23 December 2010

A Trial Scenario for Hougoumont

About 3 months ago on the Lasalle Forum, there was a discussion about how to organise a scenario for Hougoumont, Napoleon's left flank at the Battle of Waterloo (or I suppose alternately Wellington's right flank). For some reason, about which I am still unsure, I was quite attracted by the thought of doing this scenario. I had almost enough French battalions and I was in the middle of painting some Hanoverians, so I said why not! I spent quite a lot of time researching the action, a lot of information was out there. I found the internet somewhat contradictory, so I bought a couple of books; first Pagets's monograph on the action and then Adkin's authoritative book on the battle. The latter is really a most excellent book.

A quick inventory of my army showed that I could accurately do the OB with what I had, as well as needing to paint 4 more battalions of légere, a few command figures, some Hanoverian skirmishers and finally a battalion of Nassau. Knowing the importance of the look of the thing, I also knew that I would have to acquire some terrain, namely Hougoumont itself.  I have a 12'x5' table, so I felt a small action like Hougoumont was quite possible. Piece of cake, I said to myself, I can do that all in 3 months, as my plan was to run the scenario in the week before Xmas. Indeed, once I did some measuring I felt I could also run the La Haie Sainte scenario at the same time. Luckily, I controlled myself (the thought of having to paint 3 more battalions of légère also helped), and restricted myself to having to paint around 140 figures and the buildings in less then 3 months. I am going to use the Lasalle Napoleonic rules for my first go at the scenario.

Order of Battle: The OB I am using is pretty accurate, and covers the first 3-4 hours of the action. I have had to make some slight adjustments to the number of men and I also slightly varied the OB for Jamin's brigade. The light German infantry and light companies of the Guards companies are slightly over represented while the remaining number of men in the 2nd battalions of the Coldstream and 3rd Guards are under represented. In respect to Jamin's brigade I have increased the number of ligne and decreased the number of légère, just could not paint any more légère. I have left out the other brigade (Tissot) in Foy's 9th Division and I have not included Bachelu's 5th Division. For my first go, I also left out cannon on both sides and Pire's cavalry brigade. I have used standard Lasalle ratings for all the French, I do not believe the 1,2,4e légère can be rated elite troops. I increased the SK value for the Nassau, I would think that this specific battalion stood above most of the other Nassau.  I have made the light companies of the allies irregular, I believe of course they would have fought as such, and the 1/2e légère are also irregular. They represent all the skirmishers sent forward in Baudin's brigade. The French sub-commander rating have been diced for, I have made MacDonnell a superior commander and Saltoun a good tactician and vigorous commander. Three engineering groups have been attached to the French, maybe a little much, but in this first playtest they have one less infantry brigade, we will see how it goes. Soye's Brigade enters in Attack Column at the southwest corner. The 2/Coldstream Guards enter in March Column at the north corner of the complex.
The Terrain: I have used the Hovels 15mm model to decrease the already too big footprint. I believe the final ground ratio for the model ended up at 5 cm to the metre (I am very poor at these types of calculation, so I am happy to stand corrected). As you can see, this is way out of proportion to my battalion scale (16 cm in line). Thus, I really can not use the concept of Lasalle BUA (1 BUA equals 3 BW) as laid out in the rule book. I looked around for some ideas and found that Barry Hilton in his Republic to Empire rules has a completely different approach to BUA. He essentially ignores the size of the model (the footprint is always going to be too big) and accepts that the important thing to many gamers is the look of the game. I like this! He looks at a BUA as how many models can occupy it and how many models can attack at one time. Using the table from this ruleset, I felt that it was reasonable that the maximum number of models that could occupy the walled Hougoumont complex at one time was essentially no more than a battalion, that 1-2 battalions could occupy the formal gardens and that no more than a brigade could attack at one time. This sounded quite reasonable historically if you think about it. He also imposes a zone of control (area which is barred to non attacking units) around any BUA which in Lasalle speak is going to be approximately 6 BW. So much for that, otherwise I am really going to try to stick to the Lasalle rules as written. The complex and the walls around the formal garden are impassable, but the gates and the walls can be destroyed as noted in the scenario specific rules. The walls are all hard cover. Movement within the complex and the formal garden is unrestricted and all units are in the complex are in the town deployed formation, but in the garden are regular formation. The 2 internal gates within the complex are not impediments. Movement out of the complex and through outer gates is in march formation. Woods around the complex are defined as rough terrain and soft cover.

Scenario Specific Rules: As noted above, I really want to play the rules as written. Entry of reinforcements will be turn dependent and the French will not be allowed to attack with more than a brigade at a time as noted above. As far as I can tell now, I will be using the Optional Rules for Officers Tactics and Casualties, Irregular Units (Hanoverian, British elite companies, 1 French légère), Half Battalion Deployed (British Guards), Superior Commander (McDonnell), Irregular Units Recovering and Engineers. The only variation in these Lasalle optional rules is that in the Engineer demolition rule, the walls around Hougoumont and the 3 gates can be demolished. The wooden gates will be treated as the equivalent of a wooden bridge so an engineer may re-roll a failed attempt. The engineering bases are attached to specific units and can only carry out a demolition task. They do not utilise their assault enhancement. They are removed if the infantry unit to which they are attached is destroyed or when they carry out a demolition task. The game will end when one side fails it's Morale test. Well, I hope, I have covered everything, we will just have to see how it goes.

Playing aids, check!
Initial Deployments, as from Adkin.
Looks like we are ready to go.............



  1. I am anxious to see how you do with this! Great project and a superbe looking setup.


  2. Hi
    Also waiting to see the outcome. It seems like the combat was French-biased, in tha smae way thatn in real world.

  3. The 15mm buildings really work well with the larger figures in this context. A fascinating scenario, I'll be very interested to see how it plays out.