Tuesday 23 August 2022

‘Das Heu Heilige’ - Soldiers of Napoleon scenario

I’m currently working a series of scenarios for SoN, all historical re-fights linked across a major battle, in this case Waterloo. Here, we tested out the La Haye St scenario, but with the Austrians defending it, so ‘Das Heu Heilige’ (maybe?).

It was a good scrap, the French in all out attack with the Grand Assault and Take a Strongpoint objectives, the Austrians defending with Hold the Line. The defender’s forces, with 3 heavy cavalry regiments in reserve had the better Breakpoint, and it looked a tough ask for the French, given the excellent troops holding the farm buildings, reinforced by riflemen (jaegers) and more feldjaegers in the nearby ‘sandpit’ quarry.

With such forward positioned units, the fight was on from turn 1, the French having reached the farm’s southern orchard and skirmish firing from both sides. The French manoeuvred to get the first charge in, taking fire, when a handy ‘Stalled’ event brought their plan to unleash the ‘Vive L’Empereur ‘ card on turn 1 to an end (phew!), the veteran light infantry in the farm held on, but after a ‘withering volley’ from the French lines outside, it took 2 rallies to keep them in the fight. In the process, they withdrew from the barn (far too hot), to the farm house. As per history, I send a landwehr battalion marching towards the farm to aid them… but they didn’t get that far (as per history).

The French cavalry came forwards in columns, at the quick, galloping hard and, in turn 2, before I had moved my landwehr, used a fierce charge event to thunder into and over them… the landwehr, caught in line, where ridden down and routed. Meanwhile, back the farm, more skirmish fire was exchanged and the rifle’s skirmishers were hurting the French again, but the return fire, from voltiguers that had reached the barn also forced the defenders to use a ‘stand firm’ event, they were still there, but no aid was coming. On an up-note, the Austrian gunners were having  field day, their fire broke one infantry battalion with repeated accurate bombardments, and the cuirassiers got a whiff of grapeshot too, blasting them, but they rallied, and lost 2 stands to regroup.

Turn 3, and it was no holds barred. The cuirassiers, rather than be caught again in front of the guns, charged them and cut down the gunners, in another fierce cavalry charge (sometimes you just get the right special event). The 1st Cuirassiers were running riot. My infantry were forced to form square as the second regiments moved up to threat and intimidate them. At the farm, the desperate stand of the defenders was coming to an end, too many French skirmishers were now surrounding them, and so, after a heroic effort they broke. The farm was now empty. The French were on top, well ahead in VPs. I need my cavalry now – bring up the heavies!

No, not yet, they were late, and so I had to endure a fifth turn without them. The French occupied the farm and could claim their ‘Take a Strongpoint’ objective, meanwhile the last of the 1st Cuirassiers swung away, circling the farm and attacked the riflemen in the sand pit from the flank. They scored a narrow win, by 1 point, and pushed the jaegers out of their cover, but skirmish fire from them would break the rampaging regiment in return, but the damage done. They had earned the French 9 VPs…

Finale of turn 5, and my heavy cavalry arrived, but too late to save the day. The capture of the farm strongpoint mean the French had amassed 22 VPs, equaling the Austrian breakpoint. A win. The Austrians had amassed 12 VPs, needing 18 to break the French, so a solid win for old Bony’s boys.

That was a pretty good recreation of the day's action, except the result. The key here is holding that farm and without reinforcements, those few (but tough) defenders are in trouble.  With hindsight, I should have sent more men to help, but with those very aggressive cuirassiers roaming about, it is risky to advance. The earlier arrival of my own ‘big boots’ would have helped swing things (maybe), but such are the vagaries of war… waiting for that cavalry adds a nice tension to the game for the defenders.

Shots of the action… 

The battlefield around the central farm

French skirmishers in the orchard south of the farm, facing Austrian skirmishers and attached jaegers

The Austrian left line the sunken lane's hedge.

Jaegers hold the sandpit quarry, having deployed their own skirmishers to aid at the farm.

Onward the cuirassiers! ... on the French far left.

The farm is becoming encircled by the many voltiguers

Having destroyed the landwehr battalion and artillery battery, the regrouped cuirassiers come under skirmish fire from the farms kitchen garden, more jaegers in the hedges.

Riflemen try to ho,d off the voltiguers by the felled tree roadblock.

The French take the orchard and cautiously advance on the barn, their objective. 

But, the French are in the barn and courtyard.

The Austrians heavies arrive, but too late this time. They can't retake the farm anyway.

The remnants of the 1st Cuirassiers (man of match to them), drive the jaegers out of the sand pit in a last gasp charge.



  1. Very good report and good to learn that you are planning a "connected scenario" project, which is a smart move given the scale of the rules. Interesting in the AAR that the too-late reserve problem plaguing the defenders was a major factor in the outcome. I just read about (and commented on) the issue of when game hosts should have reserves arrive to be able to give them a reasonable chance to have a role in the battle (especially given their cost). Of course sometimes reserves never do arrive (we all know about Ligny and Quatre Bras) but for most games it seems you'd generally want them to do something. I think for attackers that would mean reserves arriving by the one-third part of the game (to cover the ground) while defenders could get them somewhat later. The bottom line is the hosts really need to give this issues serious thought given its impact on game results.

  2. Yes, but although my reserve cavalry didn't do anything, they did add to the story of this battle and that is fine with me. It doesn't all have to be crash, bang, all out attack. It added drama, because I needed them, but they were just too late (them the breaks in war). In the previous game, another Waterloo refight scenario, my reserve heavies ploughed in and won the day. I don't think it should be so every time. Reserves are after all, not your main fighting force, but if you choose it as so, then plan how to use them. If you charge off across the table from turn 1, then yep, they'll be way behind and less likely to have an effect, but commanders make that choice. They could choose differently. Patience can be virtue...