Friday, September 4, 2015

Welcome back to school 2016: A Close Run Thing

Like many schools, the school where I teach has a summer reading programs. Unlike most other schools, my school allows individual teachers to choose a book of interest to them. Then, on the second day after the end of summer vacation, the students engage in a day full of activities related to their book. This year, a colleague and I offered Iain Gale's Four Days in June. This historical novel tells the story of Waterloo from several different perspectives, and the students seemed to have enjoyed it. In the morning we showed the film and talked about why things were the way they were in regards to weapons, uniforms, and tactics. Then, in the afternoon, we brought out my collection of 28mm Napoleonics, and we fought a scaled-down version of the battle ourselves.
Team France. They look cheerful and enthusiastic. If they only knew what lay ahead...

Team Britain/Prussia.  Since the book focused largely on the Hougoumont and the arrival of the Prussians, those were the key elements in this game.
Due to bad command rolls and general timidity, the French advance was very slow.  An uncoordinated, piecemeal attack didn't work in 1815, and, dammit, it wasn't going to work a century later.
The French did manage a few breakthrough moments, as when the heavy cavalry made a hole i n the center of the British line, however, without infantry or artillery to support it (sound familiar?) the British soon plugged the hole in their lines.
Fighting raged around the Hougoumont all game.  While French artillery scored some early hits on the chateau. the defenders and their supporting units were able to hold on.

Due to some truly crappy dice rolling, the Prussians failed to appear on the field at all.  This meant that, despite their success in other sectors, Wellington's left had to beat a fighting retreat to the center of the field.  When we ended the fame, the Anglo-Allied army held the center, though a few more turns of French attack (who had finally managed to coordinate) might have made a difference.

And now the eye candy...
Good heavens, sir! The French are going to advance right across Mr. Trump's hair!
How hard can it be to capture one chateau?

My armies are painted for the Peninsula. Playing the role of the Prussians are some Portuguese infantry and Spanish cavalry and artillery.