On 17 October, Dan, Harry, Will and I played a game of Lasalle. If I’d been thinking about the date I’d have run a Leipzig scenario but my brain was on go-slow and we played an 1809 game instead. The scenario was “Feeling for the enemy”, Friant’s attack towards Ober Sanding on 21 April 1809. It is downloadable here.
The scenario begins with Rosenberg’s Austrians deployed along the Regensburg-Eggmühl highway facing West and Friant’s French arriving in the south west corner of the table. The French aim is to take the village of Ober-Sanding on the Austrian right, which would cut the highway and hence the Austrians’ connection to Regensburg. The table is unusual in having a lot of woodland, especially on the French side of the valley. Dan took the Austrians and Will and Harry, the French.
Friant versus Rosenberg
The game began with the French 15th Light, the best French regiment, advancing eastwards through the woods in the centre. Dan had deployed two Grenzers battalions on the edge of the woods, ready to slow the French down, but the 15th despatched them almost immediately (to my embarrassment since I had encouraged Dan to place them there). Meanwhile the French left, comprising 6 battalions, moved northwards through the woods and came out opposite and slightly overlapping the village.
Up to this point, Dan had had atrocious luck with his dice rolls, his artillery barely troubling the French as they emerged from the woods. Also his reinforcements failed to show, which was less surprising since they needed two sixes to appear (each turn the players roll a number of dice equal to the turn number. Standard reinforcements arrive when one 6 is rolled; delayed reinforcements like Dan’s require two 6s). Fortunately for him, Dan began rolling better as the French attack on Ober Sanding started.
As Harry now had to leave, Will assumed full command of the French and began his attack on the village with three battalions in line and three in battalion mass to the rear. His firing reduced the garrison to rubble but Dan was able to race a reserve battalion into the village before the French could occupy it. This battalion was then assaulted by two French battalions who were repulsed in short order. Meanwhile Dan advanced his centre to support his village and, at just the right moment, his artillery and musketry so disrupted the 15th Light that it ceased to be a factor in the game.
The game ended with Will still outside the village but his reserves ready to mount another assault; the French centre incapable for now of forward movement; and the French right poised to put pressure on Dan’s outnumbered left. Dan’s centre was well-placed and holding their own and he still held the town on the right but he no longer had a reserve available should the garrison be bundled out by the French assault. Dan’s off-table reinforcements were still refusing to appear.
We agreed the game was a draw since it could still have gone either way. I’d give bragging rights to Dan however as I realised too late that the scenario heavily favoured the French, in two important respects. First, the French had such a big skirmish advantage that they went first every turn and had way more momentum than they needed. This negated any challenge arising from moving through the heavy woodland. Second, the French reinforcements only needed to roll one 6 to arrive, which happened quickly and gave them too much of a numerical advantage.
After the game I amended the scenario to reduce the French skirmish advantage (though they do still have one) and to require reinforcements on both sides to roll two 6s before they could appear. I hope this will make the Austrian task a little easier.
The scenario and orders of battle were taken from John H Gill’s Thunder on the Danube (volume 1). The Lasalle rules worked well and Will and Harry, both new to the rules, picked them up effortlessly. Next time, I’d like to try the same scenario using Soldiers of Napoleon to see how it compares. I was grateful to all players for the enthusiasm with which they assumed their Napoleonic roles!