My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Lasalle seems to get it right

I purchased a new set of rules the other night: Lasalle, the first set in Sam Mustafa's HONOUR series. So, why a Napoleonics game? Do I think I am going to make enough Napoleonic wooden soldiers to use these rules? No. Believe it or not, I have a lot of painted 6mm Napoleonic troops sitting around unused. Although it would mean re-basing, as I currently have each base equal to a battalion and the Lasalle rules are petit-tactical (each unit of 4 to 6 bases is a battalion), this is really the level of game I wish to play. Both Polemos and De Bellis Napoleonicis never really cut it for me.

I admit I have not completed reading the rules, much less played even a single game, but these rules look like they got at least one thing right: the turn sequence for an IGO UGO game. The traditional sequence of an IGO UGO game is as follows:

  1. Side A moves
  2. Side A fires
  3. Side B checks morale
  4. Side A and B melees
  5. Side A and B checks morale
  6. Side B moves
  7. Side B fires
  8. Side A checks morale
  9. Side A and B melees
  10. Side A and B checks morale
This sequence produces what Wally Simon of the old PW Review magazine used to call "Gotcha' Gaming". It is called that because the side whose turn it is will gauge whether they have sufficient movement to move in and strike - the "Gotcha'"! If they cannot, they might back off a little to ensure the enemy, in their next turn, doesn't get a chance to play Gotcha' on you. Eventually, someone will have to close in without being able to fire, allowing their opponent to strike first. (Hence the term "Gotcha'!")

People have tried various ways to fix this (as few people really want to go back to written orders and simultaneous movement). One sequence I did was:

  1. Side A moves
  2. Side B fires
  3. etc.
  4. Side B moves
  5. Side A fires
  6. etc.
This was a little more acceptable in that the temporal displacement - the amount of perceived time that passed on one side while the other side was "stuck" in time - was not as bad. By this I mean that if your unit could move 6" and the firing range was 12" you could attack a unit 18" away without any reaction whatsoever from the other side. This sequence cut that lack of reaction by your opponent down to a 6" move.

I have also seen sequences where the melee comes first, before the movement, but never remember a set of rules that pulled the re-sequencing off. I just remember it being "novel". Well, Sam Mustafa, the author of Lasalle, seems to have pulled it off. Here is his sequence:

  1. Side A performs Reactions, including Shooting
  2. Side A defends in Melees
  3. Side A Moves, including Charges
  4. Side B performs Reactions, including Shooting
  5. Side B defends in Melees
  6. Side B Moves, including Charges
So, because firing is first, it is a reaction to your opponent's moving into your range. This makes it like the altered sequence shown above. Temporal displacement is lessened by limiting to just their move. Other reactions include changing formation (such as forming square in reaction to a cavalry charge) and falling back (including breaking contact). It is interesting that this takes away completely the need to have the non-active player (i.e. Side B when it is Side A's turn or vice versa) take actions like you see in other rules. For example, how many rulesets have a "Forming a Hasty Square" rule whereby the non-active player changes to square during the active player's turn? Or a "Evade" rules whereby the non-active player retreats from contact? Or a "Counter-charge" rule? Or firing during your opponent's turn?

By moving the melee resolution to earlier in the sequence, but putting a reaction phase before it, you remove all of those disruptions to a player's turn. Simply move your troops with the intent of where they should be, assuming no reaction from the opponent, then play it out later. If, however, your opponent does wish to react to your move, he does so in his turn, not yours.

That is not to say that they Lasalle rules are completely free of no non-active player actions in the active player's turn; I have found at least one (Cavalry Breakthrough), but at least it is greatly reduced.

As I read more I will probably write more impressions about these rules. These rules promise to have supplements/modules for different periods, but I have no doubt that an AWI module won't be in the making anytime soon. So, I may look to make my own if these rules turn out to warrant merit.


  1. Hey Dale, played Lasalle for the first time a moth ago and had a blast. The sequence does seem counter intuitive...but it has serious drama to it.

    I would be really interesting in a 7YW or a Rebellion era set as well.

    I'm sort of weirded out over the competition aspect, I have visions of the FoW style games with 1000 points of 1810 British facing off with 100 points of 1812 Russians...

    Whatever floats it I suppose. Good analysis, look forward to you investigations.

  2. Interesting that you mention that. I remember a conversation in a Houston game shop about six years ago that went something like "if someone could come up with a Napoleonic version of how Flames of War is packaged, they would have a real winner." Today, I was on the Lasalle forums for the first time and what did I see: conversations about how the British were not competitive, the Russian Grenadiers are a buff "army", and that the Austrians are a "killer army" because of their "organic cavalry".

    Well, it is an interesting idea to make Napoleonics into a tournament-oriented game, but without enforcing a standardized basing scheme, it will never be anything other than a localized tournament, I suspect. Still, it was funny hearing them talk tournaments about Napoleonics.

    I intend to use them for historical, or semi-historical scenarios. And to see what I can do with the AWI. After all, I have all of those figures with 4 and 6 bases per unit... :)


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").