A few posts ago I mentioned that I had completed an inventory of my figures/armies, and that it was my intention to get some of the lesser used figures on the table. In the run up to Christmas my diary, and that of opponents, tends to get full and as a consequence the opportunities for competitive games dries up. I therefore turn to solo gaming and trials of different rule sets.
My large collection of 25mm Minifig Napoleonic armies are some of the oldest I possessing dating back to the mid-1970’s! The sculpts are poor by modern standards, but I find the old school style attractive. I have never considered the need to update any of the armies and the larger 28mm figures do not mix well. These armies have seen considerable action over their lifetime but have not come out of their boxes in recent years. I decided to rectify this and re-visit a set of rules I enjoyed when they were first released; ‘Lasalle’ by Sam Mustafa.
I have played four games covering all four theatres of operations (Conquest, Empire, Liberation and Peninsular) using French versus Austrian, Russian, Prussian and British forces. Each game revolved around the basic ‘Line’ Division, plus one additional brigade as outlined in the force selection part of the rules. I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly the games flowed, and appreciated how the game end victory conditions worked. The key rules design feature is a simple re-ordering of the standard player turn; instead of the normal move/fire/melee sequence, Lasalle changes this to fire(react)/melee/move. This basic change, at a stroke, removes all those ‘what if’ situations and out of sequence reactions found in almost all other rules. It introduces clarity and order, makes players choices clear, and allows greatly improved structure and order in the rule writing. The QRS is sufficient for most of the game, but when a point needs to be looked up, it can be quickly found in the relevant section of the rule book. Sam Mustafa’s writing is concise and thoughtfully illustrated with examples where needed, and the rules are beautifully produced. I used the advanced/optional rules because they are not complex and do add to the experience.
I think Lasalle represents one of the best sets of rules (of any period) that I own. They give a great game experience, and are an exemplar of how a set of rules should be written and published. They are not perfect, no rules are! I feel the terrain selection rules do not work well, the set up choices are limited and too often the defender will place a long stone wall across his frontline. This problem is easily rectified by substituting whatever terrain method a player prefers. I also feel it is too easy to charge artillery head on; the gunners really have no choice but to retire out of harms’ way rather than delivering a devastating blast of canister and stopping the attack in its tracks. I have a few minor ‘house’ rules I will introduce to my games, none of which drastically alter the nature of the game. I can see more Napoleonic games using Lasalle in the near future.