I went over to Lard HQ last night to try out the new TFL divisional level Napoleonic rules that are currently in playtesting.
Although the game shares the same activation dice system as Chain of Command, everything else is new. The basic infantry unit is the battalion: three to seven bases of four figures each, with each figure representing about 120 men. Horse are organised in a similar fashion, with guns being either grouped into batteries or, a nice touch this, integral to the battalion they support.
As you would expect from any new Lardy product, although it has a familiar feel to it, it is a genuinely different game, not just a re-hash of one system to another period or scale.
In last night's game, Mr Clarke and myself played the early French (I forget the exact date), versus Alan playing the dastardly Austrians, no doubt seeking to strangle our infant republic before we had a chance to assume our rightful position as masters of all Europe. Our task was to wrest control of a ford and a bridge held by a smaller but still substantial enemy force. Here is the set up:
The French are to the left, the Austrians to the right. Mr Clarke's big battalions will cross the bridge and hit the Austrians in the built up area (the big house with four windows). I would hold the left flank in case the Austrians counter-crossed the ford. There were a lot of Austrians in front of me:
As the game started, Rich duly advanced his men over the bridge and headed for the built-up area.
His plan was to line up his multiple battalions and hit the town all at once, but unfortunately one of his units took an excess of heavy artillery fire on the flank, and then routed back across the bridge. This caused a massive traffic jam on the bridge and severely unnerved the rest of his troops, meaning that rather than hitting the town all at once, his battalions were fed in piecemeal.
An initial assault was repulsed, then he fought off an enemy cavalry charge as the enemy sought to take advantage of the resultant confusion, then his next assault was successful...but the time taken for all this had given the Austrians time to reinforce the town and slowly Rich's men started to be pushed back out again.
Meanwhile, on the left flank, the Austrians had decided to counter attack:
I had turned to meet them, and then let a couple of battalions cross the ford before marching forward to take it myself: neatly splitting his force in two.
At that point, unfortunately, the game had to end as we were out of time. The Austrians were declared the winners, as Rich's attack was about to fail utterly and things had not yet got properly started on my flank. All agreed that it was a close run thing: with Rich being literally at match point a couple of times before Alan's Austrians, holding on doggedly, managed to turn things around.
It was a great game and a really positive try-out for the rules. Everything seemed to work just fine, and I found that I could quickly pick up the basic mechanics without difficulty. I would love to try this out using 15s rather than 28s and, perhaps more importantly, I think the game would work brilliantly for the whole of the 19th century...well, through to the end of the Franco-Prussian War at any rate.
My thanks to the Lardies for their hospitality. I'm off to look at Napoleonic figures in 15mm now!