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Napoleon at Bay: Defend the Gates of Paris, 1814» Forums » Sessions

Subject: The January 28th start situation rss

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Jason Cawley
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I am playing through the 28 January start using the 1983 Avalon Hill edition, in paper not Vassal, solo. I am using Daudin's "light" variant system for combat but without many of his other rules, and I am also skipping all the dummy hidden movement aspect, vedette detachments, and similar complications. The intent is a pure initiative movement operational game with somewhat more realistic combat than the original.

Since the AH 1983 edition doesn't even have artillery as a force type, I've house ruled the following. Each infantry unit present at a combat that has 4 or more SPs contributes 1 artillery strength point. I am also ignoring Daudin's "stake heavy cavalry" idea, treating it as always committed in any Battle as opposed to Skirmish, and allow a Guard commitment only for the French Old Guard (Mortier's 2 infantry divisions, not the cavalry). Also, in the combat procedure itself I dispense with the "die roll" for odd differentials and instead round up in favor of the side with the quality differential.

That's it for rules, now on to a few administrative pointers when setting up the game. You don't need to do this but I strongly recommend this order of operations if you are new to the system and the situations.

Start by putting all the commanders on the force displays opposite their units. Then go through the unit charts and assign all the units and their strengths in the starting situation, here 28 January. This let's you see and understand the force each commander has *before* you put them onto the map. Now place commanders on the map by army, French first, then Blucher's Army of Silesia, and last Schwartzenburg's Army of Bohemia.

Thing to notice right away as you do this. Napoleon has central positioning at the start, with 21 SPs with his formation of himself, Ney and Grouchy, and that force is 10 infantry, 9 cavalry, and 2 artillery with the above house rule. Two French corps start east and northeast of him under Marmont and Victor, with 10 SPs each. Gerard with the Paris Reserve corps is to his NW and initially a bit out of position, but able to reach the northern outskirts of Blucher's position in one full move. Mortier with the Old Guard and 11 SP is on the far side of Blucher, between him and Paris. A few major generals with 7 SP are in the far SW and MacDonald with a subordinate is in the far NE with 9 SP, both far detached positions. There is also a static garrison in Paris but it isn't likely to figure in the fighting, and the French center of operations is in a somewhat vulnerable position roughly half way between the center of mass of Napoleon's army and Paris.

Somewhat vulnerable because Blucher's army is SW of Napoleon, closer to Paris than he is, with only Mortier in front of him and able in principle to skirt Mortier to the south, on the road to Paris. Schwartzenburg's army is SE of Blucher and not quite is supporting distance, and has two corps out toward him and a stacked pair of corps heading north instead, from the commander's position in the far SE corner of the map. The Bohemia army is all led by not very capable 2 initiative corp commanders, which the better Austrian leader (3 initiative, 1 command bonus point) currently without troops and just ready to move to either of his wings. Last, Blucher has 2 Prussian corps of 18 SP total NE of the French and separated from his main army, and from each other, with Marmont at the point where they would need to join.

The critical area though is right around Blucher. He has only 6 SP with him and the Silesia center of operations, and a weak 2 SP cavalry brigade just north of him. A stronger corps under Osten-Sacken with 15 SP is 3 hexes west of Blucher. There are thus 23 SP in Blucher's immediate vicinity, while Napoleon has 21 SPs with his own force and that much again in support distance (Marmont and Gerard), giving him a great preponderance vs Blucher even if Blucher can successfully concentrate.

There are 29 SP in 2 Bohemian corps south of Blucher, enough to turn the strength edge back to his favor, but they are unlikely to successfully coordinate with him in time. One of them can however threaten a westward march toward the Seine crossing at Troyes, unless Mortier force marches in front of them. This would be risky if Blucher loses, however.

It is therefore imperative for Napoleon to deal a solid blow to Blucher and the army of Silesia as soon as possible, and on the other side of the hill, imperative for Blucher to concentrate on his center of operations to avoid losing it (meaning, suffering forced displacement of it) to such a blow.

A last important consideration is that the Coalition has a couple of Cossack cavalry brigades active in the French rear, one appearing on the map in their turn 1 and another along the south edge on turn 2. These light cavalry units have 9 MPs meaning they can move 18 hexes by road, with the 4 initiative of a generic cavalry major general commander. They are a serious threat to the French center of operations from turn 2 onward.
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Now to discuss the sequence of play, reflect on openers, and explain a few game procedures that some players are clearly uncertain about given what I see on video reviews and questions on the forum.

The normal sequence has the French turn start, and they'd roll for new admin points and then issue their movement commands, trying to move any forces by initiative after that. Then before combat, the Allies would get to attempt force marches to get additional forces to battle or to deny combat by retreating away and the like. This all clearly matters for Blucher and the Army of Silesia's center of operations in Brienne.

But first there is a special pre game second player forced march phase on the first turn of the game, only. This effectively gives the Allies a chance to "see Napoleon coming" and adjust their starting positions from the historical ones. However, the rule (given in the scenario book by the way) specifies that the max MPs used in this phase are 1/2 the separate of the nearest rival forces on the map, and at the start this is 1.5 MPs because in several places there are rivals 3 hexes apart along primary roads. Half of that is only 1 MP. So the Allies can contemplate trying to move any of their forces 1 MP by forced march, if they so choose.

The only downside to such attempts is possible march attrition, so now is a good time to go over the march attrition procedure and see what it says here. First look at the attrition quotient matrix in the tables - this will be used to find an expected rate of attrition for a given movement, not to resolve it down to actual march losses. Once the quotient or expectation rate is found on this table, it is used on the march attrition table below it, cross indexed with a die roll and the weather. The first turn the weather is rain so the worse of the two of those will be used.

First though the quotient matrix. We are considering only allied force marches of 1 MP, to the top line, third column from the right applies. The starting administration points accumulated for the Army of Silesia are 8, in the 7-10 band. Reading down we see this means the first 1/8 quotient only appears for a force size of 16-20 SPs. For anything smaller, a forced march of just 1 MP in this army has no possible losses. There aren't any forces that large on the map in the Army of Silesia, so any of the forces in that army that pass their initiative roll to move their 1 MP per game forced march will not suffer any attrition.

Now let's look at the Army of Bohemia. It has only 4 APs accumulated, so it is using the 4-6 column. We see for 16-20 that is 3/8 and for 11-15 is is 1/8. There are several forces of the latter size. Looking down at the 1/8 leftmost column on the march attrition table we see that means only 1 SP lost on a die roll of "6", in this lousy weather. (Note that only "freeze" uses the right column, all others use mud/snow. It is a matter of whether the roads are hard surface or still quagmires). Anything under 10 SPs has no risk. If Wrede and Friedmont tried to move together - 24 SPs - they'd have loss quotient 1 with serious risk, not worth trying.

So the attrition mechanics review tells us that Blucher's forces can each try to move 1 MP without risk, Schwartzenberg's corps can each try the same at a 1/6 risk of -1SP only if the succeed in moving, but Wrede plus Friedmont should split if they move, not try to both move over the same road space together. It is important to "scout" the mechanics like this to understand what they mean, instead of just plowing ahead trying to do stuff and applying them to find out.

Here, the most important thing is that Osten-Sacken with his attachments wants to try to get back adjacent to Blucher. His initiative is only a "2" so he needs a 1-2 to back up 2 hexes along the road to Blucher's side of the river, but nothing bad will happen to him, succeed or fail, so it is definitely worth the attempt. Note that his command span lets him bring along his subordinates in one attempt, so there is only one roll. It is "1" and he succeeds, moving to hex 1944.

Next cavalry major general 2, controlling Pahlen and his 4 SP cavalry, can try to get back to Blucher's own hex. His initiative is 4 since he is pure cavalry, and he rolls another "1" and succeeds. Pahlen still under the cavalry general stack with Blucher in hex 2044.

In the NE, Yorck has 10 SPs and can't lose anything, and has initiative 2. He would like to move a bit west along the road toward Marmont to pressure that spot should the French pull out to support Napoleon's attack on Blucher. He rolls 4 and fails, staying put but with no ill effects. That is all the Army of Silesia wants to do in its forced march phase.

The Bohemians decide that their present positions are fine, since they want to see what happens before pressing west toward Paris or recoiling toward their commander and communications in the SE corner.

That concludes the Allied pre game forced march phase. The next post will cover the start of the French turn and the considerations they run through as they decide what to do.
 
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Start of the actual French turn, they roll for new administrative points because their center of operations is active. The center is within 20 MPs of the supply source in Paris so they roll on the rightmost available column for the date, with is the 3rd from the right overall. The 2d6 are an 8 so their gain 3 APs, putting them at 14.

Now let's look back at the attrition quotient chart and notice some things about the French situation. The regular French march row is the best on the table. With 11 APs accumulated that is also the best on the table. Notice the 6-9 entry, which requires 2 movement commands for one force but allows very long marches. That has no chance of attrition for a force of 10 SPs or less, and only 1/6 chance of 1 SP lost for 11-15 SPs. The normal marches of 5 MPs have no attrition for forces up to 16-20 SPs and a very tolerable 1/6 chance of 1 SP lost for 21-30 SPs.

As long as the AP situation is good and the center of ops active, therefore, the smaller French corps - which generally have 10 SPs or slightly less - can march continually without any losses, even rapidly so if APs are spent to push them along. Napoleon can command a concentrated force of up to 30 SPs with little chance of attrition provided he sticks to normal 5 MP per phase movement. Notice, though, that on a forced march (the enemy turn) it is 15 SPs that is a safe figure for him.

This shows a key mechanic of the whole game, that armies need to break down into corps of 10 or 15 SPs in order to march without ruinous attrition. And that keeping a horde of 11 APs will keep that attrition down, as will limiting forced marches on the other player's turn to 3 MPs, and long 2 AP marches of 9 MPs to forces modest in size.

One other key thing is that Mortier with the Old Guard simply doesn't suffer march attrition regardless, the Old Guard don't count against force size for attrition purposes. It still takes 2 movement commands to move them 9 MPs, though, and they need an active center of operations and to be within dispatch distance of it to make those long marches.

Other things to understand are that French morale starts at 0 in this fight, and then have to drop 1 row on the attrition table if that falls to -1 or below. It moves up or down whenever Napoleon fights, climbing if he wins with the enemy losing at least 2 more SPs than his force does, and falling if he doesn't. This means losing a battle with Napoleon, spending APs down to the 7 level, or pushing for longer marches all raise attrition unless individual forces are kept small. With 7 APs and -1 or worse morale, an ordinary French 5 MP march is safe with 10 SPs and livable with 15. But the longer marches are out of reach for those corps - only 7 SPs could march with a livable 1/8 table entry if they are double marching in the march phase or trying to move 4-5 MPs in the enemy turn.

The core idea of the game is that bringing all your forces together into a "fist" to fight will also make them practically immobile in attrition terms, while keeping them separated lets them fly around rapidly, support each other, and dominate more area by menace and threat of those rapid moves. Mastering this dance is the core of the game.

Having just received 3 APs, the French can afford to think about spending 3 of them to move corps for certain, or one corps a long 9 MP march to make it to Brienne and support Napoleon in combat there. They might also consider spending more, done to the 7 APs horded level, which would let 3 forces move with 2 movement commands each to bring everyone to battle. But that would "spend down" the present supplies. It might be worth it for the benefit in battle, however.

So, as they plan, the French are asking how many corps to send by double marches to the Brienne area. How much to leave where Marmont is now to prevent Yorck from moving west vs the center of operations. Where to sent Mortier and the Old Guard, toward the fight at Brienne, back toward the center of ops as a reserve and to ward off Cossacks who might threaten it (probably not his best use to be sure, but he's nearer for this than anyone else), or south to cover the bridges threatened by the Army of Bohemia SW of Blucher.

Finally some force considerations. Blucher now has 10 SPs with him in Brienne proper and 15 SPs right next door in his Osten-Sacken's Russian corps. Of those 25 SPs, 6 are cavalry and 2 are artillery from the 2 infantry divisions strength 4. Blucher is an initiative 4 commander with one combat star.

Napoleon has with him right now Ney and the Young Guard with 12 SPs (2 of them artillery) plus Grouchy with 9 cavalry SPs. That is enough to max out the cavalry differential at +3 French already. Mortier is nearby with 9 SPs (2 artillery) but kind of on the wrong side to link up with Napoleon, though he can get adjacent to Osten-Sacken with a single ordinary march. Gerard, Marmont, and Victor can each get to the Brienne battle area only with a 2 AP long march, bringing 12, 10, and 10 SPs respectively.

So, one option would be to send Mortier to pin Osten-Sacken with 1 AP, and use 2 to long march either Gerard or Victor to the Brienne site. Then Napoleon would not have a movement command and would have to make his 5 initiative - anything but a 6. This spends only excess movement commands and could hit Blucher at 3-1 while Mortier fixes in front of Osten-Sacken at 2 to 3.

A second option would let Mortier move only half the time by initiative, and spend an AP to be sure of Napoleon's march, plus 2 to bring another corps to the site. This could either be Gerard in the same fixing role (12 to 15 opposite Osten-Sacken) or joined to Napoleon to give just one battle but at 33 to 25 odds. Or Victor, coming from farther away, for a 31 to 25 with a giant 13 to 6 cavalry edge. Either way this battle would also happen with 3 French artillery to 2 Allied.

None of those united battles will feature any large edge for the French. They have only marginally stronger forces and a slightly better commander, but together these are only enough for +1 to the advantage side's die. That yield 21/36 French victories, 13/36 Allied victories, and 2 draws. Given the need to inflict 2 more SPs to avoid a moral loss, the draws would effectively be additional Allied victories.

The two battle idea looks more attractive. With a 2-3 initiative leader in front of him, Osten-Sacken has +1 to his initiative roll and he is only a 2 to begin with, so he would need a "1" to evade the pinning force and join Blucher in Brienne. This argues for sending Gerard to face Osten-Sacken while Napoleon falls on Blucher and his cavalry general with just Ney's Young Guard and Grouchy's cavalry. As long as Osten-Sacken doesn't come to help, Blucher will be forced to withdraw and this will displace the Army of Silesia's center of operations, which is the point of the move in the first place.

So far no actual moves have been made by the French, but all the plans have been consider and they have settled on their plan. Next post we will see its execution.
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Execution of French march phase on turn 1

APs spent on movement commands must all be used before any attempts at initiative movement. The French start by issuing a first movement command to Gerard, who is within dispatch distance of the operating French center of operations (28 MP). He moves 5 MP (for infantry, 7 for cavalry) to 1942. Then the French spend a second AP on a second movement command for extended march, to bring him to 2143, adjacent to Brienne, Blucher, and Osten-Sacken. He moves 8 MPs in all and has 12 SPs, so he must check for march attrition on the 1/8 column, where a 6 would lose 1 SP. He rolls a 1 and is fine.

Next the French spend a 3rd AP for a movement command for Grouchy. He could move with Napoleon, but he wants to cut off the possibility of a forced march to the guns by either of the Bohemian corps to the south, and the French don't want to risk him missing his 4 initiative. He moves 6 MPs to 2145 by first taking the road south. He can move up to 7 MPs with his first movement command because he is a pure cavalry force. With only 9 SPs he has no risk of attrition and arrives on the SE outskirts of Brienne.

The French could now spend a 4th AP to ensure that Napoleon brings Ney and the Young Guard to the battle, but decides to trust in Napoleon's 5 initiative to save the AP. He rolls a 2 and activates by initiative. His force has 12 SPs and needs only 3 MPs to reach 2144 so there is no march attrition. The Brienne attack force is now set.

The French next try to move Victor by initiative. He is a 2 so his chance isn't great. He rolls 2 however and activates fine. He marches north to St Dizier where Marmont is and halts there. With only 10 SPs and 5 MPs spent there is no march attrition.

Knowing now that Victor can hold St Dizier, Marmont rolls to see if he can move out. He needs a 3 or less and rolls 6, so he stays with Victor in St Dizier and assumes command of the united force.

Mortier next tries to activate, again needing a 3. He rolls 2 so he is active and has options. He chooses to march 2 MPs to Lesmont, helping pin Osten-Sacken and potentially freeing Gerard to help with the assault on Brienne.

Notice how the French have concentrated, with 42 SPs now converged on Blucher's 25, and Marmont in command of another 20 SP double corps at St Dizier.

MacDonald in the north tries to activate next. He is 31 MPs from the French center of operations so he is out of dispatch distance and must resolve march attrition without the benefit of accumulated APs. He rolls a 3 and does activate. With Sebastian he has 9 SPs. On the 0 AP line, 8-10 SPs can march 3 MPs without attrition or risk a loss of 1 SP on the 4-6 (3/8 column in poor weather) to move 5 MPs. MacDonald chooses to just move the 3 MPs, back to 3004, which just barely puts him into dispatch distance of the French center of operations. From there he can even move a full 5 MPs in the forced march phase without attrition, now that supplies are reaching him.

That concludes the French march phase, as the don't wish to activate the major generals of infantry in their far southwest. On the whole, they have sprung a strong battle threat on Blucher, but before battle is resolved the Allies get to try to react with their own forced march phase.
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Allied Forced March phase of turn 1

The first order of business is Osten-Sacken trying to come to Blucher's aid. There is a stacking limit of 7.5 subordination units per hex, with no more than 5.5 of them infantry, and there are already 2.5 with Blucher. Infantry divisions (and Prussian brigades, comparable size units) count 1, cavalry units and Russian infantry brigades count as 1/2. Osten-Sacken has 2 infantry divisions, 2 infantry brigades, and 1 cavalry unit so he totals 3.5 more. As the infantry component is 5 and the total is 6, they can all fit in Brienne if Osten-Sacken can get them there. So he tries to activate leading his whole force. With a 3 leader in his ZOC, the resistance table reads +1, so he needs a "1" to succeed. He rolls a 4 and cannot come directly to the aid of Blucher. Keep in mind, though, that Osten-Sacken's force must be attacked by at least one French force opposite.

The next question might seem to be whether the Bohemian corps to the south can "march to the guns" and help. But the rule in the forced march phase is that forced marching units can only enter an enemy ZOC if the force they approach is already in a friendly ZOC - which would apply to Grouchy in this instance - but also that the moving force must be adjacent to the friendly force exerting that ZOC. They can't arrange that here, being cut off from Blucher's force. They can still attempt to activate to reposition, but they won't be able to aid the battle.

Gyulai nevertheless attempts to activate, needing a 2. He rolls 4 and sits where he is. Prince Wurtemberg tries next, same roll needed. He gets a 2 and can activate. He has 14 SP and the army has 4 APs accumulated. This means he can expend 1 MP with attrition loss on a "6" only, or 2-3 MPs with a roll on the "1" march attrition column, where 1 SP loss is highly likely and up to 3 is possible. He opts for the former and moves just 2 hex NW to 2349. His march attrition roll is 3 so he takes no losses. Frimont tries next, not wanting to move with Wrede since so large a force would suffer ruinous march attrition, so he needs a 1 under his own steam. He rolls 2 and fails. The last to try is the cavalry major general 3, with just 2 cavalry SP. He needs a 4 and rolls 5, sitting this one out.

The Allied forced march phase is something of a bust therefore, and the battle of Brienne can commence as Napoleon planned it.

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French combat phase turn 1

The French have 4 hexes in contact with 2 allied hexes. Each allied hex in ZOC must be attacked and each French force in contact must attack someone opposite. This means only Gerard really has a choice, to fight with Napoleon against Blucher or to support Mortier against Osten-Sacken. The latter would involve a divided force on the French side, since the French are not all adjacent to one commander with sufficient command span to control them all. If would however leave a 2-1 vs Blucher and a 3-2 vs Osten-Sacken.

However, the odds are not the most important thing here. The most important thing is that Blucher is in a real bind, unable to retreat with French forces on 3 sides of him and an unbridged major river behind him. If he has to retreat a single hex, he can into a cul de sac in the river, but otherwise his retreat route passes through Osten-Sacken. If Osten-Sacken could be displaced without crossing an unbridged major river or entering an EZOC himself, that would be allowed, though it would double pursuit losses for entering an enemy ZOC during retreat. In this case, though, it is out of the question, since Osten-Sacken is himself basically pinned to the river by ZOCs. Therefore, as long as Blucher can be forced to retreat at least 2 hexes, he will be eliminated. This will also displace the Army of Silesia's center of operations, but that is just temporary downtime compared to losing the army's overall commander.

So Napoleon wants Gerard in his force. The stakes are worth having Mortier fight a harder battle against Osten-Sacken.

The French can pick the order of the battles and definitely want to resolve the attack on Blucher first. The French force is commanded by Napoleon and comprises his own Young Guard division, Ney with his 2 Young Guard divisions, Gerard with 2 infantry divisions and a cavalry corps, and Grouchy with the Guard cavalry plus a small additional cavalry division. The French have 4 artillery and 13 cavalry with 33 total SP. Blucher has only 2 weaker Russian infantry corps and a cavalry corps, with 10 SP total, 4 of it cavalry and none of it artillery.

The first step is artillery fire (the fight is a battle not a withdrawal since Blucher cannot retreat), with the French getting +1 to their artillery die roll for their cavalry differential, starting from the 4-5 artillery column. The roll a 2 modified to 3 and destroy 2 defending SP before the main battle resolution. This makes the combat odds 33 to 8 or in excess of 4 to 1. Anything over 2.5 to 1 is the same +4 modifier however. The French also earn +1 for an outflanking hex not on enemy ZOC, and Napoleon is a two * commander for 1 additional. The defenders only get +1 for town terrain. The resulting differential of +5 is halved, FRU, to yield +3 to the advantaged side's die roll.

The French roll 2 modified to 5 and the Allies 4. That yields a result of advantaged wins, retreat 1, and losses 5/5. The losses are calculated on the combined force present which is 43 SPs, so 5% is 3 losses. So Blucher loses 5 counting the artillery, the French lose 3, Blucher is driven into the cul-de-sac of the river at 1945 with 2 infantry and 3 cavalry left alive, and the Silesia center of operations is displaced to 3045 (with cavalry major general 3) and inoperative. But by the skin of his teeth and a low French roll, Blucher is still alive.

Next Mortier must attack Osten-Sacken. Mortier is only a corps while Osten-Sacken with 3 leaders commanding forces is an army, so the combat will be a withdrawal. This means the artillery phase is skipped, losses are determined on twice the size of Mortier's force, and he will have to retreat 3 hexes after determining losses regardless of the outcome. The odds are 9 vs 15 which is above 1.5 to 1 favor the Russians, so that is a +2 modifier in their favor for odds. Mortier's command star is worth 1 for the French, so the Russians get +1 to their die from that +1 net modifier halved FRU. The modified rolls are 1 and 3, which is 2.5% loss to the French and none to the Russians. Mortier loses a single SP and retreats 3 hexes to Pougy where he started.

The Allies have survived the battle of Brienne - just. The actual SP losses were very close to even. Blucher will be trying to get out by the route Osten-Sacken held open for him. There are still 38000 Frenchmen around 20000 nearly trapped Russians, now out of supply.

One other important effect - because Napoleon won his own battle by 2 SPs inflicted, just barely, French morale increases to +1.
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Allied player turn 1

The Allies get to go next. In the admin phase, Silesia cannot accumulate APs because their center of operations is not active. The Bohemias roll 10 which gives 0 APs. There is a 25% chance of that happening, with the army only expecting 1.65 APs per turn. Normally the Silesia army expects 2.65 per turn. These figures need to be borne in mind as one considers what one can afford to spend. Either army could easily want 4 APs per turn for movement commands even if they already had enough accumulated to make march attrition bearable, but they can only keep up that op tempo half the time.

The Austrians have a serious issue now, with only 4 APs but a strong need to help Blucher, while all their corps commanders have only 2 initiative ratings. With 1-3 APs, a march of 5 MPs by a corps of 11-15 SPs faced the 1.5 attrition column, which in poor weather is an automatic loss of 1 SP with 2, 3 and 4 lost on rolls of 4, 5 and 6. This means -2 SPs for every such march in expectation. They can reduce that to -0.5 SP only by limiting marches to 3 MPs spent.

But this turn at least they will have to put up with march attrition because someone must march on Brienne to pin Napoleon from the east, to enable Blucher to try to fight his way past Gerard and get out of his present trap. Prince Wurtemberg's corps can reach them in a march of 3 MPs. But alone he'd just get withdrawn, trying to fight an army with one corps. Gyulai is 5 MPs away and will lose more getting there, but his corps being in support is essential and that cannot be helped.

The next issue is commanders. Since Schwartzenberg is still back at the center of ops, he can't be there regardless. Wurtemberg has to lead the force, but only has a 4 command span, and Gyulai takes 2 of that span. Wurtemberg can therefore only command 2 of his own units, not all 3, and one will have to be left where it is under a major general. Major generals can only command 4 SPs and both of his infantry divisions are 5 SPs, so a cavalry major general is the only choice, assuming he doesn't wish to eliminate a unit. So Adam is detached to Cavalry Major General 4 in 2329.

Blucher has the Russian corps with him absorb the cavalry major general, since the 2 units fit easily in that lieutenant's command span.

One further admin phase item concerns replacements. The Allies have 1 Russian infantry replacement this turn, but all the Russian units on the map are under the Army of Silesia, which doesn't have an active center of operations. They are also all currently in enemy ZOC. They therefore cannot take the replacement now, but they may be accumulate from turn to turn. So the Allies just record 1 saved Russian infantry replacement.

That concludes the Allied administration phase, and they proceed to their movement phase.

They must start with movement command moves, and they can pick their order. The start with Gyulai, issuing him a command to march 5 MPs to the outskirts of Brienne. Since after spending the AP the Austrians have only 3 left, the attrition will be resolved on the 1.5 rate column. They roll a 3 and luckily avoid any SP loss beyond the automatic first. He has reached 2145 with 14 infantry SPs (3 artillery and 11 infantry, technically). Next Wurtemberg gets a movement command to move just his 9 SPs 3 MPs to the same location. That is only a 1/8 attrition column because of the shorter distance and smaller force, and they roll a "2" and avoid any losses. Prince Wurtemberg assumes command of the force now of 19 infantry and an impressive 5 artillery next to Napoleon.

That's it for movement commands. The Silesian army still has 8 APs but cannot use them with its center of operations inactive and the Austrians are down to 2 APs left. They start their initiative attempts with Frimont, who is a 1. He rolls 1 and gets to move. As he has only 10 SPs, he can move 3 MPs with 1/8 attrition or 5 MPs with the 1 table (1.5 actual expected). He sticks to 3 MPs and moves to 3653, next to the Bohemian center of operations. His attrition roll is a 6 and he loses 1 SP despite the shorter distance, but 1 is better than 3. He eliminates Hardegg, his 1 SP infantry brigade, to keep his artillery and cavalry.

Wrede tries next and needs a 2. He rolls 4 and stays where he is. Now that those are seen, Schwartzenberg can go next with a good idea where he wants to go. He needs a 3 and rolls 1, so he can move. There is no issue with march attrition since he is a commander without troops. He also has 9 MPs alone, but most move toward a force to command. He moves to 2349 where he can pick up Adam from the cavalry major general created earlier. Notice that he is just shy of being able to reach Wurtemberg to command in the coming battle.

That covers the Bohemians, now it is time for Blucher's army. The first thing to try is to get Blucher into the same hex as Osten-Sacken. Being adjacent to Napoleon provides a +2 to Blucher's initiative roll so he needs a 1-2 to succeed. He rolls 1 and does succeed. The march counts as 3 MPs because he left a ZOC. He only moved 5 SPs, but without a center of ops the 0 AP column must be used. That gives a 1/8 march attrition for 3 MPs. The roll is 1 and they are OK.

The Allies could then try to have Osten-Sacken move off, but they are actually in the position they desired for the second round of the battle of Brienne. Blucher is leading the united Silesian force which will attack Gerard in an attempt to cut a way clear, while Wurtemberg's force attacks Napoleon with Ney and Grouchy. This should cut Blucher out because Gerard will have to withdraw, being a corps vs an army, whatever happens with Wurtemberg's battle.

The Prussians under Yorck can try their initiative, though they won't get far with Marmont's force in front of them and currently superior, and long maneuvers are out of the question facing march attrition on the 0 APs column. But Yorck still tries, rolls a 5 and fails. Horne holds his position - it was only worth it if a meet up might be possible.

Cavalry Major General 3 with 2 SP of Russian cavalry is currently sitting on the displaced Silesian center of operations. They try to activate to move N and NW to hold away from that center instead of ineffectively defending on top of it. They roll a 4 and succeed. With just 2 SPs, even on the 0 AP column they can move 3 MPs safely and 5 MPs with only a 1/6 chance of an SP loss. They choose the second, marching to 2642 to delay along the road between Marmont and Napoleon. Their attrition roll is 5 so they are fine.

That concludes the Allied march phase. But before the battle of Brienne round two "goes off", the French get a forced march phase of their own.
 
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Jason Cawley
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French forced march phase, turn 1

The French are mostly concerned to manage the fight at Brienne. While Mortier might come back to help Gerard, the more attractive alternative is for Napoleon to simply sidestep the Wurtemberg army facing him to move onto Gerard, forcing Blucher to attack the united French army. They all fit in one hex within stacking, and Napoleon's 5 initiative only suffers by 1 for being adjacent to Blucher's 4, so he would succeed in the movement on a 1-4. Napoleon is moving 20 SPs over 3 MPs in forced march, but with 11 accumulated MPs and good French morale that has no march attrition risk. It makes sense to try this first, so the execute and Napoleon rolls a 3 and makes it.

Next Mortier will try a forced march of just 1 MP to block the bridge west of Blucher, to ensure if he is forced to retreat he will have to remain north of the Aube and pass through a French ZOC. He rolls a 1 and makes it easily, stopping in 1744.

MacDonald in the north, now in dispatch distance and with 9 SPs, can afford a forced march of 5 MPs without march attrition. So he tries to activate, but rolls a 5 and doesn't manage to "steal a march".

Marmont can decide next, and the French judge that the damage to Silesian communications and Austrian APs has been done and it is time to pull back from their exposed forward position. Marmont could keep Victor with him and march 3 MPs with no attrition possible in the forced march phase. This also has the attraction that 5 MPs are possible together in ordinary march and that a single movement command can ensure this. So Marmont attempts to activate commanding the whole force, his own and Victor's corps. But he rolls a 4 and isn't prepared to move out yet.

That concludes the French forced march phase, and it results in Blucher being forced to attack Napoleon as the only battle of the Allied combat phase on turn 1.
 
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Jason Cawley
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Allied combat phase turn 1

The French under Napoleon have 14 infantry, 3 artillery, and 13 cavalry. The Russians under Blucher have 13 infantry, 2 artillery, and 5 cavalry. The artillery phase comes first with French cavalry advantage. Both rolls adjust to 2 however and neither side has any losses from the artillery phase. With 20 attacking 30 the French defenders have 1.5 to 1 odds, which is good for a +2 modifier (FR in favor of defenders). While Napoleon is a 2 star commander the Russians have both Blucher and Osten-Sacken who are a star each. There are no flanking hexes nor terrain, so the final combat will resolve as the French the advantaged side with +1 to their die. The French get an adjusted 4 to the Russians unadjusted 2, which has the outcome advantage victory, retreat 2, advantaged take 2.5% and disadvantaged take 7.5% losses as a portion of the total engaged, which is 50. That means the French lose 2 and the Russians 4 from the battle itself.

But then in addition Blucher must retreat 2, which he must do through ZOC. He goes to 1942, and Napoleon may pursue to 1943. Russians take doubled losses for the pursuit (retreat through ZOC) and lose 2 additional SP. French morale increases to +2 since Napoleon just won another battle inflicting 4 more SPs than he took himself. Blucher's force is down to 14 SP while Napoleon's is at 28 SP.

That concludes the Allied combat phase and just the first turn of the January 28 Start situation.
 
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G. H.
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any photos for the visually inclined?
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Jim Fardette
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I was just thinking about breaking this game out again. Haven't played it in 20 years, so I better try a few rounds of Hundred Days Battles to warm up. Great detailed write up!
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