Sunday 28 March 2010

A Near Run Thing

I have always had a soft spot for Napoleonics. Ever since my lovingly produced British 1815 period army using Airfix plastics as an impoverished teenager I have always found much to enjoy about the era. I should also point out as well that I am passionately interested in the 1815 campaign which is a comment that is designed to cause the majority of enthusiasts of the period to observe, somewhat disdainfully, that the great man himself was very successful before that fateful year and that perhaps some of his triumphs would make for a more rewarding field of study! That may be true but for me 1815 has always held a particular fascination. I suppose in a way it is because in a matter of a few days the entire Napoleonic wars have been effectively condensed; both in time and scale. The rationale for this can be best described by the following points:

  • Napoleon was at both his best and his worst.

  • All the great Napoleonic unit types were present and saw action - the Old Guard, British Cavalry, Riflemen and Prussian Landwehr etc

  • Dramatic battles with all the expected action - cavalry charges, artillery bombardments, squares, massed columns etc

  • Troops types ranging from veteran grenadiers down to poorly clad conscripts and unwilling allies.

  • The course of the entire campaign can be followed very easily as the actual area of operations was fairly compact.

  • There are an enormous amount of books devoted to just about every aspect of this campaign - biographies, unit histories, uniforms etc.

I have a couple of very good boardgames for this campaign - one strategic 'Napoleon' by Columbia Games and a tactical version: 'Waterloo' by Warfrog. There is also going to be a Command and Colours based version due out later this year from Worthington Games which will be worth a look.

Aside from the aforementioned Airfix army I have also owned the armies for the three combatant nations in 15mm on a very stylised basis and designed for use with a set of rules called 'Le Petit Empereur' by Sabers Edge games. These rules were very DBA based and were good fun if a little sterile. I had always wanted to game this using 'Volley and Bayonet' by Frank Chadwick as the full scale of the campaign would be easy to capture with the scale of a base of figures equalling a brigade - irrespective of the number and scale of the figures used.

The campaign for me has all the elements of a Greek tragedy or a bad soap opera - you can choose your own frame of reference - and for the sheer sweep and scale of action it is hard to better.

With the 200th anniversary of the battle coming up in 5 years I wonder of now would be a good time to think about organising the armies for this, one of history's greatest battles.

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