Here's my first solo run through of OSG's battle of the Hundred Days in living memory - I probably last played it when it first came out thirty years ago, long before the days of the affordable digital cameras!
TURN 1. 14-15 June, 1815
Napoleon starts off map, with three commanders (himself plus Grouchy and Ney) and six corps.
The only manoeuvre units which can appear on the game map itself are leaders:
- Commanders capable of commanding other leaders (in the same or adjacent hexes) up to the value of their command span ('4' for Napoleon, '1' for Grouchy and Ney) as well as limited number of 'organic' combat units directly attached.
- Lt.Generals, the corps commanders, capable of commanding several organic combat units
- and a limited number of generic Major Generals representing the leaders of combat units detached for independent operation. Infantry Maj.Gens can command their own unit plus an optional cavalry unit. Cavalry Mag.Gens can command up to two cavalry units.
As well as a command span (zero for Lt. and Maj. Generals), leaders are rated for initiative - the cability for independent action. Initiative affects movement, forced march (in the opponents player turn, marching to/away from the sound of guns!) and pursuit of a defeated foe. Napoleon and cavalry Maj.Gens are rated '4', most everyone else '3' apart from Reille (II Corps) with '2' and the infantry Maj.Gens with '0'.
The French corps generally comprise three or four infantry units plus a cavalry unit, but no more than seven combat units (maximum of five infantry) can stack in a hex (leaders/commanders don't count). Napoleon and Grouchy are each escorted by two cavalry units, but Ney is on his todd. So stacking will essentially be one corps and one commander per hex.
Each turn the French receive three 'movement commands' if they are within ten movement points of main road entry hex at the bottom of the map. This will generally allow the French to automatically move all three commanders (and all six corps, provided they are within command span) without having to roll against the commender's initiative, although two commands can be given to a single commander to allow his force to 'extend march' to increase the movement allowances of a force by four. Infantry has a basic movement allowance of five; leaders, cavalry, and the Imperial Guard: seven. The French may not extend march on the first turn of the game.
The Allies start with limited forces on the game map, but reinforcements stream in over the first three turns. Zeithen's (initiative '2') I Corps with two detached divisions under Maj.Gens Jagow and Henckel extending his front to cover the Sambre crossings. Further back the British have a single Dutch division under Maj.Gen Perponcher.
On the first turn (14-15 June) Blucher (initiative and command span each '4') can enter by extended march (using both of the Prussians two movement commands for the turn) with Pirch and Thielmann's II and III corps (both initiative '2'). For the British, the Prince of Orange's I Corps (initiative '3', span '1') enters normally (using one of the two British movement commands).
On the second turn (16-17 June) Wellington (initiative and command spean each '5') enters with Lt.Gen Hill's II Corps (initiative '3') and Maj.Gen Uxbridge's cavalry.
On the third turn (18-19 June) Lt.Gen Bulow's IV Corps (initiative '2') arrives for the Prussians, and Anglo-Allied Maj.Gens Colville, Cole and Stedman bring on their infantry divisions.
There are no reinforcements on the fourth turn (20-21 June).
Napoleon has to either shatter the British (35,000 casualties) or Prussian (40,000 casualties) armies, or break through in force along the main road and march off towards Brussels (with 20,000 men under Napoleon or 40,000 men under other leaders). If the Allies can shatter the French army (45,000 casualties) or otherwise prevent a French victory then they have won.
The first task for the French is to cross the Sambre. The bridge on the main road is held by Jagow's division at Charleroi. There are fords either side, but in the absence of extended march it will take Guards or cavalry to get across, and even then only one of the fords is close enough to allow a direct attack on Charleroi.
Napoleon along with escorting cavalry and Gerard's IV Corps moves up the secondary road to occupy a central position between the ford and the bridge. Whilst not able to directly attack across the unbridged Sambre, this position will allow him to command combat forces in both adjacent hexes and launch a combined attack on Charleroi. Drout's Guards take the ford across the Sambre to flank and thereby deprive Jagow of the benefit of the Sambre in combat (only major rivers - the Sambre - affect combat). d'Erlon and Vandamme's I and III Corps move up the road leading to the ford.
Ney leads Reille's II Corps up the main road to attack Charleroi across the bridge.
Grouchy along with escorting cavalry leads Mouton's VI Corps (which is the only French corps without attached cavalry) along the main road and then across country to pick up the secondary road to the more distant ford. These shenanigans allow Grouchy to cross the ford (not possible if he marched straight up the secondary road) with his cavalry and thereby ensure that if Jagow retreats he will have no choice but to do so through enemy ZOC and so he will have to retreat straight up the main road and any pursuit losses are doubled. Gerard must stay on the near side of the Sambre.
I can see this opening move having several potential drawbacks. It commits the Guard corps early on whereas historically it would be held back for the decisive blow. It puts Grouchy in an exposed position. But the die is cast!
The Allies now have a chance to force march any forces whose leader passes an initiative check. Lt.Gen Zeithen rolls a '3' against an initiative of '2' and stays put.
There are two forms of combat.
- A Pursuit Battle is the default, with a single attack to determine the attacker's loss and the length of the defender's retreat (up to 10 hexes).
- A Pitched Battle allows for a counter-attack by the defenders and several rounds of combat up to the initiative of the attacking commander but may not be opted for by a force commanded by a Maj.Gen (unless it is part of a force commanded by a superior leader). Each attack (or counter-attack) determines the losses suffered by the (potentially) retreating force, with a force opting for pitched battle (either ot both of the original attacker and defender) having the option to take a loss (mandatory for the attacker on the first round of combat).
- A retreating force's pursuit losses are then determined by the success of the attacker's pursuit - one strength point per hex advanced, doubled if the retreat has passed through any enemy ZOC at any point, and if the pursuer can enter the final hex of the retreated force, the defender is destroyed completely in that hex. But the pursuit is dependent on the initiative of the forces involved and the force must comprise strength points at least equal to the length of the pursuit. A pursuit solely by Guards and/or cavalry can pursue an extra hex - which may make all the difference!
In the attack phase, Napoleon's takes command of both Druot's Guards and Gerard's IV corps (which moved under Ney) and also Ney (with no organic troops, but able to pursue and so provide command later for any pursuit forces that outstrip Napoleon's command span). One commander being subordinated to another isn't spelled out in the mains rules in so many words, but is mentioned in the errata on the back of the sheet with the game tables. The French opt for a pursuit battle as Jagow's pursuit losses will be doubled which should finish him off, and to avoid possible casualties to any possible counter-attack. The attack goes in with Reille's II Corps (22 infantry + 2 cavalry points) attacking across the bridge on the main road and Druot's Guard (13+4) in the flank. A total of 41 points vs 7 so the 5-1 column on the CRT is used. Druot is already across the Sambre, so there is no column shift for attacking across the main river.
A '3' is rolled on the die, modified to '2' by Napoleon's combat bonus, yielding a result of '1-8'. The French loss is taken by Girard's 7th infantry, part of Reille's II corps. Jagow's Prussians must retreat eight hexes, as easily as possible - straight up the main road through Gosselies and Quatre Bras to the outskirts of Placenoit. The French pursuit will be carried out by Ney with Gerard's IV Corps. A die roll of '2' is combined with Ney's initiative of '3' and the length of the retreat '8' to allow the French to pursue up to seven hexes along the path of retreat. Ney opts to advance four hexes - across the bridge and through Charleroi, right up the main road as far as Gosselies. Jagow's losses are now determined as '4' x2 (for retreating through a ZOC) = '8', completely destroying the defender's force! Losses now stand at 8,000 Prussians v 1,000 French.
The Prince of Orange's I Corps enters and moves through Nevilles to occupy the critical junction of Quatre Bras and blocking a drive straight up the main road. Perponcher's division remains in Nevilles to block any potential outflanking extended march by Druot over to the western main road and then up through Nevilles to Waterloo.
Ziethen is in an exposed position, but will have to rely on rolling his initiative ('2') in order to move (rolls a '5' so stays put) as both of the Prussian movement commands must be used to bring Blucher in along the main road from Namur via extended march. The allies can't use each other's movement commands, so the 'spare' British command remains unused.
Blucher moves with Pirch's II Corps to occupy Fleures (south of Ligny) adjacent and to the east of Ziethen. Theilmann's II Corps moves into line to the east of Blucher.
The French have the opportunity to force march. Napoleon (die roll '5' vs. initiative '4') and Grouchy (die roll '4' vs initiative '3') fail. Ney (die roll '1' vs initiative '3') succeeds and advances 2 hexes up the main road.
(edited for typos)