Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Austerlitz Victory Conditions?

Why is not Austerlitz not more often played?

Well, yes, it would take a shed load of miniatures but some of us do have enough.
And yes, to do it "properly" on the table will require a white mat and "snow" on the figures' bases, however that is not really necessary.
But it is hard to recreate the specific conditions of this famous victory by Napoleon as an accurate scenario. There are many difficult factors:
A)  The fog: hard to hide THAT many troops on the table without surprised players yelling "What the h**l!!".
B) The bad command: how to find that many incompetent Allied players... or to tell them "don't worry if you are going in the wrong direction".
And finally:
C) How to convince them that by doing so, will win them the game?

I had read one possible solution in having each village or hill as a point value, with some higher for one side than the other.  Thus, the one side will put more effort into capturing and holding those topographic features thus "pushing" the players in certain directions.

Thus we could have the points values as such:
                          French   Allies        
Telnitz                    2           4
Sokolonitz              2           6
Puntowitz               2           2
Schlapanitz             2           2
Santon Hill             2           2
Blastowitz              4           2
Pratzen Heights      6           2
                              ----        -----
                              20          20
The Pratzen Heights hold only minimal points for the Allies, while gaining them will give the French a greater amount.   As both sides start with an even amount to gain,  offensive action is required.
Perhaps add 1 point for each enemy formation destroyed and a fun but reasonably historically accurate scenario can be developed?


  1. If neither side knows the points objectives of thte other, then points can be accumulated almost by accident, eg the Pratzen issue. The Telnitz/Sokolnits scrap may not actually take place, and so on. If you award points for features, yes, you could well guide the game to reflect the actual battle. It's a problem. How abour giving the commanders objectives and base the points round their level of success? Boney simply (?) wanted to destroy the Allied army, but this involved manoeuvre rather than just a slugging match.

    An idea to handle poor commanders would be to have a method of delaying the transmission of orders and reaction times and even deciding whether the orders wiil be ignored. This way, better players will still be stymied.

    1. As I was doing a solo play-test, I mentally had each Allied commander aim for a specific area as he "objective" Should the command/player achieve and hold the objective he would gain his laurels regardless of the battle as a whole.
      And certainly the poor command of the Allies could be mimicked by reducing the command dice amounts. Not totally fair for the Allied players however...and it still is just a game.
      Most interesting however is the outcome in that I could singly maneuver the Allies as they did AND give the French a large tactical advantage, yet the dice can still throw all that out the window and have an ahistorical outcome. Which is why we play I guess......

      Thanks for the input!

  2. It's one of those battles that defies simulation. Competent Russian and Austrian players, knowing all that the Allied commanders didn't know or chose to ignore, could doubtless obtain a much better result. And yet one doesn't want to handicap the Allied side with stupid commander rules, though as Garry suggests, giving them worse Command and Control than the French would be on solution.
    Antietam is a similar problem, in that if you don't simulate McClellan's hesistancy and even timidity, the Union player should be able to beat the CSA.
    Perhaps one solution would be for the GM to run an Austerlitz game double blind but not tell the Allied commanders that it is Austerlitz, just somewhere in Eastern Europe, and let them try to figure it out as they go along.

    1. Your idea is one I often employ. Indeed I have previously posted games in which I use a different name and certainly different nationalities but historical deployments. I did Gettysburg as a Napoleon game which worked well; although I wish I had Prussian cuirassiers for use as Pickett's Division! (I now have the cuirassiers!) Or the battle of "Karunne" in northern Germany which saw the last stand of a defeated 1813 Prussian force trying to embark from the mainland -- The Peninsular historical battle of Corunna of 1809.
      Just using different troops usually have the players looking at the battlefield as a new set up.

      Thanks for the note!
      take care

  3. The written "Plan" for the Allies is the key factor.

    Such a plan for the Allied forces was critical to get the job done, there were still written plans for the French yet their command system and the Emperor's personal fire eaters and ADC could 'make changes on the fly' much more efficiently than the Allies could. Doubly so for Austrians mixing with Russians, as the lower ranks of Russians did not speak German, or French, or sometimes even Russian dialects very well.

    By putting the senior command on to 'rails' of issued orders and having to make those plans come about you can re-create the critical events on the tabletop.

    Your points system, will do some of those items, yet an experienced commander, like Kutusov, would know not to commit too soon to the general advance. This is really what caused the collapse of the Allied positions, it was the expectation of seeing the French retreat that 'pulled' the Allied forces off the Pratzen.

    Hidden French deployment (or even better - decoy French deployment) will also help to put the Allies into the wrong frame of mind or positioning.

    Incorrect information about troops present or supporting troops locations also adds to the overconfidence that the Allies felt, which contributed to their moving into the general advance sooner than conditions would merit.

    As long as you have the potential, having the LEAST experienced player take command of the Allied armies is also a good way to generate the kind of actions on the tabletop that Austerlitz created in reality.

    Alexander I was not in any way the match for Bonaparte. It was only the stubbornness of the stoic Russian soldiers that kept Russia in the war until 1807.

    1. Again, some interesting observations. Thanks.
      I can't help to think the least experienced player to play Emperor Alex who can give orders and have the most misguided carried out but having very little real idea what is going on .....might just well be a wife! Might work.

    2. Unless that wife is an Athena or Wonder Woman in camouflage ...