Wednesday, 24 June 2015

"About Bonaparte" Quatre Bras game played in California on the 200th anniversary of the battle

I ran my second "About Bonaparte" game in three days on June 16, 2015 at the home of Milton Soong. Since most of us live on the peninsula south of San Francisco, we call ourselves the Peninsula Gamers and we generally meet on Tuesdays after work. This week we planned special refreshments of Belgian beer and chocolate to celebrate the anniversary of Waterloo.

Due to the space required for 54mm figures, not all historic units were represented and some units, including the Brunswickers never made it onto the table. The game began with the troops of Holland and Nassau holding a thin line forward of the Quatre Bras crossroads. They had to hold back the more numerous French attackers until British and Allied reinforcements arrived. One thing I noticed as I set up was that "About Bonaparte" requires more mounted officers than I possess. So we had to make do with dismounted officers and generals, aside from Wellington and Ney for this game.

The French came on very aggressively and perhaps with too much coordination due to my lack of knowledge of the rules and the use of command dice. In any case, the French predictably pushed back the Dutch troops as well as Picton;s brigade on the British left flank.

The French also pushed for
ward their light cavalry brigade with forced the Belgians into square formation. The Anglo-Allied forces received their first reinforcements of Dutch light cavalry (here represented by British Light Dragoons) which helped stabilize their right flank. Interestingly, the French chose not to contest the woods which saw much fighting historically.

The French lancers were able to catch one Highland regiment before it could form square (as happened historically) and they broke and fled the field, leaving the Allied left in poor health.
Finally, the British Brigade of Guards arrived but, even with the road bonus for movement, they were slow in deploying. Meanwhile the remaining regiments of Pictons' division were hard pressed all along the line.

By this time, battle fatigue and the effects of the Belgian beer began to take effect and so we called the game in favor of the French, thinks to the French commanders acting with less caution than Ney did on the historic day. Over all the game played quickly and decisively and we look forward to playing another game, most likely set in Spain soon.


  1. Nice combat repport. Also beautiful battlefield and soldiers.
    Yes, and the great Belgian beer will have influenced many battles. Ha, ha ...
    (Pirates took a lot of rum on board so they were more courageous in fighting).

  2. I am very happy of this new "collaboration" in the battlefields of About Bonaparte. A new see on the rules from very professional appassionate of the wars in 54mm. I like see the big armies in American style, move in storic battles like Quattre Brass and I would see other clash from Nick's Group of friends. After my Waterloo experience, the story of Napoleonic wars is my preferite theme but, naturally, I like also many moment of the story of USA like American Revolution and ACW.
    Great battle again!

  3. Great battle report and very nice pics. Also good scenery and great figures. Good painting job on the Scots. The lancers are impressive. A cavalry charge in the flank is indeed deadly.
    As being from Flanders (Belgium) a Belgian beer is a must when playing wargames

  4. Thank you for your kind compliments. I cannot take full credit for the appearance of my figures as the majority were bought already painted on eBay. I began collecting 54mm figures two years ago, but so far I have not been able to inspire any of my fellow San Francisco area gamers to join me in my 54mm madness. In addition to Napoleonic, I also collect US Indian Wars, AWI, ACW, Zulu War, 2nd Anglo-Boer War and Indian Northwest Frontier. I am hoping to be able to use "About Bonaparte" for all of them, as I am getting too old to learn too many new rules sets. So Massimo, you may see an American battle of the AWI or ACW posted later this year.

  5. Nick,

    You could have had good green herring, jenever (liquor) or Zeeuwse bollussen as refreshment since Waterloo was part of the (upper and lower) Netherlands in those days. Belgium or Dutch beers were alike in other words. Although I must admit the (now) Belgian ones taste me better too! Thanx for the contribution. It's a nice one. I recognize some of the painted figures used, from the catalogues. Still good to see 'm in action!

  6. Nick,

    I'm interested in your 54mm figures to be used in the Boer-War conflicts!? It's one of my pivots too and find it hard to acquire appropriate little army men for this. I've made (and are making) my own scratch building for other period material. If can make live easier? You'll find several blog from me, here coping with that. Marcel

  7. Hi Marcel,
    If we had been drinking jenever we might not have made it past the second turn! The majority of my Anglo-Boer War figures are Armies in Plastic, which are very affordable, at least here in the US. I also have eight metal W. Britains in City Imperial Volunteer (CIV) uniforms which I bought on sale. Oh, and I bought several mounted Boers by DEA by Cassandra, which I believe are from Italy. From past experience in 25mm, you don't need very many Boers to keep your British troops occupied! I want to play a skirmish game based on the ambush of Captain Hunt from the movie: Breaker Morant.

  8. For the big battles, the ratio we use is 1/200 (1 figure = 200men), resulting in a unit being a regiment and a brigade being a group with an "officer". Like we did for the battle of Eylau 1807 (see on youtube or Aspern-Esling 1809 ( , , 31 and 32).

  9. Dirk, I understand the figure ratios and I think they work well. But for me, the attraction of wargaming is almost purely visual and I prefer the look of 16 figures vs. 8 figure battalions. Even though it is more work and double the expense. For skirmish games I will probably fall back on The Sword and the Flame which I have been playing for almost 30 years and which translates seamlessly from 25mm to 54mm

  10. Hi Nikc. We in fact never really played skirmish games. I started to think about i some time ago, so your adive is very welcome, with a rule, and maybe, you can return the favour to answer questions, if we start testing The Sword and the Flame. Will look thinks up on the web.

  11. Hi Dirk,

    I would be happy to contribute some notes and photos of my 54mm skirmish games and a brief description of "The Sword and the Flame". As its author says: it blends history with Hollywood. Not to everyone's taste, but if you grew up watching movies like: "Gunga Din", "Fort Apache" and "Beau Geste" it's a great set of rules.

  12. ...that's me too, Nick! (and Dirk).