La Garde recule!

Armies clash at the Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler II

Yes, another small pocket game, Against the Odds' Pocket Battle Game #10 "La Garde recule! Attack at Waterloo" the retreat of the Imperial Guard, the final French attack at Waterloo, 18 June 1815.

Title: La Garde recule! Attack at Waterloo
Price: $0 free with a purchase
Series: Pocket Battle game #10
Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh
Graphics Designer: Mark Mahaffey
Publisher: LPS, Inc
Published Date: 2011

Subject: This pbg concerns the last actions of Napoleon's Guards in the final French attack on the Allied center. 

Abbreviations used:  AF = Attack Factor, DF = Defense Factor, MP = Movement Points, CD = Card Draw, ACT = Activations, PBG = Pocket Battle Game, "Allies" = British and Dutch, "French" = Old, Middle and Young Guard,  " > " is the Greater Than math symbol.

Scale:  A quick guesstimate, if I may, considering that the infantry units can fire up to 2 hexes away,  a hex is aprx 100 yards with the units representing battalions.  But, this is really not important. 

Complexity:  Introductory!!!

Description of Play:  Either player draws a card (CD). The color and type of card allows one player to activate up to 3 units. Once activated, the unit can either move one hex or preform fire combat or flip a unit over from a reduce state to full strength.

Note: If you have played TSP's pocket battle game #5, "A Hard Pounding", then you will know how to play this one. Differences is no French Arty marker or Major Baring, but the Allies do have the "Duke", himself and all cards are used in the deck, no 9 or 10 cards pulled. 

Components and Physical Quality:  The game comes as a standard size 4" x 6" postcard cardboard. The card is very nice and can take a lot of plays.  Printing is very good. The rules along with a small player's aid listing the terrain with it's corresponding card modifiers and unit breakdown are on the backside with the game map on the front.  Counters need to be cut out for playing.

new counters
Counters: The game only has 17 counters. Allies have ten (9 infantry units and 1 Duke of Wellington leader) counters and the French have six and one game turn marker. Allied units are red (British) or green (Dutch) with black lettering and the French are blue with white lettering.  Since the Allied counters with black lettering on red or green are impossible for me to use, as usual, I made up my own counters.  Adapt and overcome is my motto. You don't need these, but if you want to use, be my guest.  Click on the .png to the left to download.  They are 1" in size. To make 1/2", just reduce by 50% when you print out.

Note: There are no differences between Guard units and regular line (foot) infantry.

Game Map:  For such a small game map it is well design. I can see why LPS, Inc uses Mark as their GD.  

Player added Component:  Players will need to provide a normal deck of cards.  

Card Deck setup:   Shuffle a standard card deck with 1 Joker,  A CD is perform with the French using black cards and Allies using red cards.  An activation allows a unit to either move or perform fire combat.

Each type of card does the following:
  • An even CD allows up to two units to activate.  
  • An odd CD allows up to three units to activate. 
  • A face card CD allows one unit to activate or to flip one unit from reduced to full strength. 
    • An ace is treated as a one for combat or odd for activation.
  • For combat when a face card is drawn, it is an automatic "miss", exception is Duke of Wellington, as he can be eliminated on a CD of a black ace or king. See "Special Unit Counter" below).
  • The Joker signals the end of the game turn when it is drawn for either activation or combat resolution, unless it is drawn before both sides have activated units. In this case, bury it and continue play until the end of the deck.
La Garde, recule! card deck

Note: Of course, High Flying Dice Games, has their own card set for this game. Cost is $8 plus postage. Click on the .jpg to the right.

Solitaire Playability (Scale 1 to 10):  This is like A Hard Pounding.  I give it a 7.  It can be played as solitaire, as just about any game can. 

Versions/Scenarios:  Only one version, no extra rules or scenarios.

Setup Time:  Once everything is cut out, what, maybe 3 mins for setup? It will take longer to shuffle the card deck.

Playing Time:  This one is quick.  My games last 30 to 45 mins if that long. Maybe 45 mins to 1 hour to learn the game the first time, but after?

Rules:  The rules are simple and flow nicely from the various areas of "Setup" to "Play" to "Combat" and to "Reinforcements".  After looking over and playing this little game, I found these rules to be very logical, concise, and can see why "A Hard Pounding (TSP's pbg #5) plays so well. Most important - NO ZONES OF CONTROL and combat is voluntary.  No stacking except for the Duke.

Addenda:  "none" as I can't find any.

Description of Play:  Play is very easy, almost as if the designer was using a formula that he perfected in the past, sweet. This game has the following:
  • Setup:
    • Six Allied units setup on the red diamonds, and three units on any "R". 
    • Two "1st wave" French units on any blue diamond.
    • No stacking, except if the Lord Wellington counter is used as an allied reinforcement.
  • Play:
    • A card draw (CD) activates units for either moving 1 hex or fire combat.
    • It doesn't matter who draws the card, as it is the color and type of card that  depicts which unit(s) are activated.
  • Combat:
    • Units may fire up to 2 hexes away.
    • Infantry have a -2 CD modifier if firing at a non-adjacent hex.
    • Allied Artillery firing at a French unit in an adjacent hex has a +1 CD modifier.
    • Allies "Lord Wellington" adds +1 CD modifier for attacking and +1 DF for any Allied unit he is stacked with.
    • Terrain on combat
      • Hill terrain has a +1 CD modifier against clear terrain.
      • Units in woods have a -1 CD. 
      • No firing thru other units, hills, woods, but can fire into such hexes.
  • To perform a combat resolution, the attacker picks out the lucky defending target.
    • a CD is performed (any color or suite is used), adding this to the AF. 
      • Subtract the DF and hex terrain and/or range.
      • Face cards are an outright miss (exception: the Duke of Wellington is killed if the unit he is stacked with has a combat CD of black Ace or King)
      • A hit is scored on the defender if the final modified value is greater than the target units DF. 
        • If the unit was full strength, it is flipped over to it's reduced side. 
        • If the unit was reduced from before, it is eliminated and removed from play.
    • If the modified value is equal to or less than " < " the target's DF:  No Effect.
  • Reinforcements:
    • Only the French receives reinforcements. 
      • There is a number on the lower right side that indicates the earliest turn the French reinforcement can arrive. They can always enter on later game turns.
Game Length: The game last up to 5 turns of card deck shuffles. Victory is dependent on the French securing their victory conditions - either eliminate all Allied units or exit three non-reduced units (or four units if one of them is reduced) along the north edge of the game map. Otherwise the Allies win.

Special Unit Counter:  There is one special unit, the Duke himself, "Wellington". He enters the game on game turn 2 by spending any red CD and placed on any allied unit.  Once in play, he cannot exit the game. He doesn't have to enter the game. He has to be stacked with an Allied unit at all times. And confers a +1 to a CD and +1 to the DF to the unit that he is stacked with. If the unit the Duke is stacked with is eliminated, the Duke is moved to another unit. If all Allied units are eliminated, the Duke of Wellington is captured and the game ends in a French victory.  If the Duke is eliminated on a card draw of a black ace or king for combat, there is no adverse effect for the Allied player.

That's it, pretty much everything one would want to know about this game. 

Play-Balance:  This pbg, imho, is finely balance as "A Hard Pounding". Out of the 20 or so games played, the Allies won 60%, with the French winning 40%.  Now some may say "well, thats not balance", but think about it, did the French really have a chance with such few battalions of the Guards attacking?  
  • At Ligny, Napoleon used 19 Infantry btns (11 btns of Guards and 8 btns of Gerard's Corps), with 28 squadrons cavalry (4 squadrons. of Guard Cavalry and 24 squadrons of Cuirassiers) to break thru the Allies line and was successful.
  • At Waterloo on the western wing against the British (inc KGL) and Dutch, only 16 Infantry btns (8 btns of Guards and 8 btns of Donzelot's division), with 3-5 squadrons of cavalry (1-2 squadrons of Guard and 2-3 squadrons of Cuirassiers was used).  This was not enough. 
  • And on the eastern wing, fighting the Prussians in Plancenoit, 10 btns of Guards and 9 btns of Mouton's Corps with no cavalry was used and again, this was not enough.
In the battle, when the Guards broke thru the first line, they were spent, but the follow up Guard btns were almost as spent and just didn't have the men or stamina to carry the attack. Not enough men assign to the task at hand shows that fighting on two fronts is a solid and loud "Non!". And was Napoleon's biggest fear. 

Which begs the question, "what if Napoleon had a B-52 at the Battle of Waterloo?"

Not sure what heading to use: I had two full paragraphs on possible strategies but you know, the game is small enough enough, you can come up with your own. Besides my non-ability to win any of the games as the French disqualifies me from offering advice. :D 

Summary: This is a sister pbg to "A Hard Pounding Fight", the battle for La Haye Sainte.  There are many books written on the Battle of Waterloo. I have ten myself. from the quint-essential bible on Napoleon "The Campaigns of Napoleon" by Dr Chandler to Scotty Bowden's masterpiece "Waterloo" and all in between. There are literately dozens of websites not only on Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo, but on the different regiments, battalions, brigades, and other leaders. This time period is covered more than the Roman Empire or Germany versus Soviet Union.  Games are very numerous too.  For example, I have 15 board games, three sets of miniature rules, and the six pocket games. Though most tend to take hours (and hours and hours, and...) to play, these little pocket battle games take only 45 mins or less. A bargain these are and the price is right too.   

It would be nice to see a six pbg series that all joined up on the Battle of Waterloo, like the four pbg games on Leipzig 1813 and using that scale. Now that would be something....


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