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Subject: To The Last Man - a learning game of Napoleon's Triumph rss

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Christopher
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Here's a quick session report of my second play and my brother's first play of Napoleon's Triumph. (It was his Christmas gift to me.) My brother commanded the Allies as Czar Alexander, and I had the burden of filling Napoleon's shoes. We played the 2 December scenario.

I would like to extend a special thanks those who have contributed some solid tutorials on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=napoleon%27s+tri... and this session report, which I used as a model to my own: http://www.simmonsgames.com/strategy/AusterlitzGame.html

Apologies for the blurry pictures. Curse you Valley Games iPhone!



Czar Alexander: My overall strategy is to feint in the north and attack with the bulk of our forces in the south, near the Schloss. I've heard rumors of French reinforcements lurking in the area, so I need to beware of advancing too quickly.

My remaining forces in the north will cover the advance. To defend key areas of the battlefield I will deploy my artillery and guard units along key approaches.

Napoleon: My plan is to use cavalry, led by Murat and Lannes, in the north to slow and pick apart any advancing allies. If their lines show any weakness infantry led by Bessieres can drop the hammer.

In my center and to the south, I charge St. Hilaire and Legrand with leading my veteran infantry and artillery units.

My remaining artillery is entrenched on the Santon, overlooking the highway.



Czar Alexander: I have started to detach units I intend to use defensively and deploy them to critical approaches. The aggressive nature of the French corps in the north concerns me, but I will give me a chance to draw Napoleon's attention away - at least for the moment - from where I truly intend to strike

Napoleon: Lannes and Murat are advancing toward the Allied lines in the north. Despite any real threat from me, Czar Alexander is detaching units in his center and in the north. With some careful movement, I should be to take the northern flank and chip away at his Corps like a sculpture with a fresh slab.

In my center, St. Hilaire has withdrawn to the west, forcing any allied advances there to wade through the frozen marsh, severely reducing the effectiveness of any potential attack.

Legrand is holding fast in the south, but has seen little enemy movement.



Czar Alexander: My defensive lines have been established, should the French consider counterattacking or attempt to flank my advance in the south. The bulk of my forces in the center and south are holding until the right opportunity. The French line looks inviting along the Satschan.

In the north, I seem to have stirred up a hornets nest.

Napoleon: Murat seems to be annoying the allies in the north, but I have not yet exposed any weakness - just reduced the efficacy of some of the Allied corps.

It appears as if Lannes should be able to turn the northern flank in a turn or two.

As of yet, I have been unable to bait the allies into an attack that exposes their flanks. The day is still young, however, and from my vantage point, the Allies appear very impatient.

St. Hilaire and Legrand continue to hold in the south. The lack of any movement is deeply concerning.



Czar Alexander I have begun my advance on the southern flank. The French seem a little disorganized, and I fear that if I wait much longer, my attack will arrive too late.

In the north I am being forced to extend the battle field, and frequent feints by the French cavalry are stretching my corps integrity very thin. I have tried countering with my own cavalry, but have had little success.

I am increasingly tempted to attack with force and march my army straight down the highway.

Napoleon: The Czar has finally revealed his main attack. My reinforcements are ready, and if he advances too quickly I will be surprise him with a swift and powerful attach from the south.

In the north, Murat has been forced to chase off some ill advised allied cavalry probes. Lannes continues to search for a path around, but his task is becoming increasingly difficult as the allies have become very conscious of his presence.

Bessieres is inching forward, but has not seen an opportune moment to enter the fray. The fixed artillery on Santon also seems to be a significant deterrent.



Czar Alexander: My French counterpart is gravely outnumbered and seems to be lacking an organized defense as I approach in the South with Kie and Dok. They are not equipped with any elite units, but they have many more units, should this be a longer engagement.

The French look anxious to attack in the North, and in some places, I have let them believe they hold the upper hand. My artillery and guard units are on several approaches, waiting for a French misstep.

Napoleon: The allied attack is stretching my defense thin. St. Hilaire has withdrawn from the center, leaving it almost completely open, to defend a three-corps attach on the southern flank. With some careful maneuvering, however, I believe I can ward off the threat.

In the North, the allies look very desperate: most of the Corps have been reduced to on or two units and my cavalry have seen their first success in full fledged battles.



Czar Alexander: I am slowing my advance in the south, hoping to to deter Napoleon from calling up reinforcements. In other words, I am committing to victory in the South.

Napoleon: Lannes is finally on the edge of the Allied flank. They have exhausted their soldiers defending our cavalry charges. Bessieres begins his attack.

St. Hilaire and Legrand appear to be in trouble. My initial deployment mistake (not setting up my artillery sooner) has cost us valuable time and command attention. I am still contemplating calling Devout and Bernadotte forward. However, I am reluctant to commit any reinforcements until the allies are fully engaged.



Czar Alexander: After a healthy exchange of fire in the South, the French were forced to withdraw losing some artillery and infantry in the retreat. Now, I can almost advance north freely.

In the north, my trap is set - my guard will attack an unsuspecting french advance.

Napoleon doesn't know it yet, but I can almost put a check in the win column.

Napoleon: My south is giving a lot, but victory is not out of reach if St. Hilaire and Legrand can survive.

Vandamme, who I nearly forgot is preparing to push south; hopefully he can capture strategic locations in the south center, forcing the allies to sacrifice their gains against St. Hilaire.

I don't have enough time to make the most use of reinforcements, so my guard units will be unable to join the fight.

On a positive note, Bessieres, Lannes, and Murat are making significant gains in the north. Murat is splitting the Allied line, Lannes is in the Allied rear, and Bessieres is about to force a significant portion of the remaining Austrian troops to retreat.



Czar Alexander: Woe is me! The Russians were unable to make sufficient advances in the south, and my guard attack failed. Troop morale dropped significantly and our lines are wavering. It will take an act of God to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat now.

Napoleon: En garde! With a few more pointed attacks, the Allies will flee the field. Pursuing the Allies is a little harder than I expected because of the defensive positions Czar Alexander took at the onset.



Czar Alexander: One last push in the south has leveled the field, but I fear it is too little, too late. I was able to out maneuver the French defense in the south, delivering a crushing blow.

If my units in the north and center can hold, victory will be ours.

Napoleon: St. Hilaire and Legrande were outflanked in the south - both corps were enveloped and destroyed.

Vandamme, however, was able to deliver the final, crushing blow to Allied center, securing a morale victory for the French just before dusk.
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Joe Kong
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Good session report.

"To the last man", I think I shall read a report on the western front in WWI. meeple

 
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falafel007 wrote:
Here's a quick session report of my second play and my brother's first play of Napoleon's Triumph. (It was his Christmas gift to me.)

Best brother in the world!
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Jan Ozimek
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Nice narrative.

I realize this was a learning game, but allow me to ask some strategy questions. Thinking about them might be useful.

I wonder, how did the many Allied, defensive detachments work for them? I would imagine it a disadvantage due to loss of flexibility. You do realize that when one or more units are deployed in the defence approach, units from reserve cannot be declared as defending units?

Also, you mentioned using guards as defensive units. This is generally undesirable, as they are no better than regular 3-strength units on defence. Actually the only advantage they have, is the ability to make guard attacks. Perhaps they were intended as counter-attacking shock troops?

I got the impression that there were many bloody cavalry battles in the north. One-unit skirmishes typically favour the French as they win tie-beakers. Could you please elaborate a bit more on that area?

Looking at the pictures, I was rather impressed with the orderly manner of the Allied advance. I have never seen such a beautiful line in any of my games. Afterwards, did you get the impression, that advancing had taken too long? Personally, I probably tend to rush my Allied advanced a bit too much leading to a more disorganized and open line. I will try to remember this the next time I play the Allies. Timing the main assault is a key (but often overlooked) point in the Allies plan.
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Christopher
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WalterLai wrote:
falafel007 wrote:
Here's a quick session report of my second play and my brother's first play of Napoleon's Triumph. (It was his Christmas gift to me.)

Best brother in the world!


Yes, 100% accurate!
 
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Christopher
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ozimek wrote:
Nice narrative.

I wonder, how did the many Allied, defensive detachments work for them? I would imagine it a disadvantage due to loss of flexibility. You do realize that when one or more units are deployed in the defence approach, units from reserve cannot be declared as defending units?

Also, you mentioned using guards as defensive units. This is generally undesirable, as they are no better than regular 3-strength units on defence. Actually the only advantage they have, is the ability to make guard attacks. Perhaps they were intended as counter-attacking shock troops?


My brother, playing as the Allies, expressed frustration over his lack of command several times during the game. Initially, he detached several units in an attempt to have some increased mobility, but I warned him against it.

In the end, he only voluntarily detached about 6 units - the rest became detached during cavalry feints.

I should have been more clear about the posturing of his guards and detached units. His intent was to prime those units on approaches blocking critical points on the battle field (i.e. central roads and stars). With his artillery and guards on the approach, he was able to attack French troops immediately after the moved into the targeted position.

As the French player, I was easily able to deduce that he intended to use his artillery coupled with a second attack over that same approach if I entered those positions. It was a substantial deterrent and slowed my attack to the point where I did not capture any Allied stars.

I didn't realize he had paired his artillery with guards until he surprised me during my advance near the end of the game. When I moved Bessiers into position, he launched his attack with the "defensive" guard units - essentially yes, counter-attack shock troops. I was lucky enough to have sufficient unit strenght to win the battle with a counter attack, as he could have easily won the game had he won that battle.

Quote:
I got the impression that there were many bloody cavalry battles in the north. One-unit skirmishes typically favour the French as they win tie-beakers. Could you please elaborate a bit more on that area?


I used the cavalry to "thin" the Allies in the North. The hope was to draw only one or two units onto the approach and then follow with a larger attack.

In actuality, there were only a handful of battles in the North, and none were corps-shattering. In most cases the French cavalry would feint and the take the position in the reserve. If the Allies attacked, the cavalry would retreat and repeat the same process the following turn. (Keep in mind that every French cavalry block was attached to Lannes or Murat.) If the Allies did not attack, cavalry would try to envelope the blocks on their front. Most allied losses in the North were consequences of retreating, encirclement, or poorly timed attacks.

Quote:
Looking at the pictures, I was rather impressed with the orderly manner of the Allied advance. I have never seen such a beautiful line in any of my games. Afterwards, did you get the impression, that advancing had taken too long? Personally, I probably tend to rush my Allied advanced a bit too much leading to a more disorganized and open line. I will try to remember this the next time I play the Allies. Timing the main assault is a key (but often overlooked) point in the Allies plan.


The Allies had an orderly attack because their attacking corps were allowed to advance unharrassed. Their timing too, was perfect. Had they advanced faster, I would have been able to bring up my reinforcements with confidence. Slower, and I might have been able to mount a greater defense.

I still don't know how to best defend the southern French flank. I am unsure about moving forward - the positions east of the Schloss seem vulnerable, but sitting back exposes Legrand's stars.
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Sebastian
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As Czar Alexander in this situation, I had three initial thoughts on my attack against Napoleon. First, detach my weaker units for feints against his northern troops. Second, set up a defensive perimeter to guard against any attack against Napoleon's advance into the north. Finally, I hoped to remove the stationary artillery he had positioned on top of the Hill of Salome (Please excuse my spelling/possible incorrect name as I don't recall the hill's name).

My initial thoughts regarding detaching my weaker units did not result in an immediate failure but proved to be one of the contributors to my failure as one of my detachments upon the approach lost to an assault by Murat's Cavalry paired with Vandamme to force me to withdraw taking significant step losses (Though, through a human error, should have been more). Detaching my forces did hinder my movement a lot, but at the same time I believed (And still believe) that detaching the lower cavalry (1 strengths and possible 1-2 2 strength cavalry) from the main corp to feint an opponent is really useful. In addition, detaching the artillery (While it was obvious it was artillery) allowed my defensive line to form very nicely since Napoleon was definitely hesitant to proceed through them.

I do agree that keeping Guard units back to help defend these positions was useless and had they been used in my assault in the south may have proven more useful. Ultimately I can with out a doubt say my biggest failure was using them when I did. This caused me to go down to a single morale point.

Finally I can say without a doubt that attacking the hill with the artillery was a waste. To secure a victory I should have created a better defensively line curling around the edge of the hill towards lake. Had I done this and not attacked with my guard units I believe my victory would have been secure.

In summery:
Detaching Artillery for defensive positioning = useful against a careful opponent

Not using guard infantry in my assault = bad idea

Detaching many weak and not very maneuverable units = not a good idea

Slowly maneuvering to cut off the retreat of a French army and ending it in one quick stroke = priceless (Also viciously satisfying)



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Santon: enemy fortresses are only as important as you think they are.

Defense of Sokolnitz-Telnitz: a reasonable thing to do is split up along the approaches. So much of NT's strategy is hinged on the decision to detach or not, spliting up during setup means you lose flexibility. But since French player deploys last, the option is there.
 
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Jan Ozimek
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Thanks for elaborating on your thoughts, both of you. You seem to have a better grasp on the rules & strategy than I initially suspected. (Not that I'm an expert by any means).

Quote:
Detaching my forces did hinder my movement a lot, but at the same time I believed (And still believe) that detaching the lower cavalry (1 strengths and possible 1-2 2 strength cavalry) from the main corp to feint an opponent is really useful. In addition, detaching the artillery (While it was obvious it was artillery) allowed my defensive line to form very nicely since Napoleon was definitely hesitant to proceed through them.

Certainly detaching cavalry is necessary, even if for no other reason than to counter the opponent's cavalry screen

I was wondering more about the "double" detachments on the approaches where the corps were stationary in the reserve area of the same locale. I would probably have preferred to move the entire corps into the approach.
1) It only takes one order
2) You can quickly move the entire corps forward. Hence it poses a bigger threat.
3) You defend with more units. While this will not give you a better tiebreaker (as the defender already wins tiebreakers for being in the approach) it will give you more flexibility in choosing leading units. Also it will improve your counter attack capability.

The only reason to split up the corps prematurely by detaching units defensively to the approach would be to retain the remaining corps' ability to move "sideways" or backwards quickly. ...or am I missing something?
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Joe Kong
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falafel007 wrote:
In actuality, there were only a handful of battles in the North, and none were corps-shattering. In most cases the French cavalry would feint and the take the position in the reserve. If the Allies attacked, the cavalry would retreat and repeat the same process the following turn. (Keep in mind that every French cavalry block was attached to Lannes or Murat.) If the Allies did not attack, cavalry would try to envelope the blocks on their front. Most allied losses in the North were consequences of retreating, encirclement, or poorly timed attacks.


Every cavalry block was attached to Lannes or Murat's corps. Didn't the cavalry corps shatter on retreating?

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Christopher
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joekong_hk wrote:

Every cavalry block was attached to Lannes or Murat's corps. Didn't the cavalry corps shatter on retreating?


Yes, they should have, but we missed that rule. For some reason I thought units retreating before combat remained intact. Thanks for point this out.

For Lannes, I don't think this would have made a huge difference, but for Murat, his corps integrity and eventual push in the center made a significant difference in the game.
 
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Christopher
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Quote:
The only reason to split up the corps prematurely by detaching units defensively to the approach would be to retain the remaining corps' ability to move "sideways" or backwards quickly. ...or am I missing something?


In principle I agree with you. Keep your corps together allows for greater flexibility and ease of movement. It also gives you more defensive choices.

In this case though, I think the allies gained a slight advantage by preemptively placing those units on the approaches. The ability to attack across the same approach following an artillery "bombardment" meant that my brother could attack once with artillery and follow with a guard attack when I moved into positions in his front.

Our understanding was that if you attacked with a corps using artillery, no units from that corps could be involved in the second attack over the approach because they had previously been named attacking units. Ergo, potentially an advantage for having detached artillery and powerful infantry on an approach. (Of course, in retrospect, it might have been better to have the artillery an entire corps on the approach.

This disadvantage of having the entire corps on the approach, though, was that one might not have units to defend against cavalry feints on the flanks.

This was a learning game, and I just realized we made some significant mistakes. So, if you see that I am misinterpreting the rules, please let me know. (The rule book appears short, but by being so concise, Simmons made every word very important.)
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Christopher
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WalterLai wrote:
Santon: enemy fortresses are only as important as you think they are.

Defense of Sokolnitz-Telnitz: a reasonable thing to do is split up along the approaches. So much of NT's strategy is hinged on the decision to detach or not, spliting up during setup means you lose flexibility. But since French player deploys last, the option is there.


Thanks! I'll keep this in mind next time I play. (Hopefully soon)
 
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A very suspenseful and inspiring report in many respects!

I can only follow along the same lines and comment on the very unusual and interesting Allied idea to detach units in the north and centre onto approaches: interestingly this made me recall Russian redoubts in Borodino so your decision to commit early onto the approaches, if perhaps not proving as efficient as you may have thought in game terms, was not unhistorical

Besides, it is not always THAT obvious that units on approaches are artillery and a good bluffer can make his opponent believe almost anything. Had I played as Napoleon I would have been quite baffled by Alexander's decision.

Alexander was only inches away from succeeding in the Allied initial plan to commit South and hook the French ! when I see those 4 Allied corps so far away west from the Goldbach I stand somewhat aghast!...

However I do not understand how the Allied player could have detached 3 independent units from Bagration as early as the set-up since nothing in the rules authorizes the Allies to do so. But perhaps this was overlooked (?)

A very great French heavy cav finish in any case and thumbs up for the prone position of the Allied player! lying on the floor was indeed Napoleon's favourite position while studying maps...
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Jan Ozimek
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falafel007 wrote:

Our understanding was that if you attacked with a corps using artillery, no units from that corps could be involved in the second attack over the approach because they had previously been named attacking units. Ergo, potentially an advantage for having detached artillery and powerful infantry on an approach. (Of course, in retrospect, it might have been better to have the artillery an entire corps on the approach.

It would take three commands to:
1) move the entire corps to the approach
2) Make an attack with artillery as the leading unit (Detach or independent command on the artillery)
3) Attack with the remaining corps.

Of course you can't do all three points in the same turn; hence the need to pre-emptively move into the approach. To do 2) and 3) in the same turn, you would have to use an independent command for 2) and detach the artillery.

Note that strictly speaking the above is not the whole procedure, but just the essence of how it typically plays out. I.e. you can position the (still joined) corps in the approach, and safely wait for the enemy to show up. As you noted that will of course limit the corps' ability to react to threats to the other approaches in it's locate.
 
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Joakim Pihlstrand-Trulp
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falafel007 wrote:
Our understanding was that if you attacked with a corps using artillery, no units from that corps could be involved in the second attack over the approach because they had previously been named attacking units. Ergo, potentially an advantage for having detached artillery and powerful infantry on an approach. (Of course, in retrospect, it might have been better to have the artillery an entire corps on the approach.

I guess it's to be called a misunderstanding:

"A Corps Move attack cannot be led by artillery." (p. 6)

The only way artillery can attack is with Unit Move or Detach Move. If you want a follow up attack with the same Corps, Unit Move is the way, with the Corps or part of it thundering in afterwards.
 
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