31 December 2010

Struggle for Hougoumont AR (3)

Finally had a chance to update the battle, it has become extremely bloody and is clearly mirroring history. We are now up to 30 turns, the great thing about the Lasalle rules is that the mechanics are quick and exciting to apply, the game just zooms along. 

Rafa asked me to explain the Zone of Control (ZOC) rule, I had grafted on to this scenario. The model of Hougoumont being used is just too big to apply the Lasalle BUA rules. My BW is 40mm and each BUA under Lasalle should be no more then 12x12cm. 1 BUA represents the space that 1 battalion would occupy. If you think about it historically, no more then 3 battalions ever occupied the building complex and the walled garden at anyone time, so really the the maximum number of BUA's I could use in this scenario is 3. The complex made of 3 BUA's would be 36 cm x 12 cm. My model is approximately 70 x 60 cm, so there is no way I could use the Lasalle BUA rules with this model. A model of 36x12cm would be just visually unappealing and for me would ruin the whole game experience. 

I searched through other rulesets, and really the only set that deals with this problem in a reasonable fashion is the Republic to Empire ruleset. Barry Hilton recognises that the visual appeal of the war game is of first importance, but at the same time appreciates that most models built have a footprint way out of proportion to the game scale. He has developed an approach that disregards the size of the model, but looks at it as what it historically represents. All BUA are classified as to their size and to their construction. The rules would regard Hougoumont as a size 3, construction style C complex. The size of the complex determines both the number of troops that can garrison it and attack it at one time. Some simple calculations indicated that no more then 3 battalions can garrison Hougoumont and 6 battalions can attack (or be in the ZOC at one time). Another simple calculation gave me a ZOC of 6 BW. I then thought about this, the actual Hougoumont complex and walled garden is around 240 by 120 metres in size. If you think about it, a French attack column is probably 150 metres wide (200 men), so having 6 battalions attacking a complex with a total linear perimeter of 720 metres is reasonable. I hope this explained things.

I also had to make a couple of other minor tweaks as the game went along. Once a breach was formed in the wall, I had to think about what formation a battalion had to be in to charge, well according to Lasalle a battalion in column of march can not charge and it seemed unreasonable that a battalion in line could move through a breech, so I settled on only attack columns being allowed to charge through a breach. Also I had to think about the bonus in combat for being at a higher elevation, I decided to give it to the allied forces within Hougoumont as I believe the walls were at least 7 feet in height and the defenders were on elevated platforms shooting down. Probably wrong on this one, but we will see how it goes.

Anyway on to the battle: Both Jamin and Soye need to redress their brigades, it now seems that Jamin is going to advance north to the east of the compound while Soye is advancing north to the west. Certainly it appears that the allies are going to be encircled (the weakness of the OB for this scenario is now becoming apparent, should have had some cannon on the ridge as was the case historically to threaten the French advance to the east of the complex). The 3/1e legere maneuver into attack column to charge the Nassau. 
The guards light companies advance through the complex.
The 3/1e legere charge and the engineering detachment of the 2/1e legere makes contact with the wall.
The Nassau easily repulse the 3/1e legere and they fall back. Amazingly enough McDonnell throws a double 6 and the Nassau recover a DISR. The 2/1e legere engineer throw a 3 and his fuse fails to ignite. The flanking fire from the 4/2e legere into the 2/3rd Guards starts to cause damage despite the hard cover.
The Coldstream Guards wheel to meet the lead battalions of Soye's brigade. The light Guard companies enter the walled garden, the 2/3rd Guards are being pounded with flanking fire.
The engineer from the 2/1e legere replaces his fuse, ignites it and blows a hole in the wall, there is now a second breach. The Nassau and the 2/3rd Guards continue their fire Baudin's brigade is weakening. The 3/1e legere are destroyed.
The 2/3rd Guards wheel backward to allow the light companies to replace them at the wall, but they lose their hard cover by doing so. Not looking good!!!!
Well at the end of 30 turns, it is starting to look a little tricky for the Allies. The French outnumber them by 3 to 1, but have only lost 2 battalions so far. If the 2/3rd Guards fall, the Allies will have to start taking Morale tests.

More to come......


30 December 2010

Hougoumont: Mescalero's Take on the Scenario

Mescalero has just posted this in the comments section to my last post. Most of it got cut off because of the size of the text box. He has his own set of rules and ideas for a Hougoumont scenario and I thought they looked so interesting I would share them, here they are unedited (added to Dec 31):

You had a great idea with using Hougoumont 15mm Hovels rather than 25mm ones.
I think about this "battle in a battle from a long time, since i bought "Hougoumont" Command wargame.
There is two phases, first the wood clearing, which has no interest in miniature gaming, and the fights for the Hougoumont compound, interesting to simulate by miniatures way.
These fights had one objective: isolate the compound from ammo resupplys from Wellington main line on the high ground above, or take the walled farm complex by storm using the north door, left open to enable ammo resupply.
So there are three different skirmish zone:
1 the walled farm complex in the west
2 The walled gardens in the center
3 The hedged orchard
North of these three lay the covered way, the path leading to the north gate for ammo resupply carts.
If the french could clear 2 or 3 from allied presence, the covered way would be interdicted to resupply, and Hougoumont would fall soon or later like La Haie Sainte.
Your “gaming table” forget this 3rd part: the orchard.
Historically the fights were very different from a classical batallion manoeuver battle, it was more a company skirmish affair, with constant reinforcement back and forth of a couple of british companies or some more french ones, that s the point !
I think a 25mm Hougoumont simulation should use the 6 miniatures figures base for unit.
(50 to 150 men the base, 20 to 25 men each figure).
An activation is 2 actions
Move move (french only and allied out of the compound) move fire, fire move, fire fire.
Allied IN the compound can Move only once (simulating attacking advantage against defending blindness and french mobility)
British guards can Fire fire fire, if immobile, (simulating their fire superiority). 
A fire action is a D6
A 4 5 6 is a hit normally in clear terrain.
A 5 or 6 on a target in light cover ( Orchard, beind hedge, wood)
A 6 on a target behind wall.
When a unit is hit, it loses one model (but in fact you don t remove a model, they are glued on a base, you count it by batallion (french and allied) by zone (british)
When you count 6 losses you retire a 6models base from THE batallion or from the zone.
Then the unit hit test morale, D6 must be equal or under morale value (see later)
If it fails, the unit is disrupted and must take cover retreating to it.
If already in cover, it stays one turn passive to get rid of disrupted state and has a morale value of one less.
A move to contact (charge) enemy unit for Close combat needs a moral test
A D6 with modifiers must be equal or inferior to morale value, 3 (hanoverians or nassauvians)
To 4 (french or british regulars), to 5 (british guards or veterans).
-1 if lead by a colonel
-1 if supported by another unit from the same REGIMENT (french only), unit just behind charging ( a deep skirmish charge). But the unit defending fire with a +1 die roll modifier for dense target).
-1 for fresh units ( units reinforcing on their turn of engagement, or units with no loss or just one loss and charging or defending against a charge for the first time.
+1 if defending unit is disrupted
If the test is successful, the charging unit move to 3” from the defending unit which fire
(a free D6 fire).
If the fire gets a hit, the charging unit test again with a +1 modifier 
If it doesn t pass it stops and is disrupted. No close combat.
If it passes Then close combat
Each D6 hit on a 4 5 6 when no differneces in cover state
5 or 6 if the other has a cover advantage
a 6 only if defender is behind a loop holed wall, or above the wall. 
Each unit get 2D6, 3D6 if french deep skirmish charge.
Another D6 for fresh unit charging.
The winner is who inflicts more hits, the loser is disrupted and flee away.
Disrupted units fall back to cover if actually in open.
Well, all the designing creativity would be now to organise the reinforcement system.
Some tactics hints
French has 3 to 1 in numbers and an advantage in mobility, he must fix Allied and manoeuver to find a weak defended spot.
A system of hidden units (with wooden blocks dummies or real ) for both french ands allied would be fien.
But the cover favors the allied, british guards firing from hard cover (wall) are deadly 
3 D6 hitting on a 5 6 (french in light cover in the woods hedge), french fire 2D6 hitting on a 6 only.
(skirmish exemple in front of the walled garden.
The British fire advantage ( a third die) is devastating in the long run.
The scenario will be winned or lost by timely led french offensives or counterattacks by timely released allied reserves.
More later if you are intersted.
Thanks for your wonderful job. 
Part 3
(errata about part 2) Charging a disrupted defending unit is –1 to charge test (and not +1 of course)
French has unlimited ammo supply, unless they are isolated (as it happens historically for a couple of squads in the gardens)
They have three turns normal fire ability then fall Ammo low.
Allied in the Hougoumont compound must be resupplied.
This must be done by the hougoumont complex s north gate. 
This gate must be left open.
Each turn this door is closed, the Hougoumont compound gets a Ammo risk point.
Each turn the french control by fire or physically a part of the covered path north (west east, north of the compound) the Hougoumont compound gets a ammo risk point.
( The garden french control is automatically a ammo risk point, the Orchard french control is a Ammo risk point on a D6 of 4 5 6).
When Allied side gets 4 Ammo risks, allied test with a D6, on D6 equal or under the number of ammo risks points, Bingo ! Allied is AMMO LOW and can fire only ONCE each time.
(Not 2 nor 3)
When Allied is AMMO LOW and get 8 ammo risks, it tests again with 2D6, and becomes 
NO AMMO on 2D6 equal or under the number of Ammo rsiks.
NO AMMO means no Fire at all Except defending fire to french charges.

How Allied can lose ammo risks points ?
Each turn the north gate is open, allied test:
On a D6 of 5 or 6 allied lose 1 ammo risk.
On a 6 (cumulative) you test again, and if you get a 5 or 6 you lose another Ammo risk 
(arrival of a providential supply cart !) 

Part 4 

CLOSE COMBAT is the most tricky to simulate:

1 No unit can normally move closer than 4” (10cm) of an enemy, it must CHARGE the enemy to enter the 4” no man s land .

2 to CHARGE, the unit must be 8”(20cm) max or 4” minimum from the enmy unit.

3 The CHARGE movement is 8”’(20 cm), and it is a whole turn activation (the unit can do nothing than charge).

4 The unit say charge ! and test morale (see part 2)
if it fails it is frozen in place and do nothing else this turn (the charge aborts and as it is a whole turn activation...)
if it succeds the enemy get ONE die defending fire, if it makes a hit, the charging must test again with a +1 modifier to D6.
If it fails the charging unit is disrupted and must retreat back to cover and be 12” from enemy.
If it succeds there is CLOSE COMBAT (the unit is moved to 2” from enemy unit.

5 CLOSE COMBAT is a DUEL of D6 Unit against unit (but French can have a “deep skirmish” two units deep counting as ONE unit for close combat)

Each unit has a base of 2D6
You add 1D6 for
French Dense skirmish (2 units deep)
British guards in Hougoumont compound (the farm complex, the walled gardens, the orchard)(Or north of it). (“only these guys could have done it! Said Wellington)
Fresh unit charging.
French HERO leading charge or french Colonel (British guards have already an automatic D6 bonus, so british Heroes are not needed by rules) 

Part 5

Each enemies throw their dice, if it s a draw in hits each gets a loss (and Hero is mortally wounded on a D6 or4 5 or 6, Colonel on a 5 or 6), then throw again all dice.
If there is one Hit difference, the loser , alone, gets a loss (same stuff for Hero and Colonel) and is disrupted
If there are two more hits, the loser gets two losses and is disrupted.

The disrupted must retreat 12” to cover.
The winner advance and take the place of the loser if it wants to.


To keep it simple, MOVING is 8” if totally in clear terrain, 6” if not.
Crossing walls takes a whole activation, the unit must be 2” from the wall at the beginning of the activation and then will be 2” on the other side of the wall.
Crossing Hedge costs 2” to the 6” allowance, so unit has only 4” move.
As i said earlier, moving closer than 4” to an enemy is prohibited, you must CHARGE for it, and be maximum 8” from it.
So 8” in all clear terrain
4” if crossing a Hedge
6” in other situations (move partially in cover)
All activation to cross a wall.

French Colonel leading 1 to 4 units from its own regiment, gets a Third MOVE.
Exemple 3 units lead by Colonel Cubières of the 1er Léger, moving around west of the Hougoumont farm in clear terrain would Move three times 24” (60 cm), or 18”(45cm) if crossing light cover terrain.

British and allied can move only ONCE in the compound, but Twice north of it when reinforcing.

Part 6

Very Important ! The FRESH Units STATE
How to know who is fresh and who is not ?

For the French, i propose a batallion gestion:
Each batallion has 4 Bases (24 miniatures in all)
3 fighting bases and a Command base.
Keep the Command base in the rear near the other three fighting Bases, it will serve to “name” the batallion and to show it s Fresh or not fresh status.
How ?
Put a Fresh marker close to the command base.
When a fighting base gets a loss by fire or close combat, put a D6 with a “1” showing, then a “2” next loss and so on.
When you get 6 losses (D6 showing “6”) you loose the Fresh status forever, but keep your fighting bases where they are, (the command base “disappeared as a “real” fighting base)
But next time you get 6 losses (D6 showing “6”) you retire a fighting base.
Simple !

For the allied side i propose a unit gestion.
Each unit begins on the table with a “fresh status” marker, one loss you flip it, a second loss, you take out the Fresh status marker; the unit is no longer Fresh.


I realise that constant skirmish along the line in front of the Hougomont compound will quicly destroy the units (particularly the french), we need to balance the scenario with a REPLACEMENT RULE, and many gaming will be needed for it.

Each turn French line and lights, german Allies and British can get replacements, which they accumulate to replace lost units (in fact Rallying shattered troops).

The choice of using Colonels and Brigadiers for “rallying” instead of leading troops in combat, could give an advantage.

Lieutenant LEGROS 1er Léger
Once in the game french player can add a free HERO at the head of a french unit trying to attack the north gate.
The gate is automatically Open and french unit go automatically to close combat treating the open door it as a light cover (with a D6 bonus for HERO).


Historically only Howitzers played a role in the battle for hougomont.
Frenc Artillery put the walled farm complex in fire two hours later.
British BULL battery all howitzer shelled the front line just south of the Hougomont compound, and harrassed the french battlegroups trying to go out north of the compound.

So for the scenario, i would propose No artillery for the french (and an automatic farm in fire in a second part of the battle)
And a random shelling by BULL on the south of the compound

1 3D6 south of the farm,
2 3 4 3D6 south of the garden or in the garden
5 6 3 D6 south of the orchard or in the orhard
(i said 3D6 but it could 4 or 2)

The shelling is materialised by a marker put by the british
Then the french throw a D6
1 nothing happens
2 3 it falls right there !
3 5 it drift 6”
6 it drifts 12”

The drift could be in 6 directions like with an hexagon, a D6 shows the direction.

The rules are quite simple, they need to be quick and "shoot from the hip"

You activate, move, fire, or charge, combat is most of the time fire, sometimes a charge create a crisis situation with some tests and dice duel.
Leaders add some morale bonus and extra moving capabilities, or enhance replacement.

Thanks for your blog, happy to see more of your armies in action.



28 December 2010

Struggle for Hougoumont AR (2)

Well the battle continues, sorry for the delay in the post, the blizzard in the Northeast US messed up my morning yesterday and I had to work in the afternoon. I got a few turns in on Boxing Day and few more this morning, have to work again this afternoon, so a quick post.

Rafa made me realise in my last post that I was making an error describing the number of turns. I was undercounting by one half (I was counting 1 turn as 1 French and 1 Allied move). Thus, I had completed 14 turns in my last post rather then 7. This was the equivalent of almost 2 hours of real time, so I should of brought my reinforcements in later then I have done. This is a trial run though, so it is good to discover errors now. I had been trying to schedule the reinforcement entries in an historical accurate way using Adkin's book.

So anyway, I have completed 22 turns now and the battle is raging. All of Baudin's brigade has now entered the killing ground in front of the orchard. They are taking casualties, as are the Nassau. An engineer from the 3/2e legere set a demolition charge and was successful in causing a breech in the previously impassable wall. It is now possible for the French to charge!
The Hanoverians are taking significant casualties and although they are irregular they continually fail DISC tests to change formation and are having difficulty withdrawing. The light companies of the Guards appear to have no such problem and are withdrawing in orderly fashion north being covered by the Coldstreamers.
The 3/2e legere charge through the breech, the Nassau fire in reaction and the large battalion destroys the already decimated French battalion. Other French battalions move into to continue the attack. The Hanoverians take fire from Soye's brigade and are destroyed. 
Jamin's briagde starts their advance, the engineering company attached to the 1/4e legere is moving forward.
The 2/3rd Guards advance to the southern wall to support the Nassau, who now have suffered 50% casualities. Lets hope McDonnell can throw some 6's.
The light companies enter through the north gate with Col Saltoun.
Well I believe things are going better then expected and the Lasalle ruleset is holding up nicely with very minimal modification. It is a challenge to handle all the traffic from 3 French brigades around Hougoumont, although the ZOC rule is certainly useful. We will have to see how the French handle their attack: Will they continue to add reinforcements to the assault on the south wall, or will they hold back and use some of their 6 attacking battalions in a separate attack on the north gate. We will have to watch the 1/4e legere.................


24 December 2010

Struggle for Hougoumont AR (1)

I have run 14 turns and so far things are going quite well. The only real problem is that the time element is way off. Generally each turn is supposed to represent 15 minutes of real time, after 7 turns though the 2e légère is just approaching the wall. This is ok, but the reinforcements are arriving too early. I suspect the increased ground scale is throwing off the movement scale. 

Here we see GdB Baudin giving orders to chef de bataillon Le Vol (2/2e légère). Colonel  Maigrot can be seen to the right exhorting the 1/2 légère to enter the wood. 
The French advance toward Hougoumont through the wood. The Hanoverians in the wood start to pick off the advancing french skirmishers. There irregular status and their SK advantage work to their benefit and the 1/2e légère suffer the first casualties. The voltiguers have to retreat. The 2,3,4/2e légère advance and the Hanoverians withdraw. The light companies of the Guards advance to cover their retreat.
Turn 4 has already arrived and we see Soye's brigade advancing from the south west in attack column. The 2e légère are almost through the wood (it is a little hard to see, but if you doubleclick on the photo, you will see that I detach the mounted officer from each battalion and use this as a marker to record the battalions advance through the wood)
Soye's Brigade advance, it looks like the Guards light companies and the the Hanoverians may get caught. The Hanoverians turn and attempt to cover the retreat of the the British. Lord Saltoun watch as his irregular troops attempt to extract themselves from the the French advance.
The 1,3/1e ligne form line and fire into both the British and Hanoverians. The British maneuver into line and start to retreat around the south west corner. It looks like the Hanoverians may be caught! The 2,3,4/2e légère advance into the killing ground. The Nassauers fire a volley but cause no casualties.
The 2/Coldstreamers form a line to protect the retreat of their light companies and hopefully the Hanoverians. Positions at the end of turn 7.
Well fun so far, I will continue to run the scenario as planned, but some problems have been identified. I probably need to change the turn entry of the reinforcements. I am also going to have to reconsider what units can enter the ZOC. As noted in the introduction, I felt only a brigade could attack the complex at one time. I envisioned this to be units from only 1 brigade at a time. As you can see the forward elements of both Baudin's and Soye's brigades reached the ZOC at the same time. I had to hold back the lead battalions under Soye. Maybe, I should have made it that 6 battalions from any brigade can attack at one time. Of course if I changed the turn entry of Soye's brigade this may of not been a problem. Any comments?

Well time to celebrate Xmas and start cooking, I have to figure out how to cook duck and make a trifle. Hope to have another report for Boxing Day. Happy Xmas to all.


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.............