Les Avant-Gardes – 2×2 Napoleonics

I wanted to scratch the itch of playing a Napoleonics game but didn’t really see myself delving into anything research or set-up intensive. My Italy Campaign rules take enough of that so I perused the large stack of rulebooks for some inspiration. Lasalle 2nd Edition grabbed my attention. It comes with a couple of generic scenarios of which I played only the second one so far. The scenario was quite good but the rules were the reason that Lasalle went into the stack of rulebooks again and not on top of it. I think Lasalle warrants another blogpost so lets focus on one of the scenarios for now. Les Avant-Gardes pits the vanguards of two armies against each other across a stream. As simple premise with slight variations in deployment zones and terrain. About one third of the forces arrive as reinforcements. Quite easy to transfer it to other rules like 2×2 Napoleonics.

The first two French divisions arrive from northwest. The Austrian columns march from the east and can make use of the road immediately. The two buildings and the bridge across the streams are each worth one victory point.

After a couple of turns the belligerents aligned along the stream (french at the bottom). The Austrians managed to cross the bridge first but were beaten back in the first combat of the game (red = charge, yellow = rout).

The bridge turns out to be the center of action for several turns. The Austrians manage to hold on to it after their first setback but French reinforcements are on the way. The French also advance their left wing to prevent enemy troops shifting towards the battle in the center. The Austrians are in a good position but the number of disrupted regiments rises and their rallying efforts show no progress. Reinforcements are also still far away, while dust clouds can be seen behind the French, indicating another division closing.

Fighting in the center is still ongoing as both sides feed their reinforcements into the line. The French focus on their center and right flank. They can manage to hold the two objectives there. On their left they still haven’t advanced further as the enemy position on the hill seems too strong.

Meanwhile the Austrians try to rally their many disrupted units while shifting reinforcements to their left to pressure the village across the stream. This is more of a diversion than a concentrated attack.

In the next couple of turns the Austrians manage to rally some units and make a push over the bridge again. Some units are lost but one breaks their enemy and establish themselves amid French infantry. Again the French try to threaten the flanks. This time on their right. They cross the stream but are countercharged by the Austrians with some losses. It looks difficult for the French.

The situation at the end of the game. The Austrians managed to smash their way through the enemy second line and now effectively split the French and secured the bridge. They hold two objectives to the French one. Both sides lost similar amounts of forces so I decided to award no victory point for losses inflicted. Otherwise the French would have eked out a draw by a hairs width. With the situation above an Austrian victory seemed much more appropriate.

Conclusion

The scenario and rules worked well together although the table size was a bit too large for 2×2 Napoleonics. As is usually the case with 2×2 Napoleonics engagements bog down and the movement of reinforcements decides the battle. Here the French tried a bit too much by starting diversions on both flanks and failing to varying degrees on both flanks.This in itself did not affect the victory points at the flanks but the reinforcements needed in the center were not available.

The Austrians managed their flanks a bit better and rallied enough troops to start several attacks in the center. But still, victory was partly due to good combat results at the right place in the right time.

The scenario worked well and has intelligently placed terrain. Both sides can identify and develop their strongpoints but there is enough room for flanking maneuvers if the armies are not too large. I’m interested to play this with another rules set as well.

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