Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Game 14 - Waterloo / Wavre 1815

A return to the 'Snappy Nappy' rules over the Christmas period. We had looked at the massive Quatre Bras and Ligny battles on a single table last time. With a further ambitious 'mega' game in the offing, it has done more to re-emphasise the excellent mechanics of these rules in that (1) players are forced to use Napoleonic tactics by virtue of the mechanisms and (2) lose substantial amounts of troops when they do not.

And yes, we fully appreciate that we probably should have put this off for a year and a half in order to cash in on the anniversary. Let's call this a test run, shall we?

Simply put, by managing leaders, forcing infantry to form square by threatening with cavalry, then firing with artillery, and holding the centre/flank while the other flank is threatened, one can win the battle. If only the confounded enemy would allow you to do this, things would be so much easier!

Again, the orders system does cause things to drag a little, though I suspect that this was because there were too few players. It does make sense nevertheless. 

Snappy Nappy is uniquely designed for multiple players as corps commanders. This would have sped up the slight minutiae that we encountered in terms of resource management, though with a set of rules with this epic scope, that is to be expected to a degree.

Other facets of the game such as the relative quality aspects of troops, the inspired use of d10 rolls to simulate potential breakdown in order or the shaking off of fire in turn, allow for some planning, yet with the constant threat of everything falling apart very quickly - just as it should be.

Ans so to battle...
(There are a lot of pics here, so I'll try to keep the commentary punchy...if that's possible...)

The battlefield, looking from Wavre toward Mont St.Jean, with masses of Prussians in the middle.

 The view from Mont St.Jean toward the French lines.

Three Prussian corps sit ready. We used a telescoping time rule, so that Prussian corps could not choose to move too early, relying instead on their historical times of departure.

The French lines in front of Placenoit, with the Garde Imperiale behind them. Their role in the coming battle would once again prove pivotal.

Initial French moves at the Allied centre and right flank. The push on the centre is the main concern. The flank will hold...I think. Allied cavalry however, moves to the left flank, as cavalry has been spotted moving into dangerous positions.

Never mind the left flank - significant French movement on the right flank - that Kellerman fellow, with heavy cavalry.

The Allied right comes under significant fire from heavy artillery.

The centre now under concerted French attack.

 The Allied left also being probed by cavalry.

Wavre remains a logjam of French columnar attacks across the bridges, so far blunted by (very) stubborn Prussians.

Prussian corps however, are beginning to move toward the larger and more dangerous French force lies. Will they be in time to stop the French taking the road to Brussels?

'It is the Prussians my Emperor!'

 The Allies secure and hold the centre despite repeated French attacks.

 British cavalry charge into the valley to remove stubborn French artillery, which is now isolated.

The Allied right seems far.

...although French cavalry is approaching fast.
  The Imperial Guard moves steadily west, toward Placenoit and the advancing Prussians.

While at Wavre, things remain tense, though at a stalemate. Where is Grouchy? Why, he's stuck here my Emperor.

Finally, after repeated assault, Dutch Belgian and British troops are pushed back - with only Nassau infantry preventing the Allied flank from crumbling...

A massed cavalry battle proceeds on the Allied left, with elite Allied infantry stuck on the ridgeline, unable to move for fear of opening a gap that the French might yet exploit.

 As the Imperial Guard successfully hold the Prussians in check at Placenoit at 7pm...

...the Allied right flank breaks, with only massed artillery left to stop the French cavalry breakthrough.

 Allied squares form hurriedly in response to the French flanking move.

Have we mentioned the stalemate at Wavre? So near, yet so far.

 On the Allied left, an insane cavalry charge led by Ney(!) results in him being carried from the field as lancer regiments are charged from the rear by Dutch Belgians.

But the Allied left is about to be reinforced by advancing Prussian elements (at long last).

The Allied right flank falls, but there is no French infantry left with which to exploit the breakthrough. By 9pm, Mont St.Jean, and the road to Brussels remains covered by British, Dutch Belgian, and Nassau troops in square, with little French artillery and no infantry to toast the comparative success.

 As night falls across the battlefield...

 ...Grouchy had finally broken free of Wavre,

 ...the Imperial Guard is starting to waver,

...the Allies hold the road to Brussels, however tenuously,

...and the Prussians are flooding toward Mont St.Jean.

In the end, the French made great gains at Waterloo, but failed to exploit them due to lack of infantry, although for a time, Wellington was under significant pressure. The Imperial Guard seemed invincible in the afternoon (even threatening to send troops toward the Allied lines) yet began to waver - though at a heavy cost to the Prussian troops at Placenoit.

Had Grouchy escaped Wavre earlier in the day and hit the Prussian rear, we would have argued a tactical draw. As it was, it became an Allied victory in the closing stages of the battle. What a great game.

More Snappy Nappy to follow. The game is however more suited to multiple players for larger battles, not because of rules complexities, but simply because of resource management. This is a real benefit as each player begins to feel like a corps commander AND can get a game finished within a few hours. More of this to follow - and indeed, perhaps some 'hacking' of the mechanisms for other periods.


  1. Great report and beautiful pictures!

    1. Thank you Phil. Apologies for the quality of some of the pics.

  2. Nice, thorough report. Do you think the French can win this scenario?

  3. I know, I know...I honestly thought for a while during the game that we were going to break every myth and tradition surrounding this battle...if only the French had preserved more infantry for the coup de grace, if only some of the Guard had been moved toward Waterloo...if only, if only...I guess that's wargaming.

    So the answer to the question must be no I suppose Mike...though I think we'll have to try again soon.

    I'm actually looking at the Snappy Nappy mechanicsfor the American Civil War...and may (no promises) be doing Gettysburg.

  4. What a terrific looking game. I love the games with sweeping maneuver and lots of units. I will purchase this game!

    1. Thanks Steven. I'm not sure about the Napoleonic purists and their reaction, but 'Snappy Nappy' is everything I ever wanted in a Napoleonics game (and perhaps even Horse and Musket). I still love Volley and Bayonet although SN is quicker in terms of prep and play. I'm considering using the mechanisms across different periods (ACW especially).

  5. I too love Volley & Bayonet for all periods and after reading your post I immediately bought Snappy Nappies. I cannot wait until it arrives in the mail. I think I need to start painting up more units!