The Thin Red Line

On Sunday I met up with Ninjasaurus Rexfor a game of Blücher.  This was only our second game, but I wanted to try out the new Peninsular War card set I bought a while back. These are different to the original 100 Days Campaign Cards in that they are generic units and also have the points cost printed on the cards, which makes adding up for a game much easier!

I organised 200 points  worth of British and French forces (well, 210 including the artillery...) for a battle during the Peninsular War (OK, I know the Brunswicks weren't there in great numbers, so sue me...).

The British defenders consisted of:

4 x British Line Infantry @ 15pts each
2 x Guards Infantry @ 20pts each
2 x Brunswick Infantry @ 12pts each
1 x Brunswick Cavalry @ 10pts
2 x Heavy Cavalry @ 10pts each
2 x Heavy Cavalry @ 14pts each
2 x Dutch Militia @ 6pts each
5 x Artillery Guns, massed into 1 Battery and two guns attached to Brigades
Sub commander: Rowland Hill @ 10pts (Inspiring)

The French attackers consisted of

8 x Line Infantry @ 12pts each
2 x Elite Infantry @ 16pts each
3 x Heavy Cavalry @ 10pts each
3 x Light Cavalry @ 7pts each
1 x Dragoon @ 11pts
5 x Artillery Guns, massed into 1 Battery and two guns attached to Brigades
Sub commander: Edouard Mortier @ 10pts (Hero)

This meant that the break point of the two armies was 6 for the French and 5 for the British.

So all was set, even the usual pre-game cat attack was conducted:

I organised my French forces into three Corps, with the bulk of the Cavalry being massed into III Corps (except the Dragoons, who were attached to II Corps in the centre of the field). The British had four Corps, as their maximum Corps size was four Brigades.

Slowly lumbering forward with my centre units, I was able to reveal some of the British forward units, including the Brunswickers and Dutch in the middle of their line.

Some fire was exchanged as my I Corps also came forward to threaten the British right flank.

As muskets blazed in the centre of the field, the cavalry corps began moving on my right flank around the woodland.

This is how things looked from the British lines.

Things went from bad to worse, as all of a sudden, the British heavy cavalry charged my Dragoons!

Heavily outnumbered and already suffering from musket fire the unlucky Dragoons broke. Being impetuous, the British cavalry were forced to advance (after a victory) and threaten my II Corps flanks! Meanwhile elements of II Corps had attacked the Dutch soldiers on the flank of the Brunswickers.

Despite this, the flanks of II Corps were looking decidedly dicey!

This new threat meant that I recalled half of my cavalry force to meet the British heavies.The Elite infantry in my front line were taking a battering and Mortier tried to rally the men, unfortunately catching a musket ball as he did. He was carried from the field, unable to command.

Meanwhile, attritional fighting was still going on in the centre of the field, with no clear victor.

Then my already heavily battered Elite Infantry was charged by the Brunswick cavalry. This was not going to end well for me!

And it didn't, the Elite brigade collapsed, leaving another gaping hole in my attack line!

Things were looking a little better on my right flank. I had managed to charge the British heavy cavalry, but the angles wouldn't allow for all my horses to get into the fray. Further along though, the British light cavalry stood the charge from the rest of my cavalry Corps.

My previously neat lines of attack were starting to drift!

The British heavy cavalry stood firm against the attacking French, but I was able to force his light cavalry into a retreat. This did put me in the line of fire for his artillery though.

In the centre of the field, the Brunswick infantry charged into what remained of my II Corps and gave them a good hammering.

There was heavy fighting all along the front line as musket volley followed musket volley.

This toing and froing ended when I charged the British Guards and the Dutch troops, both of which to my surprise, broke and retreated!

The euphoria was not to last though as several of my infantry brigades disintegrated under renewed attack. 

Again, each turn seemed to scatter my brigades to the wind, things were looking desperate!

The cavalry were fairing better on the right flank, still forcing the British light cavalry into retreats.

However, I lost another brigade to the British attacks and my army reached its breaking point.

All Corps structure had broken down and I had to throw in the towel. Here's some final pictures of the table.

So another great Blücher battle finished. Although this was a loss for me, I really enjoyed the game as it has a really good feel for the period and tactics of the age. It was interesting to see that we had both placed our cavalry on the flanks, my idea was to try and sweep around the back and cause some damage that way. It worked, partially, but the centre line crumbling was the greatest cause of my defeat. Ninjasaurus commented that his best form of defence was attack, it certainly was in this case!

The men of the match really were the Men in Black Brunswicks and the conscript Dutch troops, who held off the attacking French in a goodly manner. I look forward to the time when I can field my 6mm Brigades for another game, but that is something for the future.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Nice account, I am very impressed by Blucher, it captures a lot of the period and makes for a fun game as well.

    1. Thanks Robbie. I am really impressed by the game. I have long wanted to start Napoleonic gaming but have always been put off by the complexity of rules. Blucher scratches an itch that I have had for ages!

  2. Got this rules system on my shopping list! Thanks for the great write up!

    1. Thanks Mike, get it to the top your list and buy it! You will not be disappointed!


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