Sunday, June 28, 2015

AAR Battle at Hal aka That Won't Do Write Me Down A Victory

Well the battle was fought and lost, but perhaps not the campaign.  And I think that we gave a good account of ourselves before being forced from the the field.  A more complete AAR will follow when pics are available and when I am emotionally in a state to make sense of them.

The general situation is outlined below, with the green rectangle outlining the 8' by 4' playing surface.  This is the map Curt provided to all three armies, but as Wellington I had of course better info on the Anglo-Allied Army and my cavalry scouts gave me pretty darn good info on the French army.  I don't think Boney had much info on our positions beyond the map (if any).  There were also Prussian columns somewhere east of the river, but only they and their hairdressers knew for sure.

Oh yes, the Union Jacks show the French objectives.  If they could exit sufficient forces off either exit, they would win and we would lose.  So our backs were up against the wall.

General Situation Before the Battle of Hal
At day break I had the following information:

  • The whole French army (60+ brigade sized units) was in three mostly equal sized columns, at E3, F3 and G2.   The Imperial Guard was in the lead column, and all three columns had infantry, cavalry and artillery.
  • Initially the Anglo-Allied had 1 light cavalry brigade at D2, 16 units in D3 and 6 units at D4.  Our army was almost all infantry units, except as noted.
  • We had another 3 infantry and 7 cavalry units crossing the river from D5 to D4, and 10 units at C5.
  • Intelligence on the Prussian army was limited but messages from the Prussian command the day before had indicated that the would appear at F4 in time to interfere with the third French column.

So this was a big game (250K troops) with shifting odds as the day wore on.  I was facing the following odds

  • about 1:1 based on what was on board initially
  • about 7:4 once the second column arrived, which turned out to be turn 1.
  • 5:4 once the forces crossed the river to Hal, which took most of the morning.
  • about 1:1 if my column from C5 arrived before the third French column, which turned out to be a pipe dream
  • About 2:1 if the third French column arrived without Prussian interference and before my column arrived from C5.  This happened around midday.
  • About 3:2 if the third French column arrived and my last column arrived.  This happened right after the third French column arrived.  At this point the entire French and Anglo-Allied forces would be on table, and we were fighting a bigger fight than Waterloo!
  • About 6:(4+x) once the x units of Prussians arrived and every one else was on board.  This happened late in the day, by which time we had broken  strategically retreated of the north table edge.

It was a long afternoon and the British command (myself, Sean and Jeremy seconded from the Prussians) were in a nail biter.  Basically, I spent the entire day have repeated litters of kittens especially since we essentially had no cover to hide behind, there being no hills and limited woods for cover.

However,  while it was a defeat it was also a banner day for the Thin Red Line who defeated repeated  French infantry attacks and shook off cavalry attacks even while not in square.  One highland brigade in particular fought all day and faced down all challengers.


  1. Well done Peter - I similar sort of experience to our own game if truth be told. I wonder how well the French have done in all these anniversary games.

    1. Thanks Conrad. IMHO, a French victory is certainly in reach for any good Waterloo campaign, and the allies need to be good and lucky to prevent it.
      Cheers, PD

  2. Excellent report Peter and particularly useful to see how the Scharnhorst system plays out in practice. Sounds like a fascinating battle and can't wait to read the full AAR.
    Good to hear that the Highlanders earned their porridge.

    1. ThanksJohn. The Jocks earned more than a wee dram! PD

  3. Thanks for this report, Peter. I take it as a vote of confidence for the Scharhorst system, which I look forward to trying in the near future. Sounds like it was very tense for you!