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.



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