Friday, 22 July 2016

Napoleon's Triumph (Simmons Games) - Game Report

This game report has been reproduced from the original by the kind permission of its author - and local gaming buddy - Roger. In this game, Roger played the French, while I commanded the combined Russian - Austrian army.

Napoleon's Triumph is an innovative block-and-area-movement game, based on the battle of Austerlitz in December, 1805. Thanks to photographer Paul Humphreys, this is how the game looks, in all of its component glory:

Each rod represents a specific infantry, cavalry or artillery formation. The historical commanders - such as Bernadotte in this photo - are also represented. The number of icons on each block denotes unit strength.

Roger owns this game and we played a couple of face-to-face games, before progressing to games over Vassal.

Based on this 4th game, I present Roger's report (with some annotations from me, in brackets). As the battle progresses, he cleverly weaves in maxims from Napoleon.

'Gentlemen, examine this ground
carefully, it is going to be a battlefield.'

2nd December 1805 


The French make the mistake of splitting the Guards. Cavalry screen the vulnerable French corps. The Allies outnumber them 2:1. 

(Click on images to see higher res versions that show more detail. In later images, red and blue dots show you where the action is)


The Austrians confidently advance. St Hilaire feigns a retreat from Langeron. Bagration sets a roadblock on the main road. 


The Austrian columns continue their general advance in the centre. Vandamme is damned for making a rash attack on Prebyshevsky and loses a regiment. 

French morale 21; Allied 27


Liechtenstein reinforces Prebyshevsky. Artillery duel ensues. 
'Artillery is more essential to cavalry than to infantry, because cavalry has no fire for its defense, but depends on the sabre.'
After the artillery softens the opposition, Lannes orders a heavy cavalry charge...


The cream of the Allied army is soon in disarray. 
'It is the business of cavalry to follow up the victory, and to prevent the beaten army from rallying.'
How did this happen? Roger explains:

At the start of the turn, an Austrian 3-str INF and 1 ART were defending the approach (grey border zone separating areas) opposite a French 2-str INF and 1 ART also in the approach, facing off as it were. The French heavy cavalry were waiting in reserve. The Austrian columns were in reserve and in 'column' - ie not in a defensive formation. 

The French start with an artillery attack which can only be absorbed by the Austrians in the defense approach. This reduces the Austrians to a 1-str INF and 1 ART or 2-str INF no ART. The French 3-str CAV then mounts an attack into the weakened defence approach. The Austrians must defend from the units in the approach, and put up at most a 2-str defence. They lose the fight and must retreat. The Fr heavy CAV then advances into the locale. 

As the Austrian columns in the reserve locale were not expecting an attack, they become dismayed by the routed units from the overwhelmed defence approach, and they too rout. 

Essentially the units in the reserve locale can be thought as being in 'column' formation, surprised by an unexpected attack and panic, particularly as they see the defenders streaming to the rear. 

(My guys in the centre lost cohesion as a result of coming out second best against the French cavalry. This detaches each one of them from their corps - not good, to say the least).


Bernadotte's sudden appearance on Kienmayer's flank causes a rout. Davout is punctual. 
'A general-in-chief should ask himself several times in the day, 'What if the enemy were to appear now in my front, or on my right, or my left?''
The Allied right is now under serious pressure. 
'The transition from the defensive to the offensive is one of the most delicate operations in war.'
French morale 18; Allied morale 14


Constantine orders a fierce barrage. 

'The worse the troops the greater the need of artillery.'


Murat continues to order probing attacks, while Davout attempts to outflank the Allied position. 

On the French left, Bernadotte waits for Legrand to catch up. The plan is to exploit the Allies' limited commands by putting pressure everywhere. 
'I have destroyed the enemy merely by marches.'


Kollowrath reinforces the Allied pocket. Davout gambles on an attack but Kollowrath's counterattack throws him back. 
'We should always go before our enemies with confidence, otherwise our apparent uneasiness inspires them with greater boldness.'
Bessieres gets tired of carousing in town and moves off with heavy cavalry to bring pressure to bear on the Allies elsewhere. 


Kollowrath pursues Davout. Prebyshevsky and Liechtenstein continue to bring reinforcements for a counterattack. 

Miloradovich moves to counter Bernadotte. 


Murat orders a cavalry charge and routs the Allies. Further successful cavalry attacks in the centre and on the French left complete Allied demoralization for a decisive victory! 
'Charges of cavalry are equally useful at the beginning, the middle and the end of a battle. They should be made always, if possible, on the flanks of the infantry, especially when the latter is engaged in front.'
Some rules nuances contributed to the Allied defeat in relation to cavalry penalties/obstructions and being aware of the ability to attack twice through an approach in certain circumstances. Still, great tense fun. 
'Remember , gentlemen, what a Roman emperor said: The corpse of an enemy always smells sweet.' 

So, I had my head handed to me in that one :-)

Thanks again Roger, for allowing me to reproduce your report. Turning to the subject of books, while I have not yet managed to acquire a copy or read it, David Chandler's massive 1200 page plus 'The Campaigns of Napoleon': often cited as THE single source book for the serious Napoleonic reader. Be prepared to part with quite a lot of cash for this one. It's well overdue to be reprinted!

For my own part, I have read several books on aspects of Napoleon's military career. For those looking for a handy single volume overview - and one written in a very engaging style, with generous illustrations and maps - I can recommend 'The Napoleonic Wars' by Gunther Rothenberg:

This is from the same 'Cassell's History of Warfare' series that I recommended in my earlier entry about the classic WWI game, 'Paths of Glory'.

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