Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Battle of Quatre Bras: Carnage & Glory II Scenario

On Saturday November 29, 2014, the Pasadena Historical Wargamers put on a big Quatre Bras game.  Von Rubinsky and I put on a new spread of terrain to up the table appeal, including scratch built Gemioncourt.

As usual my sources are mainly those available online including William Siborne's The Waterloo Campaign, 1815

About two years ago I wrote up scenario sheets for Quatre Bras and updated and improved them for Carnage & Glory II and our latest re-fight.


General information to be given to both sides.

Anglo-Allied Introduction

French Introduction

Both sides received "vedette" units they could use to attempt to bluff the other side with as best as possible.  I also allowed the Anglo-Allies to have hidden deployment.  The goal was to avoid as much as possible the Meta-gaming from 30,000 feet, with units reacting perfectly to situations and enemy movements they would unlikely be able to see.  I felt that the omniscient sight of the wargamer occasionally worms its way into our prior Quatre Bras re-fights.  For a historical flavor of the battle the fog of war is pretty important, as both sides ran into trouble and surprising in the tall crops south Quatre Bras.

Practically this meant, the French had an extra lancer unit of 6 figures running around the table, with a fake number assigned to it.  The Anglo-Allies were allowed to use the one or two Dutch-Belgian unit that was garrisoning Quatre Bras itself.  I think next time I might give the French two lancer/chasseur "vedette" units (thus making it appear as a full brigade) so that it more difficult to determine what units are real and which are fake. 


100% Optional "Events" to give some additional historical flavor to the battle.

UPDATE: Fatigue can be taken care of in the pre-game setup phase, but setting the reinforcing Anglo-Allied commands to arrive on a set turn and setting their fatigue level with the preset fatigue function.  They commands will arrive during the End Turn Phase and have a message concerning their current fatigue status.   The fatigue ratings you set the reinforcing British at is somewhat subjective, but for play-ability/"fun" considerations I erred the side of less fatigue.

Also, for playability reasons and because I've never tested it, I did not use the "high heat exhaustion" penalty for fatigue.  Historically, the high heat and humidity were certainly a factor, and may justify use of this C&G feature... too many unknowns for me though on this particular game.


I also did some custom OOBs as the print on the standard ones from C&GII are a bit small for some of the...veteran...wargamers.

The Army of the Duke of Wellington:

A note Concerning the late arriving Brunswickers: The 1st and 3rd Leger and at least a cannon battery were stationed further out than the rest of the Brunswick contingent and arrived after the Foot Guards (somewhere between 6:30 and 7 p.m. or so).  I've got conflicting information as to whether it is one or both of the cannon batteries that was late to the field.  I allowed the horse battery on with the rest of the Brunswickers at around 3 p.m. for this game.

Siborne has several paragraphs discussing the Duke of Brunswick's lack of cannon at this battle to support his infantry and Duke of Brunswick's request to Wellington for cannon support (which he received and subsequently lost a few guns to counter battery fire).  I certainly could see having both Brunswick batteries arriving late, but would need additional research.

I might fiddle with some of the ratings for next game, feedback from the group suggests that the Brunswick line troops might be overrated.

The Armee du Nord:

Note on Horse Artillery:  Feedback at the game indicated 1) Kellerman's 11th Cav. Div. did not have its artillery with it at Quatre Bras, and; 2) the Guard Lt. Cav. Div.'s two horse batteries were at Quatre Bras.  I don't have a direct source for this to hand at the moment, but note that with the above substitutions that brings the French to the 50 guns that Siborne states were present on the field. I intend to make these changes for the next game and assign the two Old Guard horse batteries as II Corps assets that can be reassigned at the beginning of the battle, and allow them to join the battle between 2:15 and 2:45 p.m with the rest of the Reille's  II corps.



An overlay of the table on the Ferraris Map.  As the scale of Ferraris map is not always 100%, I compared it with other sources.  The tables may actually represent a little more on the North-South Axis, but the East-West is pretty spot on with other map overlays I tested against.

The "rolling" table is on the right.  We started it south of Gemioncourt and later scrolled it northward as the battle shifted, which seemed to work out very well.

New latex caulk creek, roads and hedges, and custom Gemioncourt

Try not to notice the bombed out WWII buildings....  New European buildings needs to get added to the to do list.  Can't do Ligny without them!

Close up shot of the sunken road/hedges and some men in kilts.

A Note on Hills:

Contour map with highlighting.  Each contour is 2m/6.5 feet, the highlighting is every 10m change.  Yellow is 160m and Blue 130m.  We didn't do any hills this round.  Not enough time to do so this past month.  Maybe next time some hills that can go under Von Rubinsky's battle mat.   Siborne definitely mentions the hills playing a role, especially the ridge between Gemioncourt and the Namur road. Something for next time!


I would not recommend the above order of battle be tried with less than 6 players and preferably 8.  The figures we use are on their 3rd ruleset and are based more or less for Empire III/Flint&Steel and reflect a roughly 1:60 figure scale. 

"Bathtubbing" or proportionally reducing the Orders of Battle for both sides and all arms, would speed play by eliminating tactical units while preserving the "feel" of the battle.  In order to keep the troop density the battlefield can also be shrunk, through if you're doing something like 20% reduction probably can keep the table as is.

Updated Fatigue section.


  1. Great write up. A couple of comments. I have walked the battlefield and I am not sure "hills" are the right terrain feature. There is a steady rise in the terrain starting from Geimoncourt going towards the Namur road, but it is a gradual slope. At the time there was a banked hedge on the road I believe which certainly affected LOS from the low points.

    Also IMO (coming from Dutch heritage!) I would check some of the more recent non Anglo centric sources. Erwin Muilwijk has written a three part series on the campaign from the Dutch point of view including a volume on QB, and Andrew Field is doing one from the French POV.

  2. Hello Edb1815,

    First off thank you for stopping by and commenting!

    I actually agree with you for the most part re: Hills. They should not be hills in the "wargamer" sense. I would rate most of the slopes "gentle" in C&G terms, meaning they do not confer any combat bonuses or negatives, but would allow for line of sight into the fields potentially or block line sight from/to units on their respective "reverse slope" and would affect artillery boucethrough. I limited bouncethrough in this game to 500 paces to abstractly reflect that the ground was uneven. Historically, the French concentrated some of their artillery on the high points of the battlefield to bombard the allies. The only area where the I believe Siborne mentions the change in elevation being a notable factor (other than for LOS/Artillery) is the area immediately around Gemioncourt where the ground slopes down to the Materne stream. For our game I just abstracted this, by providing the hedgerows and stream as disruptive terrain in the vicinity of Gemioncourt.

    I have not had the pleasure of reading Andrew Field or Erwin Muilwijk, but I have had a chance to skim Muilwijk volume that included QB and loved the diagrams and detail he goes into. Ratings are always a tricky thing, and sometimes its a compromise between different parties pointing to their respective favored sources/authors. One of the advantages of C&G over other rulesets like Empire is that the ratings are not so extreme/significant, (e.g. an elite "Grenadier" or "Guard" is not 3-4 times as combat effective as a Landwherman or conscript).

  3. Great post. One of the battles I want to have in my standard "can do" games. The size and number of figures is decent, just need to get the terrain right. Your post is very helpful and inspiring.