Here is an AAR of a Ligny 1815 : Last Eagles play on Vassal. The game was played in two "large" sessions. We played scenario 4, the full battle with optional reinforcements.
Overall players plans :
While the 3rd Corps will attack around St-Amand-La-Haye to block prussian forces there and protect the French left flank, the 4th Corps will storm Ligny. While the light cavalry corps will be used to slow down the III. Armeekorps and any reinforcements to let the Guard move to Sombreffe and cut off the I and II armeekorps from their bases. The 6th Corps has been called to the battlefield and will act as a reserve. The 3rd Cavalry corps will also act as a reserve.
The I ArmeeKorps will emphasize on holding Ligny and buy some time so that the II ArmeeKorps can swing to the french left flank and destroy it. The III ArmeeKorps will threaten the French right flank and awaits the arrival of the IV ArmeeKorps to launch a full offensive to encircle the French Army.
General Gérard orders his corps forward, with the 12th and 14th division on the right, the 13th on the left toward the Château de Ligny. He quickly concentrates two brigades for a decisive attack on the Ferme d’En-Haut, which is quickly taken, by 1525. Others corps start moving, but there are no more action before 1600.
Gérard, very active, pushes his corps forward and repulse von Ziethen light troops which protected Ligny’s church. Von Ziethen quickly organises a counter attack with two battalions of the 7. Infanterie and a Landwerh regiment. But this assault fails, the French light troops hold their position. Meanwhile, Vandamme conducts his offensive, driving the 11th division toward St-Amand-La-Haye, the 8th division covered by the 15ème Léger, to St-Amand and the 7th division on the Ferme de Nalonne. The 10th division is still covering the flank with the cavalry. The 8th division manages to storm the suburb of St-Amand, routing two battalions of the 12. Infanterie. In the north-east, von Thielmann troops move to Tongrenelle, facing the 2nd Cavalry Corps and Gérard’s light cavalry. Heavy fighting continue in Ligny, where Gérard manages to drive the Prussian from the center, but fails an attack on the castle. Still, several regiments are fleeing after canister shot from Prussian cannons.
Now, the Imperial Guards moves north in three column. The left column heads to Ligny to help the 4th Corps ; the center column led by Drouot moves north against von Thielmann ; the right column is the cavalry of the Guard. A new great Prussian counter-attack is organised by von Ziethen but the 9ème Léger barely manages to fight the assault back. Around St-Amand, the Prussians are suffering from Vandamme’s assaults, but the 11th division cannot pierce through the enemy lines at St-Amand-La-Haye.
On the french right flank, a difficult battle has begun between the 2nd cavalry Corps, the 4th corps light cavalry and the Prussian III. ArmeeKorps. The French Cavalry manages to win some time but at a high price. Luckily, the Imperial Guard is approaching to relieve the horsemen. And at the Château de Ligny, the Guard did its job : the castle was stormed as well as some positions in the village. [use of avoid fate to cancel a double 1 on a defensive fire]. But these ain’t going that easy for the French, with Blücher counter-attacking and taking back the Church. At this moment, Gérard was facing the whole weight of the 3rd and 4th Brigades.
Gérard, as active as always, renews his efforts against Blücher who personnaly leads a battalion of the 2nd Jägers around the Church. Gérard can’t move Blücher from the Church, but other Prussian regiments suffer great losses from French light troops. But now, the Guard is committed to the fight and the 2ème Chasseurs, 2ème Grenadiers, 3ème Voltigeurs and 3ème Tirailleurs pushes forward but are quickly blocked : at the south bridge by von Ziethen’s light cavalry and in the town by great sacrifices of Prussian infantry. At this moment, Blücher is certain that a strong counter-attack will relief his position around the church : he conducts two battalions of the 29. Infanterie and his Jägers against the III. Batallion of the 6ème Léger, but the latter survives the onslaught. In fact, it has been saved from oblivion thanks to friendly support fire on the Jägers flank who suffered high losses.
Meanwhile, Vandamme had the 7th division clear the town from Prussian units and drove the 8th division to St-Amand-La-Haye where the 11th division was in difficulty. The arrival of the 8th division was a real relief and conducted by Vandamme, the French troops were able to expell the 24. Infanterie from the farm.
[Then, the Prussian tested the first reinforcement and failed]
[The French actually had the same idea and bring the first counter of Mouton, which is in fact a dummy]
Now, Vandamme is having some harder time as the II. ArmeeKorps is now in position to attack his left flank, strongly positionned on the hill south of Wagnelée. But the attack led by the 5th brigade is so strong that the French troops must withdraw in good order.
In the streets of Ligny, the battle is going on as hard as before. General Gérard led a new attack on the Church, which succeeded, the 30ème de Ligne crushing the last Jägers and forcing Blücher to flee. On the right flank, the main battle has started between Marshall Grouchy’s cavalry and the III.ArmeeKorps. The Horsemen manages to still win some time but the losses are great. Back to Ligny with von Ziethen withdrawing from the eastern part of the town with only the remnants of the two brigades engaged two hours earlier...
South of Wagnelée, the 10th division and the 3rd Corps' light cavalry fights a desesperate battle against overwhelming odds. General Vandamme quickly understands that he has finished his offensive and must return to a more defensive stance. Furthermore, the 10th division is a great danger of being cut-off by the II.ArmeeKorps cavalry and will surely need some help to retreat in good order or face complete oblivion. Same desesperate fight for the 2nd cavalry Corps at Tongrenelle : the corps is butchered but has won an hour to let the guard arrive. Von Thielmann, with full knowledge of his orders and of the power of the Guard, already prepares his line of defense aligning his cannons.
Vandamme reorganises his line of defense further east, on the ridge south of Le Hameau, letting the Prussians in control of the one south of Wagnelée. At Ligny, von Ziethen proves himself as a worthy tactician, crushing three batallions of the Guards with a nice use of combined arms tactics : the Guards fall back in disorder with great losses across the south bridge. The pursuit of the cavalry is then quickly stopped by the cannons of the imperial guard behind the bridge. [damn, this was a hell of a good move from the Prussian player…] General Friant, in charge of the troops deployed there, orders to concentrate fire from the cannon of the Guard, but with little to no effect. Same lack of efficiency in front of von Thielmann – even if the cannons manage to repulse several squadrons of cavalry with losses. But then, Blücher personnaly leads a new strong attack against the same three batallions : none of them will escape. The pursuit leads to the rout of the Prussian cavalry after some flank canister shots. This root leaves a great gap around the south bridge and Gérard intend to make good use of this. The 13th and 14th divisions advance across the river and destroy the last forces which defended this sector.
Vandamme now battles against von Pirsch in Le Hameau, where his troops have a good position to hold off the Prussians assaults. While his 8th division arrive on the ridge, Vandamme personnaly conduct an assault in St-Amand-La-Haye with the 37ème de Ligne and the 15ème Léger. Such an attack was not needed, but the Prussians had a battery on the French flank there and Vandamme wanted it destroyed. But while he was conducting a victorious assault, the leader of the 3rd Corps suddently fell, his face cover with blood. Quickly, he was brought behind the lines ; but his troops hesitated at the decisive moment. With canister shot, the Prussians finally repelled the assault and a counter-charge brought the French troops on their position. The Prussians even managed to capture a flag. [12 on the attack dice…4 on special result, leader wounded and flag captured…great…]. Anyway, von Pirch cannot yet take advantage of the situation. But he starts his maneuver to turn the 3rd Corps left flank while the 5th brigade fails to take Le Hameau despite the rout of half of its defenders.
The Imperial Guard, in position, starts its attack. Napoléon knows that the time works against him, he has to give the decisive blow. The Prussians are pushed back but manages to keep some good order.
In the streets of Ligny, Gérard must again conduct an heroic defense against a new counter-attack led by Blücher. Having repelled the attack, the commander of the 4th Corps moves his regiment to encircle Blücher and his last square. Only the Ferme d’En Haut gives Blücher an opportunity to retreat. Von Ziethen then retries the combined arm tactics that paid off against the Guard to retake the south bridge and threaten the 4th Corps lines of retreat. But this time, the cannons shatter the infantry while the footmen will keep good order and break off the charge.
On the left, général Habert, now in command of the 3rd Corps, faces the ongoing assaults of von Pirch and his II.ArmeeKorps. But yet, the Prussians are unable to break the French line. Now, Habert hopes that Mouton will make it in time. However, the next assault is very close of submerging the French troops, after an incredible artillery preparative fire: the line has been broken and the resistance will very soon come to an end.
The combat of Tongrelle is now the theatre of a large Guard offensive and the III.ArmeeKorps is falling appart – still, it offered a great defense and the battle was intense. Von Thielmann organises a second line of defense, with his remaining troops. The battle there is far from being over… Just as in Ligny where Blücher counter-attacks again, destroying a French regiment led by Gérard who must flee to avoid capture ! But the Prussians around the Ferme d’En Bas are exhausted and the whole I.ArmeeKorps is demoralised. Furthermore, while Von Thielmann thinks that the Guard will need some time to reorganise, Drouot renews his attacks, in a last push [use of the card], driving the Prussians away. Even worse, the 1st cavalry Corps is committing to the battle, pursuing the fleeing troops. Seeing victory, Napoléon and Grouchy both conduct more attacks and soon, the III.ArmeeKorps is almost destroyed.
[Little insight on the VP : French 531 ; Prussians 571] : At this moment, the battle is a draw, but with a great advantage to the French. The Prussian maneuver has failed, two corps are destroyed and the von Bulöw will never make it – it was the first attempt which failed. With Pajol able to quickly take one more objective and the supply on the road to Namur, it is impossible for the Prussians to change anything. We agree to end the game with a French victory (but a marginal one, it doesn't really taste like glory...). Losses are very high, with over 7,000 killed and wounded for the French and over 30,000 killed, wounded and captured for the Prussians.
Overall thoughts :
Well, I must say, this is a good game, but this scenario lacks some great maneuvers like Austerlitz. I will soon play the "strategic" scenario, starting in the morning. It seems more interesting with again some hidden moves.
The Prussians have a hard time on this battle, but they do have things to do. Problem being not to lose time and to be careful with its units : on open ground, the III. ArmeeKorps is no match for the Guard - even if I will lose some victory points from the defensive fire. It's really a defensive work of precision from the Prussian player. Some players may not like it.
The French have the advantage of the initiative but is fighting a large army deployed on strong positions. There will be no "blitz" like it can happen in Austerlitz. This will be long and bloody.
Overall, the game is very enjoyable and the map...oh my god, that map...I thought they couldn't do better after Austerlitz. Damn, how could they come with that ?
Can't wait to link it with Quatre-Bras and replay the full 16th June campaign !