Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Ligny-Inspired Polemos Marechal d'Empire Refight

I had a go at re-creating the Battle of Ligny, which took place on 16 June 1815, using the Polemos Marechal d'Empire rules.  I don't have any Prussian Napoleonic armies (I'm waiting for Baccus 6mm to re-sculpt its range as it has done for the other major powers of the time), so I substituted my Spanish armies.  I didn't design the scenario myself this time, I used the one in the Polemos rulebook.  The order of battle is as follows:

Imperial French:

Imperial Guard: 6 bases Infantry, 2 bases Cavalry, 2 bases Foot Artillery, 1 base Horse Artillery

II Corps (Girard's Division only): 2 bases Infantry

III Corps (Vandamme): 8 bases Infantry, 1 base Light Cavalry, 2 bases Foot Artillery

IV Corps (Gerard): 7 bases Infantry, 1 base Light Cavalry, 1 base Medium Cavalry, 2 bases Foot Artillery

IV Cavalry Corps (Milhaud): 4 bases Cuirassiers, 1 base Horse Artillery

I Cavalry Corps (Pajol): 3 bases Light Cavalry

II Cavalry Corps (Exelmans): 4 bases Dragoons

VI Corps (Lobau): 5 bases Infantry, 2 bases Foot Artillery (comes on as reinforcements)


I Corps (Ziethen): 10 bases Infantry, 6 bases Landwehr, 2 bases Medium Cavalry, 1 base Landwehr Cvalry, 4 bases Foot Artillery

II Corps (Pirch): 10 bases Infantry, 6 bases Landwehr, 2 bases Medium Cavalry, 1 base Light Cavalry, 1 base Landwehr Cavalry, 3 bases Foot Artillery

III Corps (Thielmann): 9 bases Infantry, 4 bases Landwehr, 1 base Light Cavalry, 1 base Landwehr Cavalry, 3 bases Foot Artillery

The Terrain

The French Left, with Fleurus bottom left, St. Amand centre left, Wagnete top left and Ligny right.

Looking at Ligny village from the French right, with Sombreffe at the top.

The whole battlefield. 
The Battle
The initial deployment on the French left: Gerard's Corps to the right, Vandamme's Corps to the left, the Imperial Guard behind Vandamme (Unfortunately, none of the pther deployment photos were useable).
Vandamme's Corps leads the attack (with Girard's Division of II Corps on the extreme French left looking to cross the Ligny brook).

I Korps Prussians (strongly resembling Spanish and Swiss in the Spanish service...!) prepare themselves to contest the French crossing.
Ziethen leads his infantry over the brook in a most effective counter-attack: Girard's Division has routed and Imperial Guard Cavalry have been rushed forward to contain the breakthrough.  Vandamme's troops have been bundled back over the brook too, back into the village of St. Armand (foreground).  First blood to the Prussians!

The position on the French right: Thielmann and Pirch advance, attempting to turn the French right flank.  The French cavalry are just about holding on, but will need infantry reinforcements to hold back the Prussian attack.

The see-saw battle over the brook: Vandamme has been thrown back, but Gerard has managed to force a passage with his infantry, supported by Dragoons.

Vandamme and Gerard have largely cleared the brook between St.Armand (bottom centre) and Ligny (right).  However, an attack by Pirch has contained the advance, I Korps is deployed in a tough defensive position on the hill, whilst, Ziethen prepares to try and turn the French left flank.

Increasing pressure on the French right: Napoleon himself has taken Hulot's Division of Gerard's Corps to the aid of his hard-pressed cavalrymen ( extreme left)

Pirch put's the French main attack under extreme pressure - can they hold on?  However the French Imperial Guard - Young Guard infantry and Guard cavalry and horse artillery, led by Marshal Mortier have pushed back the Prussians over the brook (top left) with heavy casualties.

The French right is buckling...luckily Lobau's artillery is causing great execution amongst the Prussian infantry on the far side of the brook.

Prussian high point: have the Prussians split the French line?

A wider shot of the same position: Vandamme's Corps has collapsed and Milhaud's Cuirassiers have been seen off by the Prussian infantry.  The French reserves are all committed and no sign of D' is looking bleak for the Emperor!

An attack by Napoleon in person drives back the Prussian infantry briefly, destroying one of Pirch's Divisions, giving the French some much needed time to stabilise the position on the right against Thielmann's remorseless advance.  Napoleon has had to abandon this flank though to attempt to shore up the centre!

Ziethen's unbelievable performance continues, a charge down the hill driving back Gerard's troops.  Only the French Imperial Guard's attack on the left can save the day for the French.

It does!  Ziethen's left-flank units are routed or repulsed by the advancing Imperial Guardsmen and the troops on the French right - Lobau and the Cavalry, have managed to hold on. Prussian morale faltered at this point and they began to retire from the field.

A close-up shot of the right: the advancing Prussians have not quite managed to collapse the French flank.

Same position, wider shot.

Game Notes:

An incredibly fierce battle with severe casualties on both sides.  The French in particular lost heavily at the beginning: the blue dice would just not come up with good scores and Ziethen seemed  to be able to do no wrong.  These rules really reward aggression, and in particular, aggressive leadership and Ziethen's performance looked to have pretty much won the game for the Prussians early on, especially as Thielmann's units were putting a lot of pressure on the French cavalry on the right.  However, Napoleon's determination to win and keep on going eventually told, with him personally stabilizing the situation on the right and in the centre. The game ended with the Imperial Guard's move round the left flank, their elite status giving them enough of an edge to eventually defeat Ziethen's Korps - which in turn led to an unlucky Prussian Army morale die throw which finished the game.  

Overall, a realistic result, bearing some semblance to the events of the original battle.  It was more a slugging match than one of wide manouevre - although manoeuvre did happen - but one where timing, aggression and balance of risk was key.

The game lasted about 3 or so hours of playing time, during which I got through 19 turns (game time start at 1400, finished at c.2000, with about 20 minutes per move).   The rules and scenario were both perfectably workable for the game.

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