Friday night saw me over at Lee's with the aim of starting another playtest of the battle we will be taking to Joy of Six. It's really a dress rehearsal though some of the units will be swapped out and buildings replaced as well as added and yes more trees will need to be added, as well as the odd wall and hedge as required.
Here we have the start positions from the view of the French player (me). As you can see the brave allied defenders are rather under represented and need to try and hold on till they are reinforced. Of course all I want to do is smash my way through the thin lines and leave Wellington with a mass of routing troops to try and bring back into line.
From the allied perspective, goodness that's a lot of French, good job most of it is infantry. I have more troops but these will come on a little later whilst most of the Allied troops are off board and will come on over the course of the battle until they will have brought more troops into the battle but it's very likely he will never have a greater number of troops on the field at any point in the battle if formations are smashed before the allied numbers begin to mass.
Looking down the battle line. A single Dutch (I think) battalion contests the farm in front of the ponds whilst the French mass in front of it and all along the line. In the last game the farm was given away for free but I was unable to stand against the artillery fire and the bridge was never tested. This time the defence is lighter and I may be able to take advantage of a soft flank. The stream between the ponds is not fordable but it is west of the central pond.
Every time we have played these rules I have failed an early Cohesion Test with boxcars losing me a unit in rout. This time it was the third roll of the game for me and worse still it was a Ligre battalion which I was about to throw into the defenders in the woods in the east. This is bad news indeed as I need to smash this force and it's now going to take much longer.
Last game the battle for the woods was one of attack and counter-attack until both sides were fairly spent, I need to make sure Lee gets a bloody nose in any battles in this area as it's vital I have control of it come mid game.
On my right the cannons of the allies force one of my battalions to loose a cohesion step, if they do not recover this before going into combat they loose the -1 to attack rolls, I have other fresh units I can throw into action whilst this battalion recovers so at the moment it's not a problem. As the game goes on and more and more units are committed at the same time it becomes a much larger problem as you lack the commanders to bring formations back into good order.
I shock Lee by throwing three Battalions against the farm, this will mean all three have lost their first fire bonus but such overpowering might sends the defenders packing after two rounds of combat. Unfortunately I could not quite make them rout allowing Lee the chance to recover them if they can get back over the stream.
Meanwhile on the other flank I am bringing more troops into the fight for the woods, at this point all I am doing is standing and exchanging fire which is gaining no advantage for either side but a charge before I have the troops in position could court disaster. The Allied Cavalry is too well placed for me to press my numbers advantage at this point. Two of my lead battalions are in square and have suffered a charge with one battalion losing one level of cohesion but my cavalry are now just behind the infantry and ready to give a hand. Unfortunately they had spent the first turn stationary after failing to be activated.
Allied view of the battle of the ponds, just look at the columns of French infantry, surly Wellington can't expect them to go too long without support?
At least the allied left has the ponds to hide behind, here in the centre the stream only covers half the line. Fortunately they have the hill to make a stand on and the allied cavalry covering the open flank, they have to hope that the cavalry have not exposed themselves too much my charging the French infantry to a standstill.
The woods are the only strong position the Allies have at this point. whilst the French could throw away the battle in a poorly executed attack the Allies need take no risks unless things become desperate. Even with the centre or left pushed back the troops in the woods could continue to resist whilst waiting for reinforcements to come up the road on to their flank.
The French take the farm and start to advance on the bridge, seems they want to force the Allies to fight on all fronts at once. To do this I will need to win the majority of the initiative rolls otherwise one or more of the attack columns will be forced to stagger it's attack over turns and risk being mauled by a more active if smaller opposing force.
Lee rather than suffer a charge by my cavalry took the advantage of charging my cavalry as they took up positions ready to make their own charge. However their Lancers having already charged had lost some punch whilst my supporting Lancers had enough in them to cause both Allied regiments to recoil. One under retire orders though it was brought back under control deep in the rear. In comparison all three of my regiments committed remained in good order and will be invaluable for the coming turns. Just as well as the first of the British Battalions are marching towards the sound of the guns.
Soon the woods will now heat up to full effect, within two more turns the two sides will close to point blank and I have the advantage of reserves whilst the two battalions Lee could have had in reserve have had to move to the flank which will be matched with twice as many of mine.
We called it for the night here. This Friday will see the battle continue. Despite the poor start in the woods I am more than happy with the situation at this point. Attacking the woods is still a risk, though I can insure against it going to far wrong by committing plenty of reserves. The negative effect is that it will water down those troops effectiveness for the later stages of the battle but I can't have that woods not in friendly hands come the later stages of the battle.
However the centre is all mine, with the Allied horse having two badly mauled regiments I can attack into the now open flank and I still have four fresh regiments already in the centre whilst Lee just has two fresh part regiments making their way towards the centre. Meanwhile I can flood the gap with infantry that I hope to turn the flank and drive the centre back on it's left flank and thus crush it and the left flank in one.
We have yet to take a game to the point where one of the armies is broken, this is an untested part of the rules that I feel will work but yet to have proof. Hopefully we will stick with it to the bitter end. One thing I am sure of is that the game has a lot of story to tell yet and those reinforcements of Lee's will stir up a lot of troble, but that's a tale for next week.