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Subject: An Austrian Victory in 1810 rss

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Jason Cawley
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Here is another after action report on a 5 player campaign game of the original Napoleonic Wars. This time the war ended on the 3rd turn in an Austrian victory with Europe Exhausted. France was effectively conquered but retained Paris as the squabbling allies got out of Napoleon's way to let him clear rivals from the city! Another quirk of this outing was that France conquered England in 1805 (halfway through turn 1 it was clear), but was behind even by 1806 (the end of turn 1).

I can't give every card play on this one, it was too long and we did not keep detailed records. But I can give the flavor and major sequence of events.

France began with risk fleet actions in the north sea, mid Atlantic, and Bay of Biscay. Massive naval losses occurred on both sides, and the channel belonged to the French on their first impulse. They played Guerre de Course for CPs as a Plus card to extend their advantage, and Napoleon invaded Cornwall. Moore tried to stop him on the beaches but was wiped out. The British attempted to regain the seas in their reaction, but the French were able to put in with minimal losses.

Meanwhile others on the continent maneuvered to the center of Europe in Napoleon's absence. Austria had a particularly strong hand, playing Rothschilds early to increase its size, and had additional fireworks waiting for the second impulse. It appeared later than several of the continental powers held naval reaction cards that might have benefitted England, but none was willing to play them to help her. (England failed to offer Parliament searching for such support, it must be said).

One of the neutrals turned over Fouche and France took a card from England. Then France played Anglo-American war, drawing half the remaining British navy to the new world! Portugal had already fallen, and the force requirement of the foreign war reduced England to practically nothing on the board. Before the turn was out, the Dutch supported the French navy and took control of the north sea, convoying additional reinforcements to Napoleon, and the Spanish even invaded Ireland independently! Britain was down for the count.

Meanwhile on the continent, the Austrians played a strong diplomatic game, cementing a Turkish alliance and making good use of it to reinforce Charles in Italy with convoyed Turkish troops. By 1806, the Turkish navy controlled the western Med, and seized Barcelona in a Descent from the Sea! The Austrians also took Munich and Milan. Russia fought in the center of Germany and held an initiative against the overstresed French marshals. And Prussia jumped in by 1806, entering the war on an impulse declaration and striking at Belgium, left weak by troops sent to England. She also got in an Emperor Commands play (worth +1 key and VP), which along with being last in movement order (and so winning ties) made her a realistic VP threat.

England ceded Gibraltar, Naples, and Dublin at the peace table, along with much of southern Italy. Spaniards were still in Country Cork, and kept all of Portugal. England had only 2 squadrons left of her once proud fleet, plus another 2 still fighting the United States. France gained a second resource from the conquest as well. You might think France would be in the lead as a result, but it wasn't. It had lost Milan, Munich, and Brussels, and the Turks weaseling of Barcelona balanced Spain's gain of Lisbon. This left France with only 4 VPs for 2 resources and 2 allies (Spain and Denmark), with zero net keys gained. Prussia was also at 3 VPs with Brussels, a resource, and Emperor Commands. But Austria narrowly held the lead with Milan, Munich, a resource, and the alliance of the Turks, winning the 4 to 4 tiebreak with France by being later in movement order.

The peace roll brought no end to the struggle however. All the continental powers remained at war with France in the interphase; England was of course forced to neutrality.

England recovered rather well in turn 2, but the American war continued to be a curse. She got off a revolt card that returned Naples and Dublin to her control, and she eventually ended the American war and brought her 2 extra fleets out of regroup. But it had taken 11 CPs to end the war, and her army consisted one corps with Moore and a token force in Ireland. Later in turn 2 the Austrians continued their diplomatic blitz by marrying the Spanish into neutrality, and this returned Portugal and Cork to the British as well. So she entered turn 3 with 4 squadrons and a full sized hand, if no army to speak of.

On turn 2 the French tried to recover Italy from the Austrians by positioning the regrouped Napoleon in Marseilles, brought up to full strength, while the marshals held Paris, Bavaria, and the low countries front. The Prussians were the north, Russians center, and Austrians south of the allied line, with the Austrians having forces on both sides of the alps, each supported by Turkish auxiliaries under Austrian commanders. Napoleon's offensive did recover Milan, but never took Venice. Meanwhile the Russians took 2 keys in central Germany, handing the marshals several defeats. The French were barely holding at the line of the French border proper, and virtually all of their allied spaces fell into the allied maw. Loss of their Spanish alliance later in the turn reduced them still more to the defensive.

As it happened, it was Prussia that earned the peace roll at the end of turn 2, however. (The scores were +4 Austria and Prussia, +3 Russia, among the allied contenders). Austria declared first and burned its excess card to bias the roll lower, after which Prussia decline to influence it and kept her 4 card hand instead. (Questionable, but they only had a 1/6 shot even if they burned the card, since no Europe Exhausted appeared on turn 2). Austrian had improved the strength of her armies and fought off Napoleon's counterattack, but did not gain in VPs during the turn, having been the focus of France's main effort.

Turn 3 opened with the French still looking like they might be able to hold, with a line of marshals in the north that grouped on their first card play into Davout holding the low countries, Soult (with Ney) holding Paris, and Napoleon (with Massena) holding the south. But the allies all had 5 and 6 card hands, plus a 4 card Turkish ally, while France had only an ineffectual Danish alliance (which pulled off a distraction invasion of Riga once, but the Russians speedily dealt with it). As it happened, the French were holding monster battle cards, and they need them. But they could not withstand the continual hammer blows of all the allies.

Davout chased the Prussians back to Hanover to get some breathing space, and Napoleon tried to tackled Charles. But the Turks threw "Commanders Health", and a 2 round battle in Milan ended in a narrow pyrrhic victory for the French (they lost 5 units but held the city; 2 of the Austrian losses were absorbed by Turks). Next the Turks threw Next Class and 4 more Austrians appeared in Venice, instantly collected on the next Austrian impulse. The two hands works marvelously to absorb and replace all Austrian losses, while Napoleon was reduced to commanding an inverted Massena and 1 strength point. Napoleon had to withdraw.

Meanwhile the Russians cut off Davout returning from his foray into Germany, and a tough battle wiped him out. This was a signal for 3 armies in succession to pound Paris, each racing to be the one to flag it. Soult beat the Prussians, then the Austrians came calling, having left their minor forces in Bavaria to speed their movements. The French threw Conscripts to replace the previous losses and Soult narrowly held again, but now horribly depleted. The Russians drove him out, without forces left to command, and flagged Paris.

At that point allied cooperation pretty much evaporated. lol.

Russia held 2 French allied keys in central Germany, and 1 resource. Conquest was sure to give them a second resource and at least one additional key, with no need to return any. So they were a lock to be at +5 if Paris remained in their hands, with +6 likely (3 or higher conquest roll) and +7 possible (5 or higher).

Austria had two French allied keys, a resource, and an ally. They also looked like they could take 2 keys in southern France, but in France proper, and thus they would be evacuated on an actual conquest. And only if Napoleon moved north to recover the capital. So her score looked to be +6 with France alive, and only +4 with France defeated.

Prussia held her emperor commands +1, her resource, and one allied key. Only those would survive a conquest by Russia. She also held a key in France proper, and had a full Blucher left just northeast of Paris. Her best chance was for Napoleon to chase the Russians out of Paris, preferably with bloody losses, and then to retake it with Blucher!

England had taken Rome from Naples, and landed Moore in the bay of biscay to take one more key, but without a resource or an ally and first in movement order, was clearly out of the running.

France was running out of keys to take, and of course one can't unflag allied spaces. All one can do is stop helping, and wait for France to take them back!

This the combined allies proceeded to do, heartily. Kutuzov was left unsupported in Paris. Blucher, with time to burn, marched clear to Brest and took the fortress. The Austrians slow-played their southern push and sidestepped Napoleon's march to the capital. Kutuzov fought hard, but the French threw battle cards as well and drove him out in rout. Then, in a stroke of genuis, the French declined to unflag Paris!

The French realized as soon as the capital was formally theirs again, every allied army on the map would pound them there relentlessly. So they simply left the Russians nominally in control, while Napoleon guarded the space. Then they burned their resources to draw more cards, and so prolong things, to outlast the allied hands.

The Austrians thought this perfect for them and collected 2 keys in southern France. The Russians were at their wits end - their total strength in France was by now one leader without support - and sought one more key by a reckless assault on Copenhagen, which only narrowly failed. The Prussians hung fire, waiting for Blucher's chance. And the British played Sultan's Ear to deprive the Austrians of their Turkish support!

At last the final cards in each hand were coming out, France now pre-empting occasionally to use her resource-drawn cards. To build forces she had to unflag Paris and finally did so. Blucher stormed in for the final showndown. In the first round the Prussians had 4 kills to 3 French, so the French played their last battle influencer, the Guard, held until then. It prolonged the battle to a second round, which they very narrowly won. Napoleon was left in Paris with only his own unit, Blucher was repulsed with only himself and one inverted corps commander left. The French had one final play, and used it to send newly built units to retake Picardy and Brussels. They survived attrition and did so, removing 2 Prussia keys as a result, in the attrition phase.

This left the Austrians in the lead, despite the loss of their ally. Prussia held Brest and their Emperor Commands bonus, and 1 resource - +3, down from +5 before the final card and a possible conquest just before that. The Austrians had +5 from 2 within France, 2 French allied, and one resource. The Russians led the Prussians with Orleans (byproduct of Kutuzov's stint in Paris), 2 central Europe keys and their resource, for +4. The British brought up the rear with +2, for southwest France and Naples.

Europe Exhausted had been played, so the roll was +3. But many were willing to influence it downward, only Austria upward. So even after all that mess of non-cooperation at the end, Austria still needed to roll a 5-6 to win, to avoid another turn! He rolled 5 and won.

How exhausted was Europe? The Spanish had the strongest army on the board, with 16 leaders or strength points. The Austrians were second with 14, and reasonable well placed and led. The Russians had 13, but widely scattered in 2s here and there, with practically nothing left in the west. The Swedes, neutral all game, had 11. The Turks had 2 on the map and 7 in the regroup box. England had 7, Prussia 5, and the French - 3. Napoleon and a 1 in Picardy, and a 1 in Brussels.

I hope this is interesting.
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