As far as I can recall, it's only the second Napoleonic miniatures game I've ever played - the first being some 25 years ago! - and it was simply magnificent. Roundie's table, terrain and figures were marvellous to behold. Honestly, it was like stepping into a wargames glossy photo shoot. Having been used to a rather more modest approach to wargames terrain, I was blown away by the spectacle.
And the rules and scenario weren't bad either. As part of the Austrian command, our mission was to clear two hills situated either side of a prominent church. We had five brigades - two of line infantry, one of grenadiers, two of horse - with which to do it, and were up against six or seven French brigades.
Without boring people with all the details, we got our artillery into good positions which allowed us to take toll of the French first encountered, and thence to eventually get onto the hill on our right. But there were too many French for us to drive off completely, and we never quite had the command resources to get our cavalry into play early enough to make a difference.
The game itself was very good. The scenario was nicely (im)balanced, with the Austrians having initial deployment and weight-of-numbers advantages offset by French proximity to objectives and quantity of reserves.
I thought the rules were straightforward and play was driven by a pleasing mix of player decisions and dumb luck. The command and control mechanisms were playable and easy to understand, but still involved giving orders. There were obvious advantages to wearing down the enemy, but melee combat was risky, and even the best prepared attacks could go wrong.
It was a great day, and I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to command troops in such a magnificent setting.
To finish, I'll chuck on a few photos of the action.
|Showing the Austrian advance and the two hills that were our objectives.|
|Showing the centre where a hasty attack launched by the Austrians in an effort to dislodge the French from the leftmost hill ended badly for the aggressors.|
|Matters proceed more advantageously on the Austrian right, where the guns wear down the enemy as the line infantry advance into position to assault the hill.|
|We get onto one hill...|
|...and the French charge down on us from the other.|
|Things look grim for the Austrian centre, but the deployment of the guns will throw back the French attack.|
|On our right we get onto the hill in force, and will not be dislodged now. With neither side achieving their objectives, the game is an honourable draw.|
|(Gratuitous shot of the French cavalry...)|
|(Another gratuitous shot, this time of one of our brave battalions taking the hill)|
As I say, a most enjoyable day of gaming with our host Roundie, Keith umpiring, and the fearsome French under Rob and Michael. I would certainly want to play these rules again.