Waterloo 20 – Fading Glory (GMT Games)

Waterloo 20 features the entirety of the traditional Waterloo campaign fought June 16th through June 18, principally around Quatre Bras, Ligny, Wavre and the titular Waterloo (Mont Saint Jean if you want to be pedantic).

There are some additional bits of historical chrome that highlights some of the challenges of the campaign, namely the deleterious effects the storms and rains can have on combat, movement and the passing of minor rivers. There is a variable weather system but for this campaign I opted for the highly predictable scheduled rains.

And much like the historical unfolding of events, my playthrough of the campaign followed some similar beats.

Beginning in the morning of June 16th, Napoleon pressed his forces against Blucher’s around Ligny, pushing the Prussians back but not breaking them. With several corps intact, the Prussians fell back, orderly, along the Dyle looking to join the Anglo-Dutch left.

Meanwhile around Quatre Bras, Ney’s attacks did little to dislodge Wellington. As the day progressed , he abandoned any further advances and swung his corps to the east, joining in a general assault against the Prussians.

The 17th brought furious rains and storms, impeding the movement of both the French and the Allies. Several skirmishes pushed the Prussians against swollen rivers, imperiling them should they have to retreat. But the weather lightened and the Prussians were able to withdraw and join the Anglo Dutch left, creating a formidable defensive line.

As the main armies trudged through the weather, Ney led a cavalry and infantry corps to the northeast, encroaching on Wavre, hoping to be in a position to threaten Waterloo from the east the next day.

With the lines drawn on the morning of the 18th, and time running out, Napoleon attacked at full force, but not before mud and conflicting orders prevented the artillery from participating. Assaults and ripostes flew up and down the line. The Prussians lost Plancenoit, Hougoumont exchanged hands several times as did La Haye Sainte. During these furious combats, Napoleon was wounded, the Imperial Guard destroyed and several more French corps flung backwards, routing miles to the south. With the daylight waning, the Allies were still in command of the field with a considerable morale point advantage. There was nothing the French could do to force a decisive victory. They withdrew defeated, Napoleon’s dreams of reasserting French dominance permanently dashed.

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