Monday, 12 July 2021

Fighting in the streets 1815



'The Streets of Ligny' is one of the mini scenarios provided in Hexasim's Ligny module from the Eagles of France series.

I have just two boardgames in my collection that take their 'field of battle' type system and apply it to a single built up area setting, where troops fight over gardens, amongst buildings and in the streets and these street plan type maps fascinate me.

The first is The Men of Iron series (GMT) that offers 1st and 2nd St. Albans from Wars of the Roses and the other is this, a system that has covered the whole of Waterloo, Austerlitz, Ligny and Quatre Bras, but here puts a focus on a single village.

This post gives a brief look at my most recent replay. Please use the 'read more' tab for the rest of this post.

Here we have just a four turn, very playable scenario. Turns are hourly, but within each turn, each side goes twice, so in effect we will get eight half hourly activations. 

The overall situation is that a small part of Prussian II Corps under von Pirch is holding Ligny. More men are heading towards the village (see below photo) and are perhaps an hour away from useful deployment. Further back (off map), more reinforcements are heading towards Ligny, but they are at least two hours away.

Prussian's thinly defend


The French IV Corps under Gérard are ready to attack the village. They have four main building complexes that they should aim to capture. Victory will be determined by the capture of those building hexes plus the number of casualties suffered.

The French player is aware that speed is of the essence before the Prussians become too strong to be ejected from the village.

This time I try a different tactic for the French - deploying the cavalry to the right flank to quickly gain the top end of Ligny. In the past I have put them on the left, where they have been useful in pushing around the Prussian right flank, which rests on the Chateau.

The French deploy cavalry to their right


3 PM. The French advance close to the village but halt to allow their guns to prepare the way .... except on the right, where we are looking for a more dynamic advance. 76th and 59th Line strike the buildings and eject the Prussians, who rout back across the stream. The cavalry move up and the French now control the top end of Ligny, a good start.

The Prussians counter-attack and get back across the stream, controlling the bridge and preventing further French envelopment.

Gérard personally leads 12th Division, supported by elements of 13th Division in the Centre.


This is an important attack because the Ferme d'En haut is an objective, as is the church immediately behind. 4th West Landwehr make a valiant stand (exceptionally good Quality Check dice roll) and hold. Over to 
Gérard's left, 111th line and 9th light make an ill-advised assault on guns located in the building line ..... their attack is halted and they rout back! 

4 PM Gérard has a real dilemma. He has three units routing from the field and he has the Prussians under pressure. He knows he needs those routing units back in the fight, but if he turns his attention to rally, his remaining forces can't attack and are limited in movement and that will allow the Prussians a chance to recover.

He decides to attempt a rally, then changes his mind and will attack, is then bothered about his losses and checks the rally rules and then changes his mind again and goes back to a rallying decision ... Oh what to do!

The breath is held, still not convinced that this is the best option and the rally dice are rolled, each of the three units pass and will start to make their way back to the village - phew!

As suspected, the Prussians strengthen their grip on the village. Worse! two more French units break and rout in front of Prussian guns (will they ever learn!), Gérard’s delay may not have been worth it.

Both sides are suffering heavy casualties, but the French do take d'En haut and then 3rd West Landwehr immediately re-take it!

5 PM Prussian reinforcements come into view. There are an unusually high number of 2's and 3's being rolled (on 2D6), resulting in murderous casualties and the French force is being ground down.

The French launch another assault in the centre and rout 3rd West Landwehr from d'En haut, who as they flee, take 4th West Landwehr with them. 4th WL had been defending the church behind d'En haut - the way is now open and despite losses, the French cannot afford to not advance.

As it turns out, this is the high point for the French as their left is in full rout and their right is checked. Prussian reinforcements are about to cross the stream and join the fray.

6 PM French 30th Line at the church, who are entangled with the enemy and can't disengage, become a reluctant rearguard as the rest of the Gérard’s Corps escapes. Within half an hour, they are overwhelmed and Ligny is once again fully in Prussian hands.

The game ends with an obvious Prussian victory. Losses have been heavy, particularly for the French, but those low dice rolls were very prevalent in this hard fought game and in the end, the French simply ran out of steam and options.

As always, an excellent couple of hours at the table with this game system.

Resource Section.

A previous post on this scenario, explaining some of the game processes LINK

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2020/05/fighting-for-streets-of-ligny-1815.html

A previous post covering the mini scenario at Hougomont LINK

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2020/05/assault-on-hougoumont.html

A previous post covering the full Ligny battlefield LINK

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2018/02/ligny-full-battle.html


26 comments:

  1. Interesting and entertaining post,seems like a tough call for the French,always challenging, fighting in a built up area!
    Best Iain

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    1. Hi Iain, the French had already taken heavy losses as they closed in against the buildings. The French set up first, so te defenders can match accordingly.

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  2. Thanks Michal, I love these sort of scenarios that can come off the shelf when you only have a couple of hours spare.

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  3. A very interesting, well-defined scenario; thanks very much for posting Norm.

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    1. Thanks, this is a regular on my table.

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  4. Interesting play, Norm. Gerard seemed to be racked with indecision. Having two regiments rout in an attack seems a bit heavy-handed or an unfortunate bit of luck. Which was it?

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    1. Gerard could have done no worse if he had just flipped a coin :-)

      The two regiments were stacked and so shared the fate of the other. This particular has a quality rating of 7, which makes it very average in it’s responses. They have a couple of light units with quality 8 (better) and because of that they tend to spearhead things.

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  5. A fascinating action and not something I'd expect to see as a Napoleonic boardgame. I can see this scenario easily translating onto the wargames table. Well done to the Prussians but the die gods didn't seem to favour the French on this occasion.

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  6. Hi Steve, the French did enjoy a few good rolls …… but mostly they were on the receiving end. It would translate to figures as a very manageable game, even more so on my hex terrain, I think the pressure / bath-tubbing would come from how many buildings are in the collection.

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  7. Very interesting scenario, Norm. I am intrigued with Napoleonic (or earlier) urban engagements. With black powder weapons, would've have looked more like a Medieval melee or more like modern tactics - i.e. taking cover where available and smaller unit actions?

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  8. Hi Dean, yes, an area of wargaming that sits in the shadow of ‘big battle’ gaming.

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  9. A great read Norm...I would think if one wanted to recreate FIBUA in miniature , the way to go would be something like Sharpe Practice or a modified version of Bolt Action...skirmish level would work best in a built up area....?

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    1. Thanks Keith, the two things that fascinate me about this are firstly, I live maps and in the boardgame world it is not common to gt street maps for this period, secondly, that an army level game seems to work so well in the BUA, but I agree, certainly at the figures level, a more skirmish approach would bring out the flavour of FIBUA and one could get away with using fewer buildings.

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  10. Interesting little scenario Norm, we have a Ligny battle as part of our CandC game and I am looking forward to it 👍

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  11. Thanks Matt, I picked up the Osprey Campaign Ligny title to read alongside the game play.

    I have play C&C Ligny and was a little bit bothered about the map distortions, which I felt had been done to prevent Landwehr routing off the board too easily.

    I did a write-up here LINK

    http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2015/01/commands-and-colors-ligny.html

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  12. Interesting action particularily by boardgame method.

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  13. Hi Gary, I know you are interested in the figure / boardgame crossover. The feeling I get from this game is that the design group are rooted in a figures background and I think that sense works its way into this game.

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  14. You are showing us how interesting and fun a board game can be!

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    1. Hi Mark, once I have my napoleonics painted, I will have the best of both worlds :-)

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  15. Nice read. You make chips on a board interesting. Even I who knows nothing of the period enjoyed it. 😀

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  16. Thanks Stew, perhaps my natural enthusiasm for the game is over cooking it 😀

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  17. Perhaps my shared enthusiasm for this series may colour my view too, but these small engagements are wonderfully satisfying and as Stew says your commentary really does sell it. Justifiably so.

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  18. Hi Mike, a great little scenario for keeping your hand in with the series rules.

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  19. Thanks for sharing Norm. Board games and figures on the table combined for a campaign system is something I would like to try and the detail on the hex maps from the Eagles series look like the way to go.

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  20. Thanks Pat, this system would deliver that.

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