Thursday, 4 July 2019

First game of Lasalle - first thoughts

Last night Peter J. and I played our first game using Lasalle rules by Sam Mustafa. The scenario set up can be found here: The Bridges at Taco Reir

The first thing to say, as when playing most rules for the first time, is that we played several things slightly wrong. Most especially, I forgot that the recovery test often requires the rolling of more than one dice - so things recovered far too easily. 

Anyway, the game rattled along at a fair lick and by the end of the evening we had the basics pretty well sorted - we even discovered the Recovery Test mistake. Both of us had broken some enemy units and by the end of the evening and just about every unit had got its teeth into the enemy. 

The British were breaking the French left and pressing towards the pontoon bridge and the French had broken through the British centre and were mounting the high ground.

According to the rules we were about to run out of time; at best guess we played 18 player turns (9 each) - so the game could be called a draw. The 'lack of result' was largely down to advancing in line rather than column - a habit picked up from playing rules with much greater move and shooting distances - which meant several 'wasted' early turns.

Good things about the rules: 

Lasalle has a superb, very clever upside down move sequence that we liked very much. It allowed for much cut and thrust whilst keeping everything 'clean'. By that I mean that despite the confused look of the battlefield the game wasn't confusing at all. The move sequence is the basic mechanism that runs this game and it is excellent.

We liked several clear cut rulings - like not being able to shoot if there are any friendly troops in your fire zone closer than the enemy (straight ahead, width of unit, out to 8" for musketry, and about 40" for artillery roundshot). I just need to make a few beaten zone templates.

The factors for shooting and melee are kept to an absolute minimum. Indeed, there are astonishingly few. There are quick reference sheets but I can see these becoming almost redundant after a few games because there is so little 'detail' to remember. 

The complexity in the game comes from what I might call 'situation rules' which are well explained in the main rule book. There are a fair few of these. Fortunately, they are mostly intuitive; I'm sure these to will be remembered and become second nature after a few games. 

The move rates and shooting ranges are also excellent. They are just what I was looking for. This is because the game was developed to fight battles on 6' x 4' tables. Now, my table is much bigger than that, and this means I have plenty of room, especially in depth, to deploy reserves at some distance from the enemy - going forward, for Napoleonic games, this will be a very useful aspect of Lasalle. Thinking back on it, wanting a bigger table had nothing to do with shooting further or moving faster, rather it was all to do with table depth for initial deployment areas and table length for flank room - how soon we forget.

How much any set of rules provides for 'period feel' is, in my opinion, a mute point. In my experience, period feel usually comes from the period knowledge, and the attitude to game play, of the players playing the game, not the rules sending players back in time. That said, I think Lasalle, played in the right spirit, is as good as anything I've played and better than some.

Just three things I didn't like so much:

I wonder if Sam Mustapha has an artillery fixation. According to my research, artillery occupied a frontage of about 10 yards per piece. For a French battery this equates to roughly a third of the frontage of a typical battalion in line. With my basing, this means a single gun per battery. I don't like single gun batteries so I fudged my collection and settled on two gun batteries. Big Sam has four model gun French batteries (representing 8 guns) with the same frontage as a battalion and this is simply too big, IMHO. I'm going to use two gun batteries with Lasalle (and be damned) and just have them roll for the rule prescribed number of guns; as guns never lose 'bases' this should work just fine. He also puts a battery with every six units or so - which also seems rather populace to me. My thoughts on Lasalle's artillery rules are a quibble, not a deal breaker. I'm fairly sure my house rule will not affect game play very much at all - we'll see. 

On first play, we found the commander 'tactics' factor in melee too powerful. We can see the logic behind the mechanism - it is an abstract way of exerting commander influence at the schwerpunkt - but, it does seem to swing a combat in a very draconian way. We'll persist with it for now, one game probably isn't enough to judge the 'probabilities'.

Walls. Why does it take a whole move to get over a wall? Again, this is probably just me. Perhaps I'm too used to having them on the table in the first place - especially as I often use them to bound and distinguish areas of rough terrain. Thinking about it, the rule makes good sense for game play - the unit is over the wall or not. So this is even less of a quibble than the artillery thing - but, to be 'BBC balanced', I can't be wholly positive about anything!

So, not bad then. At the end of our first night's play our opinion of Lasalle was very positive. These rules have a lot of merit. We're looking forward to giving them another bash next week.


Amtmann B. said...

Fine landscape! I always admire your style of photos.

David said...

Always interesting to read another take on rules out there. A very fine looking game, as is to be expected from your collections of course.

Sgt Steiner said...

Interesting I started my Napoleonic sojourn with Lasalle but found better sets (such as Shako II, Field of Battle II and General D'Armee).
I dislike the ability of Cavalry to break squares way too often (I know Sam would say that reflects the square not forming properly) as quite easy with heavier types to double the Inf melee total.
Also could never resolve 2 Columns vs Line as columns simply unstoppable with double dice.
BUT the rest of rules are excellent very playable indeed.
Interested to see how you fare with them after a few plays

Chasseur said...

Nice review and great looking figures thanks!

William Butler said...

Great looking terrain and figures. The frontage for an 8 gun battery compared to a field strength infantry battalion is not that far off. The information I have is 100 yards per eight guns. The regulation frontage for a four gun American Civil War battery, which was based on Napoleonic regulations was 50 yards. This is also noted in Paddy Griffith's book "Battle in the American Civil War". For a 500 man battalion in three ranks at two feet per man (standing elbow to elbow in closed files) would be about 330 feet or 110 yards.

Bluewillow said...

Great to read your review, I was not that impressed with Might and Reason particularly the artillery rules, how do they perform in Lassalle?
I have heard mixed reviews of the rules but I do prefer to play them to really get a feel. Great looking table and troops by the way!

French Wargame Holidays at L'Hotel de Hercé
Mayenne, Pays de Loire

Tony Miles said...

Great looking game, as usual. A rule set I've not tried as yet.

pancerni said...

Great looking table and figures. Well thought out explanations of the salient point of the rules, complete with the nubs.

Sergey Ageev said...

Everything looks just great!

Mike Bersiks said...

From doing scenarios for several historical refights you should probably have a battery of guns per division (6-8 battalions). Adding in stuff like attached corps or army level guns could take that up to a battery per brigade, but only at the schwerpunkt where those guns are massed.