Well I survived the weekend in Glasgow and can now reflect on what happened and what one can repeat from the experience [what happened in Glasgow stays etc etc]
Because it was a intensive weekend I will post in two parts.
The event certainly deserved the title of The Great Game and I would argue there could never be a better advertisement for wargaming and wargamers in general.
What wargamer wouldn't want to take part in a refight of the most famous battle of the Napoleonic Wars.I will admit it isn't my favourite battle but then being a bit of a Napoleon fan it wasn't the best advertisement for his undoubted genius. So piles apart I took a command at the biggest re fight of Waterloo.
Anyway back to the event. I have nothing but admiration for the organisers led by Professor Tony Pollard for what they achieved.
Backed up by a host of volunteers and students who ran everything from the purpose built lighting with spotlights etc for dramatic events, war correspondents announcing what was happening every 30 minutes, umpiring, first aid and anything else you could want, it was impressive to say the least.
80 brigadiers, 40 generals, 22,600 figures, 4 tables stretching 36 feet by 6 feet covered by cloths copied from the original Siborne plans. Wonderful buildings of all the key features sponsored by Sarissa Enterprises.
Television cameras, national press, wargaming press, you tube whatevers etc it was basically a cornucopia of wargaming goodness.
I would also like to thank the companies that sponsored and assisted in making the game possible, especially Warlord and Perry for generous discounts and not forgetting Martin at Warbases. The weekend was also graced by the Perry twins, Guy Bowers and several painting gods who had provided units and commanders.
On top of that, wargamers traveled from every part of the globe, including New Zealand [hi Rob] who only came to watch by the way, from Australia, the USA, Canada, Italy, Holland, France, Germany [hi Johannes] Canada and Singapore and of course County Durham.
On top of that there were lectures organised to cover the campaign with knowledgeable guest speakers and a 'Ball' hosted by actors quoting anecdotes from the campaign. Oh and there was a free bar handing over strong drinks and beer from the period. I must admit its the first time I've been 'asked' to leave a university because they were closing for the night and everyone else had gone!
But the drink was free!! I cried as they ushered me out forcing me to go looking for a dubious kebab.
Hougoumont. What a beast especially when stuffed with elite and veteran infantry.
The most important thing it was to raise funds for charity and a practical one at that. To help veterans of our forces return to what we class as normal life. In order to build a closer bond 40 veterans took part in the game even though many had never wargamed before, I think they 'got' what wargaming was about and if not I think they had a good laugh at us.
So on to the game. In order to make the event work, Blackpowder 2 rules were used. Now love them or hate them, they were perfect for such an event. Yes they can be simplistic at times but they certainly worked under the stress of this epic game.
It helped that there were plenty of umpires, but to be honest they didnt have too much to rule on because the game was played in a great spirit devoid of the potential pedants, cheats and rule judges.
The armies were set up as per the original battle but after that the players could chose whatever they thought would work best.
Sadly the French [ me included] didnt have a designated wargaming Napoleon or Marshal Ney so started the game without a plan! We had an honoury Napoleon in the Chancellor of Glasgow University but he was only there for the initial move and after that we struggled with a lack of command structure. Wargamers have very different ideas about tactics etc.
After a couple of moves it became very obvious that we would need to quickly put one together, but I digress. The umpires had also allowed Lobau's VI to be positioned near to Placenoit simply because of the huge table distances involved, their loss from the centre became very apparent as the battle progressed.
La Haye Sainte. Rammed full of rifle toting Germans. [roll one miss!]
As for the Prussians, well there were thousands of them naturally. Their commanders were only allowed to be activated following designated dice rolls. They to could change their dispositions once they were activated.
These were led by a nasty group of Dutch wargamers with a smattering of those dastardly German types. We needed to keep an eye on them later in proceedings.
I had purposely chosen the Tirailleurs of the Young Garde for my command knowing they would be used fairly quickly if we followed history. The Garde were positioned on the fourth table naturally and our original orders were to prepare to advance towards La Haye Sainte when required whilst acting as the main reserve.
Unfortunately after the initial orders it was down to the Garde players to decide what we should do with the reserve.
After three moves the correspondents announced that there was troop movement on the extreme of the French right flank. The Prussians had apparently thrown successfully to begin moving! Personally I thought those nasty Euros chaps had been doing a bit of fiddling.
Because the Garde was the reserve, the players were able to watch proceedings on the main table and as we stood it became very apparent that the French commanders needed to have a scrum down to agree a plan. Being a pushy so and so, I took it on myself to ask the chief umpire Bill Gilchrist if he would make a decision whether we could do this and then announce that at the first break we were going to have a meeting.
The Young Garde and part of the Middle Garde.
[Apologies about this image.]
Bill agreed that we could have a ten minute discussion! [thanks Bill!] So the Garde commanders got together to decide our plan prior to the meeting.
To be honest the vast majority of the French players had clearly had the same idea simply because they recognised that otherwise we would fall into making the same mistakes as the original French generals had done at the battle.
The plan put together was simple and any wargamer who has re fought Waterloo will have decided in doing what we suggested which was namely a right hook against Papelotte and Frischmont whilst D'erlons First Corps engaged the allies near La Haye Sainte.
There was to be no attack on the monster that was Hougemont and instead it was to be merely contained whilst Jerome's veteran command were to swing left with support from Kellerman etc. Meanwhile the Young Garde and Middle Garde would march towards Placenoit whilst part of the VI corps would advance towards the Prussians and form a line where the woods narrowed the battle field. These would be supported on the middle table by Simmer who were under the command of a lovely French lady who was a very aggressive bugger. God help the Prussians there.
Her father a retired French Naval officer was leading the VI corps, they were quite a team.The Old Garde would march to La Belle Alliance to stand ready to pounce when ready.
Ah yes, best laid plans, etc etc.
After the lunch break the simple plan seemed accepted except the commanders of Jerome's command saw fit to do the following..... Lads, what about the plan????
Meanwhile on the Allied left the Dutch units decided to advance forcing poor Kellerman to attempt to slow down their inexorable advance with cavalry and no infantry. Oh and their allotted horse artillery had somehow ended up with... yes you guessed it, Jerome!
On a more positive note I was moving and felt the French could do some damage.
As the first day of battle came to a close it was very clear we would have to rethink the plan. We had made great progress against the three villages on the French extreme right. We were causing damage in the centre as the grand battery slowly formed. The extreme French left was holding their own and miraculously and against all wargaming sense Hougemont was ablaze and the British Guards pushed back.
The Prussian players had however been very sneaky and had marched Northwards towards the villages of Papelotte etc.and didnt seem to want to march towards Placenoit.
They had also appeared in strength and were beginning to link up with the light cavalry of Vivian. I told you they were crafty so and so's.
The day ended with a quick shower and back for the free drink and ball.
In the next post I will recount how a brilliant young garde commander struggled to save the day for the Emperor........