1809 (Victory Games): a review
for 2 players simulating the campaign of Napoleon in Austria (1809), with strong
emphasis on the manoeuvring
historical (played) and alternate campaign and 2 shorter scenario's
(Aspern-Essling and Wagram)
time of play:
±30 hours for the campaigns
of the analysis (let's say it in quotes):
boots are made for walking
that's what they'll do. Marching, that's what this game is about. Try to engage
the enemy in favourable terrain. Block that retreat path. Keep those major roads
clear. Secure the major bridges or destroy them in time. And above all: keep the
supply lines open.
game is focused on the manoeuvring of the forces. The game-system is developed
to represent this. The further your forces are away from the supply source or
the Centre of Operations the more difficult it gets. So you have to count those
hexes! A good co-ordination of your forces is necessary.
In the long run, we are all dead (Michael Porter)
The attrition is horrifying. After a few turns you don't use full movement allowance anymore because those guys just die too quick. And even when you don't move, a large force can lose a few thousand soldiers.
Extended march is murder. E.g.: a force of 21.000 used an extended march to encircle an enemy force. The encirclement succeeded but the force had lost 7.000 men due to attrition!
determining the attrition you have to look at several factors. This and the fact
that every turn each force has to check for attrition, even when it didn't move,
slows down the game. It
is possible do to some fancy manoeuvring but it will cost you dear.
need more administration
If you want to be sure that they move, you have to spend an Administrative Point (AP) or you have to roll against the initiative rating of the attached general to perform an initiative march (risky business). And as you probably already have guessed : the number of AP's available is limited.
The AP's are also important for the attrition: when you have a large stock, the attrition is bearable; if the number of AP's available is low, it will be painful. For some vital actions (destroying and repairing bridges) you have to spend AP's.
So there are lots of reasons to be economical with those AP's. One of the solutions is to make large forces so you don't have to spend much AP's. But that will make the attrition more devastating.There aren't enough AP’s available to do interesting things. So give us more administration !
This is not a shooter (PCmagazine)
The game is about manoeuvring, not about battles and the combats are not so interesting.
Due the stacking limit (48.000 men per hex, what is easily occurring) and the minimal amount of AP’s available a lot of battles will occur at odds of 1 to 2 and 1 to 1. Here the difference in losses between the winner and the loser are not so big. So you can play aggressive and attack a lot to diminish the enemy forces, but you'll bleed too.
To avoid losing a critical battle (and the corresponding victory points), one side will quickly retreat. The pursuit depends greatly on the generals involved. If the pursuers «catches» the enemy force, that force is then completely destroyed. And that's quite drastic.
Combat against small forces has the advantages that the «heavier» combat ratios are quite painful for the small force. And you'll get to pursue several hexes without having to worry about attrition. I sacrificed small forces (5.000 men) to slow down the advance of Napoleon. The result: my forces were wiped out and Napoleon moved further than he could with conventional movement without an attrition loss !
By the way, if you're a player who likes to pre-calculate combat-ratios you'll be disappointed. The exact strength of the forces is hidden and the attrition does mess up those nice calculations.
The Aspern-Essling and Wagram campaigns are not so appealing: the combat-system is (too) simple and you haven't a lot of space to manoeuvre.
Vive la France (Napoleon Bonaparte)
On the other hand the French reduce Austrian morale if they get within 7 hexes of Vienna. And that's not so hard to do. Who's going to stop them? Not the Austrians!
Another way to influence morale is to win critical battles with enough difference in losses. But as I already mentioned: in large battles the losses on both sides will be similar.
that the French have more and better generals. So if your adversary is
gallant enough to let you choose which side you're going to play, take the
French and you're on the threshold of victory.
Born to run (Bruce Springsteen)
So probably the Austrians will flee to Vienna to get a better defensive position behind a river (that the French easily can cross with a pontoon) and to shorten their supply lines. But organising that costs a lot of AP's because with the low initiative levels of the Austrian generals, it's risky to roll for initiative marches.
special paragraph is reserved for Bellegarde. In the historical campaign this
good and important Austrian general arrives in a position that the French
normally already have cut off from the main force and out of supply. In other
words, the man is a sitting duck.The French can easily surround and attack him
with one of their later reinforcements. Attrition will immediately start to
reduce Bellegarde's force, so the French don't have to hurry. Attacking
Bellegarde will probably see the French win critical battle and the death of an
important Austrian general; two factors that will influence the morale in
It's a long, long way to Vienna (traditional (adapted))
At that point a player will realise that there are more exciting games out there that are waiting to be played and will throw the towel on the impressive map.
This is a nice game that's fun at the beginning and historical to the finish but not really exciting.
a good (and frustrating) feeling of the historical campaign
Like other one-way games, not really exciting
Played and analysed by Patrick “Diving Duck” Verliefde