Sunday, 3 May 2020

Fighting for the streets of Ligny 1815


The streets of Ligny is an introductory scenario for Hexasim’s Ligny 1815 - Last Eagles game. It is an unusual scenario in that it shows an exploded view of Ligny village, with individual buildings highlighted and each side throwing a full corps into the fray. 
From the box cover


I put the 4 turn scenario up as an exercise to get back into the system before I visit the most recent module - Quatre Bras, for that full battle and so this post is just an overview on how the game went, with the Resource Section having a link to an earlier post that more fully describes the system itself.

Please use the ’read more’ tab for the rest of this post.




The introductory scenario cuts out some of the nuances from the full game, so here, orders are fixed and an early ending to the turns will not be diced for.

Both sides have objective orders that make the church the objective. This means that units moving must take the unit nearer the church or be at the same distance at the end of the movement. In addition, units may move freely within 3 hexes of the church and units that wish to move contrary to the above can take a Independent Movement test, but if they pass, will only get half movement.
Game area with the village and the brook.


Victory Conditions. There are 4 hexes that give VP’s. They are the major buildings in the village and they are marked with dice on the above map. The dice showing ‘6’ (in the middle) is the church, which is the Geographic objective for both side's orders. Control of each hex yields 2 Victory Points at the end of each turn and at the end of the game, destroyed units yield 1 VP each.
Starting positions


Above, the Prussians hold the village. They have set up in two of the four victory point hexes (centre and right - lower end of map) and also hold the top end of the village (left wing) each position has an artillery battery. On the road behind Ligny is von Pirch with the rest of the Prussian corps. Elements of II Corps are also making the battlefield and they are two hours away.

Gérard’s IV Corps (French) have to set up within 1 hex of the La Ferme des Flaminettes road. Speed is of the essence before the Prussians concentrate and so Gérard does not open the battle with his artillery, but rather sends a large body of infantry to directly attack the centre, with mixed infantry and cavalry units to press the flanks and so the French plan is one of brute force and speed.

[note, there is a previous full AAR and explanations of system mechanics in another post as listed below in the Resource Section].

3 PM.
The French advance on both wings, preparing for an assault, while the centre makes good progress and immediately clashes at the farmhouse in the centre (Ferme d’En-haut), intending to overwhelm the defences and open the way to the church behind the farm.
Opening assault at the farmhouse

The defenders with artillery at short range badly maul 69th Ligne, who take heavy casualties (flip) and fall back, but the other regiments press on with the attack. They inflict crushing casualties, but the Prussian defenders hang on!

3.30 PM.
The French again push in the centre, while both flanks also make contact, with the cavalry trying to work around the flanks. Their artillery had unlimbered in front of the village, but it made little impact, but the French were compelled to push into that weakened centre before Pirch arrived.
French assaults in the centre and both flanks.

The results are mixed, but some serious consequences unfold for the French attack. In the centre the French suffer heavy losses, but press on and destroy the 4th West Landwehr and their accompanying Horse artillery, capturing the farmhouse and getting their first foothold in the village. On their left flank, they fail to prise the Prussians out of the Château, but on their right something of a disaster unfolds. 

The cavalry had crossed the sunken road to get behind the Prussian position, while 4 infantry regiments assaulted frontally into the face of close range artillery fire, which devastated 96th and 63rd Ligne, causing them to rout. At the sight of this, 50th and 44th Ligne called off their attack.

[note, in the full game, a leader can suspend an order for a turn while they concentrate on rallying routed units. However, the special rules to this scenario state that an order cannot be changed. I may be taking this too literally, but I felt that meant that the objective had to be the priority and that routing units will eventually just leave the field. I am okay with this as I have always disliked rubber router type rules.]

As Pirch reaches the front line with his lead units, he occupies the church and then throws in a counter-attack against the 30th Ligne at the farmhouse, but it is half hearted (poor dice!) and fails.

4 PM.
[note, there are now 39 combat points worth of French routing from the battlefield, this is getting ever tougher for the French].
four regiments fleeing!

Again, Gérard's guns have little effect, but on their left, 16th Dragoons and 8th Chasseurs  á Cheval cross the stream and get behind the Château, while the infantry conduct another frontal assault. They inflict grievous losses (flips), but the Prussians grimly retain possession of the Château. On the French right, with that wing now totally collapsed, the cavalry re-crosses the sunken road and falls back to cover the flank.

4.30 PM
Gérard personally leads an attack against the church, but the defenders are now just too strong, but better news comes from the left as the Château falls and this effectively frees up that wing to press towards the centre. The only unit at immediate hand for the Prussians to interfere are the 7th Infantry and they move up to the bridge over the stream, causing the 16th Dragoons to fall back.
The Château falls and 7th Infantry move to the crossing.

Despite this sudden advantage and the French now having two out of the four victory point hexes, the Prussians are still relatively strong or more to the point, the French have lost their offensive capability. That, taken together with lead elements of Prussian II Corps units being about to reach the battlefield, makes the French position look impossible and the will to fight on is weakening.

5 PM
However ..... Gérard still sees chance to seize the moment and he orders his left wing at the Château to bring pressure on the centre, but first, they must deal with 7th Infantry at the bridge. Even with the cavalry on the far side of the bank, it becomes a hard fight and in the end 9th Léger have just had enough and rout. At this point it becomes obvious that further engagement is just going to further harm IV Corps and Gérard reluctantly orders his men to disengage and fall back.
All lost as Prussian reinforcements
reach the village.

Conclusion.
A snapshot of the victory conditions to date shows that the Prussians, who had more casualties (routers not included in casualty tally), but had held the buildings longer, have one more Victory Point than the French and this gap was only going to get wider, so a Prussian victory and a judicious French retreat has the right feel.

I have always found this scenario tough for the French, as they are up against the clock, but it makes for a fascinating game and the system handles Landwehr so well, in their large lumbering formations that are both formidable in melee when defending, but very brittle with their low morale, that only gets much worse once they take losses and flip.

It didn’t take long to get fully back into the swing of the rules, but there is a lot of nuance in these rules, so another full re-read is what I will be doing before Quatre Bras hits the table.

Also, I fancy a return to the full Ligny battle, which being a two mapper, generates interesting things happening right across the map at any one time and the inter-relationship between Corps activity and situation is a lot of fun. I have also added a link to the replay of a full Ligny game for those who want some insight how orders and activations play out.  

Resource Section.

My sister webspace COMMANDERS is a bit more snippet based than here. Link.

Previous post with AAR of ‘Streets’ and system notes. LINK

Previous post concerning the full Ligny battle. Link

17 comments:

  1. Huzzah! for the Prussians! Interesting to see a board game focus on the action in such detail, but one that appeals to me as a result. The map looks great and you really get the feeling you are fighting over fields, houses etc. Looking forward to the other games mentioned.

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  2. Thanks Steve, this is an unusual subject for a boardgame, especially as the system is for a big battle, but here we are doing the house to house thing in a small corner of the big battlefield. It does give a small taster of what the full game encompasses. Roll on Quatre Bras :-), which is another fairly compact battlefield, not as much as this one, but in terms of the series, it is the smallest so far.

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  3. Yesterday I enjoyed reading ALL your previous Hexasim Napoloenics AAR`s, and coincidentally today there is a new one! Brilliant. I`ve just got QB to the table for a 2-handed practice game in preparation for an opposed Vassal PBEM next week. Ligny on order :) Your forensic AAR`s have been very helpful

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  4. Hi Mark, thanks for the thumbs up. As part of putting the links to this post, I have just re-read the full Ligny battle and even though I say so myself, really enjoyed it, as there is a couple of years distance since I last looked at that. I’m sure you will really like Ligny, but the compactness of QB probably makes that a good module to start with. I have done the intro, but yet to do the full battle - though soon I hope. Enjoy your Vassal next week.

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  5. I remember being impressed by your earlier review and playthrough of this game. Components are outstanding.

    While not familiar with the system beyond your fine reviews, the components, alone, are beginning to draw me into trying one of these Napoleonic games.

    Why do I continue waffling on picking up this system? Well, I have all of the Clash of Arms's La Bat. games covering this campaign and have fought over this ground so many times in the past. Is it worthwhile to fight over this ground once again in a new system or more efficient to pull one of the CoA games off the shelf for another spin?

    Perhaps I should pick one up and give it a try? Would you recommend Quatre Bras as a good introduction to the system? Even if I do not get around to picking up one of your boardgame recommendations, I really enjoy your reviews and presentations.

    Have you tried any of Vae Victis' Napoleonic Jours de Gloire series? Napoleonic and a long running series with more than 30 titles in the stable. Many have a small footprint suitable for your table size. I would enjoy seeing your impressions of one of these.

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  6. Hi Jonathan. I have played Jours de Gloire so infrequently that each time I do, it is a fairly long rule re-reading and these days, I would rather spend that time with Hexasim Eagles.

    Quatre Bras would be a good starter, it is the smaller / shorter game, a one mapper and has the very latest rules ...... but I would probably be more tempted today to get Ligny, more to get it before it goes out of print, but also because I have enjoyed it and the freedoms of two mapper does make for a great engagement with different things happening across the map at the same time. It is a longer game, so needs some time and space to be left up, but I am guessing that the CoA stuff does as well.

    I like the narrative that so easily falls from this system and there are plenty of local incidents that would transfer nicely to the tabletop fo those that like generating battles that way.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation of Ligny. I will keep an eye out for it on eBay and ConsimWorld.

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  7. A really nice and interesting write up, it does sound a tough call for the French but I guess that reflects the real situation! Very clear run through too!
    Best Iain

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  8. Thanks Iain, In some ways it was helped that the system is explained in another post, so I was able to concentrate on the narrative alone this time around.

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  9. Nicely written post Norm. I always thought that a good board game would be my entry into Naps. I just never seem to get my head around the terms or locations. Having it all laid out on a game board might help me make the leap and give me the mental picture.

    Speaking of pictures, the close up of the board and chits show this to be a pretty game. 😀

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    1. Thanks Stew. The game does use artwork to give a period feel and the counters are very functional, with the corners pre-rounded, so that's nice.

      It's hard to say exactly why, but the game does feel like the designers / developers have a miniatures background and in that regard it is a good cross-over game between the genres.

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  10. Norm: Well done! I always enjoy both your write-ups and your game insights.

    Question for you though: I gather from your initial Prussian deployment that you prefer defending major buildings with two units instead of one, giving up the full terrain bonus in order to gain some firepower. I honestly don't know which is better. My first instinct has always been to maximize the terrain effect. Just wondering what your thinking to the contrary was (assuming I'm reading it correctly).

    RCM

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  11. Hi RCM, Thanks and good point. I felt a bit constrained with the Prussian set-up. They have few troops up front to meet the attack, but a second wave of support is just a couple of moves away. I deployed so that key points of the village could be covered, with the hope that they would survive long enough for the rest of the Corps to arrive and pad out the front.

    The two limitations for the Prussian set-up that took me down this path are; everything must set up in a village or major building hex and that if artillery are caught defending alone in a melee, then their combat value drops to 1 and they will almost certainly be lost.

    I figured that the French would be all over the artillery before support could arrive, so that is why they end up being stacked.

    There are some exceptions in defensive fire that will allow both the artillery and the infantry that they are with to fire at the same time - at different targets, but they pay a penalty, so at least the defenders got some flexibility and the artillery had a better chance of surviving.

    The Prussians did get a bit unlucky, suffering a couple of 'R' results, so that everything in the hex got reduced to their flip side.

    I was looking at my last AAR and I think I set that up wrongly, as I had the Prussian artillery in the gardens.

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  12. Thanks Norm for the review.....I still having bitten the bullet to get a board game, but you are encouraging me 👍

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  13. Hi Matt, no worries, time is the enemy of us all and your plate looks happily full at the moment :-)

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  14. As always a good read with lots of insightful thoughts. As Norm's usual ftf opponent, I've attacked and defended here in the Streets of Ligny and in most of the other Hexasim games employing this superb Napoleonic system. The only one I don't own is the first Waterloo 1815: Fallen eagles.
    Could I put in a word too for Austerlitz 1805: Rising Eagle. for me this gives the best of the games to bring out the excellence of the fog of war rules in the full campaign [and in my view one of the best games on Austerlitz too] and like Ligny has excellent mini scenarios. the attack on Sokolnitz castle and village has many similarities to Streets of Ligny. But in the end whichever game you start with this really is a first class system.

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  15. Hi Mike, I sat last night with the new rulebook, just having a final ‘catch-all’ update read through before putting Quatre Bras onto the table for the full game. I also note that the first scenario in the Waterloo box has a focus on Hougoumont and being such a compact / short scenario, they suggest using that as an intro game, so I can see that getting squeezed in as well.

    There will no doubt be plenty there for us to have a go at once safe wargaming can once again return to our lives.

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