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Subject: Allied Learning Experience (with photos) rss

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This is a solo AAR, played in 2009. Since I didn't like the monochrome counters and working out the tiny formation IDs, I quickly put together my own set of colour coded units from a scan of the counters. To try the game out, I chose the historical scenario (of course). Picture shows the setup at noon.

At 12:00, the Allies march out to the attack. One of the nice things about the game is that you give explicit orders to formations. This helps a lot to put you in the mindset of the leaders and also means that you don't have unrealistic turn-by-turn free control over whether units go backwards or forwards...

By 12:30, Bluecher's artillery opens fire on the French in Gross-Goerschen, Kluex's brigade has begun the assault on Gross-Goerschen.

The initial attack throws the French back with losses. One of Ney's brigades is eliminated, the other forced to retreat. However, the Prussians do not hold on to the town but regroup. Among the weaknesses of the system is the fact that frequently, on A1/D1 results, both sides can simply retreat - one needs to take casualties to hold or take ground but the other side then can still completely retreat which is odd. This also means that the defender in such a situation is 100% guaranteed to be able to retake the hex in his move. At least the attacker has to come back for more unless the orders are changed.

On the left Winzigerode's cavalry catches Marmont's corps in March formation and manages to break some guns. The Allies now have control of Starsiedel, Rahna, and Gross-Goerschen, although they have no units in any of them.

Around 13:00, Ney's other units start approaching Gross Goerschen. The Prussians decide that now they have to hold the town and assault again. Ney's artillery fire forces one of Kluex's units to break off, but the other one reaches the town and holds on, taking some losses. For a turn we get the weird situation that both sides sit on each side of a town that neither side is wanting to enter.

At 13:30, the French counterattack goes in. French fire but the Prussians cannot fire back, their artillery is still south of the town. One Prussian brigade is reduced to the last step, but holds. Dolff's cavalry division is fired at by four infantry units (is there a cavalry retreat before combat?) and destroyed.

At 14:00, the Prussians managed to extend their hold on Gross-Goerschen but were hemorrhaging VPs - taking 2 terrain VPs per turn versus the French 6. The French were in some danger from Prussian artillery which was more numerous but were now massively superior in infantry and would soon be able to sweep the Prussians from the field by fire combat, as demonstrated against Kluex' brigade. They could easily outlast the Prussians in step losses and overall, Maneuver is the far superior order - it permits fire, while Assault will only increase melee strength by 50% but leaves you defenseless against fire, and Melee generally hurts both sides equally anyway.

Another artefact of the sequence of play becomes noticeable once both sides engage in fire combat - you fire before enemy movement, then the enemy can move back in after your fire forced a retreat. You fire after enemy movement, the enemy can fire before you can. What is that supposed to represent? Even most artillery shots result in retreats and not step losses. This is rather bizarre.

At that point, after six turns played, I packed it in - it was clear that I had played the Prussian assault much too cautiously and they have to make hay while the sun shines and press the attack home even at the risk of losing their only two infantry maneuver units for the first four turns. But overall, it just wasn't fun and the tactical decisions didn't seem to map back to what you read in the books. It was a valiant attempt to go beyond the fossil Zucker games but did not go far enough.

AAR first posted on CSW:
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