Lured by the promise of delicious sausage cobs, a group of Warlorders recently descended upon Bossman John Stallard’s house. Little did they know it was but a cunning ploy to stage a suitably epic Waterloo-themed game of Black Powder Epic Battles.
Hosted in John’s fantastic gaming room, the battle was to loosely replicate the Prussian’s late arrival on the field on 18th June 1815, with roughly a starter set each worth of British, French and Prussians adorning the table. Would our commanders be up to the task? For the Anglo-Allied army Lorenzo took charge of the Prussians arriving on the left flank whilst Colin and Black Powder newcomer Melissa took charge of the British, responsible for the centre and the right flanks respectively. Opposing them were Steve Morgan and Bernard Lewis. John elected to umpire the proceedings. The odds seemed firmly stacked in favour of the Allies, so with sausages scoffed and players in top spirits (for the moment) battle was swiftly joined.
Turn One – Aggressive Actions…
The French seized the initiative and quickly surged up the table – great blocks of infantry occupying the centre of the board to face the British, the iconic La Haye Sainte farmhouse to their left. On its far side, Steve’s mounted brigade appeared not to have received their orders and stayed put. On the right Bernard’s cavalry declared bold charges to the closest Prussian infantry blocks, forcing them to form square, making them a prime target for the French Grand Battery. Fortunately for Lorenzo, the gunners had yet to find the mark, and the Prussians suffered but a single casualty.
With typical newbie luck, Melissa’s first Order Tests were nothing short of spectacular and marched swiftly across the table, with those cavalry units that could declaring charges, whilst Steve counter-charged wherever possible. “The British have gone ballistic,” declared Colin as his British forces in the centre followed suit, bringing a tremendous number of bodies into the centre of the table. The British cavalry saw off the encroaching French skirmishing Voltiguers, who retreated just far enough to avoid being trodden under hoof.
At this point, and remarkably early in the proceedings frankly came the first furious outburst of the night; Steve’s indignant “How many British units are there?” was perhaps a little ill-timed, as it was swiftly punctuated by a lucky shot from Melissa’s Foot Artillery pinning his leftmost Hussars, keeping them far away from where they might actually have some use…
On the opposite flank, the Prussians were not nearly so dramatic, pushing down the left and forming firing lines, although an unlucky Blunder saw the Prussian skirmishers floundering and the middle Infantry brigades pushing towards the centre of the field, ignoring the obvious and immediate threat of Bernard’s French cavalry.
Anglo-Allied shooting did not fare nearly so well as their manoeuvres. The British First Fire (in Black Powder, this rule confers +1 Dice the first time a unit fires in the game), which should have given the French players much cause for concern, did embarrassingly little, with the only casualties caused in the centre on the retreated skirmishers. But with the central elements of both armies bearing down upon each other in the centre, it was sure to be an eventful turn two. At this point umpire John noted that he’d never seen a game of Black Powder played in quite so an aggressive fashion.
Turn Two – Let Overzealousness Be Thy Downfall…
Steve opened his turn two gambits by managing to get his cavalry brigade on the left flank moving, declaring charges upon the British infantry so that they were forced to form square in a sequence mirroring the opposite flank’s proceedings of the first turn, leaving the British vulnerable to artillery fire. After a spate of early dice luck, Colin’s luck returned to normal levels – perhaps more accurately described as abnormal as a tremendous number of low dice rolls danced in the face of probability, and the British Life Guards were seen swiftly off under the weight of French firepower.
Gaps began to appear in the British centre in the melee, with two further infantry units fleeing the table. Even worse for Colin, the Heavy Dragoons that had been supporting his infantry, having witnessed the devastation, turned tail and fled in terror. This unfortunate sequence was enough to break two British brigades simultaneously, leaving the Anglo-Allied centre in a precarious position, but for a reserve brigade which had thus far stoically refused to pass any Order tests or contribute to the battle at all. It looked like it was up to Melissa to fly the flag for the British in her first taste of Black Powder action!
The Prussians were faring little better with Bernard’s French Dragoons beating and successfully chasing down their Prussian counterparts, leaving them loose in the midst of the Prussian lines, whilst his Cuirassiers removed the Prussian Jaegers from the equation.
In denial at all these goings-on Colin, with great enthusiasm, declared that his reserve brigade would now join the fray in earnest, and promptly failed to do…well, anything at all. Melissa’s cavalry on the British right declared as many charges upon the French horsemen as they could, with Steve countercharging wherever possible. Thankfully for Steve, despite being once again hit by the British Foot Artillery, his Hussars were able to shrug off the volley and join the fray. Most of the Cavalry units continued to bounce off one another, though one unit of British Hussars was forced to flee the field of battle. On the Prussian left, both sides were mired in deadly combat, but Steve’s luck with the dice had embraced Bernard now too, and the French were becoming dominant the whole length of the battlefield.
Turn Three – Against All Odds…
“The Infantry will advance en masse and shoot in the fore,” declared Steve, followed swiftly by an “…ah,” as a blunder saw his central blocks of infantry instead shuffle crabwise to the left. Merciless, Steve fired all he could upon the retreating British forces from the broken brigades in the centre, whilst another flurry of ridiculous dice rolls saw the French Dragoons on the left chase and run down their hated British adversaries, though they did lose a couple of their number in the melee.
Over on the French right, the grand battery did exactly what it was famous for, whilst Bernard swept his marauding Dragoons in behind the Prussian artillery, simultaneously staying well out the way of their deadly payloads whilst totally surrounding the Prussian infantry – which was still formed in squares to weather the storm.
On the British third turn, the reserve brigade finally sprang into action, even as their fellows ran past them from the field of battle. In an appalling display that echoed the first turn, their First Fire completely failed to make any dent in the tide of French bodies afore them – perhaps their gunpowder was wet…
On the British right, Melissa was faring just a little better, inflicting retaliatory fire upon Steve’s Dragoons. However, Steve’s cavalry which had been beating a retreat managed to turn upon their assailers and swiftly wipe them out. The British cavalry was in a state of disarray and on the verge of evaporation. With the Prussians’ fate similarly sealed by unchecked French Cavalry and under the toll of the French Grand Battery, John called the game – overcoming all odds the French were undoubtedly victorious. Steve and Bernard had rewritten history and deserved a stern dressing down for their efforts!
All that remained was to get the final thoughts from some of our players!
Colin: “It was a challenging day, and despite an excellently executed strategy with the brave British lads advancing dependably, they swiftly fell short and broke under incredible pressure (and weight of dice), and just as bravely ran away.”
Lorenzo: “The Prussian forces were an immovable bulwark (alas they weren’t able to move very far at all!), stymying the French cavalry and bravely giving their lives to distract Bernard from the centre – showing much heart.”
Steve: “The French (anachronistically) are great fans of Benny Hill, so it was most amusing for them to witness such antics from the British this evening!”
All agreed that the Epic Battles scale was absolutely splendid to play in. The game featured an incredible number of men on the table whilst remaining very manageable to play within an evening (our battle lasted under two hours), without sacrificing the grand nature of the battles. John noted that those infantry units that were in square formation looked particularly fantastic.
We’re already looking forward to the next Epic Battles gaming night (which could be American Civil War or Pike & Shotte-flavoured, only time will tell), whether sausages are provided or not!
The Epic Battles: Waterloo Range
This battle was largely fought (with a couple of minor additions) with the contents of each of the three Epic Battles: Waterloo starter sets.
Each starter set contains a suitably Epic number of miniatures in a splendid variety; infantry, heavy and light cavalry, artillery and brigade commanders are all represented in plastic. Each starter set also contains a bespoke full Epic Battles: Waterloo rulebook and a unique MDF scenery piece, La Belle Alliance in the British box, Dacoster House in the French, and a suitably grand-looking windmill for the Prussians.
Since its launch, the range has expanded to include not even more plastics for both British (Highlanders) and French (Middle/Old Guard), but the Prussian Army too, not to mention the supplement, The Hundred Days Campaign, famous commanders and French Imperial Guard Cavalry! Explore the full range here »
A truly Epic battlescape highlighting what this scale is all about!
I wish more people would venture into this scale, it really is epic and gives you great looking tables.
Leaving them unpainted hides the fantastic detail that is on these models.
Don’t be put off by the painting, once you get into the zone you soon make progress.