Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lasalle in Review

Lasalle is a pretty new set of rules BY Sam Mustafa, who apparently has written several well regarded sets of rules in the past for the Horse and Musket eras. Lasalle is aimed at a tactical level game with players each commanding a division or similar small force during the Napoleonic Wars. In some quarters these rules have been cruelly called the 'Flames of War of Napoleonics'; implying they are intended to get new people into the period, but also that they are simplistic.

Now I can't provide a detailed summary of the rules as I was only a guest player, and have not invested in a copy; but I can comment on the impression that they are simple rules. Compared to many, they are, but in part it is because we have more elegant rules conventions than perhaps twenty years ago. These are a modern set of rules, sure enough.

The game we played was essentially divisional in scale, with my self and Bob commanding a couple of brigades of Austrians, defending against a French assault. Each unit on the table represented a battalion/regiment.

The set up is dependant on each side choosing it's tactics for the day - to attack or defend, and their available troops and reserves will vary dependant upon that. Being Austrians defence was a no-brainer. The French had to place an objective, a point they needed to occupy by game end, and went with a area of open ground, which we knew they'd attack with cavalry. In reply we placed my brigade of Grenzers and Hussars to cover the objective, whilst Bobs line infantry occupied the fields and ridge line to the right. After this the attacking french could deploy their initial troops, and decided to come on in columns of attack at the hill, with the side facing me suspiciously empty save for some guns near a ruined monastery.

The turn sequence is slightly unconventional, but basically boils down to an Igo-Ugo system of Fire, Reform, Fight melees, Move, Rally. Most of the time units can do what they want, but if outside of command radius to an officer they will need a discipline test to reform or rally.

Shooting and fighting is based on rolling a number of d6, typically one per stand, with modifiers to the number of dice rolled. No complex tables, as is the norm nowadays! All very simple. 4's hit in shooting and the cumulative total of hits on a unit in a turn cause a number of disruption/casualty markers. When these equal or exceed the number of stands in a unit it has had its chips and is off.

After a number of turns it became practical for Mark and Darren to call upon their reserves, you have to roll below the turn number on 2 D6 to bring them on. They did their best to chase off my cavalry and try to roll up the flank.

In melee units roll a selection of dice much like in shooting, which may then be doubled, and/or halved to reflect circumstance. Five's hit this time. If the charger doubles the result of the enemy, he destroys him straight away. If the reverse occurs the charger is thrown back. Oh how we laughed when a unit of French Dragoons caught the Austrian Hussars in the rear and got this result:

Anomalies like this aside the melee system is simple and fine, with no more than about 16 dice needed for a melee; close to but not quite buckets of dice, and that is at the top end of the scale. For good measure my Hussars about faced, charged and destroyed the Dragoons; well done boys, well done!

When a third of your starting infantry formations have been destroyed you have to take an army morale test, but other than this we saw little of the morale rules, if there are any. In a little over two hours, with four players and three novices with the rules, we were finished. The random game length ended abruptly on turn 17, with the Austrians on the ropes but far from down for the count. They held the objective and the French cavalry thrust had been defused by the Grenzer squares and Hussars.

Overall, a fairly simple set of rules, yes, but the consequence is a fast game, easy to pick up and play in a couple of hours. It is the sort of set that could make Napoleonic tourney play practical; if you are in to that sort of thing.

Napoleon, and other current rules reflect a deeper game, but these are a fine quick play set.


  1. Seems as though a number of rule sets are moving to hit points. Not a bad thing in itself as long as the rule mechanics don't allow for excessive failures.
    Presumably there was a mechanic in the rules that prevents the unit being charged in the rear from rolling as many unmodified dice as the charger?

  2. There were mechanics to greatly reduce my dice when attacked in the rear, but as I was both a much larger and elite unit compared to the Dragoons they kinda equalled out.