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Subject: Beware the French backfield, and wandering Allied guards rss

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Scipio O.
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I played the French in this Vassal game, setting up with a somewhat weak defense around Legrand and a heavy force in the center, where he looked likely to advance. Both guard infantry were in reserve. Playing the Tsar in this game was Furyn; we met via BGG.

Brian Evans
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My guess is wrong - the Tsar advances on Legrand, not the center. Legrand pulls back and I shift other forces in his direction. Several French cavalry successfully infiltrate the red line, including one of my guards on his right, with which I hope to catch him unawares.



The "annoying French cavalry" turn - Kiemeyer has to detach a unit to his rear, and elsewhere the cavalry seem to distract the Allied advance. Langeron's large corps maneuvers to outflank Legrand. Bessiers joins Lannes on the main road.



I take a costly risk with the cavalry harassing the Tsar's right flank, and with a series of well-played orders my units are surrounded and captured, with a detach order of two 2-infantry by Bagration finishing me off. Kienmeyer and Langeron press forward on the other flank; Napoleon sends St. Hilaire's heavy cavalry to shore up the deteriorating situation. Several Allied corps are drawn to their approaches. With Bagration weakened, Bessiers and Lannes move up in the north.



Langeron and Kienmeyer set up to try and take a star in the south; my independent cavalry moves back to worry them from the rear. Bagration manages to rebuild some strength. I shift several corps toward a developing battle along the main road - leaving the center of the board essentially, interestingly empty.



Constantine steps back; Miloradovich goes to the approach. Dokhtorov sees an empty center and moves to fill it.

After closely studying the far southern part of the board (an area we are both little familiar with from past games), the French reinforcements arrive, and with help from other French units I surround and smash Langeron's huge corps. Around a dozen morale are lost by the Tsar; only two of Langeron's units (his guard cavalry) can escape into the town with Kienmeyer (and yes, Langeron is shattered - we corrected that before the next turn). Both French guard infantry are left off board. The tables have now turned; Napoleon is thrilled by his tactical success but concerned about the prospects with so many units so far from the stars on other side of the board.

Recklessly, fatefully, Bessiers moves alone down the main road.



On their left, the Allies attempt to extricate themselves. On their right, preparations for a battle: Lannes makes a painful choice to retreat from a cavalry feint, worried about reckless Bessiers' behind. Prebyshevsky shifts to the north; Constantine advances and is brought to the approach by a feint. Vandamme moves to secure Bessiers' position. On my left, I do my best to slow the Allied retreat and hope to score some easy morale points by catching units on the approach; a small cavalry force moves to the center-rear of the Tsar's lines. Legrand and Davout make an effort to find the battle.



The "big battle" in the north - is it going to happen? Bessiers' artillery luck out and find one of the Tsar's guard infantry. I want to slip some forces through the town next to Bagration and open up another harassing approach against the main Allied force. But there isn't enough strength. The odds seem good that more red guards are now in that locale; if Constantine has two artillery as well, I think I may not be able to hold. One French guard comes speeding up the main road. In the south, St. H and Bernadotte are hot on Dohktorov's and Langeron's heels but have yet to score a hit.



The Allied left stabilizes as they successfully withdraw onto the Pratzen Heights. St. Hilaire's guard cavalry are separated. Milaradovich retreats from the center and Murat senses an opportunity. The Tsar orders several independent units along the far northern flank. French Guards rush up the main road.



The Allies surround and eliminate my isolated guard cavalry in the center. Prebeshevsky moves off the approach. Bagration detaches a unit on my flank from his already slim force. Running out of time, the French attempt to open up a new front on Prebeshevsky and Langeron, smashing through a 1-strength infantry in the town to their south. I'm worried that Milaradovich may have the guards, and will destroy Murat. My guards arrive and prepare to break into Bagration's locale, as Lannes tries to do the same, reinforced by Vandamme. I add a 2-strength cav to the approach with Bessiers.



After some fiddling with units in the south, the Tsar holds his breath and launches a single guard attack on the block in Bessiers' approach. If it's a 3-strength unit, he loses four morale and likely the game. Turns out, that's the approach where I should have put the cavalry last turn. Because it's a 2-strength infantry, reduced to 1-strength by the guard attack, and the French are driven out of the locale, losing a dozen or so morale - more than they have.

A decisive Allied victory.
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Kåre Dyvik
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Very interesting development of the battle. From the beautiful Allied defense line in picture 2, through the surprising as well as iniviting hole in the French centre, to the climactic finale with the decisive Allied guard attack. I guess Furyn (aka the Tsar) hesitated a bit first!
A very good read - well done!
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Brian Evans
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nappeto wrote:
Very interesting development of the battle. From the beautiful Allied defense line in picture 2, through the surprising as well as iniviting hole in the French centre, to the climactic finale with the decisive Allied guard attack. I guess Furyn (aka the Tsar) hesitated a bit first!
A very good read - well done!



After I moved my guard unit adjacent to the French horde, Emperor Scipio moved his unit from the that approach to the reserve. My lone Guard couldn't take on three units from the French reserve so I had to first lure that one little two-step French Infantry back into the approach before I could make my move. So, I used the Guards to feint attack and luckily the infantry block stayed put in the approach that time. It was nerve racking to be sure!

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Brian Evans
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Here are a few of the more destructive moments... The attack by the French reinforcements was particularly devastating. It came at the end of our first session and I think we were both wondering if there was even a point to continuing. But, you always have a chance to get back in this game. Always a chance.


French Cavalry are caught on the Rarodinach Berg early in the morning.





French reinforcements shatter the Allied advance before the sun reaches it's zenith.





In the early afternoon, A French Guard Cavalry is surrounded.





A wolf in sheep's clothing ends the French threat for good.
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Scipio O.
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Live action - that's pretty cool. (Why did I retreat into that locale again?)
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Will Green
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The "Wolf in sheep's clothing" reminds me vividly of a moment in a battle, when I was the French, and the Allied, surrounded me with light units, then lowered the boom on me...only rather than a 16 point morale loss...(and in the same area as your losses were taken...)

I lost 22-points in one retreat! Not only that but I had the Allies down to 3 morale at the time! Decisive victory for the Allies!

(IT was brutal...yet completely captivating...my best loss to date!!)

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Brian Evans
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22? Wow, that's really something! Sounds like something worthy of a session report.
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R Larsen
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Fantastic AAR!
The "live" sequences are extremely cool! Have not seen that before.
Thanks for the effort.
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Mon centre cède, ma droite recule, situation excellente, j'attaque. ~ Ferdinand Foch
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Brian Evans
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I forgot to include my plan for the battle in my above post. I'll knock it out of the way here.

As the Allies, I wanted to see if the attack Legrand strategy could work. I've never seen it succeed. The French reinforcements are so devastating on that flank as they have a plethora of entry points very close to the action. Since I knew an attack on that side was likely to end disastrously I decided to deploy mostly cavalry to Langeron's corps so that if it all went to hell I might be able to escape a little easier. (Also, I've always wanted to try cav on that front. Just for kicks!) I tried to disguise my intentions with the initial setup by assigning extra bodies to Langeron, Miloradovich, and Bagration. Hopefully, this distribution would hint at a middle attack, or at least not give away my intentions to attack Legrand. Each block that didn't get assigned to Legrand would make my attack much easier.

Knowing that my "attack Legrand" strategy was bound to trigger the French reinforcements, I distributed my Artillery to Miloradovich and Liechtenstein so that the rolling cannon fire might hold the Pratzen Heights and Stare Vinohrady. Upon witnessing my artillery corps dig in along the hills Emperor Scipio was heard saying, "The whiff of grapeshot is overpowering." Scipio then avoided the hills at all cost and actually split his army in two, pushing hard at both flanks. Lesson learned: if you actually want to use your artillery against a cunning foe, wait to be first assaulted and drawn into the approach by your enemy. The cannons can then be used in subsequent assaults.

Again, expecting French reinforcements to hit the field at some point, I distributed my Guard Infantry amongst Bagration's and Constantine's corps as, in my experience, a French counterattack tends to make itself felt along the main road.

So, in short, my plan was to push Legrand hard and if unable to turn that flank, to at least force Emperor Scipio to call for his reinforcements. If unable to retreat in good order, Langeron's cavalry corps would escape in disorder but would at least be alive. With artillery on the hills and Guard Infantry along the main road, my forces would, hopefully, be well positioned to defend against a French counterattack. There was my plan, though I didn't account for Scipio's lone cavalry division blocking Langeron's retreat, a clever move that allowed for an even more devastating assault on Langeron then I could of imagined.
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The fact that these reports shed so much light into the session demonstrates to me that honest history is impossible. Historical opponents were not good friends, battles were not fought in the spirit of good sports, reports were not written in good faith. First hand histories were clouded by their authors' limited perspective and, as if that wasn't bad ebough, they were motivated to cover up their mistakes and amplify thier successes. Conflicting versions of history seldom meld to give us the "big picture" -- they simply leave us more confused.
 
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Kåre Dyvik
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Quote:
they were motivated to cover up their mistakes and amplify thier successes

Our mutual friend, Napoleon, was himself a master in this field. Much of his later success was due to his colorful reports from the Italian campaign in 1796-97, which outshone the more mundane reports from the commanders of the other French armies at the time, and made Napoleon a superstar (which was badly needed by a French population weary of revolution and corrupt leaders). He showed a natural talent for handling the media in a time when mass media were in their infancy.
Many of his victories (Lodi, Arcole etc) were hardly as decisive or due to excellent leadership as he made them appear.
The Marengo campaign is worth a study in this context.
 
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David
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Live action reports..sweet. The bar has been raised yet again
 
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Tsar Brian, I have a question: did the cavalry at your rear took you by surprise? and how badly did they affect your overall plan? Thanks!
 
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Kåre Dyvik
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Furyn wrote:

I distributed my Artillery to Miloradovich and Liechtenstein so that the rolling cannon fire might hold the Pratzen Heights and Stare Vinohrady. Upon witnessing my artillery corps dig in along the hills Emperor Scipio was heard saying, "The whiff of grapeshot is overpowering." Scipio then avoided the hills at all cost and actually split his army in two, pushing hard at both flanks. Lesson learned: if you actually want to use your artillery against a cunning foe, wait to be first assaulted and drawn into the approach by your enemy. The cannons can then be used in subsequent assaults.

It is a good lesson, but I wonder if there may be more than one lesson to be learned here.
1. By positioning artillery in the middle, you force your opponent to split his attack, and you can destroy him piecemeal. This technique has been used with considerable success in historic battles. I must try this myself next time (if my future opponent hasn't read this whistle).

2. By positioning a corps in the middle in an approach, you can bluff your opponent into thinking that that's where your artillery is, and force him to go where you have actually put it (I can do that next time if my opponent has read this devil).
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Brian Evans
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nappeto wrote:

It is a good lesson, but I wonder if there may be more than one lesson to be learned here.
1. By positioning artillery in the middle, you force your opponent to split his attack, and you can destroy him piecemeal. This technique has been used with considerable success in historic battles. I must try this myself next time (if my future opponent hasn't read this whistle).

2. By positioning a corps in the middle in an approach, you can bluff your opponent into thinking that that's where your artillery is, and force him to go where you have actually put it (I can do that next time if my opponent has read this devil).



haha! love it!
 
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Brian Evans
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WalterLai wrote:
Tsar Brian, I have a question: did the cavalry at your rear took you by surprise? and how badly did they affect your overall plan? Thanks!



I assume you're referring to the cav that got behind Langeron et al on the Allied left. There was actually a turn when I had the option to eliminate that cav but in doing so it would have taken up a lot of actions. I made a conscious decision to let the cav go and press on with my attack. I was not at all surprised that he used it to advance upon Langeron's flank. Indeed, I anticipated it and made a mental note to push it out of the way with a cav attack on my turn. I was not particularly worried about it though because I knew it was too far away to attack Langeron in that turn and that if something were to happen I could still retreat Langeron's forces through both the neighboring towns. Where I messed up is that I forgot, (or just didn't consider) that Emeperor Scipio would bring his reinforcements on piecemeal and thereby be able to hit Langeron through the town in addition to the wide approach (for which I had my Heavy Cavalry ready to defend). The combination of both of those cav moves (reinforcement cav to Telnitz, annoying cav to open area between the villages) together made for a terrible predicament that I had NOT anticipated. I knew things could go badly and probably would, I just didn't think they would go THAT badly! I can honestly say I was feeling a bit under the weather at that point.

Despite my feeling of dread at the time I guess you can say Emperor Scipio's entrapment of Langeron's corps did not change my "overall" plan. My strategic objectives were accomplished in that I did force the French Reinforcements on the board and while my losses were staggering, they hadn't knocked me out yet (though it sure felt like it at the time!). My plan had always been to force the reinforcements and then run for the hills. The losses I suffered just meant that there really was never another option but to "run for the hills".

So, to answer your question directly. The flanking cavalry did not change my overall plan in the slightest, it merely "upped the ante" so to speak. Either I was going to win or lose, but either way it would be according to "the plan" as any chance for an alternative was dashed away. I hope that answers your question.
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Thank you for the answer, Brian. I am very interested in the capabilities of rogue cavalries. I am not getting enough gameplay so session reports like the one you guys did helps a lot.
 
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Brian Evans
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rogue french calvalry can be very effective as they force a disproportionate number of allied blocks to deal with their presence due to the tie breaking rules as well as their ability to retreat without losses.
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Jan Ozimek
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Furyn wrote:
rogue french calvalry can be very effective as they force a disproportionate number of allied blocks to deal with their presence due to the tie breaking rules as well as their ability to retreat without losses.

..not to mention commands!
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