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Subject: A Pragmatic Steamroller rss

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Justus Pendleton
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This was the first time any of us had played Maria; I was Prussia + Pragmatic Army.

After seeing how tentative France's initial moves were -- and knowing how aggressive Austria's were likely to be -- Prussia was under quite a bit of pressure to move quickly in Silesia to return some of those Austrian victory markers back to their pool. Unfortunately, Prussia's starting hand of 9 cards was 8 diamonds and 1 heart. This made the initial expansion a bit half-hearted and didn't leave me feeling very confident.

Schwerin (with only 2-strength) split off from Frederic and moved south to threaten Glantz. It was intended to be a feint to force Austria's Neipperg to stick close while Frederic swung east and south. After the feint Schwerin was going to move west toward Prag where all those diamonds would be handy....

Austria had other plans, founded in her strong Hearts hand.

Neipperg (6-strength) immediately moved north and gave battle. The result was pretty much predetermined and Schwerin was wiped from the map. The loss of 2 units was bad enough but the loss of a general gave Austria an victory point and meant Saxony became neutral on the very first turn of the game.

Weak-kneed traitorous Saxons....

For the remainder of 1741 Frederic and Leopold would be paper tigers -- since Prussia still had a hand full of diamonds and little else. Of course, Austria didn't know that and she also knew that my remaining two generals had 14-strength between them.

The Silesia stand-off suited Austria because it meant she could focus on the French incursion on her west. By this point Klattau and Pilsen were under French control. As Belle-Isle moved toward Prag he was intercepted by Lothringen. Belle-Isle pressed his luck and was rudely rewarded by an overwhelming Austrian victory that saw his forces reduced from 6 to 1.

The remainder of 1741 saw only maneuver. The Prussians hoped to draw something other than Diamonds. The French nursed their wounds -- suffered through the War of Jenkins Ear -- and waited for Winter to recruit more troops. The Pragmatic Army saw no need to press the French and make things even easier for the Austrians. Austria felt confident that the first year of the war had gone entirely in her favor.

As 1742 dawned Austria's growing confidence led to an invasion of Bavaria where von Saschsen (7-strength) faced the Austrians at Cham. Once again, the superiority of Austrian cards carried the day, this time resulting in a disastrous French defeat. von Saschen's entire army was obliterated, giving Austria another victory marker.

This left just two in the Austrian pool with elections expected any turn.

Prussia's card hand had improved slightly -- though it was still overwhelmingly Diamonds -- but the dire situation of the Austrian pool forced Frederic's hand and the stalled Silesian offensive was restarted. To Frederic's surprise the south-eastward push toward Gosbel was unopposed other than the continually harassing Hussars.

Was Austria weak in cards? Did she fear Frederic's 8-strength? Prussia was able to restore a measure of breathing room by sending two Austrian victory markers back to the pool but with the certain Austrian victory in the upcoming election it was only a small reprieve.

At this point I felt that my best chance for victory lay with the Pragmatic Army. With the French crippled, Austria was able to focus all her forces on Prussia. Prussia still had poor cards for the sectors I would have needed to attack in.

Up to that point the Pragmatic Army had done nothing but threaten Koln, which pinned a French army nearby to protect it and opened up some space for Arenberg. The Pragmatics abandoned Arenberg and his quest for electoral votes and repositioned themselves for an invasion of Northern France. At this point George II and Cumberland were in a stack with a total value of 10-strength. The Earl of Stair (6-strength) stayed close to the border in Namur in preparation for two-fork invasion, with Stair lagging behind the primary force and focusing on the border fortresses while George II and Cumberland drove toward Meaux.

Austria's invasion of Bavaria forced the indolent Torring (7-strength) to actually do something for a change. Apparently Bavaria had collected a very strong hand of cards but with the previous French disasters was afraid to venture far afield. The two armies met in Landshut where Torring gave the Austrians their first real defeat of the war. (They had suffered a small bruise in a light encounter with Prussia's Leopold but this was a larger defeat.)

The re-constituted French armies apparently decided they'd have better luck emptying their pool in the Netherlands and moved to check the Pragmatic Army outside Lille. The result was a titanic battle, both sides having two generals in a stack. Once again however, France's hubris was their undoing. They pushed the battle one card too far, instead of suffering a modest defeat they ended up with total obliteration.

Both French generals saw their armies destroyed and they were removed from the board. This allowed the Pragmatic Army to immediately move two markers from its pool to the battle victory spaces. What had only been a vague idea of winning with the Pragmatic Army suddenly become a very concrete reality: there was a clear path from Lille all the way to Dijon entirely free of French forces as the Winter of 1742 set in. French forces to the east in Metz and Haguenau were so far away that they could do little to immediately stop the Pragmatics.

As 1743 dawned, Austria realized the gravity of the situation but could do little about it other than agree to leave France alone so she could repulse this threat.

What neither France nor Austria could have known was that their cause would have required a miraculous savior. Hessian Mercenaries and Winter recruitment had boosted the Pragmatic Army such that George II and Cumberland both had 8-strength. What's more the Pragmatic hand consisted of 2 Reserves and the remaining 9 cards were all high Diamonds (7, 8, 9, 10) and Hearts (1, 3, 5, 8, 8).

The layout of the map -- and the position of the French armies -- virtually guaranteed that the decisive battles would occur in Diamond and Heart sectors.

But first the Quadruple Alliance made things a bit sticky for the Prussians. The Saxons tired of their two years of neutrality and finally openly allied with Austria. The long neutrality meant that Austria had maxed-out Rutowski's army and placed him and his supply train steps from Berlin. When the alliance was announced the Saxons were only steps from conquering the undefended Prussian home land.

Frederic's forces in Silesia were immediately recalled but even after forced marches the closest help was Schwerin in Krossen. It seemed certain that this new two-pronged attack by Saxony (into Prussia) and Austria (into Silesia) would give Austria more than enough victory points to win the game.....

But only if the Pragmatic Army's conquest of France could be stopped.

The first decisive battle came between Maillebois and Cumberland in Troyes. Maillebos' army had been protecting two different cities. His defeat would mean retroactive conquests that would leave only a single marker in the Pragmatic pool. But the sector was Diamonds and the Pragmatic Army's strength in Diamonds was just too overwhelming. Cumberland didn't even have to use a Reserve to defeat Maillebois.

This left only George II. He faced two French armies outside of Verdun. Again the battle was -- by Pragmatic design -- in a sector where the Pragmatic hand was very strong. Despite a valiant effort by the French, George II defeated them, forcing them to retreat out of the range of the French fortress.

This emptied the Pragmatic pool which would result in Pragmatic victory....Except there was that second French army. Combat is mandatory. If the French could inflict a large enough defeat then one of the Pragmatic markers would return to its pool. Preventing Pragmatic victory (and almost certainly guaranteeing an Austrian one in a turn or two).

Alas, the previous battle had so weakened the French hand -- and the Pragmatic hand had so many Hearts to begin with -- that George II was able to overcome this second French army as well and secure the final Pragmatic victory.
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richard sivel
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Thanks Justus for this very lively session report. It seems to have been a very tense game!

I have some questions:

hoostus wrote:
Belle-Isle pressed his luck and was rudely rewarded by an overwhelming Austrian victory that saw his forces reduced from 6 to 1.


This implies another victory marker leaving the Austrian pool. How many fortresses in Silesia were conquered by the Prussians at this moment?


hoostus wrote:

Both French generals saw their armies destroyed and they were removed from the board. This allowed the Pragmatic Army to immediately move two markers from its pool to the battle victory spaces.


This means that the French lost at least 6 troops? (Note, that sending 2 generals offmap in ONE battle is only ONE victory marker for the battle. Only if you manage to eliminate 6+ armies, you will get 2 markers.)


cheers

richard
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Justus Pendleton
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rsivel wrote:
Thanks Justus for this very lively session report. It seems to have been a very tense game!

I have some questions:

hoostus wrote:
Belle-Isle pressed his luck and was rudely rewarded by an overwhelming Austrian victory that saw his forces reduced from 6 to 1.


This implies another victory marker leaving the Austrian pool. How many fortresses in Silesia were conquered by the Prussians at this moment?


I believe that Breslau was the only Silesian fortress that Prussia had at this point. (As I said, the offensive stalled almost immediately . I think that works out right (Austria starts with 3 in the pool, -2 for combat victories, +1 for losing Breslau, leaving two in the pool at the beginning of 1742.)

rsivel wrote:

hoostus wrote:

Both French generals saw their armies destroyed and they were removed from the board. This allowed the Pragmatic Army to immediately move two markers from its pool to the battle victory spaces.


This means that the French lost at least 6 troops? (Note, that sending 2 generals offmap in ONE battle is only ONE victory marker for the battle. Only if you manage to eliminate 6+ armies, you will get 2 markers.)


Yes, the French had 8 or 9, I think, which is why the Pragmatics got 2 markers from a single battle...At the time I told France that it was a bad idea to attack me. Not because I thought I could win but because I thought that Austria was a much bigger problem and he should be using his forces there instead.
 
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Todd
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How long did your game take?
 
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Justus Pendleton
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I'd say about 3:45 (not including rules explanation). I forget exactly how long the rules explanation took. The game ended half way through the third (of four) years.
 
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Dean Esam
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hoostus wrote:
After seeing how tentative France's initial moves were -- and knowing how aggressive Austria's were likely to be -- Prussia was under quite a bit of pressure to move quickly in Silesia to return some of those Austrian victory markers back to their pool.


Lol, am I that predictable... whistle

hoostus wrote:
Unfortunately, Prussia's starting hand of 9 cards was 8 diamonds and 1 heart. This made the initial expansion a bit half-hearted and didn't leave me feeling very confident.


Yeah I think I drew about 4 diamonds all game, including a 2 & 3. I was avoiding the diamond areas like they had the plague.

hoostus wrote:
Prussia's card hand had improved slightly -- though it was still overwhelmingly Diamonds -- but the dire situation of the Austrian pool forced Frederic's hand and the stalled Silesian offensive was restarted. To Frederic's surprise the south-eastward push toward Gosbel was unopposed other than the continually harassing Hussars.

Was Austria weak in cards? Did she fear Frederic's 8-strength? Prussia was able to restore a measure of breathing room by sending two Austrian victory markers back to the pool but with the certain Austrian victory in the upcoming election it was only a small reprieve.


At this stage the french were also threatening Mainz and Triere, and since I had a better hand for that part of the board, I drained a few armies from the french and forced them to back off.

hoostus wrote:
Austria's invasion of Bavaria forced the indolent Torring (7-strength) to actually do something for a change. Apparently Bavaria had collected a very strong hand of cards but with the previous French disasters was afraid to venture far afield. The two armies met in Landshut where Torring gave the Austrians their first real defeat of the war. (They had suffered a small bruise in a light encounter with Prussia's Leopold but this was a larger defeat.)


I actually bounced hard off Torring twice with good attacking hands, the Bavarians had almost as good a hand as the Pragmatics. Had either of these attacks succeeded I would have been able to quickly claim all of Bavaria. This was the only way, short of a French miracle I could see in which I could beat the Pragmatics to victory.
 
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