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Ligny: Return of the Emperor

Last Friday’s club night saw the return of Napoleon from Elba, as I put on a refight of the Battle of Ligny (1815 - Napoleon’s last victory). Coincidentally, Noel had returned from Ireland, and fittingly took command of the French army facing the Prussians.

My card-based game Age of Bonaparte uses a grid. After the first play test at the club in July 2021 - a Battle of Leipzig (1813) refight -, I tweaked the rules somewhat to allow infantry movement and firing on diagonals, command tests to launch a flank attack, and defensive firing for units receiving a melee.

The Ligny game proved to be rambunctious, with Noel in good form, and a lot of banter passing around the wargames table.

After beginning very cautiously with artillery bombardments, the French side (Noel, Phil, Patrick, Jonathan, Kamall) eventually went on the offensive, but could only manage to take two villages held by the Prussians (Brian, Greg, Tim, Rob). Late on, Phil launched a massed cavalry attack which made good headway on the French left, and captured a Prussian general, setting off morale tests. The Prussians held out and so won the game; a result which would have doomed Napoleon's Waterloo campaign in its tracks.

The rules seemed fine, but could always be tweaked further. The key phases of movement, shooting, and melee – enacted in sequence in their entirety by one side followed by the other, Noel suggested, might be interspersed with three initiative rolls: one side moving, then the other, one side firing, then the other, etc. As with any set of rules, feedback always leads to an interesting dialogue, even if changes made fail to satisfy everybody.

Age of Bonaparte is more of a side-hustle as far as my wargaming interests go: an attempt at a portable wargame. Nonetheless, a fun night’s play was had by all.



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