Commands & Colors Napoleonic: Epic Waterloo

This game was played at Western Suburbs Wargame Association on 22nd September 2018.

If you’re going to play Napoleonic wargames with 6mm figures, sooner or later you’re going to end up playing the big one – Waterloo!

Rohan provided his beautifully painted figures and we used the Epic Waterloo scenario for Commands & Colours Napoleonic with four players.  Bernard was the overall Allied commander and I took the Allied right flank around Hougoumont .  Tony and Rohan shared the command of the French opposing us.

In the initial stages of the battle the French surged forward and on the right flank I lost Hougoumont and was pushed right back to my baseline while in the centre the Allies fell back behind their ridge line in the face of concentrated artillery fire.  There was very little movement on our left flank which remained static for most of the battle.

With the Allies skulking behind the ridge in the centre, French cavalry pressed forward to take the ridge and gain the advantage of charging downhill onto the infantry behind it.  On the right flank the French took a defensive stance around their newly capture objective.

The situation seemed grim for the Allies with the French approaching the number of banners they needed for a victory but a counter-attack along the length of the centre ridge finished off the over extended French cavalry.  On my right flank a lone unit of Heavy Cavalry took out a couple of units in a single charge and Grenadier Guards successfully regained control of Hougoumont, destroying several French units in the process.

The combination of the two counter-attacks allowed the Allies to snatch a narrow victory from a very precarious position.

The Epic Waterloo scenario has a mechanic where the British commander rolls a dice at the start of each turn and on any result except for a flag (i.e. a 5 in 6 chance) a tracker is increased and once it gets to 8, Prussian reinforcements arrive on the British left table edge.  The law of averages would suggest the reinforcements might arrive around turn 10 but if only to prove that averages are just that, Bernard rolled seven flags in fourteen turns so the game was over before the reinforcements could arrive!

Commands & Colours is a wonderfully elegant and fast system which allows you to focus on the command decisions of a large battle without fussing over the minutia of positioning figures or working out complicated combat or morale test factors.  I can’t think of any other set of rules that would give such a tense, entertaining and plausible game of a battle the size of Waterloo in less than three hours!

(Photos taken from the Allied perspective, map drawn from the French perspective)





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