Monday, July 20, 2015

Ligny, a CLS AAR

On Saturday July 11 we traveled to Bill Garrett's home in Belvedere IL to play his modified version of Column, Line, & Square (CLS) in a scaled down representation of the Battle of Ligny for the 200th anniversary of the battle. The game is in 25mm, using Minifig Miniatures from Bill's collection. Troops are organized at a 30 to 1 scale. The players were Bill (as Marshal Blucher), Tim King, and Ken Kaergard as the Prussians. Keith Leidy was the Emperor, Bob Pavlik, Mike Zemuda, and myself were the Emperor's minions. 

Above is the Prussian deployment. 

Above shows the start of the French attack.

Above shows the battle being joined on the French left. The Prussians have sent troops across the stream to St. Amand (buildings in the center of the picture). French cavalry is massed to the right of the village. One interesting phenomena was Marshal Blucher commanding more and more of his subordinate's troops as the game progressed.

A close-up of St Amand and the fighting near Ligny. The French Guard has entered the board on the right. The toothpicks are casualty markers. CLS uses the old school "bean counter" technique of counting figures and multiplying the number firing by die rolls, etc. Kill percentages are quite high, as much as 60-70% or more. Some figures fire better than others, so are calculated differently. Melees consist of at least 6 rounds per turn of combat of opposed throws. The difference in pips on each throw is dead points for the loser. It is all very time consuming for a large game like this. Attacking a building in these rules is a losing proposition. Firing at buildings by bringing everything to bear is the best solution.

The French left and center are very active in battle. The French right/Prussian left were fighting defensively, just trading shots for most of the game. One of the interesting discussions during the game was how close can an enemy cavalry unit be for a friendly infantry unit to still be able to form square if charged. The CLS rules say 6." 

The view at the end of the game when time was called. We played a total of 7 turns in about 4 hours of non-stop gaming. The French seemed to have an edge in the center, but the game was still in doubt.

Bill did a lot of work to put on this game and organize the forces, and did a good job scaling the forces down. Unfortunately, the mechanics of CLS can be somewhat tedious for the limited amount of time we had to play and the size of the game. Of course, one can and should use whatever rules they want, especially if they have built their entire collection around a particular set. The way a game plays and looks (the "fun" factor") is very dependent on the rules themselves. There are still quite a few CLS players out there who enjoy the game, one very active group is in Rockford IL.

Other modifications to CLS we used included not using written orders, but instead, verbally first declaring charges & targets, then both sides making simultaneous movement. Artillery sticks were substituted by a system using yard sticks/inches and the number of gunners servicing a gun. 

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