Heedless of the impact it may have on the game’s resale value, my brother and I punched out the counters and played Lille from the Art of Siege quad the other week. Careful study of the rules leading prior to play revealed some ambiguities in the rule set that should be resolved through mutual agreement prior to play. The following comments are based on just the one play through of the game.
The following lists the ambiguities/clarifications/corrections in the order that the cases occur in the rules, before making some general comments on the play of the game.
3.4 States that there is a Terrain Effects Chart.
There is no Terrain Effects Chart per se. The effects of terrain are covered by 9.6 Construction Point Costs Chart on the Charts and Tables sheet and by the second and third to last paragraphs under 13.0.
3.5 Glossary of game terms
Repair: Says French bastion positions can be re-built to a Strength Level of 4.
This is inconsistent with 9.44 “No Bastion Position may be repaired to a Strength Level greater than 3.”
We played that you could only rebuild to level 3 on the grounds that a temporary repair job was not going to be as strong as the original Bastion.
8.21 When a siege battery unit is in supply
The phrasing used doesn’t seem to allow Allied siege guns in bastion positions to be in supply.
We played that if a Bastion Position has become part of the Allied movement network as described under 11.32, then an Allied siege gun in the Bastion Position was in supply.
8.4 Which Targets may be Fired Upon
We played that Siege Guns field of fire extended 180 degrees forward from their position.
8.74 “Such siegeworks must be repaired before any new construction can take place within that Siege Area.”
We played that it was not obligatory to repair damaged siegeworks that were not essential to movement or supply before you could construct further siegeworks in that Siege Area. If you wished to extend your siegeworks it was necessary to repair any damaged siegeworks that prevented you from tracing a contiguous route of undamaged siegeworks back to the Allied start line.
10.16 Allied operational movement
Clarification: Allied operational movement is allowed to those Bastion Positions that are part of the Allied movement network.
10.6 Garrison of Lille
Note the Victory Condition mentioned here and nowhere else, not even under 20.0 Victory Conditions.
11.3 Capture of a Bastion Position and its Effects
11.31 is clear that a Bastion Position needs to be occupied by an Allied unit at the end of the fifth Assault Phase to be considered captured.
11.32 states that following Allied capture “that Bastion Position is considered part of the Allied movement network for all purposes”.
11.31 implies that if the Allied forces assault a bastion and end the Assault Phase within the walls they will control those Bastion Positions they occupy but not those Bastion Positions they passed through to reach their current position, even if those Bastion Positions are inaccessible to the French.
11.32 could be taken to mean that Allied operational movement is permitted to that Bastion Position even if that Bastion Position is surrounded by French units.
We played that
- a Bastion Position was considered captured if it was occupied by an Allied Unit at the end of the Assault Phase or it was accessible to the Allied Player and not to the French Player
- captured Bastion Positions were only considered part of the Allied movement network where there was a contiguous route of Bastion Positions available for Allied movement back to an Assault Position.
12.0 Tactical Movement
Sections under this rule refer to “infantry units only” being allowed to move during Tactical Movement but 16.13 implies that at least Allied Leaders may also move during this phase.
If Allied Leaders are able to move, should French Leaders be able to move too?
If French Leaders can move, should French Engineers also be allowed to move?
We played that Leaders from both sides could move but Engineers could not.
12.0 Tactical Movement: Procedure
“To move a unit deployed in a Bastion Position, the owning Player moves the unit from the Bastion Position along the lines connecting them up to two Bastion Positions...”
This is inconsistent with
12.32 “A unit may be moved up to three Bastion Positions in one Tactical Movement Segment...”
For reasons mentioned in the general discussion at the end of this posting, we think the two spaces rule should be preferred.
12.25 The reference should be to case 10.14 rather than 10.13.
12.3 Intra-Bastion Movement
Only those units capable of melee combat, that is infantry and French Field Batteries prevent further movement by enemy forces.
13.0 French Field Battery Fire
Remove the parenthesised reference to the Terrain Effects Chart as it is incorrect. The relevant rule is spelled out in the second and third to last paragraphs under Procedure on the following page.
Clarification: Each French Field Gun may only fire once per French Field Battery Fire Segment.
Clarification: We assumed a basic line of sight requirement before a unit could be targeted, as well as no shooting backwards.
14.2 The Melee Combat Results Table
Writing the modifiers listed under 14.2 next to the Melee Combat Results Table will save you considerable cross-referencing.
14.23 Clarification: Whenever an infantry unit is involved in an attack as Attacker or Defender and the Melee Combat Results Table indicates that it is affected, the Morale Effects Table is consulted.
14.24 Clarification: The French Field Battery is only eliminated if it is subject to a result that calls for the Morale Effects Table to be consulted for it.
14.31 Clarification: There are three columns on the Morale Effects Table corresponding to a morale class, not four.
Clarification: The Morale Effects Table is 14.35 not 14.36 as listed on the page of tables.
14.5 Retreat of Infantry Units
14.53 Clarification. This effectively means that a ‘2’ retreat result means retreat 3 steps rather than two but you can end up only 2 spaces from your starting point.
15.0 French Sorties
15.0 Pre-publication Errata clarification: The French player receives 8 rounds of Siege Ammunition per empty Covering Box.
15.1 5 Clarification: For each three squadrons of cavalry or two squadrons of Dragoon Cavalry the Allied Player may screen off (place back in the French Sortie Box) a French unit in the second line (rather than any French units in the second line).
15.1 6 For “French Sortie Table” read “Sortie Table”
16.12 Allies may activate up to 1 German, 1 Dutch and 1 English leader, remembering that the English may only be activated twice per game (11.1).
16.22 Can more than one French leader influence the melee combat die rolls of a unit?
We played that if more than one leader is in range they could all aid the mêlée combat of the unit, with cumulative effect. 16.3 which refers to “Leader (or Leaders)” possibly being injured does not clarify this issue as the reference could be to a Leader from each side involved in the same melee combat.
16.23 For “subtract” read “add”.
16.3 Leader Loss
I would have preferred the rule on potential Leader loss during sorties to be under the 15.0 French Sorties section of the rules.
20.0 Victory Conditions
Remember possible Allied victory through French failure to meet the requirements of 10.6.
Pre-publication Errata addition:
Do Attrition losses count as casualties in determining whether the French victory is triggered?
We played they did.
REMEMBER the pre-publication errata, particularly the incorrect Star Bastions on the map, the additional ammunition under 15.0 and the possible French win through casualty differentials.
I liked the feel of the game: the siegeworks creeping towards the walls, desperate sorties, stout defence of the bastions eventually giving way as the French defenders became too thin on the ground to hold off the Allies any longer, followed by desperate fighting in the breached bastion to prevent access to the Star Bastion positions.
Both sides got interesting roles, as opposed to some other siege games where the defender suffers from very limited opportunities for action. In Lille the French decisions about whether to sortie and how much ammunition to save for the coming assault are faced on most turns. For the Allies they need to get the balance between their covering forces and their trench building forces right otherwise they will get hit hard by sortieing French or won’t have got close enough to the walls to launch a successful assault before time runs out.
The rules as they are written seem to encourage some bizarre effects. The French player is better off leaving his infantry units a number of spaces back from the walls to keep them out of range of the Allied artillery. The French player then leaves his guns undefended on the edge of the walls as these are invulnerable to Allied artillery fire. Unless the Allied player has managed to push the trenches within 100 yards of the walls in a number of places the French player will have time to bring up their troops to man the walls.
As the game goes on all your units tend to end up being A level morale units, as they tend to be preferred replacements over lower morale units. This seemed a little peculiar to me.
The covering forces are un-necessarily fiddly for what you get. Given that the cavalry units never actually move out of the Covering or Foraging boxes, it would save considerable time and effort to just allocate the Allied Player a certain number of cavalry points and let them allocate them as they see fit. The counter mix didn’t seem to impose any serious limitations. I recognise this sacrifices some of the colour of the game but I feel that the compensation in time saved and frustration avoided is worth it.
Similarly there seemed to be considerable fiddling around with the sorties while in practice the Allied would in most cases just screen off the highest morale French troops. The primary meaningful choices for sortieing were how many troops and what leaders to put in the boxes along with, for the French, possibly which box to attack; the rest of the choices are generally pretty mechanical.
While seeing the siegework constructed was satisfying, the process would have been expedited by the inclusion of 200 and 300 yard lines from the bastions. At 200 yards the Allied units can reach the Assault positions on their second turn of movement, you don’t really need a higher level of accuracy. I benefited from my brother misjudging the distance of his trench lines and managed to slaughter half a dozen of his units that were in a trench line that happened to be 190 yards away rather than 201 yards away, but it didn’t feel all that satisfying; perhaps that is part of the reason why I don’t play miniatures where similar issues seem to arise regularly (with inexperienced players at least).
Overall I enjoyed the game and would happily play it again although I want to simply give the Allied player cavalry points, have 200 and 300 yard lines on the map and restrict intra-bastion movement to two spaces to avoid the French hanging back too far from the walls.