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Subject: The Coming Storm: Eylau Day Of Battle Scenario rss

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David Buckland
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Choa Chu Kang
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Introduction

There follows an AAR of a recent playing of the Eylau Day of Battle scenario (23.1) between myself as the French, and Bill as the Russians. Though the experience seemed to produce a quite reasonable alt-history narrative, despite doubtless quite a number of errors, we did feel that the game would have been improved by the suggestions (made since the game was played) on consimworld allowing for the discarding of Tactical cards.

7.00 AM [Turn 1]

[Weather: Snow [until 11.00 am (4 turns): no Bombardments, no LOS, + 1 to Cavalry Charges.]

French [Mode cards 1.Road Column, 6.Formation Scattered (both applying to IV Corps): 2/3 (+2 VPs)]

The French are in some disarray, with their strongest formation, Soult’s IV Corps, comprehensively scattered [the Russians are affected by exactly the same Mode Cards (see below), but their weaker formations make the effect much less serious in their case]. Only Lewal’s division from Soult’s command is able to assist in Napoleon’s attempt to form a line in front of the town, facing the dimly-perceived Russian army to the east. The main burden falls on the two divisions of Augereau’s VII Corps (with Lewal holding their northern flank. To the south, the cavalry – Beaumont and Bruyere (Milhaud) are defending the gap between Augereau and St. Hilaire’s division of Soult’s corps at Mollwitten, while a further two-and-a-half kilometres [5 hexes] south is the leading division (Friant) of Davout’s III Corps.

The Guard, with the exception of the cavalry (sent to strengthen Lewal), and the rest of Murat’s command, are in reserve just to the west of Eylau, with Legrand’s division of Soult’s corps to the southwest. There is about the French line an improvised air, with commands mixed promiscuously [partly the result of the low movement allowances, partly the dispersal of Soult’s corps, and partly the original set-up].

Russian [Mode cards 1.Road Column, 6.Formation Scattered (both applying to Sacken’s Division): 2/3 (+2 VPs)]

Bennigsen’s plan is to take advantage of the Russian numerical superiority – while it lasts, given that if Davout and Ney both arrive, numbers will be much more even – to fix the French centre around the town, while manoeuvring to flank the French position from the north.

To this end, the divisions of Markov, Tutchkow, Essen, Somov, and Dochturov (from north to south) launch an immediate assault on the French line which has advanced a little to the east of Eylau. Bagration and Ostermann will take care of the southern flank and the approaching corps of Davout, while Olsufief and Sacken [the latter’s division scattered hither and yon by the Mode cards] are in reserve in the centre. Galitzin and the cavalry are sent towards the northern flank, where, in addition to pressuring the French flank, it is hoped that the Russian cavalry commander made be able to make contact with Lestocq [and also be able to command the Prussian corps, given Galitzin’s ‘2’ command rating].

However, the disorganisation that is perhaps inevitable during a hastily mounted attack sees the Russian assault miscarry, for the most part. Perhaps the biggest problem is the difficulty in getting any cavalry forward [given the low movement allowances; the effect, of course, being to deprive the Russians of the combined arms bonus], except for Markov, who instead lacks artillery.

It is in the centre of the Russian attack that they fare worst, with Essen and Tutchkow repulsed by Lewal’s stout defence. On either side of this reverse, the Russian do better, but are hesitant to advance, given the problems in the centre.

The Russian attacks were launched blind, given that the poor visibility meant they did not know exactly what they were up against [the three attacks were launched at 2:1, 1:1 and 1.5:1 odds respectively (from north to south), so some form of mishap was perhaps inevitable]. As a result, the Russian line in front of the town is somewhat disordered – but whether the French are strong enough to take advantage is another issue, and Bennigsen would perhaps welcome the French committing to battle in the open at this early stage.

[VPs: French 7 (2 from cards, 5 from 1 VP hex controlled), Russians 12 (2 from cards, 10 from 2 VP hexes controlled).]

8.00 AM [Turn 2]

French [draw 15.Sound of Guns (4/6 -1VP), 2 x 16.Point Blank Fire (Tactics, 0 VPs), 27.Delay – March Confusion (3/4, -1VP). The two Tactics cards are not currently usable (no Bombardments in Snow), though they will be handy if the weather improves to Frost. Sound of Guns is also unusable, so under the terms of 18.35 it is used for MPs only, and is placed at the bottom of the main deck. Play Sound of Guns (4/6, 0 VPs).]

The French would like to take advantage of the disorder in the Russian line after the latter’s initial attack. However, the poor visibility because of the Snow means that the French would have only an approximate idea of what they were up against. Therefore, discretion is the better part of valour, and the French confine themselves to strengthening their line especially in the town and to the immediate north, leaving the Guard as the main reserve [the real Napoleon might well have attacked, but tangling with the Russians in the open without a clear idea of the forces on the other side dissuaded the French in this case – and after all, historically, an attack in the same place and direction by Augereau miscarried horribly].

Russian [draw 11.General Advance (4/6, -1 VP), 15.Sound of Guns (4/6 -1VP), 16.Point Blank Fire (Tactics, 0 VPs), 17.Cavalry Pursuit (Tactics, 0 VPs). Like the French, the Russians elect to play Sound of Guns (4/6, 0 VPs).]

With the French having resisted the temptation to counter-attack, Bennigsen continues to put his plan into operation. Olsufief and Somov storm Eylau itself, with the former capturing the centre of the town from Legrand. [Olsufief himself advances into the town, to maximise the strength of the force that will occupy this critical real estate – the Russians, with far more leaders and generally smaller formations to boot, can afford the possibility of leader loss (should Olsufief be forced to retreat) rather better than the French, who had a few palpitations prior to Soult escaping safely in the retreat of Legrand].

A diversionary attack further south by Dochtorov keeps Desjardin’s division (from Augereau’s corps) from intervening, but the southernmost part of Eylau [hex 2221] remains in French hands. Further north, Essen and Tuchkow drive Leval back. All told, a well-executed and successful Russian attack, particularly given the poor visibility [ie. the Russians did not know exactly what they would be attacking, but a combination of luck and judgement got it just right for them] which will also serve its main purpose of fixing the bulk of the French army around Preussische Eylau while Markov’s division and Galitizin’s cavalry attempt to flank the French left. On the Russian left, Osterman and Bagration form a line from just east of Serpallen to just west of Bekarten to contain Davout’s advance.

[VPs: French 2 (2 from cards), Russians 17 (2 from cards, 15 from 3 VP hexes controlled).]


Eylau, 8.00 am February 8th 1807 [the end of the Russian move]: the battle is at its fiercest around the town itself.

9.00 AM [Turn 3]

French [draw 28.Heavy Cavalry & Combined Arms (Tactics, -1 VP). As the French have only the one non-Tactics card, they must play it, despite the lacklustre movement allowances it offers (and as there are no Russian reinforcements to affect, the event is void, and the card goes to the bottom of the main deck). Play 27.Delay – March Confusion (3/4, 0 VPs).]

The French counter attack the Russian incursions, Soult to the north of the town, Augereau within it, the Emperor himself helping to organise the latter assault [for the positive column shift]. In both cases, the Russians (Essen and Somov, respectively) are driven back, though the ominous Russian outflanking move to the north remains essentially unchallenged, French cavalry taking up defensive positions to the north and west of Soult.

Meanwhile, a dozen kilometres to the west of Eylau, at Schlauthienen, Ney’s leading brigade (Delabasée), marching north, runs into Lestocq’s corps marching east, towards Eylau. The French are driven off, but not for long. Lestocq is weaker than Ney, especially when the French VI Corps can call upon two brigades of light cavalry from Murat’s command, and the Prussians will have their work cut out to reunite with the Russian army. [The March Orders for these two commands are ended on contact with the enemy, though the Prussians will probably want to keep going in the same direction as before, if they can. Ney has the better command rating, and a stronger formation].

Russian [draw 16.Point Blank Fire (Tactics, 0 VPs). Both sides now have two each of these (which cannot currently be used, and three tactics cards in all. Play 11.General Advance (4/6, -1 VP). The card’s event is used to activate Lestocq and one of the out-of-command-range units of Sacken’s division.]

Davout’s uncharacteristically dilatory approach from the south gives Bagration and Dochturov a breather, but in the centre, the fierce ding-dong battle for the town continues unabated, with the Russian divisions of Essen, Tutchkow, Olsufief, and Somov driving the French back, and reoccupying the centre of Eylau. To the north, Markov launches an attack on the defending French reserve cavalry divisions of d’Hautpoul and Grouchy, and the French are forced to give ground.

To the west. Lestocq attempts to slip past Ney eastwards, while Galitzin and Platov extend the Russian right flank westwards: the leading Prussian units near Domtau are about ten kilometres [11 hexes] from Bennigsen’s most westward formation, Galitsyn’s cavalry brigade midway between Roditten and Althof (though Platov’s Cossacks are closer).

[VPs: French 2 (2 from cards), Russians 16 (1 from cards, 15 from 3 VP hexes controlled).]

10.00 AM [Turn 4]

French [draw 29.Alternate Reinforcements (4/6, -3 VPs). With the rest of the French hand being Tactics cards, this must be played, although it carries a very high VP penalty for little practical benefit: Becker’s cavalry division will arrive on the map next turn, but whether it will have much impact is questionable – Becker is unlikely to be able to join the fighting around Eylau much before 2.00 pm. Play 29.Alternate Reinforcements (4/6, -3 VPs).]

Ney dithers [fails his Initiative die-roll], allowing Lestocq to slip past him to the east. In and around Eylau, French counter-attacks by Soult and Augereau restore the position, but the Russian pressure on the French left (northern) flank is producing results, as the French assaults leave their forces in some disorder, even though most of Soult’s corps is finally back under his direct command, and concentrated north of the town. In fact, the latest counter-attack absorbs virtually all the French infantry, with the exception of the Guard, running the French reserves down to dangerously low levels. [Ie. the position of the stack under Bessières in 1924 is a weak spot – if the Russians can force Bessières back, both of Soult’s divisions to the north and east may be flanked. Bessières is atop a slope, so the position is a strong one, and the Russians will struggle to mount a 1-to-2 (ie. a 1-in-3 chance of success), but even so.] Meanwhile, Davout is still struggling to bring up his corps, with his weight (two divisions out of three) to his right, advancing in the direction of Serpallen and Bekarten.


Eylau, 10.00 am [end of the French turn]: the French position north of the town may be vulnerable.

Russian [draw 28.Heavy Cavalry & Combined Arms (Tactics, -1 VP). As the Russians now have four Tactics cards, they play no card, and movement allowances are 3/4.]

A powerful force under Markov is gathered to take advantage of the disorder in the French line, but in the event he is not strong enough, and is decisively repulsed by Bessières [the Russians could not recall the exact strength of the French stack in 1924, but did nevertheless manage a 1-to-2, the result being an Ar3]. Elsewhere, the Russians are successful, recapturing the lost ground in the town, and even succeeding in a spoiling attack on St. Hilaire’s division to Bessières’ left, but this is of lesser import than Markov’s failure.

The growing threat from Davout results in a strengthening of the forces committed to the Serpallen-Bekarten line, the Russians being now just a little [one hex row] to the north. To make up for this, Sacken contributes several infantry brigades to hold the Russian line immediately to the south of Eylau.

Further west, it is not just Ney who dithers: Lestocq does so as well, losing a valuable potential opportunity to draw ahead of Ney, and reach the Russians [the Prussian fails his initiative die-roll also].

[The Russians would like to play one of their Tactics cards, but it is not easy. The two Point Blank Fire cards cannot be used, and they have relatively little heavy cavalry to make use of Heavy Cavalry & Combined Arms. This leaves Cavalry Pursuit, which looks promising. However, for this turn at least, there was no reasonable prospect which would not have left the Russian cavalry stranded in the midst of their enemies.]

[VPs: French -1 (from cards), Russians 16 (1 from cards, 15 from 3 VP hexes controlled).]

11.00 AM [Turn 5]

[Weather: it continues to be Snow for another 4 turns – the next weather roll will be prior to the French 3.00 PM turn, ie. the last turn before fog sets in.]

French [draw 15.Sound of Guns (4/6, -1 VP). This is unplayable, as there are no bombardments in Snow weather. As this is the only French card, apart from Tactics cards, it is played under the terms of 18.35. Play Sound of Guns (4/6, 0 VPs).]

The recent Russian attacks, driven off in confusion in some cases, have weakened Bennigsen’s front line north of the town, and the French take full advantage to launch a swingeing counterattack in their turn, undeterred by the continuing snow. The ferocity of the prolonged battle in this small area finally causes some troops to break, and it is the Russians who get the worst of the fighting, as Soult’s infantry and Murat’s cavalry sweep forward, with Essen’s 8th Division largely wrecked [ie. Demoralised – 2 attacks in this area: one at 4-to-1, result DE; one 5-to-1, result EX], the French suffering minor losses. Just to the south, Augereau, with help from the Emperor himself, restores French control over Eylau.

Moreover, Davout is finally able to launch an attack, hitting the Russians midway between Serpallen and Bekarten, and driving them back. All this French pressure more than makes for the fact that Ney is still uncertain what to do, contenting himself with merely observing Lestocq’s Prussians.

Russian [draws none. Still has 4 Tactics cards, so movement is 3/4 (0 VPs), until they manage to play one of their cards. As discussed above, the most likely candidate is Cavalry Pursuit, but that proves to be more difficult than expected.]

The Russian response to their bloody nose is hesitant [the low 3/4 movement allowances], and they have difficulty launching any effective ripostes. Although the Russians manage to drive Augereau out of Eylau, and getter the better of St. Hilaire’s division, holding the northern flank of the town as well, they hesitate to follow up, and so much of the advantage of their success is wasted. [The Russians were disorganised by their earlier defeat, and their attacks were sufficiently uncertain of success that it was dangerous for any one force to advance. In addition, the formation of powerful stacks to advance (infantry and cavalry with a leader) was made much more difficult by the low movement allowances). However, one side effect is that the Russians are in no position to play Cavalry Pursuit.] To the north, matters are worse, if anything, as an attack by Markov on Legrand’s division miscarries, and Markov is injured in the melee.

There is some compensation in that Lestocq, realising that he needs to rejoin the main army, marches east [Galitzin is moved westwards so that, if the latter wishes, Lestocq can be within his command range in one move].

On the other (southern or eastern) flank, Osterman and Bagration fall back before Davout. They are too weak to counterattack, and so Bennigsen sends Dochturov to reinforce them, while using Sacken to replace Dochturov in the attacks on Eylau (where Sacken bests Desjardins [at 1-to-2], but is unable to follow up).

[VPs: French +9 (-1 from cards, +1 VP from losses, +4 from one enemy corps demoralised,+5 from 1 hex controlled), Russians +11 (+1 from cards, +10 from 3 VP hexes controlled).]

12.00 PM [Turn 6]

French [draw 26.Reinforcement Takes Other Route (4/6, -1 VP). This has to be played, as it is the only non-Tactics card in the French hand.]

With the Russians repulsed, Napoleon is granted a breathing space to reorganise his army, and decide how best to proceed, which is essentially to back Davout.

The French deployment shakes itself out of its earlier confusion, with Murat’s cavalry taking the northwestern flank, then Soult’s corps (including Eylau itself). Augereau’s two divisions are moved south and east to help Davout develop his attack. The latter continues to advance, and there is fierce fighting south of Kl. Sausgarten, and both Gudin’s French division and Dochturov’s Russians suffer heavy losses, the morale of the latter in particular being shaken [an EX result on a 4-to-1 attack – the smaller (divisional) Russian formations are more susceptible to demoralisation than their larger (corps-based) French counterparts].

Ney, on the other hand, continues undecided south of Schlauthienen, not sure whether to attack Lestocq, or move eastwards [yet again, Ney fails his command die-roll].

Russian [still have four Tactics cards, and are still trying to work out a way to use one of them. Movement is 3/4.]

Benningsen decides that the Russian attempt to break the French around Eylau itself has failed, and consequently, Galitzin is sent west to find Lestocq, and see whether they can give Ney a bloody nose [as the Allies will be in command at all time, while Ney has only a 2-in-3 chance].

Galitzin is not accompanied westwards by many Russian troops, his own cavalry being much scattered, only one brigade (Galitsyn) and Platov’s Cossacks being able to lend support, but nevertheless Lestocq is heartened by news of Galitzin’s coming, and begins to counter-march west towards Ney.

Losses to the southwest of the town, and the departure of Galitzin, stretch Russian resources considerably. The line between Eylau and Bekarten is particularly thinly held, with only one brigade of Sacken’s division in reserve. The effect is also seen in the somewhat desultory attacks launched by the Russians on St. Hilaire in the town, and against Leval and Murat to the northeast. Murat’s cavalry retreats, but Soult’s divisions stand firm, and the Russians make little or no progress [and still cannot safely play Cavalry Pursuit!].

[VPs: French +13 (-2 from cards, +2 VPs from losses, +8 from two enemy corps demoralised,+5 from 1 hex controlled), Russians +11 (+1 from cards, +10 from 3 VP hexes controlled).]


Noon [end of the Russian turn]: the French have the upper hand, with Davout beginning to press back Sacken and Bagration, while Eylau itself is under French control.


Noon: to the west of Eylau, Ney and L’Estocq confront one another. Galitzin and the Russian cavalry are riding to the rescue, however.

1.00 PM [Turn 7]

French [draw 25.Reinforcement Arrives Early (4/6, -1 VP). This card has to be played, as the only non-Tactics card in the French hand, but the event is inapplicable (there are no reinforcements left to enter, and no alternates either), so under 18.35, the VP loss is ignored. Play Reinforcement Arrives Early (4/6).]

Davout continues his attack from the south, and is joined by Augereau to his left. Neither, however, is able to make much impression on the Russian defences, though the latter are pushed back [two 3-to-1s: given the Snow weather, attacks often have to be launched not knowing the exact strength of the defenders]. Indeed, Augereau’s attack shows signs of being hastily mounted, and his two divisions are badly deployed [ie. one of them can be surrounded, if the Russians have the strength]. The VII Corps’ commander had hoped to find a weak spot in the Russian line, but instead ran into Sacken’s powerful division.

North and west of Preussische Eylau, the fighting dies down after the last Russian repulse, but the Emperor is alarmed by reports he receives that the Russians, with Lestocq’s aid, are planning to attack Ney’s isolated corps, which he assumes is somewhere to the west of the town. Accordingly, Murat is ordered to move post-haste in Ney’s assumed direction, to aid VI Corps if the Allies attack. [The French know that something is up, as Lestocq has reversed direction, and sending Galitzin to take command is an obvious move. Murat is not as useful as Galitzin, as he cannot put Ney in command, but there is little alternative.] Speed is of the essence, and most of the Reserve Cavalry remain with the main army [where putting them in command without their corps commander will be problematic], while the two light cavalry brigades best placed to accompany Murat (Wathier and Lasalle) gallop northwest-wards.

This frenetic activity contrasts with Ney’s inertia [yet again, he fails a command die-roll on a 1-in-3 chance, for the fourth time in a row], as the VI Corps commander cannot make his mind up as to the best course to pursue.

Russian [still have four Tactics cards, and are still trying to work out a way to use one of them. Movement is 3/4.]

Augereau’s badly-positioned corps is attacked by both Olsufief and Sacken, and the Russians manage to take Heudelet’s division in the flank, destroying it in the process [there was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth from the French at this result, because it was first necessary to push back Desjardins’ division to flank Heudelet, and this necessary first step turned out to be a 1-to-2 (the strength of the defence was not known to Olsufief because of the snow)].

An attack by Somov north of Eylau is easily repulsed by Leval’s division of Soult’s corps, but further west there is better news for the French. The leading infantry brigade of Ney’s Corps, Delabasée, fights off an attempt to encircle his brigade by Lestocq’s Prussians near Jerlauken.

All in all, though, the Russians are well-revenged for their reverses a few hours earlier, and the morale of Augereau’s VII Corps has been wrecked by the destruction of Heudelet.

[VPs: French +12 (-2 from cards, +8 from two enemy corps demoralised,+5 from 1 hex controlled, +1 from the loss differential), Russians +15 (+1 from cards, + 4 from one enemy corps demoralised, +10 from 2 VP hexes controlled). Losses are currently French 23, Russians 31.]

2.00 PM [Turn 8]

French [draw 9.General Retreat (5/7, + 1 VP). As their only non-Tactics card, the French are forced to play this. There is the potential to generate a significant number of VPs (4 per withdrawn baggage train, 1 for every 5 other units), but this will be at a heavy price: Eylau will have to be given up (5 VPs), and several units (30 strength points – if all are lost, another 6 VPs) are currently stuck in enemy ZOCs, and therefore almost certainly in deep trouble if the French withdraw. The additional VPs from a withdrawal off-map only accrue if losses favour the withdrawer, and although this is technically the case currently, it is unlikely to be so after reorganisation (where the Russians can recoup far more than the French) and the losses to laggard French units.

Moreover, the French Cavalry reserve, mostly deployed north and west of Eylau, is out of corps’ command, Murat having been despatched west to aid Ney. They too might not be able to get out it time. Leaving such large numbers of troops to their fate is distinctly unpalatable, but the alternative is worse. There are still seven turns before night falls, and any attempt to defend the existing line will be severely compromised by the inability to move any units unless they end up closer to the French supply sources (all on the southern map edge, behind French lines). So, staying in place is not really an option, since it would likely lead to a worse disaster. The French are going to have to make a run for it (helped by the excellent movement allowances from this card), and devil take the hindmost. I am not so sure that this would have happened – Napoleon could not afford a serious reverse, which is one reason why in the historical battle he remained in the field, and Bennigsen withdrew. So, sadly for the French, as the losses inflicted will very likely favour the Russians, they cannot gain any VPs from withdrawing. In any event, play General Retreat (5/7, +1 VP).]

At the same time he hears of Augereau’s reverse, the Emperor learns from Murat of Ney’s predicament. This is the final straw: Ney, the last French hope, will not arrive to turn the tide at the last minute, and Bernadotte is nowhere to be found. Napoleon makes the momentous decision to retreat, to fight again another day, before the position worsens further.

Soult, the Guard, and the baggage trains withdraw southwest-wards towards Woymann, Davout and the tattered remnants of Augereau’s corps south towards Perguschen and Bartenstein. Ney, jolted into action by the link with Murat, heads south at high speed, the head of his columns reaching Orschen [Ney and Augereau are given General Retreat March orders, but the remaining formations in the French army remain under normal command]. North and west of Eylau, units of the Cavalry Reserve form a screen to delay the inevitable Russian advance [consisting of units which did not pass their command die-rolls: Murat has returned eastwards to put them in command, however: we assumed that leaders were not bound by the restriction on only moving units towards their supply sources].

[The French player felt that the restriction on movement imposed by the General Retreat card was a little too draconian, given that it was known to the enemy as well, and would allow them to pursue the retreating side with too much impunity. He suggested optionally allowing one formation of the retreating side per turn to be exempted from the need for all movement to be closer to friendly supply sources, as a way of keeping the pursuers honest.]

Russian [still have four Tactics cards, and are still trying to work out a way to use one of them. Movement is 3/4.]

Bennigsen, realising that the French are retreating, orders a general advance. The priority is to trap the laggard division of Desjardins. The straggling French are caught between Olsufief to the west and Sacken to the east and effectively annihilated, together with Milhaud’s [aka Beaumont’s] 3rd Dragoon Division [22 VPs to the Russians]. With this debacle, Augereau’s corps has effectively ceased to exist.

Annihilating Desjardins has drawn the majority of the Russian army’s strength south, in the direction of Davout’s retreat, while the majority of the French army is in fact retreating southwest-wards. Here the pursuit is therefore less effective, and although Eylau itself inevitably falls, Somov is kept at bay by Klein when the former attacks the French cavalry screen [Cavalry Retreat Before Combat]. Most of the Russian cavalry on this flank has accompanied its commander, Galitzin, west to join L’Estocq, and what is left is slow to move [most importantly, Pahlen fails his command dr: this prevents Russian use of their Cavalry Pursuit Tactics card, as there is no cavalry available to attack on this flank, and the other Allied attacks destroy the defenders].

The Prussians meanwhile manage to trap Ney’s erstwhile lead brigade, Delabassée, near Jerlauken, and the French formation disintegrates. Napoleon can only hope that the fate of Desjardins and Delabassée is the end of the butcher’s bill for the battle of Eylau.

[VPs: French +7 (-1 from cards, +8 from two enemy corps demoralised), Russians +24 (+1 from cards, + 4 from one enemy corps demoralised, +15 from 3 VP hexes controlled, + 4 VPs from the loss differential). Losses are currently French 53, Russians 31. Of the French losses, only 9 can be recovered (most being lost in surrounded attacks), whereas the Russians can hope to recover 25.]

3.00 PM [Turn 9]

[Weather: the weather remains Snow until 7.00 pm. Under the provisions of 23.35, the turns from 4.00 pm onwards are treated as Fog, representing the early nightfall of winter. As Snow has slightly worse effects than Fog (+1 to Charge die-rolls), we elected to treat the weather as continuing to be Snow until 7.00 pm. Had the weather roll indicated frost, then we would have treated the turns in question as having Fog.]

French [draw 14.Another Chance (4/6, -1 VP). This would have been useful when Ney was stalled for so long, but is of little benefit now that the French army is in full retreat. Play Another Chance (4/6, -1 VP).]

The French continue to stream southwards. The rearguard for the retreat of the main army is provided by Murat’s Cavalry Reserve.

[The first French units – Davout’s baggage train and two other units – exit the map.]


3.00 pm: the French retreat is under way, with Davout to the south (the top of the picture) and Napoleon and the main body to the south west.

Russian [the Russians have the same problem they have had since 10.00 am: they still have four Tactics cards, and are still trying to work out a way to use one of them. Movement is 3/4.]

The Russians pursue the retreating French: Dochturov and Bagration following Soult, the rest of the army under Bennigsen following the main body of the enemy under Napoleon. Further west, L’Estocq begins a pursuit of Ney, while Galitzin forms a Russo-Prussian cavalry force advancing into the gap between Napoleon and Ney.

In general, the French stay well ahead of the advancing Russians, except in the centre, where Kohzin’s cavalry brigade manages to catch Becker’s French dragoon division, and despite the latter’s superior numbers, get the better of the ensuing fracas [by successfully playing Tactics card Cavalry Pursuit – finally, the Russians have managed to play one].

[VPs: French +2 (-2 from cards, +4 from one enemy corps demoralised), Russians +27 (+1 from cards, + 4 from one enemy corps demoralised, +15 from 3 VP hexes controlled, + 7 VPs from the loss differential). Losses are currently French 51, Russians 13. This turn saw a considerable amount of reorganisation by the Russians; less by the French, with their much more limited possibilities in this area. The Russians therefore win a Strategic Victory.]


3.00 pm, to the west of Eylau: Ney has retreated with far greater speed than he attacked.

Post-Mortem

Napoleon’s stinging rebuff at Eylau was of course only temporary. Only one French corps had been badly damaged (Augereau’s VII). Reinforced, there was a French resurgence in the Spring, and the Russians were thoroughly trounced, leading to peace at Tilsit. However, the French army’s reputation for invincibility had been lost beyond repair in the East Prussian snow.

[That seemed a good place to call a halt to the proceedings. It was unlikely that there were going to be many more alterations to the VP score, although the French were likely to reduce their losses by 7 SPs through further reorganisations, ie. would reduce the Russian tally by one VP.

The game seemed to us to yield a perfectly feasible alternative Battle of Eylau, in which the balance of advantage swayed to and fro. At first, the Russians were on the attack, but the increasing threat from Davout, and the sharp reverse suffered by Bennignsen’s right flank at 11.00 am saw the French resurgent, before a carelessly-executed attack by Augereau at 2.00 pm put paid to French hopes. With the two armies roughly the same size, it was interesting that it was the disorganisation resulting from mounting attacks which caused first the Russians and then the French to lose the initiative.

The two armies are an interesting study in contrasts. The Russians are vulnerable, if the fighting is equally bloody, as their smaller divisional formations are much more easily demoralised, which hands 4 VPs to the enemy. On the other hand, in many ways their army is much more flexible than that of the French. The latter have only two commands that can leave the proximity of the Emperor and be sure of being in command (Davout and Murat), whereas the Russians have six, including two (Galitzin and Bagration) who can command another formation besides their own. The Russians did not make as much use of this as they might – perhaps in hindsight Galitzin should have been sent earlier with a cavalry force to take command of L’Estocq, and crush Ney.

Meanwhile, had this really been the outcome of the battle of Eylau, Ney would very likely have ended his career at this point, the handiest scapegoat for the defeat – and indeed his prolonged dithering when he should have had the advantage over L’Estocq (‘4’ initiative, compared to the Prussian’s ‘3’) was surely a major blunder.

On a separate note, we would with all due respect (and bearing in mind that we will indubitably have made some rules errors) like to make a few of suggestions for OSG’s consideration:

- That the suggestions for discarding Tactical cards be used in future versions of the system – we favoured the suggestion of being able to discard one Tactical card per turn. Some of the Tactical cards can be difficult to use, and they end by clogging up the players’ hands to no very good effect.

- That space be found in future games for formation loss markers, rather than using eliminated units. The production quality of the components is already very high, but we felt the clumsiness of using such units to track losses (what if the only units lost were permanently eliminated; how to distinguish between units on the track available for reorganisation, and those which are not, etc) was spoiling the ship for the proverbial ha’porth of tar.

- That the rigour of the eliminating units without a retreat route be softened. In some cases, eg. with their backs to an unbridged major river, surrender or annihilation might be quite reasonable. But if surrounded by ZOCs, we would both have preferred such units to be available for reorganisation (which has in any event been slowed compared to earlier iterations of the “Napoleon’s Last Battles” system by the need to pass an initiative die-roll, and then wait for the next weather roll). We did not have a problem with the importance of surrounded or flanking attacks in the system, seeing it as perfectly appropriate at the level of the game system as a whole, but we did feel that the permanent loss of units eliminated in such attacks was a little too harsh.

- That, as mentioned in the AAR, a party subject to a General Withdrawal card be allowed to make some limited exceptions to the need for all units to end up nearer a friendly supply source. In the game, both sides know that a withdrawal is taking place, and what the movement consequences of that are for the affected side. In real life, the opposing commander could surely not have been quite so sure. As it stands, the other side can advance more or less with impunity.]
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Mikolaj L.
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Superb work. Happy to see that someone enjoys wargaming so much!
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Kevin Zucker
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Hi David,
Superb review! I think it really shows off the strengths of the game nicely.

One question: How well did you shuffle the cards before first playing? Many of the tactics cards are printed in series* and they are packaged in the numbered order. If you don't shuffle the cards really well you can end up getting an inordinate amount of tactics cards, or any other type of card such as the arrival cards which all appear together toward the back of the deck.

Since there are only 12 tactics cards in each player's 50-card deck the chances of getting 3 out of 4 tactics cards in your hand are normally very low.

This is a good place to remind players of the recommended procedure for shuffling the cards before the first playing: After removing the Mode Cards, put each player's deck individually into the empty game box, close the lid, and shake vigorously for at least 60 seconds.

If after you have drawn your initial hand you find that you still have too many of one type of card, do not hesitate to stop in your tracks and reshuffle.

Oh, and, I want to endorse your four suggestions for improvement that you listed at the end of the article. We would not have been able to include the extra counters you mentioned in The Coming Storm but I will keep on the lookout for counter space for The Last Success.

Thanks!
-Kevin Zucker

*Point Blank Fire, Cavalry Pursuit, and Counter Charge all appear in sequence together in the middle of the unshuffled deck (two apiece).
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David Buckland
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Gentlemen,

Thank you for your kind comments.

ER: I have enjoyed reading quite a number of your excellent illustrated AARs, so am glad to have been able to reciprocate in a small way.

kzucker wrote:

One question: How well did you shuffle the cards before first playing? Many of the tactics cards are printed in series* and they are packaged in the numbered order. If you don't shuffle the cards really well you can end up getting an inordinate amount of tactics cards, or any other type of card such as the arrival cards which all appear together toward the back of the deck.

Since there are only 12 tactics cards in each player's 50-card deck the chances of getting 3 out of 4 tactics cards in your hand are normally very low.


Kevin, I thought we had shuffled them very well - the non-Tactics cards seemed to be very varied between the two sides - but your comments have made me wonder. On the other hand, the need for a solution to address the issue of hard-to-use Tactics cards came up on consimworld completely separately from our inadequate shuffling, and the proposed solutions seemed eminently sensible.
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Kevin Zucker
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> completely separately from our inadequate shuffling

It is a very common issue.

Even if you shuffle well you might still have a run of three or four cards in print order. It is important for all those who might be reading this, on first playing, to toss each player's deck separately into the empty box and shake well.
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Tom Swider
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Statistical Shuffling
Anybody who has played duplicate bridge will likely tell you the way to get a random hand - shuffle the deck 7 times (cut and fan, not shuffling from hand to hand).

Here's a link: http://m.naplesnews.com/news/2011/aug/02/bridge-scene-comput...

Of course the box method works well if vigorous; Bridge players just don't keep boxes at the table...
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