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Subject: Hosed by the cards? rss

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Obsolete Man
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I was recently reading Adam Zamoyski's account of the Battle of Borodino in his book Moscow 1812 and have come to the conclusion that both players, but especially the French, were hosed by the cards.

On the Russian side, the Kutusov player was clearly hosed when his artillery commander, Kutaisov, was killed leading an ad hoc counter-attack to retake the Raevsky Redoubt.This meant that the whole reserve artillery park, some 300 high quality guns, never participated in the battle... because Kutusov didn't realize when informed of Kutaisov's death that there was no longer anyone in command of the reserve artillery. So they sat around unordered for the rest of the battle.

It was way worse on the French side, despite heroic efforts on their part (hot dice?). For one thing, after Platov's cossacks and Uvarov's regular cavaly launched a flank attack on Prince Eugene's forces (and were seen off by infantry squares), the attack stalled out for a couple hours. Was this part of some sweeping Russian flank attack? Had the French been lead into a trap? No. It was just an ineffectual cavalry raid by bored commanders stuck on the uneventful flank of the battle. And yet it brought the French assault on the (Great) Raevsky Redoubt to halt.

While halted, the French cavalry sat around getting murdered by Russian artillery. What I mean, in case you haven't read about the battle, is that many French cavalry units were literally standing still out on the battlefield getting the heck blasted out of them by Russian cannons... while just standing there. For hours. I read some heartbreaking stuff about a cavalry officer complimenting a junior officer on his bearing, only to see the man cut in half. Turning to another man to comment on the tragedy of it, he saw that fellows brains get blown out by shrapnel or grapeshot. Then after giving his horse to a holder, that man (and probably the horse) was destroyed, too. This even happened to the Cuirassiers. A large unit of chasseurs a cheval lost a third of their number. Again, a big slaughter while they just stood there.

And then there's the matter of the Imperial Guard. Napoleon was, unlike a typical wargamer, afraid to commit the Guard because he knew that he was on campaign, very far from home, and he did not want it to get shredded. Not to mention the fact that, as he was suffering from swollen legs and some kind of urinary infection, he was unable to ride around on a horse checking things out (as he was accustomed to doing). So he didn't know everything that was going on... in particular, men under Davout or Ney (or perhaps both) could see the Smolensk road through the portion of the Russian line they had attacked (after taking the Bagration fleches at enormous cost... these earthworks were open at the back so once they took them it became a shooting gallery for the Russian artillerists) and realized that if the Old Guard hit that position it would be game over. But Napoleon refused to release the Guard, despite being told this news.

In the end, it's clear that both sides of this, the bloodiest day in history until the Somme, were hosed by the cards. The Russians never got enough activations to use their artillery on the back rank (but plenty of bayonet charges) and the French went through a dry spell on the flank where they had just formed up all their cavalry (probably to use a Cavalry Charge that promptly disappeared onto the Square Track after those irritating cossacks rolled up) while the Russians poured it on with artillery fire. Nor did the French ever see a Forced March or Grand Maneuver that might have allowed the effective use of that Guard unit on the back rank... all of which translated into the most disappointing performance of Napoleon's career (really this would eventually end it). Was it his fault? Well, though my sympathies lie with the Russians, I can't really blame ol' Bones Apart for blowing this one. He was just hosed by the cards.

And after reading about what happened to all those poor cavalrymen, I shouldn't ever complain again about getting a lousy hand in this game. That's war, apparently.
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Guillaume Gleize
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Congratulation for this tell and for the clever & funny comparisons with the card game!

I read a lot about those times too ... and ONLY letters from the soldiers THEMSELVES (no historian version).



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Michael Cowles
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shake c'est manifique mais ce ne pas la guerre
Thanks for the, definitive, poor card riposte
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Chris Roper
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Requete wrote:
And after reading about what happened to all those poor cavalrymen, I shouldn't ever complain again about getting a lousy hand in this game. That's war, apparently.

Well said that man.
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jeff miller
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I believe you have succinctly summarized why Borg's system so aptly captures the flavor and spirit of Napoleonic warfare. Well done!
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Ted Kostek
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Quote:
Kutusov didn't realize when informed of Kutaisov's death that there was no longer anyone in command of the reserve artillery. So they sat around unordered for the rest of the battle.

Yes, but did Kutusov not send orders? Or were the orders not executed?

Quote:
But Napoleon refused to release the Guard, despite being told this news.

The key here is the Nappy chose not to order the units. He had the option and he didn't take it. In C&C you often don't have the option.

I have been kicking around some ideas on how to have friction and fog-of-war while letting the player make the choices they want. Just because they issue an order doesn't mean it will play out that way, but I want the player to have the freedom to try.
 
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Evil Bob
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I believe that the cards don't represent particular orders so much as "results" of the orders given to the forces. If you were thinking it, then the order was given.

Yes, it's frustrating when you see that the enemy is attacking your center. You want your forces in the center to counter attack but they don't respond. Perhaps the orders were given but never received. Perhaps the orders were misinterpreted. Perhaps the commander receiving the orders didn't have the morale to carry them out. So your central forces sit and do nothing. Instead, your cavalry seizes the opportunity to charge a flank.

The players can make whichever choices they want. That doesn't mean the troops will be able to perform on those choices.
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