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Subject: Leipzig – 200 years anniversary replay rss

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Andrew Hobley
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So the battles of Grossbeeren and Dennewitz failed to take Berlin, Katzbach saw a French defeat, the victory at Dresden was overshadowed by the defeat at Kulm. And so I finally arrive at the end of my odyssey of refighting the German Campaign of 1813 using the Napoleon 20 games and on the 200th anniversaries of each battle. Leipzig is the big one - largest battle ever fought before August 1914, distinctly more than 20 counters per side and as Lance McMillan, the designer has said, it does not really fit the Napoleon 20 brief. But it had to be done to finish off the 1813 series, and I am grateful that Lance did it.

I played the campaign game, starting 14 October with Napoleon gathering his forces around Leipzig, while various Allied armies try to get there first. It is a classic central position battle – Napoleon has the chance to defeat one of his enemies by concentrating on them, as long as he is given the opportunity to do so. And time is not on his side. The game includes rules for leaders. Having finally got the hang of the basic rules for the series and reread the special rules for Leipzig four times (just to make sure) I decide not to confuse myself by using these as well. As with the other games in this series of replays it was a solo effort.

14 October 1813 dawned with the Advance Guard of the Army of Bohemia facing the French forces to the south of Leipzig. The Allies immediately went for an aggressive attack, a combined force of Russians, Austrians and Prussians attacking V Corps in Libertwolkwitz – and breaking the French unit. The French responded by forming a line from Mölkau to Wachau. Their moral was reduced further by hearing that the Army of Silesia had overrun the French rearguard [random event]. In the afternoon the Allied line attacked, led by the enthusiastic Prussians [another random event +1 to combat strength]. The II and IX French Corps were routed back to the outskirts of Leipzig, the Russian Cavalry were also driven back and the encircled Poniatowski’s VIII Corps [the French Cadre unit] was broken. French morale collapsed and as night came on they fled over the Elbe as the Allied poured into the city.

Day one, and the French are one die roll from defeat.

Oh, game over, French morale at zero and a decisive Allied victory in three game turns! That took less time to play than setting the game up. However I can reset time, so I redrew the French random event for turn 1 – a no effect - so saving one Morale Point, and went back to the position at the end of turn three. Both sides reformed their lies – and in the evening the Allied attack again reduced French moral to zero, and it was game over again.

So another reset, and an excellent random event for turn 5 – Thunderstorms, giving reduced movement and combat and the Allies an excuse to call off their attack and pull back. The rain also delayed all sides more distant reinforcements [a nice combination of two random events draw one after another]. Night saw the French so demoralised they did not move, while the Army of Silesia pushed on [two more random events – if the French had moved they would have had to have lost a morale point and the game].

During the early part of 15 October as French reinforcements arrived the Allies pulled back. The afternoon saw the Army of Bohemia arriving to the south and that of Silesia to the north. The French attacked the Prussians at the centre of the Allied line; in a hard contest both they and the French VI Corps were broken. The Russian II Corps attacked French II Corps in north of Dölitz, but were driven back and broke as they tried to retreat across the bridge. The Austrian’s threw IX Corps back in the French centre, but to the north the Guard cavalry routed the Russian cavalry. Early evening saw the Army of Bohemia force marching in a thunderstorm. French II Corps and Austrian V fought each other to destruction, the Russians and French at Meusdorf struggled over the remains of the village and the Imperial Guard Cavalry fell back before the Prussians.

At nightfall the French pulled back; their line south of Leipzig around Meusdorf looked decidedly thin.

Evening on Day 2 – the Armies gather

During the night II French Corps rallied and XI Corps, whose arrival was already delayed by Napoleon’s early involvement in dealing with the Allied attack was further delayed by Prussian Freicorps. Both sides morale was holding up well.

The 16th would be the crucial day. Could the French hold, or even defeat the Army of Bohemia, before the Army of Silesia swarmed down from the north? II Corps had been diverted to hold the western end of the bridge over the Elbe from the Austrian attack from that bank.

The Army of Bohemia prepared to attack at dawn all along the line. French IX Corps was forced to withdraw from Meusdorf, V Cavalry counterattacked the Russians, but were forced to withdraw. The Prussians and Guard Cavalry held each other, as did the Austrians and the IV Cavalry Corps in Dölitz .The key contest was at Wachau, where the Guards of both sides engaged each other, in the case of the Allies with artillery support. In a vicious no holds barred contest both sides ground the other down, and left the field shattered [Exchange result].

The Allied attack before and after combat

The Guard Cavalry failed to extricate itself successfully and the artillery of both sides blasted each other to extinction. The French were reduced to one infantry and two cavalry Corps. And the Army of Bohemia gradually forced back the outnumbered French to the outskirts of Leipzig.

To the north the Army of Silesia threw itself at the French. After a struggle the Young Guard were bundled from Möckern back over the river. The Russians crossed the river at Wiederitzsch as the French units fell back towards Leipzig. The Young Guard switched to the south as II Corps came back over the Elbe to try and hold the city, but were routed back to the City, breaking as they went. V French and Langeron’s Corps fought each other to the death at Eutrizsch, but there were two more Russian Corps to make up the Allied losses and the Prussians attacked across the river at at Gohlis routing III Corps. The French line was becoming a long thin one along the main road, with enemy closing in on both sides.

Afternoon on Day 3 – the French flanks collapse

Napoleon decided it was time to withdraw, abandoning V Cavalry Corps, XI Saxon Corps and the cadre unit which were not close enough to Leipzig. II and IX Corps crossed the Elbe, driving back the Austrians; II Corps made up the rearguard. The Prussian I Corps drove into the City and attacking II Corps across the Elbe bridge routed it. That was enough to break the French morale ending the battle and the campaign in a Major Allied Victory.

In my excitement I had failed to notice that the French could blow the Elbe bridge at any time. But even had they done so the isolated French units on the Allied side would have been hunted down and destroyed, giving the morale point reduction needed for Allied victory.

So that is it. A late summer and autumn spent with Napoleon 20, and very enjoyable as well. Writing this up (just after Christmas) I want to go back and get all the games out again. Some final observations. The smaller games are very luck dependent, especially when, as with Grossbeeren, there is one major battle which turns on two die rolls – had the Allied rolled two one’s the result would have been very different. In the larger battles the French units are individually stronger, but numerically fewer. This allows the Allies to swarm round the flanks, so a French attack at 0 or +1 is unlikely to destroy the Allies, but an Allied attack may result in a hazardous retreat for the French and a chance to destroy the unit. And Exchange results do not favour the numerically weaker side.

But some of this may be down to the way I play, and not playing the games a great deal. These games are FUN and I shall certainly be coming back to them, and at some point will run through the Napoleon 20 British-French clashes, the Russian campaign and the 1806/09 battles. But now, as the Allies close on the frontiers of France and the Campaign of 1814 is about to open – any suggestions what games I buy to refight those battles on or close to the anniversaries?
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David McKenna
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Quote:
But now, as the Allies close on the frontiers of France and the Campaign of 1814 is about to open – any suggestions what games I buy to refight those battles on or close to the anniversaries?


You know, I don't think there is (yet) a single Nappy 20 game for a battle that took place in 1814! Still, I suppose you could always go for the a-historical Albion 20 ... ?
 
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Lance McMillan
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We're planning to eventually do games on several of the more notable 1814 battles, and Kim Meints has completed and turned in designs for them, but we haven't developed (let alone published) any of them yet. The problem is that the Nappy20 development & playtesting team can get about four to five games ready over the course of a year, but VPG's production scehdule is so backed up already that only one or two get released: there are currently five completed titles ready to go (Hanau, Bailen, Slobozia, Rousse, and 2nd edition Jena), and another one (Eylau) very close to being ready, but I'm guessing that unless the GMT 'Rising Glory' P500 project hits its target only one (possibly two) will hit the shelves in 2014.
 
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Andrew Hobley
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Hi, Ho, I shall just have to read my Pertie and hope that OSG's offering La Patrie en Danger comes out on time. At least we are all well catered for in 2015 - I'll justs have to take the 16-18 June as leave!
 
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