The Streets of Ligny scenario, from the Ligny 1815 module.
This is volume III in Hexasim’s Eagles of France Series (designed by Walter Vejdovsky), with the first two volumes covering Waterloo and Austerlitz. The campaign games are two mappers, though Ligny has two interesting smaller scenarios that use a single map and they are fun to play in their own right, also serving as a good introduction to the game, or allowing players returning to the system to quickly reconsolidate their knowledge of the rules.
The Ligny 1815 addition to the series line-up brings an interesting battle and the prospect of fighting through built up areas is more significant than in the previous two titles. To emphasise this, the smallest scenario (half a map) shows an exploded view of the settlement of Ligny itself and gives the French four turns to attack into the town and eject the Prussian defenders from key locations.
This enlarged view of Ligny allows this particular map to have over-large hexes and the resulting tussle has all the ingredients of good visuals and low unit count to give a very playable and enjoyable game, which is short enough to allow the session to also include as much rule referencing as the gamer needs to get familiar with the system.
I think this is a brilliant system and the rest of this post is given over to a closer look at the system in general via a replay of this particular scenario.
Please use the ‘read more’ table for the rest of this post.
Opening the box - The package is pretty chock-full of content. Two double sided A1 maps (note A1 is just a tad larger than the U.S. standard 22” x 34” maps). On one side the two maps will butt together to give a lovely large view of the Ligny battlefield. On their reverse side, each map has an enlarged view of a section of the battlefield to allow for two smaller (four turn) scenarios, with a Corps per side. There are four counter sheets delivering very nicely done push-out type counters (though I still insert a craft knife across the two small tabs that hold the counter in the frame) with pre-cut rounded corners. The counters are very functional in terms of how information is displayed.
The rulebook is 24 pages long with useful illustrations and examples, bringing the latest version of the series rules. The rules are supported by a second booklet that contains not only the scenarios, but a decent walk through with examples of play and good illustrations.
There are numerous play aids, which for the most part are reinforcement and game displays. Each player gets a very good play aid with the combat charts and modifiers nicely spaced out and there is a single terrain chart.
The essential elements of the game - Units are generally representing regiments, turns are hourly and each hex represents 200 - 250 metres, giving a battlefield area of around 12 kilometres x 10 kilometres. Sombreffe is at the top of the map and Fleurus at the bottom. On the left of the map Marbais and to the right Tongrinne and Balatre.
Units are colour coded by corps level organisation and each such formation has a corps leader with a fixed command radius. At the start of play, each formation has a listed order and this essentially gives the formation either a geographic goal or a defensive stance and so the player. Is encouraged to think in terms of formations and objectives. Orders can be changed at the start of turn, but essentially if a unit moves, it must move at least one hex closer towards the ordered objective or at least maintain the same distance as it did at the start of movement and once they get within three hexes of it, they have some increased flexibility so that they can manoeuvre tactically.
ABOVE - this is a French regimental counter, belonging to 12th Infantry Division of IV Corps. The bottom left figure is the units strength, the right hand figure is the movement allowance. The central figure is the all important Quality Factor of the unit and this generally drops a point when flipped.
Units within the command range of their formation leader can automatically move, those outside must take a quality test for Independent Movement and if they pass, they may move at half rate.
The Quality Factor (QF) rating of each unit, which will modify combat and also be used in what wargamers would generally think of as morale or capability tests, are a central part of play. Regular units have a typical value of 7, better units 8 and units such as Landwehr are rated 6. Once they take a casualty and are flipped, those values reduced by 1. The subtle difference between these numbers brings about some nice effects in play without the differences being too over-bearing.
In particular here, they help represent the character of the Landwehr, who will typically have large units with combat values of say around 22, but a QF of 6, so they can initially be resilient defenders, but once that QF is tested, they are less likely to hold up, so are easier to push out of positions or to repel their attack, but if their QF is not put to the test, they are capable of giving the French a right old bloody nose.
Likewise the French get an interesting use of QF. Their light troops get a QF of 8. These will typically end up on the top of stacks, being declared as the lead unit, so that their QF is used to represent the stack, as though they are out in front and this nicely reflects some French tactical advantages (skirmishers) without having to have a lot of rules overhead.
In Melee, the two sides compare their QF in addition to their strengths, so the French light infantry with a QF of 8 with get a -2 dice roll modifier when fighting Landwehr with a QF of 6 (negative die roll modifiers are good).
During each full turn, every formation on the map can be activated twice and each time activated the formation will run through a mini sequence of play that is essentially Fire, Move and then Melee, though this does contain some clever intricacies that bring around a lot of nuance at the tactical level. Basically each side activates one corps at a time, with one player activating and then play switching to the other side so that they can activate a formation. Play flows back and forth between players in this fashion until a turn has completed.
There are some aspects of the full game that the smaller scenarios ignore, significantly, in the campaign game, a turn can end early, before all the formations have activated, though those formations that fail to get their full allowance of two activations do get the chance to do strategic movement, though these units must be and remain at least 4 hexes away from an enemy. So committed corps are essentially ‘done’ when the ‘end turn’ is called.
This is just one of several devices that the system uses to prise total control out of the players grasp and to make the player sit at the Army Commander level, with a looser ability to micro manage the game.
The combat system has a similar impact. If the player is to learn an early lesson with this system, it is that nothing can be take for granted. An attack that looks promising can turn to disaster and a defence that looks fragile can unexpectedly hold out. This creates a good narrative to play, is helpful to solo play and will genuinely create moments when both players hold their breath on the outcome of a die roll, increasing the emotional connection to the game.
The game does have some tactical cards, another clever device that does not disadvantage solitaire play. At the start of play, a player chooses a card from the small deck, then the other player does likewise and this then alternates from one to the other until all cards are chosen and owned by each player. Each turn, a player can play one card, but once played, that card is then moved into the other players hand, from where that player can use it as one of their own cards and so it goes on.
Above - one of the tactical cards. This one ‘The Last Push’ allows the player to make a 3rd activation with one of their formations, but units of that formation suffer a +1 dice roll modifier for Quality Factor Tests. This is a really useful card, but do you really want to play it and then surrender it to your opponent - so this is only likely to be used at critical moments and is perhaps showing the sudden intervention of an inspiring officer, or however else you want to think about it enhancing your story.
From the moment of first playing, I have found the system intriguing and compelling to play. Internet commentary left me with the impression that the rules are easy to assimilate. I would say that once known the system itself is easy to play, but that the rules are quite intricate, with some important points tucked away in one-liners and not always easily remembered straight off. It is a game that requires some concentration, though everything comes together to make play rewarding.
If you miss some of these rules, it probably won’t matter to the overall play, but the variables will delight napoleonic fans that want colour and nuance and some extra depth in their game. In other places the absence of some terms can seem strange, but I think some of that is mostly deliberate. For example, we don’t get the term ‘squares’, yet the ‘defensive stance’ seems to be simulating that and I think this is all part of elevating the player to that of army commander, so that individual units in squares is not considered by the player, but rather the overall situation of the formation is.
Likewise, we don’t see the term ‘charge’, but we do get a cavalry rule of ‘Prepared Attack’, which is reflecting planning and forming up (costing part of the unit's movement allowance) before moving to contact with whatever remains of the movement allowance. So we don’t see cavalry charging all over the place every turn or simply moving to contact with their longer movement rates, instead there is this sense of planning and forming up. You can of course just move to contact without such planning but will suffer a combat penalty.
And so we move to the ‘Streets of Ligny’ scenario, with its one corps per side, which gives us a good gateway into the system. The following AAR will serve as an overview to my most recent game, give a detailed look at the sequence of play and highlight a few combat examples.
As an aside, to run along side this game, I am presently reading Waterloo 1815 (2) Ligny by John Franklin, this being one of three of the Campaign Series books from Osprey Publishing, that cover the Waterloo Campaign. (This is different to the single volume on Waterloo that came out in the early life of the Campaign series). I have found this useful as it has a detailed order of battle.
Set-up - The below map shows part of the Prussian forces defending the village. To automatically win an instant victory, the French must occupy four key building hexes (they are the town hexes with the pale yellow background).
The French forces start by setting up within a hex of the linear road on the right of the map and they set up first. The Prussians then set up in the town, with a small a mix of infantry and artillery units and another brigade on the road behind Ligny, marching on their way to feed into the town. Regardless of artillery strengths, when they set up amongst buildings, their firepower is reduced to three, so today they will set up in the fields outside the town. They put their largest infantry unit (Landwehr) in Ferme d’en Haut, which marks the centre of Prussian line. This is a Victory Point hex, as is the church hex behind it.
It is a four turn game and on turn three, desperately needed Prussian reinforcements (3rd Brigade) will enter from the top left corner at the start of turn three, so the French need to have a bit of a ‘hurry up’ going on and the Prussians need to ‘hang on’.
During each turn, the formations get 2 activations each and each activation has a sub-sequence of play, so we will look at our first turn in some detail.
Turn 1 (3 PM)
ORDERS - In the full campaign game, at the start of a turn, a formations orders can be changed. However, in our scenario, orders cannot be changed and both sides have the same order, with the objective hex being the Ligny Church hex, which is in the centre of town.
ACTIVATION PHASE - activate a formation (usually a Corps). Players take it in turns to activate a formation with play passing back and forth. In our scenario, each side only has one formation.
OFFENSIVE FIRE - The formation with initiative now starts play. They can fire once from each hex. Artillery can fire out to a range of 4 hexes, infantry can only fire at adjacent hexes. When a hex fires, a FIRE marker is placed on the hex to remind the player that in the movement phase it costs 3 movement points just to leave the hex, so in effect the game is showing the proportion of time, robbed from the movement phase, that is being given over to fire (nice touch). If a player has both infantry and artillery in the same hex capable of fire, the player must choose which type to use as only one fire can be made.
In our game, most of the French guns are stacked with units and the French player does not want to suffer that movement penalty, so only one gun fires, without effect.
MOVEMENT - Units within Command Radius of the formation leader can move normally, those out of command must take a quality check for independent movement and if they pass, they can move with half movement points.
The French player moves forward to get into contact with the defenders wherever they can. Artillery cannot move adjacent to an enemy.
DECLARE MELEE’s - The French player marks every unit that will attack with an arrow marker that shows which unit is the target. In each stack, the top unit is the lead unit. It is their Quality Factor that is used to modify the attack dice and take tests and it is they who will take the first casualty. The French have some light units that have a QF of 8, so it is sensible to have them lead, which nicely reflects napoleonic tactics without a ton of skirmisher rules.
OPPORTUNITY FIRE - This gives those defenders who are not themselves being melee’d, but who are adjacent to one of the attacking units, a chance to fire at them and disrupt the attack. It makes the player think about attack deployment and discourages instances of ganging up while ignoring unengaged troops that could be a threat - good rule.
DEFENSIVE FIRE - This gives those defenders who are the actual subject of the melee a chance to fire against their attackers. Artillery is always more effective than musket fire and artillery get an adjacency bonus, no doubt representing canister and short range fire. This is an interesting phase as success is by no means certain, with less than 50% chance of causing a Quality Factor Test (QFT) with musket firer and better than that for artillery, but when it happens and when the attacker then fails the subsequent Quality Factor test, it can dramatically change the nature of the attack. For infantry, fire is not actually firepower related, it is simply an act of firing and neither unit quality or strength enters the equation, instead, fire is just conducted against a general Fire Table, so those reduced Landwehr units can be just as prickly units to attack as any other unit in this particular phase. Some nice nuances come out of this.
MELEE - Those units that are still in a position to melee (i.e. adjacent) can press home their attack. Some of these units may have been reduced by defensive fire, which not only reduces combat strengths, but drop Quality Factor ratings by 1, so they might decide to cancel their attack at this stage, but at this point an attacker can swap within the stack to select which unit will be the lead unit if that helps.
Melee is often decisive. 2D6 are rolled, modified by various factors, including troop quality a defensive terrain and then the result applied, but only final scores of 6 or less will harm just the defender, while scores of 8 or higher will harm only the attacker. A score of 7, a midway point, sees both sides taking a QFT. This makes melee very dynamic and nothing can be taken for granted. You can try and get the situation to favour you, but at the point of dice rolling on important attacks, both sides will often hold their breath. The tension, uncertainty and re-playability that comes from this is an admirable aspect of the design, especially for the solitaire player.
CAVALRY PURSUIT - in any melee in which cavalry have been successful, the cavalry stack must test to see whether they make an involuntary pursuit or retain the choice of whether to pursue or not. Again another touch of chaos that wrests full control from the players - good!
At this point the player activation ends, the other player now makes a single activation, following the above sequence of play and then play returns to the first player and so on.
Once all units have activated ...... or in the campaign game, if the turn ends early following end of turn tests, the End of Turn Phase is conducted. This generally deals with the movement of routing units and strategic movement of formations that have not used both of their activations due to the turn ending early. Strategic movement is not as powerful as the term is generally understood in other games. Here is simply allows units that are and remain 4 hexes or more away from an enemy unit to move.
Returning to our game, it is Turn 1 and the French have just declared each melee. The stack showing the 9th Léger as the lead unit is attacking Prussian horse artillery located in a field. This is a desperate moment for the Prussians because if their defensive fire is not successful, a lone artillery unit will only get a melee strength of 1 and is unlikely to survive.
Artillery Fire example ..... In their defensive fire, the Prussian horse artillery get lucky and roll low (a 4). The die roll is modified by +1 (bad) for being smaller than 4 firing strength points, but gets -1 (good) for being adjacent to the target, so those modifiers cancel each other out and the attack die roll is not modified and remains a 4, which gives a result of QFT1 and 1 step loss. So the French lead unit must first take a Quality Factor test with a penalty of +1 to the dice roll (that's what QFT1 means). They roll 8, modified up to 9 and so they fail their QFT by one, so they must retreat 1 hex, the attack has been repulsed. Anything that fails by 3 or more is routed. They now apply the step loss, which flips them to their reduced side and of course this also lowers their strength and Quality Factor.
Over on the right, there is a similar action, but a different outcome, the artillery battery is destroyed without loss to the French, an example of never taking anything for granted.
Another French assault goes in on the far right building hex of Ligny, this an attempt to turn the Prussian flank. This is repulsed. In the following Prussian activation, they reinforce that target hex with 1-2 Jäger, which has a QF of 8, this position just got tougher for the French to deal with.
Melee example - three French stacks have survived defensive fire and are attacking a Landwehr unit at La Ferme d’en Haut (a victory hex and major building). Regardless of actual strengths, fighting amongst buildings limits stack combat strengths to 20 points per hex, so here the Landwehr defenders are reduced from 25 to 20 points and the attackers total 40 points between them, so we get a 2:1 attack. 2xD6 are rolled for a score of 5 (good start). The die roll is modified by -2 for being a 2:1 attack, +2 for the defensive value of the terrain, -1 (remember this is good) for the better French Quality factor (7) compared to the Landwehr factor (6) for a total modifier of -1, which brings the die roll down from 5 to 4. This gives an ‘R’ result, which is REDUCED. This does not result in any Quality Factor tests, but ALL defenders are reduced by 1 step. The Landwehr flips, reducing the strength from 25 to 13 and the quality factor from 6 to 5 and while this leaves the Prussian unit fragile, annoyingly for the French, it still holds its ground.
I like the way that the size, strength and fragility of the Landwehr are represented in the game and that new QF of 5 will encourage further French attacks, as they see their enemy on the ropes, but they will have to withstand defensive fire when going in, which is not size or QR dependent, so a reduced infantry unit can be just as deadly as a full strength unit in the Defensive Fire Phase.
By the end of turn 1, Von Pirch has taken up position at the church and brought up the rest of brigade from behind Ligny to stabilise the front line. 8th Artillery takes a test for independent movement (and pass) to move along the brook to extend and protect the left flank. They still hold Chateau de Ligny, which is a victory hex that defines the limits of the Prussian right flank, but the defenders are currently reduced in strength and surrounded.
End of turn Phase - victory points are awarded. The French get 1 VP for inflicting one loss on the enemy, but the Prussians get 8 VP’s for still holding the four victory locations.
TURN 2 (4 PM)
French Activation 1 - Weakened French units throw themselves at a strengthened Prussian line that runs the length of Ligny and generally the attackers get a bloody nose, plus two stacks from the left flank rout. On a more positive note, Chateau de Ligny is captured (on the French left), so the Prussian right is now exposed with only 7th Infantry (a), located behind the brook, giving protection.
Prussian activation 1 - They are happy to sit on their hands, waiting for the turn 3 (5pm) reinforcements to arrive. Note that not attacking means that you do not face the prospect of defensive fire or suffer possible attacker losses in melee.
French Activation 2 - The Horse Artillery from 6th Cavarly Corps (on the left) make effective fire at 7th Infantry (a) behind the brook and rout them. The Prussian right flank is now wide open. But, Gérards Corps is seriously ‘shot up’. They put in a desperate attack, but heavy defensive breaks it up and another two stacks rout, to make four stacks in total now routing. French fortunes are mixed, but not generally good. The right has totally collapsed, the centre is only held by artillery and it is only on the left that we see the French successfully pressing into the Prussian positions. Can they deliver a victory here?
Prussian Activation 2 - The Prussians are not strong enough to go over onto the attack, but they continue to adjust their line to improve their defences. They still hold 3 out of the 4 victory locations.
End of turn Phase - A deteriorating situation for the French as four units leave the table under rout markers. Victory points for this turn: the French get 2 VP’s for inflicting losses and 2 VP’s for capturing Chateau de Ligny. The Prussians get 6 VP’s for holding victory locations. The running total VP’s at this time are French 5 and Prussians 14 - this is not looking good for the French.
Turn 3 (5 PM). Having played this scenario four times (twice face-to-face), I have not seen the French so decimated at this point in the game, they have taken very heavy losses assaulting the town. They really need to galvanise quickly to do some damage against flipped Prussians before those Prussian reinforcements arrive, but equally, they could do with calling a rally to try and rally the units that are currently routing, before they leave the table for good. Calling a rally basically consumes a single activation, during which time the rest of the formation can only move 1 hex and cannot attack!
French activation 1 - A final assault to roll up the Prussian flank is sent in to clear La Ferme d’en Haut and the church, which are both held by reduced units. 59th Ligne take the church and at La Ferme d’en Haut, Gerard joins the assault (risky) and they take the hex, smashing Prussian resistance. These two assaults bring two victory hexes into French possession, so they now have 3 out of the 4 victory locations, but they no longer have offensive capacity to further their attacks. They will have to now try and hold onto what they have against the inevitable Prussian backlash.
Prussian Activation 1 - The reinforcements move up and consolidate the half of Ligny town that is behind the brook.
French Activation 2 - This time, they will use their activation to attempt to rally all of their routing units. This means that the rest of the formation can only move 1 hex and cannot attack. Only one unit rallies (III/6 Léger) thanks to its QF of 8. Things are so grim for the French, that this unit could become critical to Gérard’s defence.
Prussian activation 2 - Sensing the weakness of the French position, Prussian units cross the brook and attack along the line. French defensive fire, especially from the still plentiful guns, smash the Prussian attack, causing two stacks to rout. Again, it just goes to show how nothing can be taken for granted in this system. The only attack that continues to ‘go in’ as a melee, is against the French cavalry near the Chateau, who suffer a QFT1 and R result. The cavalry pass the QFT, but the ‘R’ means the entire stack (4 units) flip to their reduced side ..... ouch!
End of Turn Phase - Routers move closer towards their supply points (and will ultimately leave the map). VP’s for this turn are; French 6 for objectives held and 2 for losses inflicted. The Prussians get 2 VP’s for objectives held. The running total is French 13 and Prussians 16. The French successful assaults this turn on the church and La Ferme d’en Haut have really made a difference to closing the victory point gap.
Turn 4 (6 PM) - This is such an exciting game, I can feel the desperation of both sides. The earned Victory Points are close, so if the French can keep hold of their objective hexes, they will likely win. There is everything to play for, despite the state of both armies.
French Activation 1 - Gérard is content to tidy up the line and withdraws 6th Cavalry stack to a safer position.
Prussian Activation 1 - They need to take objective hexes or inflict losses if they are to win. They are currently set to draw. They throw some selective attacks in and 21st Infantry (b) attempts (and fails) to make independent movement. On their right, 5th Kur LDW (heavy cavalry) make a bold strike, crossing the brook and attacking the French cavalry at Chateau de Ligny, while 21st Infantry (a) move up to support, causing French 6th Cavalry to pull back further. The 5th Cuirassiers successfully push the French out of the Chateau hex (below photo, the Chateau is under the Prussian counter on the left). All other attacks fail and a Landwehr unit routs. Their QF of 6 makes it noticeably harder for them to pass Quality Factor Tests.
French Activation 2 - This is their last chance to do anything. Horse Artillery next to the Chateau fire on 5th Kur LDW, inflicting a QFT2 and 1 step loss result. The cavalry rout away and along their rout path, they also take 14th Reitende Horse Artillery with them. The Prussians now have six routing units on the board. 16th Dragoons move into the Chateau and once again it comes under French control.
Prussian Activation 2 - Though a goodly number of their formation are now streaming towards the rear, they have enough troops on hand to put in final counter-attacks. One against the Chateau, the scene of the most desperate fighting today and one against Ligny Church. 23rd Infantry (b) rather easily eject the French cavalry from the Chateau, but the assault on the church is stopped dead in its tracks as both Prussian units are flipped.
Not only was this the last action due to game time running out, but in truth, both sides had been fought to a standstill - a nice point to end.
Looking at the map, the Prussians hold the half of Ligny that is on their side of the brook, which includes one victory hex, plus they now have a strong force at the Chateau de Ligny.
End of Turn - Three more French units rout off the board, as do four Prussian units. This turn the VP’s gained are; French 4 for objectives held, Prussians 4 for objectives held. This feeds in to give a final running VP total of French 17 and Prussians 20. So the Prussians have 3 extra VP’s and anything over zero in the Prussian favour is a Prussian win, but still a fairly tight result never-the-less. News is already on the way to Napoleon that Gérard has failed to take Ligny and that it will take a fresh assault with fresh troops to take the town.
Conclusions - The Streets of Ligny serves as a superb introductory scenario and / or refresher and gives an enjoyable game with both players fully engaged in play. The Prussians are an interesting army to game with. The big, but fragile Landwehr units are tough on defence and fickle in attack and they define a good proportion of the Prussian strength. For the French those QF 8 light units provide them with a respectable cutting edge in attack that feels right, especially as they take the first casualties.
The more I play this system the more I find to like. Many of the rules bring nuances that can only really be appreciated during play. The Opportunity Fire rule to prevent thoughtless ganging up, the order system keeping formations together in close proximity and the various moments that chaos releases the grip of absolute control from the players are just some examples of sub-systems that bring the right balance to the player, who sits in the chair of army commander and not a micro manager.
There are so many either clever or nice touches, such as the size or nature of infantry units not effecting the actual fire results (though light units do), while in melee, these factors matter and artillery has modifiers based on numbers and range. When units fire, a +3 MP marker is put on the hex, this stays in place throughout the following Movement Phase and anything that leaves the hex or subsequently passes through it, pays the additional 3 movement points. This is a simple way to reflect time overlapping in the phases so that the Movement Phase and the Firing Phase have an inter-relationship, without needing a ton of rules to show that.
With three modules now out, Quatre Bras promised for later in 2018 and a 5th title planned, this series has got legs and hopefully will just go on to make any investment in learning the system very rewarding. Aside from the play aspect, these games are simply nice things to own. The main part of the games are the two map campaign games and these (together with play hours) are going to be too big for some gamers - but in this Ligny module, I have played the two small intro games 5 times and had a thoroughly enjoyable time and will play them again, this is more than can be said of some of my other games bought at a similar price, that have just ended up sitting on the shelf without any table time showing for my money - just a thought.
I am happy for this series to become my ‘go to’ napoleonic game and can see it being one of my most played systems in 2018. I really hope it goes from strength-to-strength and I am sure that this series will pick up a lot of fans. Well done to Hexasim (publisher), Walter Vejdovsky (designer) and rest of the team behind the games.
Complexity - The box says 4 - 5 out of 10. I think I would initially raise that to 6 and would be relying on familiarity of a series system to bring it down into the area suggested. Once the play gets underway, the actual common routines are very slick and easy to get through. It is remembering all of the finer points that takes time, which causes me to rate this as 6. This is typically conducive with a 24 page rulebook, though it must be said, it is well illustrated and actually reads rather well. In todays play, I completely forgot the cavalry rule that gives attacking cavalry a +2 penalty unless they can spend enough movement points to put in a prepared attack. That probably says more about me than the rules!
Any suggestion of complexity or depth is of course balanced by the fact that if one buys into the system, there is a lot of play to be had from the games and so any investment in the rules is rewarded many times over.
Solitaire - The box says 7 out of 10 and this is pretty much spot on and if anything, I would push it up to an 8 for this particular game. It is a two player series that does have some Fog of War rules (less in this module). In the alternative campaign scenarios, the reinforcements enter the game represented by the Corps leader inverted (hidden) counter, plus 2 dummies. These manoeuvre on the map until they reach close proximity to an enemy and are then disclosed. So for the historical campaign this will not crop up. It is a common feature of the Austerlitz game, due to the real battlefield fog. The order sheet that shows the order status of each formation (objective, defence or no order) is kept hidden from the other player, but there is nothing here that is a game killer for the solitaire player. That aside the game is very solitaire friendly, more-so because there is a good dollop of chaos built into the system, so the game will always deliver surprises for the solitaire player. I suppose the main advantage of two players is that there is a better chance of a 100% knowledge of the rules, which reflects my rating of 8. But really solitaire players have nothing to worry about with this package.
Size - There are a couple of smaller scenarios, that only need single sized maps, but really, the games published so far need to be thought of as two mappers, with some space also set aside for a few play aids. You are perhaps looking at something like a 4’ x 3’ space to make this work for the maps and then either another 1’ of table space down one side or a separate resting place (window ledge even) for the play aids.The boxes are about 40mm deep, so take up typical game space on the game shelf.
Time - The small scenarios will easily fit into a pleasant evening of play. The campaign game will takes several hours, but nailing it down to an exact time of play is difficult because of the random ending of each turn. The playing style of players will feed into this, slow players that deliberate on every move will obviously make a difference, but as a wide guide 9 - 12 hours for the campaign game seems a fair assessment to play at an enjoyable pace.
Replayability - I would rate this as high. The general lines of play may unfold the same way, but what is going on at the hex level will be different between games due to the dynamics of the combat system. Also there are two alternate historical scenarios that look at variable reinforcements (D’Erlon or Mouton’s Corps arriving for the French, Thielmann’s Corps being delayed for the Prussians or Bulow’s IV Corps arriving for them). One of the alternatives has the fighting starting six hours earlier, increasing the number of game turns from 7 to 13. Sometime this year, Quatre Bras will be released. It is a stand alone game, but can be mated with this Ligny game and so the variables that could fall out of that should keep a buyer busy for a long time. Additionally, the system itself has replayability because it is now spread over several modules.
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