Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Battle of Ligny. Game 2.

The second game of this battle at the "Trumpeter Salute" convention with new players with the exception of Steve A. who was now on the Prussian side as Pirch. I played the Prussian Ziethen with the tough task of defending the Ligne Stream.
As we had fewer players, I left the eastern side of the battle on the table, but we did not use Thielemann's or Grouchy's commands.  With the experience of the previous game, I understand why many wargame scenarios do not use this side of the battle.
Showing Vandamme's attacks on [l-r] Wagnele, Ste. Armand La Haye, Armand.  Gerard is slowly moving to Ligny [top]

Close up of Vandamme's French troops assaulting the village of Armand la Haye

The topography of the battlefield was very low, rolling farmland, virtually flat, so no hills were needed. Initially Napoleon was unaware of Pirch's Corps as a gentle rise of ground hid his force from the French.  To recreate this and to follow the maps of deployment, I allowed, as I did in the first game, these Prussians to be placed on the table behind a row of trees to mark the area after the French have done their first turn.  However in both cases the French did not appear to be overly surprised....
a view from 'south' and the French rear, showing the mass of Guard awaiting orders [lower center]  from Napoleon near the windmill [bottom]

Close up of the French attack lead by Habert's Division of Vandamme's Corps represented in part by the red-coated Swiss
In both games I tried to set up the forces as accurately as possible given that we are but dealing with miniatures and all.
This game differed only from the first by a more aggressive Vandamme but less aggressive Gerard who was charged with the task of taking the village of Ligny.  In this game the army reserves of the Old/Middle Guard and Milhaud's heavy horse moved back and forth not knowing with which attack to follow or support.  While the French used the Young Guard to help in the village assaults in both games, the players did not use the Old Guard as a hammer but as support, following interestingly, the historical precedence.

Vandamme cheering on the advance towards Pirch's massed corps
Again the historically imposed time limit cut the battle short. In this game, however, Ziethen managed to keep Ligny and Ste.Armand la Haye villages thereby holding open the flanks of Pirch's advancing corps to deal with the French who crossed over in the center.  How that fight would have ended is for speculation. If we wargamers were actually REAL commanders, the Prussians would have called it a day turns before we concluded after giving the French a bloody nose in order to have daylight to maneuver and retire while Pirch's Corps was whole and Ziethen's flanks were still intact. But it gives me a lesson, which I really should have already known with my years in the hobby, that precise victory conditions must be listed or players will just continue to push in more troops in order to roll dice yet one more time.


  1. yep roll those dice - that is what they want!

  2. Obviously Victory is determined by body count. Friend AND foe. ;P

    1. Actually you have a good point in that your own losses should account for much. While the games "time-lines" were in sync with history, The Prussian players, in true wargamer fashion, without heed to think about further consequences, continued defending even though the whole position was compromised which of course lead to more destruction. "Just one more roll for fun and all that"

      I have been thinking on victory points and that perhaps for every enemy element eliminated you gain 1 point. For every element YOU lose is MINUS 1.5 points. I have made declaring "retreat" beneficial and easy to retire which should make the prospect of retreating to retain points easy to make.

      We shall see how that effects play. I hope it makes the player behave more like a commander thinking of continuing the war for another day, rather than the player who just wants to push around some stuff......