the Prussians bring in their reinforcements plus their rallied vanguard unit at Hamme.

Turn 5: The French force march to attack the Prussian corps in Quatre Bras and the British reserves in Genappe, throwing the Guard and two cavalry divisions against the latter. The Prussians receive a "Withdraw" result which is nullified by being in a fortress; the British unit is broken, and French cavalry occupies Genappe. The Allies bring on the British II at Nivelles; the corps joins Uxbridge in an attack on the French III Cavalry. The French dragoons countercharge, driving back Uxbridge and spoiling the British attack.

Turn 6: The French cavalry in Genappe ignores its orders (due to the Michel Ney card effects) and charges the British infantry, to no effect. It holds the two British units in play while massed French infantry assaults Quatre Bras and destroys the Prussian unit there. Northeast, French cavalry moves between Chapelle St Lambert and Wavre, harrying the advancing Prussian reinforcements. Repeated British attacks break Ney's cavalry, but the handwriting is on the wall--there are two British units facing seven French, and the Prussians are too far away.

Turn 7: Napoleon Humbugs Allies, and the fast-marching French surround and destroy the two remaining British units. Oddly, while the English have no units on the board, their moral hasn't really suffered; they have lost six units (including two permanently) but have broken four French in return, so their morale is still at 6 (from the original 8). The Prussian cavalry vanguard races toward the crossroad at Waterloo, but they won't make it in time.

Turn 8: The French advance north. The two cavalry divisions end the turn just outside Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte, followed by the Imperial Guard and the rest of the army.

Turn 9: The French cavary move into the Waterloo area, blocking Allied lines of advance. The Allies could in theory pull it out--they've still got Morale points left--but the French are concentrated, the Allies dispersed, and barring awful dice, the French should be able to keep their advantage intact. Vive l'Empereur!

Rules which tripped me up: Crossing a minor river costs +1 move; Rout markers come off at the end of the next turn unless the enemy is in contact, in which case they don't; and Artillery attacks (but does not defend) at twice its printed strength--they really should have changed the counter design to reflect that one. And you have to pay careful attention to the Morale Points, both in terms of"keep track of them" and "spend them when you need to--but only when you really need to."

All in all, a good design. I particularly like the quick set up--only 26 counters, total for both sides, on the board, and that includes generals (which I didn't use) and reinforcements on the turn track.

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