Having stopped in at a couple of tech / cell phone stores, it appears that not only does no one carry the cable I need to download photos from Wednesday's game, it's a distinct possibility that no one even manufactures them any more. I figure I'll cobble a batrep together while I still remember what happened, illustrating as best as I can from whatever pictures I can drum up.
As mentioned in the last post, the figures for the game were provided by michaeld, and I played French infantry with light horse in support vs. Young Guard with Old Guard cavalry in support. In Lasalle, core terrain is randomly determined, and then modified by the players as part of set up. We generated the "Chateaux" table, which has a large urban zone on a hill in one corner of the table, and a small village on the opposite diagonal.
|Club terrain just keeps getting better.|
I won the set-up roll, chose to defend, and opted to give up choice of table edge in exchange for forcing michaeld to set up first. We placed additional terrain, and ended up with a long hill abutting the viallage on my side, and a forest anchoring my left. I think there was another hill on michaeld's side of the table, but it didn't have much of an effect on the game.
Forcing micaheld to set up first gave me several advantages. French infantry can take light cavalry as "organic" support, i.e., they start on the table. In contrast, michaeld's cavalry, while hard as nails, had to come on as reserves. This meant if he set up first, I'd be able to both concentrate my artillery on his most likely approach route, and position my cavalry to spoil his initial attacks, before he could bring on his cavalry to counter them.
Michaeld concentrated the bulk of his infantry in his centre, with his guns on his left (my right). Most of his stuff deployed in column. In response, I put my foot battery in the gap between the woods and the long hill, put my infantry on the right (intending to advance to take the hill) and my cavalry on my left with the option to counter an attack on the guns, or sweep around the forest and flank him.
|The long hill. Or, at least, a long hill.|
You win in Lasalle either by breaking the opponent's morale, or by holding the objective at game's end. michaeld, as attacker, got to place the objective, and had put it behind the long hill (hence my deployment). To get to the objective, micaheld was looking at an open field dominated by my artillery
|Like this, but with more cannon. Lots more.|
and an uphill slog against the troops I was going to move up on the long hill. While this left my "back door" open (my right rear was essentially undefended and unanchored), I had a couple infantry batallions in reserve, and would have plenty of notice when his reserves came on table.
The game unfolded more or less predictably. I pushed four infantry batallions up to the top of the long hill, while my guns pounded his centre. I sent my cavalry around the woods on my left, flanking his advance, and threatening to catch some of his units in attack column or line.
|They took their time about it, too.|
At this point, things started to get interesting. Lasalle uses an ingenious turn order that inverts the usual IgoUgo process - you move and attack on your turn, but the resolution of the combat happens on your opponent's following turn, AFTER they get a chance to react (shoot, change formation, evade, etc.). For example, once my cavalry had cleared the woods, I sent a couple units in on the infantry batallion on his flank.
On his turn, michaeld opted to react by changing formation into square. He had to make a discipline roll to do so, but between the bonuses inherent to the Young Guard (they are disciplined, elite troops) and his superior commander (randomly determined at the beginning of the game), there was only a 1 in 6 chance of failing. The battalion deployed into square in time, and my cavalry bounced off causing only minor disruption.
|If the infantry are squares, does that make the cavalry beats?|
A turn or so later, micaheld pushed three units of his Young Guard up the hill to attack my four batallions on the ridge line. On my following turn, I reacted by shooting (adding a few disruptions to those caused by my artillery on the YG's advance), and then combat was resolved. Although the Young Guard are elite troops, with bonuses both to high esprit and guard status, this was compensated by my advantageous position (on the hights), the disruption caused by shooting during the YG's advance, and my superior numbers. The net result was the Guard were thrown back down the hill.
One thing I picked up about Lasalle rather quickly is that unit facing is critical. There are fairly strict target priority rules in the game, and it means that it's entirely possible that a unit with a juicy target in charge range (like flanked artillery) must disregard it in favour of a much less appealing one (like infantry in square). This became a feature of the situation developing on my left. Michaeld responded to the threat of my cavalry by forming several batallions into square. This pinned down his flank, preventing him from supporting the attack on the hill (a result with which I perfectly content) but also meant I spent several turns manoeuvring to try and set up a legal charge against something other than well-prepared infantry. I did manage to eventually work a unit of hussars around behind him (prompting a few more squares to form) and getting in a charge on his guns, but it took time to coordinate.
The biggest potential shift in the game cam when micaheld's reserves came on, two units of Old Guard cavalry (who are frankly badasses). Fortunately for me, I was able to distract him a little with my own cavalry, drawing one of the two units into a running fight on his side of the table. He did push the other around my flank, and managed to engage my guns and the reserve batallions Id left to guard the objective, but not before time ran out in the game (there's an escalating chance after turn 16 that the current turn will be the last). We'd seen a bit more action on the hill (including a downhill charge by two of my units that broke one of his), but no outcomes decisive to army morale. Night fell with me still holding the objective. This translated into either a minor victory for me or a draw (can't remember which), but in the core rules for Lasalle, guard formations must win decisively to win at all - something I'll need to keep in mind when playing my Russians.
I really like this game. It lacks some of the command friction of Maurice (you can do something with everything every turn, without the forced choices of Maurice), but on the other hand, has some really inventive mechanics. Having to commit to attacks without full control of the conditions of the attack introduces a real sense of tension which energizes the game. Despite these novelties, the game plays intuitively. I knew more or less how I wanted the battle to go (hold the ridge, pin him on my left, stall the OG cavalry until nightfall), and had no problems executing that plan via the game's mechanisms. Lasalle is figure intensive (at least relative to some of the other projects I've worked on lately), but after playing, I'm motivated to paint.
Next week will likely be Maurice, but things are still a little up in the air. Might be able to throw up a Spartan WIP before then.