December 3, 2021

Project: Quatre Bras V AAR

Jim Owczarski, 24 November 2021

Life being what it is, I have been away from Project: Quatre Bras.  How long away?  We played this particular rule set back in February PV (pre-vaccines).  I regret this as I think it is not only a fine way to honor the battlefield we have lost, but I have really been enjoying watching how different rule sets approach the same battle.  Our videos are now approaching double-digits, so I definitely have catching up to do.

The Ruleset: Professor Sam Mustafa’s Lasalle 2, a significantly redone version of the first edition. This scenario is in the rulebook.

Can I Still Buy a Copy?:  Yes.

How Many Players?:  Six, but split between two sessions.

How Long Did It Take?:  With rules being taught, a bit over five hours.

How’d It Play?: Spoiling the result, the French won their first major victory, seizing Quatre Bras, but, more importantly, breaking the Allied morale.

The rules deserve to be regarded as “best in class”.  For battalion-level games, their only competitor now, for me, is Shako 2 and I wobble back and forth between them.  While this is not intended to be a rules review, they are some of the best-edited, best-thought-out, and cleanest rules I have ever reviewed and I have read a lot of rules.

The problem, if it be one, is that the author explicitly states that Lasalle 2 is built for small engagements.  This is entirely against the ethos, the elan if you will, of the Napoleonic gamer.  We want to do Wagram, Borodino, Eylau, Austerlitz, and, yes, Waterloo.  Quatre Bras is certainly smaller, and all five of the “big” battles of the Hundred Days are fights in a phone booth compared to these, but they are still well past the size the author intended .  We, of course, did not care, but this led to absurdities like the now-legendary dice fountain for skirmishing — which some folks seem to like — but also momentum totals well past the norm.

To deal with this, Professor Mustafa grabbed a portion, a moment, of the Quatre Bras battle for his scenario.  A number of brigades are cut out and the action zoomed in.  Also, as is his wont, the terrain is simplified.  Rivers cut along the sides of squares and all built-up areas are neat quadrilaterals.  I take second to none in my love of model-railroad-quality terrain (I was never very good at it myself) but my gaming preferences now run to the functional, so the author’s aesthetic and mine mesh.

If there is a concern with Lasalle 2, and it is not an insubstantial one, it is the lack of morale above the battalion level.  Brigades and divisions do not break and lines of units can seem to last longer than one might think they should.  This stands in stark contract to Shako 2’s morale system in which whole divisions, given the right circumstances, can melt away in a turn.

That said, all those who played listed the rules as a favorite and would eagerly have played more.  I, personally, very much want to get back at it using the “Huzzah!” and skirmishing advanced rules which I think are great examples of how Professor Mustafa designs simple, elegant rules that add just a bit of flavor — dare I say chrome — without becoming kludgy.

Score Now:  Allies 2.5, French 1.5, and one draw.

A few images from the game as played:

click images to enlarge

PQB-V-1
Starting positions.

 

PQB-V-2
One imagines these lads are wondering where the rest of the Allies are.

 

PQB-V-3
That smoke effect is really cool, but also needed to help keep track of who has fired and who not.

 

PQB-V-4
The lines close in.

 

PQB-V-5
Preparation for the final attack on Quatre Bras.  Paco provided for scale.

 

PQB-V-6
The final French volley.

 

Video part one

Video part two

 


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