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Subject: The importance of roads rss

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Philip Thomas
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This was my first game of Napoleon's Triumph, a largescale recreation of Austerlitz. I haven't played the game's predecessor, so I was pretty new to the game, as was my opponent Steve. Fortunately we had an experienced player, Garry, to act as umpire.

The initial deployment is quite a daunting decision for a new player. I decided to put my strongest units in my reserves, which would start off the board. I gave the Imperial Guard to Bernadotte and the Heavy Cavalry to Davout. My front line units were fairly weak, with a block of cavalry over on my left flank under Lannes. I detached several units around the chokepoint on my right flank, but placed my fixed battery on its traditional location on the left, where it would see no action at all.

I hadn't paid much attention to the Allied deployment, which seemed to be a solid block in the centre. The Allies opened with an advance on the centre and my right. I moved my units on the left further left with the aid of the road system, and pulled back on the centre right with St.Hilaire withdrawing behind the marshes. The Allies pushed forwards still further as I swung my left around his right flank. He detached a couple of units to cover that and launched an attack in the centre left, where I had placed Vendome. Fortunately the attack was over a narrow approach, which meant that I could counterattack sucesfully, though at the price of losing more troops than him. The defeat disrupted his corps formation and reduced his morale, but more troops were pouring in from other directions and my centre was even weaker than it seemed...

At this moment I brought on my Reserves. The Reserves can move twice on the turn they first appear, and so Davout was able to march 6 spaces down the main road, while Bernadotte marched 4 spaces, reinforcing my centre.

The victory conditions change when the French Reserves arrive so that the Allies can win by defending. The Allied army therefore began to withdraw from its advanced positions, still in disarray. My leading left flank unit had now gone so far round that he could appear behind the Russians under Bagration on the main road, who were now surrounded on 3 sides. He brought up Constantine to a neighbouring locale and continued to pull back on his left. I feinted in Bagration's rear, drawing out a unit, and attacked from the front. He revealed his defenders as 2 3 Strength infantry, whereupon I abandoned my planned heavy cavalry charge and attacked on a narrow approach with one 2 strength cavalry unit. Meanwhile some of the troops in the rear crossed the river into the undefended heart of the Allied position, threartening a win by occupying objectives.

He continued to regroup, a lengthy process for the Allies, especially as I had advanced all across the front, putting presure on him at several points. Bagration and the detached units in his space were at the approaches and so could not withdraw.

This time Davout's attack drew 5 points of infantry strength rather than 6, so I flung in my Heavy Cavalry, losing 2 Morale. The slim margin of victory became a decisive one as he was forced to retreat and lose strength from the other approaches. However, my Heavy Cavalry were blunted and somewhat alone. My troops in his rear cheekily crossed over a different bridge, appearing right behind his main force. I also made a probing attack in the Centre, detaching some infantry from Bernadotte's corps to test whether a Guard Attack was feasible next turn. The probe drew smallfry so the odds looked good.

Meanwhile the Allies counterattacked, but fortunately their targets were all cavalry, including the force in their rear, which raised some eyebrows as cavalry can't take objectives and so he needn't have worried about them earlier.

The Guard Attack was a dramatic success, punching a hole in his centre. He now had two concentrations of troops, one on his centre-right in front of the river, which was surrounded by my troops, and one on his centre-left still some way forward, which my forces on that flank had just reached. He pushed heavily towards the main road, trying to cut me off from the objectives. I was able to maneuvre around his forces, and spent some time setting up an Artillery attack followed by a corps attack on the right hand edge, which suceeded. He now used his Guard attack to knock me off the main road, but I retreated straight away which took the edge off it. As the game ended he was trying hard to close down the roads so I didn't have a supply route to the objectives, and he pushed one corps quite some way forward to take a crucial junction, but he didn't manage to block all the roads. When I'd pointed out the road he had missed we agreed to end the game as a French victory.

We turned the blocks face up and as it happens I would have won the attack upon the crucial junction and got a link that way in any event.

A great game, hard-fought. Garry had never seen a victory by objectives before, his games had always ended by morale, and much earlier in the day, with lots of attrition.
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