Having played the new Last Eagles: Ligny 1815 I wanted to compare how the battle plays with Napoleon’s Last Gamble my first game from the The Library of Napoleonic Battles series. The game has been dwelling in my shelf for some time and now its about time to give it a go.
As for rules I am quite comfortable with the OSG Version 7.33 rules by Kevin Zucker. But I wanted to find out how the alternative Last Battles of Napoleon by Markus Stumptner work. So I use the structure of the original rules with the movement rates, the command rules, the combat, and the morale blended in.
16 June 1815
The campaign starts in hot weather and with all units under Reserve orders. The scenario instructions state there is a permanent French Late Start Card in play. The French have the initiative, but we need to roll who is ready to go.
Ligny 2 PM
Only Vandamme’s III Corps d’Armee and Drouot’s Garde Impériale are prepared for the battle ahead. Vandamme on his own initiative resolves to Attack the Prussians in Saint-Amand and Saint-Amand la Haye. His infantry takes the 5 VP area of Saint-Amand in bloody fighting. The French lose 2000 men, the Prussians about 2500. Blücher and his corps commanders realise the danger of the situation and rush to Defend Saint-Amand la Haye and Ligny.
Quatre Bras 2 PM
At Frasne Maréchal Ney occupies himself waiting for orders and reconnoitering the road to Brussels. It seams that they have encoutered some Coalition forces near Quatre Bras. Wellingtons sends orders to his divisional commanders, but most are delayed for 1 Turn. In contrast the Duce of Brunswick immediately sends forward his units.
Vandamme continues to attack Saint-Amand la Haye but with the Prussian forces now formed up in defensive positions his infantry is repulsed. The Prussians are content to defend their positions. All the while Napoleon himself is occupied by state affairs and cannot set his mind on conducting the battle. Therefore Grouchy takes command for the time being and sends ADCs to activate the French Corps d’Armee. At Quatre Bras Ney finally orders Reille to Attack the enemy forces and to take the vital road intersection. This first assaults are repulsed, while Wellington organises a defense with the British and Brunswick forces moving up.
Gérards IV Corps d’Armee assaults Ligny and takes the southern part of the town and its 10 VP area. Blücher immediately orders a counter-attack. Zieten’s and Pirch’s Prussian troops behave admirabely and expell the French from the towns. At Quatre Bras Reille’s II Corps d’Armee assaults the Coalition’s positions. Heavy fighting ensues around the Ferme de Gémioncourt both sides losing 2000 men each. Général Reille and Earl de Perponcher are both among the slain.
At Quatre Bras Kellerman and his II Corps de Cavalerie spring into action charging the Picton’s British infantry. In a joint attack the French annihilate the British squares but suffer heavy losses themselves. Picton reorganises his defense and in the subsequent assault retakes the Ferme de Gémioncourt, a key position in the British defense. Meanwhile at Fresne Napoleon finally sees to the battle as the Prussian units retake Saint Amand. He sends D’Erlon’s I Corps d’Armée March orders to Marbais.
Supported by the Imperial Guard Artillerie Vandamme again takes Saint-Armand-la-Haye and its Chateau de la Haye. In contrast after a conter-attack by Pirch’s II Armeekorps Ligny is now frimly in Prussian hands. At Quatre Bras the leaderless II Corps d’Armée fails its Attack order and falls back under the cover of Kellerman’s III Corps de Cavalerie.
Vandamme’s infantry and the Jeune Garde drive the Prussians from Saint-Armand-la-Haye. Ligny again changes hands several times.
The game creates stories. This for me is most important aspect when I play wargames. I am interested in military history. Its always interesting to find out what alternative outcome could have occurred. One of my motivations for my blog is to write down the stories as they unfold on the tabletop.
TLNB rules are obviously refined and they are written in a clear way. They have an index which helps a lot. Only seldom did I have to think up a house rule for myself to get over an ambiguity. The command system is quick and requires very little book keeping. The combat system on the other hand is somewhat strange as most kills occur by retreating through EZOCs.
The LBoN rules have some very interesting mechanics. The combat system is elegant, the rules for stacking, for morale, and for movement I find quite consistent with what might have happened on the field of battle in the Napoleonic era. LBoN’s command system seams to be a game changer. It adds a lot of complexity and book keeping to the game. I think it might be basically an elegant system. Unfortunately in my view the order rules at many points are ambiguous or open to interpretation. Or at least I need to get more familiar to them. The lack of an index makes it a pain to find the paragraph you are looking for. A full QRC would help enormously. I would rather like to once play with an expert on these rules as to develope a better understanding.
If you are interested in a specific battle there are probabely better games for any giver confrontation. If you are interested in the operational level TLNB are the games to play. I like TLNB and my next step might be to play PBEM. As for the rules I am as jet undecided which ones to use.