Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Battlereport 2K: French vs British

A larger battle played today. Matt was keen for 2000 points so we set up a 12x6 table and went at it. A brief report here, wherein hastily raised reserves perform heroically, Guard artillery dawdles, and both armies go right to the breaking point.

The French Army was Line Infantry, Reserve Cavalry and Guard Reserve Artillery. A good quality force, but bit light on infantry, with tonnes of points in the Reserve Cavalry and Artillery. The British Army included Guards and Household Cavalry, and economised on artillery quality.

Brigades with * have Strategist Generals and the rest are Competent except for one Cautious British Light Dragoon General. Both Army Commanders were Strategists. 

French Army (40 units)
3 Regular Line, 1 Veteran Light, 1 Veteran Skirmisher, 1 Regular Foot Artillery
3 Regular Line, 1 Veteran Light, 1 Veteran Skirmisher, 1 Regular Foot Artillery
3 Regular Line, 1 Veteran Light, 1 Veteran Skirmisher, 1 Regular Foot Artillery
3 Regular Line, 1 Veteran Light, 1 Veteran Skirmisher, 1 Regular Foot Artillery
2 Veteran Light
*2 Veteran Cuirassers, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery
*2 Veteran Carabiniers, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery
2 Regular Dragoons
2 Regular Dragoons
2 Elite Heavy Artillery, 2 Elite Horse Artillery (Guard) 

British Army (42 units)
2 Elite Large Line, 1 Regular Foot Artillery (Guard) 
1 Large Veteran Light Rifles, 1 Veteran Large Light, 1 Regular Horse Artillery
*2 Veteran Line, 1 Regular Light, 3 Regular British Line, 1 Regular Skirmisher, 1 Heavy Artillery
*2 Veteran Line, 1 Regular Light, 3 Regular British Line, 1 Regular Skirmisher, 1 Heavy Artillery
*1 Veteran Line, 1 Veteran Light, 4 Regular British Line, 1 Regular Foot Artillery
*3 Veteran Dragoon, 1 Regular Horse Artillery
2 Veteran Dragoon, 1 Regular Horse artillery
2 Veteran Light Cavalry, 1 Regular Horse Artillery
2 Regular Light Cavalry (Cautious General)

Rules were 321 Fast Play Napoleonic Rules again. The game took about 5 hours, plus an hour for setup and pack up. 

The Game

An encounter battle (which is all we seem to roll!), which means a third of each force has to be in reserve. The battlefield has a series of ridges, and a two section strongpoint on the British side (the large monastery upper right), which I expect them to make full use of and so I will ignore it as best I can. I am attacking, and have my dragoons, an Infantry Brigade and Reserve Artillery off table.  British have two Infantry and three Cavalry Brigades in reserve.

My right flank.

My left flank.

My plan from the start was to hold on the right, and make a general attack elsewhere with my strong skirmish screen and artillery, and then commit most of my Reserve Cavalry plus the Reserve Artillery either on the far left or centre, once British dispositions and effects of initial attacks were apparent.

My Dragoons arrive on the far left.

And more Dragoons on the right to prevent this flank being overwhelmed, and to give them the option of joining the attack in the centre.

My skirmishers and artillery manage some very effective fire against the enemy artillery, taking out some exposed batteries early on.

I commit Cuirassiers in the centre.

And push strongly on the far left, which is where I have decided the Reserve Artillery will arrive turn 4. Unfortunately the Reserve Artillery fails its arrival roll, delaying the attack...

In the centre the Cuirassiers charge. Here they meet a newly raised unit of veteran Dragoons, which routs one Cuirassier unit and forces the other back!

When I say newly raised, Matt said it arrived in the mail yesterday at 10am, was assembled by 12, mostly painted by the time he went to work at 5, finished in a couple of hours after he came back from work after midnight... can you match such dedication?

On my right, yet more British Dragoons force back my own Dragoons...

And swing into the rear and rout a French column behind the forest, where it had retired to rally safely. Work done the Dragoons retire blown.

On the left, my Reserve Guard Artillery has arrived, but then it fails another command roll, delaying its advance yet another turn.  A last minute decision to save points on their General was not a good move!

I attack here anyway, my Dragoons force back enemy Dragoons, but are then driven back in turn by Light Cavalry.

The pursuing  British Light Cavalry are then hit and forced back by Carabiniers, who pursue and rout the Scots Greys.

A British heavy cavalry charge catches an attack column out of square to the immediate left of the ridge, but the column manages to fight them off and lives...

A tree, which is about as much use to me right now as this stalled Reserve Guard Artillery.  Over one sixth of my points doing nothing. No I'm not bitter.

Under way finally, and horse artillery mounts the crest to blast the British Guards who have been trapped in square by my cavalry. Carabiniers in foreground retiring after taking fire.

On the right, skirmish screens are largely expended and lines engaged.  I am a little worried about a lack of reserves here (as in zero of consequence)... but the enemy artillery has been almost completely silenced at least, and most of the enemy cavalry is as exhausted as my own.

Just a single blown cuirassier unit as backup in the centre...

My artillery finally goes into action, a total of six batteries on this left flank ready to blast the enemy to dust.

The British attack my right, but a first cavalry and infantry charge are repelled. My line is taking  heavy losses from musketry though.

On the left, the British Guard square is absolutely wrecked by cannister, but refuses to break.  British Cavalry catches a French infantry line and routs them. A French Line and Battery near the centre are lost to musketry volleys and skirmish fire respectively.

And on the right, turn eight and disaster strikes. My shakey line collapses completely. The remains of three infantry Brigades break entirely bar a single infantry battalion!

On the left the British are also about the break under the hammer of the Guard Artillery, but too late - the French Army morale has broken and the day is lost!


Well what a turn around. At the start of the British turn eight, they had lost 11 units, and the French 5. By the end of the turn the French had lost another 11(!) units in a single round, for a total of 16 units lost (over a third of their total). With all my expensive toys I knew I would be short of infantry reserves and so it proved. Unfortunately the two turn delay with the Guard Reserve Artillery cost me heavily here - serves me right for trying to economise on command assets in favour of bigger guns! The Guard Reserve Artillery should of course have excellent command, so will remember that next time I use them!


  1. Superb. Beautiful game. I’ve looked at the rules you used and I think they look really good I must say. /Mattias

    1. Thanks Mattias, yes rule shave their own niche (and keep getting tweaked with experience), but work for us!

  2. Someone need to paint his artillery

    1. Well Matt's chosen a rather light interpretation of Brit grey I will say that!

  3. Splendid looking game, never mind the result and impressive work bringing that dragoon unit to the table!
    Best Iain

  4. Terrific game Mark. Matt's dedication with the dragoons puts me in mind of the Russian T34 production line at Stalingrad. A great effort on his part.

  5. Another terrific Napoleonic game from you fellas, Mark.
    I wondered what that weird looking line was in the middle phase of the battle (looking at the thumbnail), zoomed the photo and realised that it was your 'thin blue line'. It was probably amazing that it held as long as it did. Never a good feeling to have no reserves, is it?
    Regards, James

    1. Thanks James, yes a few more units to replace the cinders of the first line would have been so useful!

  6. Superb looking game, and to imagine such hastily raised Dragoons doing stellar service. They earned their postage for sure! :-)

  7. Epic battle! Wow! Mark, I sympathize with your defeat.