Recommend
20 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

Incredible Courage at Austerlitz: Telnitz» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review and brief AAR rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Michael McCalpin
United States
McKinney
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I had the pleasure of playing a partial game of Incredible Courage at Austerlitz - Telnitz against the designer, Chris Fasulo. The game depicts the southern extreme of the battle of Austerlitz. I will include my first impressions and a brief AAR.

Components:

Chris runs a one-man shop, and given this, the components are quite good. The half-inch counters are well-printed and punched, if a bit thin. All units are two-sided to allow two different formations without need for markers (other, less used formations do use markers). There are plenty of markers to cover impetus bonuses (for cavalry charges), Level of Organization (more about that later), and a realistic command and control scheme.

The maps are less impressive in that they are four 11"x17" sheets that need to be taped together (we discovered that Post-It Notes actually work well for this and don't tear up the map when being removed). The artwork is good and functional, though the wintry scene is a little dull. It's probably more realistic that way, but as any designer of an Austerlitz or Eylau map will tell you, realistic isn't necessarily pretty.

The game comes with plenty of player aids and charts in color that cover fire and melée combat, terrain effects, the organization of both armies, as well as some other chart types. You will need some space or expect to spend a little time shuffling to find the chart you want. Some of the charts could use a little streamlining, as die roll modifier effects and strength modifying effects are intermingled, and this caused me a little confusion.

Game Scale:

The game is at quite a small scale: infantry units are companies of about 150 men, cavalry are squadrons of about 100 men and their horses, and artillery are 50 men and their guns. This is pretty zoomed-in: even the La Bataille series is 50-100 men per strength point. Turns are 10 minutes long. Hexes are 100 meters.

The result of this is that there are a lot of units. A lot of units. You will want your tweezers, particularly if you are the Coalition player.

Game mechanics:

The game includes an interesting mechanic that definitely scores for originality, even if I am not sold on it yet. Rather than taking casualties in the form of strength points, the primary means of loss is through a reduction in the Level of Organization (LoO) for a unit. Units start with a given LoO (at varying levels for militia vs regulars vs elite units), and combat causes a reduction in this value. When the LoO reaches 1, the unit routs, and if the unit reaches an LoO of zero, the unit is eliminated...sort of (I'll explain in a bit). LoO can be recovered back up to the full level. Reductions in LoO also cause a reduction in the combat strength of a unit.

The theory underlying this mechanic is that most negative effects on a combat unit are not the literally dead and wounded personnel, but the morale effects of combat. It's true that most military units break and are effectively eliminated long before the majority of the soldiers therein are killed or wounded, and in this regard, I agree with the LoO mechanic. I do have a bit of trouble in that the mechanic acts as if straggling - but no casualties - have taken place until the unit reaches LoO of zero. Since units can always recover to their full LoO, it is if all combat effects were the result of stragglers.

Speaking of stragglers, there is a phase once per hour (every six turns) in which each regiment that has lost a unit (to LoO of zero) gets the chance for the unit to return. It is a 30% chance, subject to modifiers, so some units will not return. Chris says that if you take the number of eliminated units at the end of a game, multiply by the number of men in each unit, and compare the result to the actual casualties from the battle, the numbers work out pretty closely.

It is possible that once the battle begins in earnest, units cannot back out and recover LoO, so even if the mechanic is a little unrealistic in the ability to recover fully from combat, it may not really matter in regular play.

Another interesting mechanic is that while units have a base combat strength (adjustable by LoO, as noted above), each unit at the instant of combat rolls a die to determine its actual strength at that instant. The theory behind this is that combat is full of uncertainties that defy the best officer's means to quantify. The game effect is that you cannot always be certain whether your attack will be at 1-1, 3-2, or even perhaps 2-1 odds. The downside is more dice rolling, but the upside is less gaming the CRT.

Each turn follows an initiative system that means that a higher rated commander will usually move first and sometimes will get two moves in a row. Units can in their turn either move or fire (not both) and then can conduct melée.

AAR:

I took the Coalition side at Chris's suggestion, and it was a good one: the French are very outnumbered in this section of the battlefield and therefore require more finesse than a beginner will likely muster.

The Coalition is broken into three sections, each of which is released at a different time. The Advance Guard is comprised mostly of Austrians, and I took the number of troops available to me as a license to charge. I sent the Advance Guard rather headlong in column into the apparently thin French line just east of Telnitz and found that the line wasn't so thin after all and that column increases casualties rather markedly. My assault was turned back in quick order.

Cavalry duel...so much potential

Cavalry engaged on the extreme southern flank and some spectacularly poor die rolling cost me the chance to do some serious damage. The French cavalry retired in good order, taking advantage of one of these changes in initiative to move twice to get out of a sticky situation.

Cavalry duel...so much...nothing

In the meantime, I had reformed my Austrian infantry, placed some artillery, and resumed my assault. This time things were more successful. I cracked the corner of the French line and slowly pried the gap open. Chris skillfully sacrificed one company to buy a bit of time and formed a scratch line to heal the gap, but I had forced them back.

Mes amis...où êtes-vous?

As this progressed, the second and third columns of the Coalition forces were released, and they are big. There are so many troops here that I wasn't really sure what to do, though I am sure that had the game progressed farther, I would have lost enough of them to find the others useful. cry

The second column slammed into the French center and caused some grief just as our game ended at 0840 hours. The French were mostly in skirmish formation, which offered them the opportunity to retreat before melée but which reduced their defensive fire and melée values substantially. Chris, perhaps knowing our time was drawing to a close, allowed the companies not too badly hurt by my artillery to stand and fight. The results are below.

Not even the end of the beginning, but it's a start

Clearly, there was a lot of battle left when time ran out, so my AAR is necessarily incomplete. The game mechanics are pretty straightforward, but the number of units means that turns can take a while. I was certainly engaged in the narrative, though: could I keep pushing the French back? Could he keep putting up good defensive positions before I overran the two towns? I was sorry to have to pack the game away for the moment.
20 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Boone
United States
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great write up Michael.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sébastien P.
France
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb
Thanks for the interesting review/AAR.
mmccalpin wrote:

Another interesting mechanic is that while units have a base combat strength (adjustable by LoO, as noted above), each unit at the instant of combat rolls a die to determine its actual strength at that instant. The theory behind this is that combat is full of uncertainties that defy the best officer's means to quantify. The game effect is that you cannot always be certain whether your attack will be at 1-1, 3-2, or even perhaps 2-1 odds. The downside is more dice rolling, but the upside is less gaming the CRT.

This is appealing to players who enjoy games where you don't have a total control of you armies.

I was wondering how long it would have taken to play the scenario entirely ?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael McCalpin
United States
McKinney
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
agonilinx wrote:
I was wondering how long it would have taken to play the scenario entirely ?


It is hard to say how long a full battle might go, given my own inexperience with the system and not being certain if later turns would move faster or slower, but at the rate we were going, it would have taken a total of perhaps 30 hours. I don't believe for an instant that it would take that long if we were to start again, of course, but I could see this taking a good long while (10-15 hours?) even with experienced players. Definitely one for a gaming convention or a long weekend.

Perhaps Chris Fasulo will weigh in with his previous play times.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher Fasulo
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
The scenario we played was the entire southern part of the battle and contained all the forces. There are 2 other scenarios that cut the field in half and therefore reduce the amount of time involved for those who want the flavor with less units and interaction. These would more likely be playable in a full day. The scenario Michael and I played would be a weekend affair if you wanted to finish it to conclusion.

Our scenario included the Austrian Adv Gd, 1 Col and 2 Col and the initial French forces of 3 Div IV Corps and the Lt Cav Brigade. Then there are the III Corps French forces that arrive during the battle. One of the smaller scenarios needs only the 2 Col and 2 regiments of French and the other scenario requires the Austrian Adv Gd and 1 Col plus one regiment of French infantry and the Lt Cav Brigade.

Chris
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Hughes
Australia
Northbridge
NSW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks very much for this, Michael. Exactly what I was looking for - well written and descriptive - and most of all, timely.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael McCalpin
United States
McKinney
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Scotty Dave wrote:
Thanks very much for this, Michael. Exactly what I was looking for - well written and descriptive - and most of all, timely.


Thank you. I guess it is safe to say that I was pretty engaged in the game because I had not planned to write a review before playing but had so many things running through my mind afterward that I wanted to get them down and share them.

By the way, Chris Fasulo sent me some amended combat charts yesterday morning that nicely corrected my issue with DRM effects and strength modifying effects being intermingled. Hats off to him for being so responsive to feedback.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brendan McManus
United States
bemidji
Minnesota
flag msg tools
mb
An excellent system, but at a scope & pace that is difficult to stick with for the big battles
I have been playing ICAA-T for five 2.5 - 3 hour sessions. We have gotten through about half the full game. The system seems very authentic. And I have been learning to incorporate some of the elements -- like skirmishers -- that I was uncertain about at the start. This is an excellent piece of work.

But for me personally, the system is at too small a level for a battle of this magnitude. The pace of action and the size of the game is overwhelming. The fellow I am playing against suggested it would work best for a team game. I would be very excited to see this system used for the smaller battles: Lonato, Castiglione, Arcola, Rivoli, Marengo, possibly Vitoria, Orthez, Bayonne, and the battles of 1814 in France.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher Fasulo
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank You for the compliments. The low level of the units is by design. It allows for a more realistic spreading out in that part of the battlefield where the regiments had to defend large segments of terrain. It allows for better representation of support from the behind elements of the regiment when attacking.

That said, I am working on some battalion level counters to help with the unit count, they are being tested as I write. I am hoping to have them at CSW to help us get through an entire play through with all 3 games together. I think it could be the star of the show.

I am really happy with your assessment and comments. Please feel free to write with any after action items you want to go straight to the designer. Me of course. I enjoy hearing from customers about their ideas.

grognard@grognardsims.com

Regards,
Chris Fasulo
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.