Austerlitz in a Mirror

Or playing apples to apples Austerlitz

One can clearly see how the French won so dramatically after a few games of Pub Battles Austerlitz. The Allied army was completely disorganized and barely functioning as a whole when compared to the French army. This wasn’t the sort of superiority that is necessarily evident when comparing numbers, weapons, or even morale, all things that are easily translated to combat stats in wargames. The difference was primarily in organization and doctrine. That, and the fact that Napoleon had completely psyched out his adversaries in the campaign leading up to the battle!

Considering all that, how can it be any fun at all to play the Allies? Command Post games has gone farther than many other systems in the way it treats the opening battle. Kudos to them! If you’re going to publish a game on the Battle of Austerlitz, that’s pretty much what you have to do.

However, as simply a player of the Pub Battles system, I have a few more options. One of the most powerful design facets of Pub Battles is its “Free Game” architecture. Since Pub Battles, with its Kriegspiel inspired system, focuses on Command and Control, not combat, it lends itself to a very powerful variant.

Simply allow Allied players to organize their army into as many, or as few, Corps as they like, and raise the leadership ratings from 2 to 3. , and you now have two very similar armies. Of course, two identical armies facing each other can be kind of stale in and of itself, but there are still some key differences inherent in the battle which can be carried over seamlessly to this variant. Allow the Allies to use all the HQ blocks which creates Fog of War, and use the historical French entry, which requires two turns for their full army to arrive.

This means that the Allied player has a brief advantage that they need to use as soon as the sun rises. The French must scramble to meet an uncertain threat. Because this is Pub Battles, there will never be a perfect strategy. The chit draw and combat guarantee that. You can try your best to outmaneuver your opponent, but the chit draw and Alter Turn Order rolls can simulate the same unpredictable outcomes that bedevil real commanders. In addition, combat is never a sure thing. The best you can hope for is likely outcomes, at worst, it’s unlikely outcomes. It’s as if a kriegspiel referee, a really good kriegspiel referee, is taking your combat and saying. “Well, what if this happens?” Pub Battles rewards flexibility, and not letting circumstances get into your head, and focusing on possibilities.

Back to our scenario, with its Allied army that matches the French. How can this be? Obviously, not very likely, since it didn’t even come close to happening, but what if it did? A disaffected French Superior officer, say another Napoleon, (because no army is big enough for two Napoleons), approaches the Tsar and says that he can give him an army as great as the French! The Tsar eagerly accepts the offer. Then the army also eagerly accepts this new and very different doctrine. Go ahead and imagine how this might be possible. I submit it is certainly more believable than wondering what if the Russians had AK-47s and T-34s at Austerlitz!

I’m about to try my first game played this way. Now I play double blind solo, so I won’t be using all the Fog of War that would be present in a two player game, but I can certainly play as though it was there.

The Battle formerly known as Austerlitz!

Pub Battles Austerlitz: One Sharp Blow! This time Napoleon brought everything, determined the exact moment… and the Coalition delivered the one sharp blow! Tune in to my four minute video and find out who ended up winning what will be renamed The Battle of Solkonitz & Telnitz.

Post your thoughts on the battle, I’d love to hear it. I think this replay deserves some commentary, but I can’t do it without a big SPOILER ALERT! So we’ll discuss it in the comments.

One thing that is different is the way towns are handled in this scenario. Unlike ACW towns, many European towns are composed of stone buildings and are even walled. As such, units don’t become spent upon entering them, and may rally. Also, units in towns can’t be flanked. This change is significant, and gives Austerlitz a unique feel.

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Pub Battles: Austerlitz. Napoleon sends Bernadotte and Marat on a mission of mayhem. Now he needs to hold of the combined armies of the coalition. Will superior French command and control be enough to hold off the superior enemy?

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Pub Battles: Austerlitz Witness the glory and valor of Davout’s III corps as they hold out all afternoon against the hurricane assaults of Bagration’s Advanced Guard and Constantin’s Guard Corps.

Somebody hand Friant a juice box.

But was it all for naught?

Pub Battles: Austerlitz just went on sale!

If you are curious how they handle the setup, in simplest terms it works like this:

Napoleon can choose how large a force he wants to bring on. Regardless of what he chooses, all HQs begin on the map. If he goes all in, he must win decisively, if he brings minimal forces, the Coalition must win decisively.

This means, as the Coalition player, you must attack aggressively from the outset to win. If you discover Napoleon has gone all in, you need to switch to the defensive; the sooner, the better!

The fog in the morning doesn’t help!

As soon as I get my copy I’ll be doing some replay videos. We can all laugh at my first feeble attempts to master the field!

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This video is significant for two reasons. The first is that I believe I have finally gotten all the setup right (my fault, not the publisher’s!), and because I added a speedy recap at the end.

The final detail I overlooked, even though it was in boldface on the setup sheet, was that Detachments could setup as much as one full mounted rang from Howe. This is why, if you place Howe at the extreme North tip of the British setup area, it is one mounted move from Chew House.

This time I figured out how to add an accelerated format clip of the whole battle (20x faster) that allows for one to get the feel for the whole flow of the Battle. Basically, I use the software to export the video in MP4, then import that back into the editing software, then take that single clip and speed it up. Sounds simple, but until I figured that out, it was a pretty daunting task.

Blah, blah, blah. Without further ado…

Germantown Scenario Setup Guide

A few notes on the Setup, and a video guide as well.

Item one: The scenario rules say that a detachment may occupy Cliveden (Chew House). What isn’t as clear is that the British may setup with a detachment in Cliveden.

Item two: The British command rules are clearly explained and I still go it wrong! Let me restate it here. Knyphausen and Cornwallis appear on turns 3 and 5 respectively. The British start with Howe in command of all British forces and they move when Cornwallis chit is activated. On turn 3 when Knyphausen arrives, his command activates when he is drawn, and Howe activates with Cornwallis’ troops when Cornwallis’ chit is drawn. When Cornwallis arrives on turn 5, he takes over his command and Howe acts as Army Commander, providing combat command to all British troops in range of his Block.