It has been a busy day for a number of non-wargaming reasons but I have managed to give a little shape to how I would go about tackling the 1815 Waterloo campaign using my Hexon terrain, 'Napoleon' by Columbia Games and a version of Bob Cordery's 'Memoir of Battle' 19th century rules with a nod to 'Volley and Bayonet' and a sprinkling of yours truly for good measure.
The ground work has pretty much been done in respect of the forces but with a rather novel twist. Back in the day (roughly 10 years ago) I went through a rather lengthy process of converting all the Columbia Games divisional sized units into, in effect, Volley and Bayonet brigade sized formations - with a strength point and morale rating as required for those rules. In effect I would be using divisions as brigades on the table top which was driven by the collection I owned at the time. The armies would be made up of corps which would consist of, for example, four bases of infantry, a base of skirmishers, a base of cavalry and a gun. Now if you extend this basic principle into Memoir of Battle speak you could say that the above formation would be represented by 4 x 4 block infantry units, a 3 block skirmisher unit, a 2 block cavalry unit and a 2 block artillery unit.
This then, will be the basis for the order of battle for the three armies - in effect a 4 block regular infantry unit will represent a division.
There is one small issue though that would need to be addressed - the application of morale and physical unit strength. As the rules stand units of better or worse than average quality are represented by the addition or subtraction of a block/figure which would give a regular infantry unit a range of from 3 to 5 blocks/figures. This is fine if the units are uniform in strength which of course for 1815 they most certainly were not.
I spent some time pondering the unit strength/morale issue and how to best replicate this within the desired rule system and have come up with the following. Units will be represented on the table top by the number of blocks equal to their strength rating. This is very close to the standard 4 - 3 - 2 infantry, cavalry and artillery unit size. However, and this is where the unit roster comes in, the number of 'hits' a unit can receive is equal to its morale value. Unit blocks will only be removed when the hits remaining get down to the number of blocks in use. For example, the Old Guard division under the command of Friant has a strength of 5 and a morale of 7. This means that it will deploy with 5 blocks but the first two hits scored against it will be recorded against its roster details. The third hit will mean the loss of a block. An advantage of this method is that small units with high morale will be around for longer and also it means that from a campaign perspective units will have a little more durability. Units that have a strength rating higher than their morale will lose blocks on their first hit to bring their strength and morale into line. This also raises the issue of reductions in combat efficiency due to losses which I will give some thought to although I suspect that the system employed in Command and Colours: Napoleonics whereby the number of combat dice is reduced based on the unit size may be the solution.
On with the roster sheets and the inevitable rules tinkering....
Oh, and I will need to watch the film again - purely in the interests of research of course....;-)