Saturday, November 25, 2023

Battle for St Armand, June 16, 1815, with TtS - Napoleon!

    Today Thomas and Kevin came over and we played a first game of "To the Strongest! - Napoleon". These rules are unofficial variant of To the Strongest! and For King and Parliament both by Simon Miller. As regular readers will know, I am a big fan of both rules sets, which use a gridded table and cards for activations and combat. Robert Tison is the author, and it is still a work in progress. The original is in French, but Robert recently produced a pretty reasonable translation into English. We used his scenario for St Armand 1815, part of the battle of Ligny. All of the files for this game are available from the TTSN facebook group

In set up the table, troops, etc. the day before. The Ligny stream meanders throughout the battlefield. In this sector, there three important villages with stoutly build houses. From the right, these are St Armand, St Armand La Haye, and Wagnelee. 

View from the Prussian side; one raw of boxes on the French side and 2 rows on the Prussian side are not used; the trees simply mark the edge of the table on that side. 

Another view. I used 25/28 mm troops and 8"/200mm square boxes. 

A final view of the battlefield before the troops are set up. 

French forces under General Vandamme  from left to right: 3rd cavalry Division Domon, the 2 brigades of Division Berthezene (the leftmost one has an attached artillery support), the Corps Reserve Heavy Artillery Division is behind them, and then the 2 brigades of Division Lefol; the rightmost has an artillery support. For the infantry and Cavalry, I used the number of stands to indicate the number of VP's (hits) the formation could take. Separate Artillery Divisions have 3 VP, while attaches support artillery lends no VP's.  The French have some reinforcements coming; Girad's 4 VP Infantry Brigade will enter the table opposite the gap between Wagnelee and St Arman La Haye on turn 6, and  Guye's 4 VP Young Guard Division enters opposite the right half of St Armand on Turn  8. 

The Prussians start with all of their troops on the table and can expect no reinforcements. Opposite St Armand (actually, they should have been *in* St. Armand at the start - my error!) are the two brigades of von Jagow's 3rd Brigade, one of 6 VP regulars, and one of 4 VP Landwehr with an attached support battery. On the hills are 2 Medium Artillery Divisions with the Corps commander, von Ziethen. In front of them is the weak 2 VP 4th Hussars, and the two units of  von Steimetz's 1st Brigade share a box opposite St. Armand La Haye; both are 6 VOP with attached support Artillery, but one is composed of Regulars and the other of Landwehr. Finally, off to the right are the 2 units of von Doennersmark's 4th brigade, a 6 VP regular unit with attached artillery support, and a 4 VP Landwehr unit. Finally on the far right there is a weak 2 VV Landwehr cavalry unit. 

French gov first and mange to seize control of St Armand (again, the Prussians should have begun garrisoning it, my error). 

Both sides exchange fire to limited effect on the Prussian phase of Turn 1. 

Combat at St. Armand (each rock marker is a VP loss). We promptly had a number of unanswered questions about the use of "Skirmisher swarms" and thus wound up conveniently ignoring them (and national differences, etc.), for the rest of the game. Not unreasonable for the first time out!

The French Heavy Artillery Division has moved to the Front of the box so that it can commence firing. 

Firing results in slow attrition... until the French Heavy  Artillery Division gets lucky and manages to inflict 2 VP losses on the opposing Prussian Artillery Division. In this scenario, any unit dropping to 1 VP is removed. 

The resultant morale ("Cohesion") tests for units in the same and orthogonal boxes resulted in all the failing and taking a VP loss; this dropped the Hussars to 1 VP and they ignominiously retired from the filed, triggering 2 MORE Cohesion tests; this time, Prussian resolve was much better and they were unmoved by the departure of the Prussian cavalrymen. Thereafter, the  Prussian Landwehr unit opposite St. Armand was charged and brought to 1 VP remaining and thus removed, whilst the Regular unit opposite St Armand was brought suffered 4 VP losses total after several attempts to assaults' St Armand failed; they wisely withdrew to Rally (and avoid being eliminated). By now, Girard's small 4 VP brigade had arrived near Wagnelee, while the Prussian Regular unit occupying it had moved out to take advantage of their attached Artillery support (fires 2 boxes straight ahead where formed infantry fires 1 box straight ahead). 

The Prussian Artillery Division turns to the left to enable flank shooting at the victorious French of Lefol's Division. However, this exposes their flank in turn to fire form the French Heavy Artillery Division! 

Vandamme (Kevin) surveys the battlefield; 3 Prussian units eliminated to no French - la vie est belle!

Von Ziethen (Thomas) orders one of  Steinmetz's units to move to the left to support his weak flank.  

The Prussian Artillery Division, over the course of time shrugs off not one but TWO flank assaults by Lefols's infantry, and many flank shots by the French Artillery, earning them the nickname of "Die Unsterblichen" (The Immortals)! Meanwhile, Lefol's other brigade has moved past the flank of some Prussian regulars. This can be a crapshoot in TTS! style games, because it all who depends who can turn to the flank and when!

\The Prussian regulars turn to their flank first! They are battered, but managed to rally off as many VP loses (hits) as allowed; A 6 VP base unit can't regain losses to a strength over 4 VP, , 3 VP for a 4 VP unit and 2 VP for 3 VP unit. 

Lefol's infantry Brigade also faces to flank. I gave flank fire a bonus card but I didn't see it in the rules afterwards; seems likely an oversight?   meanwhile, the Young Guard have arrived (far right). 

The Prussian Artillery Division pulls forward in order to be able to avoid fire from the French Heavy Artillery, but is now subject to flank fire (and charges) by the infantry instead. The "Immortals" just continue to shrug it all off!

The fighting continues at St Armand La Haye. 

The area around Wagnelee has been relatively quite... so far! 

The combined efforts of the battered Prussian Regulars and the Prussian Artillery Division were finally too much for the men of Lefol's brigade, and they are eliminated; Lefol himself suffers a light wound in the process and rejoins the remaining brigade of his Division. 

That brigade, with both Lefol and Vabndamme himself encouraging them, charges in to the flank of the Prussian Artillery!

4 cards played, and NO HITS!  Mon Dieu! 

The French Heavy Artillery Division with its supporting infantry Brigade moves up to again place Die Unsterblichen in its field of fire once again. 

The Prussian Artillery and infantry face towards the Ligny Stream once again.

Off on the Prussian right, the French Chasseur Division moved forwards and charged the Prussian infantry in the flank, but to little effect. I believe the infantry should have mad e a cohesion test to form square here, but I forgot that. I also presumed that units charged in the flank don't get to play a hit card even if they survive the attack, same as in TTS/FK&P, but couldn't find that stated anywhere. The light cavalry played one of their 2 Elan markers for an extra hit card, for all the good it did them! 

The Young Guard (top right) have passed through St Armand and are facing a battered unit of Prusian Regulars. 

On the far Prussian right, the Landwher cavalry have moved up, with the French Chassuers turning to avoid being taken in flank themselves. So much for their moment of glory! 

"The Immortals" have finally succumbed to the repeated fire by the French Artillery and Lefol's infantry. "En avant, mon enfants!" Vandamme himself leads the Young Guard in its charge upon the battered Prussian regulars. 

The Prussians took a hit from the charge which they failed to save; that brought their losses to 5 VP, and they were removed from play. The Prussian Victory Medal count dropped to zero, and von Ziethen's men must quit the field! Perhaps the Emperor will yet bestow a baton on the skilled but famously disagreeable General Vandamme?!

I had also set up the terrain for the Quatre Bras scenario; as an "encounter battle, almost no troops start the battle on the table. 

Jared was unable to make it at the last moment, so that scenario went unplayed; I might just play it out myself solo in the next month or so. 

LOTS of difficult terrain for this one! Units that are all comprised of Light Infantry ignore the terrain penalties for Activations (only). 

Once again the River and the Woods are merely used to establish the table boundaries. 


  1. Are the rules available other than through FB?

    1. They are free and also in evolution, , so I doubt the author would object to sharing them. Gonsalvo AT aol DOT com

  2. Replies
    1. I'm not sure it's the rules set I would play all the time (Field of Battle/Battle Command retain that spot), but the rules met their objectives pretty well, I thought. We played it out in about 3 hours. Needs clarifications, examples, etc., and still very much a work in progress. Mt biggest interest in the rules would be for NextGen games with kids.

  3. This is an interesting twist to TtS! but why not?

    1. Why not, indeed!
      I have asked a LOT of question of Robert as there are quite a few things that are far from clear. I think I will compiling the answers into a post and/or document, and maybe writing some of the play examples that the rules really need , for Robert's review and perhaps inclusion in the rules or a separate "Examples of Play" document.

  4. Interesting concept and reminds me a little of the way DBA was extended into DBR and then into DBN. I finally finished reading FK&P last week and am looking forward to a game early next year.

    1. The rules bear a lot of similarity to For King and Parliament, from which they are derived even more than To the Strongest!

  5. Interesting to see an "unofficial" Napoleonic version emerging - that's the risk for the author, of course - he might himself intend to do an 18th and then 19th century version of the rules, but in the meantime, enthusiastic fans of the two original sets can do the job for him.
    You certainly hit the nail on the head with this comment - it's one of the few things about TtS I don't really like......" This can be a crapshoot in TTS! style games, because it all depends on who can turn to the flank and when!"

    1. Robert has semi official sanction from Simon to develop these rules, which doesn't mean they will ever BE "official".
      Re: crapshoots - yes but you CASN influence the odds of success in a number of ways., and just because you CAN try such a maneuver, doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD! If you pin the unit frontally, that's a whole different ballgame... and superior tactics!

  6. Interesting game, I seem to recall Simon has been working on a Napoleonic version for some time, I think his blog for that is something like my Spanish ulcer? Looks great and sounds like it played well!
    Best Iain

    1. I checked out the blog; it's pretty much about Simon painting and/or collecting Napoleonic troops, with little or nothing to say about rules!

  7. Just downloaded the rules and gave it a quick read. Looks very promising. At this point, it looks "open ended"...can easily adapt the rules to one's view of the period. I do like the scale of the game to allow for larger battles. Will definitely give it a try


    1. The rules need a LOT of holes filled, but if you read the questions and answers to Robert from this game, I think most of them are now answered. With those clarifications, I think I am going to try out the Quatre Bras scenario soo. After all, I already have it set up on the tabletop! I'm going to see if Robert is interested in collaborating a bit (i.e, letting me do some of the work of expanding/clarifying what he has produced).

    2. Robert just uploaded an English translation of a new version of the rules.

  8. Interesting Peter. The game looked highly stylised, or did I get the wrong impression?
    It will be interesting to read how you went with the Quatre Bras scenario. It's a good battle to use to test rules, I reckon.
    Regards, James

    1. Using a square grid will inevitably cause a certain degree of "stylized". In can handle that just fine. The Quartre Bras scenario is by the author. Still have it on the table; haven't played it out yet.