Some wargamers need to control elite forces that slice through all toy opposition. Some wargamers need to attack the opposing toy army in order to show their “manliness”. But when you need to recreate the chaos and confusion of a desperate defence, you need Chris and myself!
Not for us the pomp and splendour of the Empire at its zenith. We had five corps of Marie-Louises, hastily recruited and also having lost their battalion guns in the retreat from the border. Napoleon, brilliantly played by myself of course, bowed to the dire warnings of Mortier in the First Corps, and placed the only experienced troops in the eastern suburbs. Our orders required us to cover all three arterial roads to Paris. My initial plan was to concentrate on holding just two, calling on reinforcements to retake the third avenue after we had halted the Coalition forces.
With the Imperial Guard in reserve, we knew we would have our work cut out. Steve Porter would be attacking on our right. The huge Russian army trundled down the centre. On the left came the dour, grumbling Blucher played by the ….erm……lively and positive James! Our umpire would give each Coalition army the same manouvre dice, if one army went over the total of two dice then manouvre would stop. The French had three dice but Colin had some special rules up his sleeve.
The Blucher ruleset fantastically recreates artillery combat. You really do have to husband your artillery to use when it is vital. The Russians in the centre were a grave threat to rupture our centre but the Austrians were more pressing. The flanking French hussars forced the Austrians into square and the accompanying artillery started to reduce the white ranks. Two brigades of Austrian cuirassiers countered but they were outnumbered by the heavy dragoons of the Fourth Corps.
With the Astrian flank stalled by our cavalry attacks, our brave conscripts steadied themselves for the Austrian onslaught between the two woods. In Blucher, the Marie -Louises gain the “shock” ability so they are not to be underestimated. However, the withdrawal of our Leftwing was not without incident. The Prussians were content to trundle slowly forward and let their artillery tear through Chris’ withdrawing forces.
It was time to send for reinforcements. It would take a further two turns. By then great gaps had appeared on our left. The veterans of first corps sat motionless in the urban area in the centre, menaced only by some Prussian dragoons. But, then the Guard arrived…..
And………….everything stopped. To get our elites into battle required all our manouvre dice. Our cavalry were sitting ducks and the remaining left flank conscripts were being mown down by the German artillery. The Guard was impassive as our right wing infantry assaulted the Austrians.
Now the Russians were in position in the centre. Wheel to wheel batteries cleared their whole front. The Czar had forbidden them to risk heavy infantry losses so the defenders of the suburbs were untested. Regiment after regiment routed in front of the gun line. The Guard was powerless to act as the hastily raised Marie Louises said “au revoir!”
It had been a brilliant game. I’m not quite sure what conscript infantry could have done in the face of such a maelstrom of artillery but then there were obviously some defeatists in the Guard! The Blucher rules handled this massive battle with ease. You get a real feeling of the grand sweep of the Napoleonic battlefield. A Colin Cavanagh Christmas Classic!