“I should not do justice to my own feelings, or to Marshal Blucher and the Prussian Army, if I did not attribute the successful result of this arduous day to the cordial and timely assistance I received from them. The operation of General Bulow upon the enemy flank was a most decisive one …“. – The Duke of Wellington
Black Eagles Over Belgium is not just “another” Waterloo game – it is a game that focuses on the battles of the Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine, under Field Marshal Gebhard von Blucher, during the Waterloo campaign. This was an army that was arguably inferior in quality and preparedness when compared to any of the Prussian armies previously fielded in the Napoleonic Wars (in fact, one-third of its infantry force consisting of untrained “landwehr”). Despite this huge disadvantage, it was the tenacity and resilience of this same inexperienced and unprepared Prussian host that decidedly helped defeat Napoleon’s attempt at a new French empire.
Black Eagles Over Belgium is a regimental/battalion scale game that allows two players to recreate the battles of Ligny, Wavre and Plancenoit by utilizing a fun, playable and yet historically accurate operating system. The game uses an entertaining dual-chit-pull mechanic in which players generate Action Points and Events that allow them to maneuver, fight and rally their armies in an unpredictable sequence. Additionally, each game turn will end randomly upon the third “End Turn” chit being pulled. This makes game play highly engaging and keeps both players constantly on edge, challenging them to make tough decisions with almost every chit pull. Each of the three battles provided in this package presents a different situation for players to fight through. In addition, the game will include a simple campaign system so that all three battles can be tied together. There are tough defenses to be mounted, spoiling attacks to be timed properly and frontal assaults to be launched, each conducted to achieve varying victory conditions. Despite sharing a common system, these three battles each have a distinctly different feel to them and thus keeps Black Eagles Over Belgium a fresh experience each time it hits the gaming table.
The Battle of Ligny - June 16th, 1815
At the start of the Waterloo campaign, Blucher decides that he will hold a position along the marshy, steep-banked Ligny Brook, which also provides the cover of ten hamlets and four bridges along its length. His force consists of three corps, composed of 84,000 men and 224 guns, situated in a strong position, though with an open right flank. Napoleon’s force of 68,000 men (including the Imperial Guard) and 210 guns attacks the Prussians in the early afternoon with a massive frontal assault, hoping to pin the Prussians in place as Ney attacks them in flank. What follows is a brutal back-and-forth struggle, highlighted by missed chances to outflank and cut off the Prussian force. In the end the French army defeats the Prussians but is unable to destroy them - thereby sealing the fate of France two days later.
The Battle of Wavre - June 18th, 1815
After the Battle of Ligny, French Marshal Grouchy pursues the defeated Prussians north. Due to the inclement weather and lack of information as the whereabouts of the Prussians, his advance is lackadaisical. The Prussians are able to quickly rally and set off to the west with three corps to support Wellington, leaving only Thielemann’s IIIrd Corps behind as a rearguard. The two opposing forces finally clash at the town of Wavre, on the swollen Dyle River. The Prussians defend the town with just over 15,000 men and are attacked by Grouchy’s 30,000 men. Despite hearing the sound of the guns firing at Mont St. Jean, Grouchy sticks to his written orders and attacks the Wavre position, thinking he is pinning the enemy and preventing them from joining Wellington. Despite ultimately winning the battle at Wavre, Grouchy had just unwittingly helped end his Emperor’s reign. His career as a scapegoat was just beginning.
The Battle of Plancenoit - June 18th, 1815
As the Battles of Waterloo and Wavre raged, von Bulow’s fresh Prussian IVth Corps force-marched as quickly as it could toward to the right flank of the French Army near Plancenoit. This sector (which was only about 1000 yards from Napoleon’s headquarter at La Belle Alliance) was defended by the 16,000 men of Lobau’s VIth Corps, guarding the right rear of Napoleon’s juggernaut which was assaulting the Anglo-Allied line at Mont St. Jean. The struggle for this vital position saw some of the most see-saw, brutal fighting of the entire war. So much so that the French were forced to commit not only the Young Guard Division to the fight but also two battalions of the Old Guard in order to push the Prussians back. The resulting diversion of critical resources from the main attack was instrumental in contributing to Napoleon’s ultimate defeat at Waterloo.