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Subject: The French hardly getting started - a 200th anniversary replay rss

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Andrew Hobley
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During the Campaign of 1813 Berlin was a key French objective. Marshal Oudinot’s attempt to take this had been foiled at the battle of Grossbeeren. After the French victory at Dresden Napoleon replaced Oudinot with Ney and sent the Army of Berlin to try again, by a more easterly route via Dennewitz. The Allied Commander Bernadotte of Sweden, was convinced the attack would come further west, and had positioned most of the army miles away. So at the start we have two lone Prussian Corps on map hoping for reinforcements. The French have three infantry and one cavalry corps which can enter at one of three locations, A, B or C, so flanking the Allies. Entry at A is automatic, but there is a 1:3 chance of entry at Area B each turn and 1:6 for Area C. As with my other replays of this campaign this was a solo refight, and played 200 years to the day.

Ney decided to send XII Corps and the Cavalry up the Zahna road, to pin the Prussians, and then send the other two Corps up the Seyda road, to try and exit towards Berlin – just off map to the north-east. The French marched at dawn, forcing back the Prussian II Corps from Zahna, but then having the Cavalry Corps retire when III Corps forced marched to the battle [compulsory cavalry advance after combat meant that the French infantry could not occupy the town]. So far so good. But noon saw no sign of the French column to the east. The French drove II Corps out of the Zahna, but the French cavalry were caught and routed [off map and so destroyed – unfortunately Zahna is only three hexes from the map edge so a rout roll of 4+ destroys any retiring French units].

The afternoon saw IV Corps arrive on the Seyda road, but VIII Corps was now delayed. All the Allied reinforcements were arriving as planned, and when the Prussians attacked at Zahna XII Corps broke, ran, and kept running. [off map rout again – goodbye French column one!]. The evening saw the Prussians switching to deal with the French threat to their left; by night they had blocked their advance and were closing in on their French flank. XII Corps rallied and returned to the Zahna road.

Night on day 1 – the French already outnumbered.

September 5 saw the French attack the Prussian III Corps. After a hard struggle, in which both sides threw in their reserves and the Saxon units in VII Corps wavered in their zeal, the French routed; IV Corps not stopping. The Prussians followed up and shortly after noon VII Corps had also left the field. [Two more routs off board]. To the west the advance of XII Corps had been blocked by the Swedes and Russians and then driven back. As evening came on fall the Prussians were ready to fall on the French, when a sandstorm blew up, stopping all combat. The next morning however the Prussians fell on the French, who sold their lives dearly [An exchange result].

Night on day 2– but for a sandstorm there would be no French left.

So no French on the map and both LOCs occupied so they cannot rally any units. But the French morale was one, not zero (the sandstorm allowed them to gain one morale point by still being alive at night) and the rules don’t say stop playing when there is no possibility of any more of one side fighting on. So theoretically the French gain morale from lull turns, and the game ends with one moral point difference between the sides and an Allied Marginal Victory. Even ending with the loss of the last French unit a 6:1 morale superiority is still an Allied Marginal victory. But morally I think I would call this a major Allied victory – the French having been soundly whipped and not got more than four miles towards their objective. Of course the French were unluckily with rout and arrival rolls, and the Allies lucky.

Only one game left to play and it is the big one – Leipzig.
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Lance McMillan
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Andrew H wrote:
...an Allied Marginal victory. But morally I think I would call this a major Allied victory – the French having been soundly whipped and not got more than four miles towards their objective. Of course the French were unluckily with rout and arrival rolls, and the Allies lucky.


More than other games in the series (with the possible exception of Aspern-Essling), 'Dennewitz 20' is prone to this sort of "odd" ending, where the Anti-French side clearly crushes the French but only manages to obtain a marginal (rather than decisive) victory. Rather than create a separate category for these outcomes I chose to let them stand because (in my view) the Anti-French player has failed to accomplish the objective of destroying the French army -- he has allowed the bulk of it to escape (admittedly, off map) by acting too aggressively, forcing the French to abandon their plans. Had the player instead elected to adopt a somewhat more passive strategy and allowed the French to fully enter the trap, the utter destruction of their force would (likely) have been realized. I appreciate this may seem somewhat counter-intuitive ("hey, I eliminated all the French units, why isn't this a decisive victory?") but it's the interpretation of events that I've chosen to impose on the situation to carry forward Joe Miranda's original metric of MORALE being the ultimate determinate of victory in these games. Breaking enemy units is only a means to an end, it's not the primary objective.

Lance McMillan
Developer for VPG's "Napoleonic 20" series
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Andrew Hobley
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Well, that makes sense. Nothing like having the designer's perspective on things. And it does deal with the 'edge of the board' syndrome; routed off = safe and possibly ready to return another day.
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