So three weeks on the trot we managed to get to play, that's a record for me since rejoining the ranks and saw us finish the game.
Fortune was smiling on Lee with him getting the best of the activations at this point. He also managed to stop the retreat of the Nassau Brigade on the first attempt but it remained fragile with being forced to retreat again a real threat. The only real good news was that they could shelter behind the Brunswick reinforcements whilst they continued to try and recover order. I also was trying to take a breather to reorder my troops before taking on the fresh Brunswick troops.
Lee has brought up some of Picton's troops to the edge of Quatre Bras with a light regiment just outside the village. I bring up my Hussars and prepare to charge these troops in the following turn, my cavalry have been very busy and all of them carry cohesion losses.
Whilst Lee was weak on the hill in the centre, closing for the kill was difficult as his guns poured in canister causing severe cohesion loss on a number of battalions. It was inevitable that the hill would fall but the cost was surprisingly high, the Brunswick troops were not going to give up the hill before extracting a high price.
I bring the two flanking battalions onto the Brunswick flank whilst I reorder the troops to their right (blue marker means disordered) Lee knows I have numbers and position but can do little about it as the Nassau are very fragile and though these Brunswick troops are still fresh their Division as a whole is close to breaking so he can not afford to loose many more units.
My charge against Picton's exposed infantry fails to be conclusive and the Hussars rally back behind the guns whilst a second Hussar regiment advances past the guns to try it's luck.
The central hill is almost mine now, the single Brunswick Battalion with the all important guns is now flanked and under threat of being attacked from two sides and the guns can now be flanked. The cost has been hign but the Brunswick's lost another battalion to a cavalry charge and are on the brink of being forced to retire the Division. Piction did have some revenge as many saddles were emptied as my Lancers passed two battalions of Fresh British troops were shaken and forced to retire to their own lines. Fortunately they were soon rallied and would be in position to rejoin the action after a few turns.
Another charge in the centre against Picton but this time I won the combat round but still failed to break the infantry being forced to remain in the melee. The last Brunswick battalion on the hill could not resist the attack being forced from the hill and bringing the total loss to the point of Division break. These were now forced to retreat with no home of recovery. The effect being that the exhausted Nassau would be uncovered allowing me to force these from the field. Picton was soon to have to fight on all fronts.
The troops crossing the bridge were now slowed down more by the need to use activation on other Divisions than the enemy as Lee had retreated into the safety of the woods. A wise move as one Battalion was forced to flee into the same woods due to being charged in the rear by one of the Lancer Regiments. My cavalry had done sterling service but were now were getting to the end of their usefulness unless I was prepared to rest them for three or more turns.
I forced my way into the woods on the right but was repulsed with a severe mauling but still it forced two of the three defending Battalions into disorder. I was in position to keep throwing fresh units against them or drive a wedge between them and Picton, but I knew Lee was unlikely to try an attack on my flank.
Now I was activating this flank early in the turn to increase my advantage. I had nine Battalions of fresh troops and now the activation rolls were going more often my way I was going to position my troops onto Picton's flank ready to bring greater numbers against his vulnerable flanks.
Picton is gathered around Quatre Bras and the only troops south of it that are not French are either cut off or in retreat. With his flank threatened and army morale showing signs of breaking he would have to fight with a very narrow front, extended flanks and still outnumbered and out of position whilst I as the French was bringing most of the reserve battalions through the worn ones and preparing to attack from all directions.
The last of the Brunswick's start to stream past the steady line of British and allied infantry who can do nothing to stem the retreat. The hill is starting to will with lines of French infantry, the day looks like it's going to be very long indeed.
The front line looks solid but these will be retreating soon as their Division has been fighting without support in the centre from the start of the battle. The only troops left are scattered, without cavalry or artillery support (the only guns in the area are being limbered up and heading back down the road). They have no hope to hold the ground they are standing on. These too will about face and march away from the sound of guns.
Meanwhile Picton has no choice but to use his forward units as a blocking force whilst he about faces and tries to out march the French flanking force.
So we left it at this point. Both of us felt the Divisions starting to melt away and become less able to even stand and hold ground worked well. Seeing them falter, recover and falter again was really nice. A few turns out of the front line could have made the difference but the Allies don't have the troops for that and whilst I was able to cycle units in and out of the front line, Lee was forced to keep troops in the line that had no business there.
So this was a rule we like and think does the job we wanted. I also had the idea that units that drop one or more cohesion levels in the game should not be able to rally back to full cohesion. This makes them that bit more vulnerable, less effective and will bring a game to a quicker conclusion.
It is still taking too long but that has as much to do with the chatting as the rules. More aggressive and better management of the attacking French would have speeded it up a notch as well. Sure the terrain is restrictive but I feel that I was not getting the best out of the attack and the victory had more to do with Picton's slow slog and Lee's weakness in force than my generalship.
Picton simply takes too long to get there fast enough to save the at start force from being soundly whipped. I have a number of ideas for this including the earlier activation of Picton but also bringing them on in a double column wide front would also help.
Lee certainly needs more troops earlier than they are brought into the action and whilst this is not full protection from an aggressive French player it would mean he can dish it out better.
Lee also threw his cavalry away too early, keeping them behind the line and forcing me to be more careful with my own cavalry would have slowed my down and half of the Brunswick casualty loss was down to my cavalry. I certainly got the better of the cavalry scrap this time, one all then.
So a mixed result really. The rules are almost good to go, the scenario needs just a few tweaks and we are there. Not a bad result in my book.