This series is based on the "Wars of the Imperial Age" series which include S&T#149 The Franco-Prussian War, S&T#154 The Russo-Turkish War and S&T#167 The Austro-Prussian War. The Seven Years War features the Prussians trying to outlast the combined forces of the Austrians and their allies on a strategic level. The map covers all of continental Europe with a map scale of 16 miles per hex. The units consist of individually named leaders (movement allowance of 20), infantry (4 strength points, move of 12), cavalry (2 strength points, move of 16) and other supporting units such as artillery, light troops, engineers and supply trains.
Besides the straight-forward Military aspect, there is also a Diplomatic element abstractly represented by the 'Balance of Power' track. Large military victories, capturing (and liberating) fortresses and random events can all alter the Balance of Power.
Victory is gained by the relative gain or loss of fortresses with the side holding the 'Balance of Power' advantage at the end of the game gaining a one group shift in their favour (Advanced Rules).
We are playing the short Frederick Marches! scenario (7 turns) which covers the initial period of the war from the Summer, 1756 to Winter, 1757.
We are using the Advanced rules and the original CRT in S&T#163.
We are not disclosing March or Rally rolls or what units Leaders Recruit to each other either.
Frederick moves in force from Breslau to just outside Glatz where his cavalry scouts report that he outnumbers the Austrians almost 2:1 (54SP:28SP) The Prussians move to attack but Daun skillfully uses the river terrain to his advantage and assaults into the Prussian attack. Both sides lose 6SP but the Prussians, expecting an easy victory, have 40SP demoralized in comparison to the 8SP of the Austrians. Clearly an Austrian victory.
The Austrians settle in and construct field fortifications around the adjacent fortress of Neisse. The short siege is successful and the Austrians triumphantly enter Neisse. The Field-Marshal is ordered back to Olmutz to recruit and train troops for next season's fighting but the glory-seeking scoundrel refuses and stays with the army! (No March)
The rest of the summer passes quietly with the combatants eyeing each other. Both sides conduct Leader Recruiting; Daun in Neisse and Frederick in Glatz and Broune in Dresden hires mercenaries.
The Czarina Elizabeth, a staunch supporter of the anti-Prussian alliance against Frederick dies at the age of 47, leaving Peter III, an admirer of the Prussian king on the throne. He promptly concludes a Convention of Neutrality with Prussia which at least temporarily protects the Prussian flank from Russian invasion. (Fall 1756 Historical Event is a '36', Prussian Glory, Ian wisely chooses Russia to become Neutral!). Frederick can now concentrate on the Austrians. In trying to recover the diplomatic situation, the Austrian ambassadors only succeed in causing an incident and the Balance of Power shifts 1 on favour of the Prussians (BoP now at 3, Dipolmatic Points are even, this was not a smart attempt on my part. Russians are mostly likely Neutral for the rest of the game)
Frederick immediately leads an assault on Neisse (at 4:1 odds) and is bloodily repulsed taking 8SP in losses and 21SP demoralized. The Austrians suffer 9SP demoralized. Frederick returns to Glatz licking his wounds. In Saxony, Seydlitz advances on the fortress of Torgau. The fighting is uninspired and after a month Seydlitz returns to winter quarters in Wittenburg.
Frederick moves out of Glatz once more and this time besieges Neisse instead of assaulting it and sits down to try and starve the stubborn Austrians out of Neisse. The Austrians suffer 7SP in attrition and now only tenuously hold Neisse. Frederick has had the foresight to bring a Supply Train and avoids rolling on the Logistics Table! New errata from S&T#171
Neither side attempts any diplomatic maneuvers and Frederick continues his siege of Neisse. Again, there is no breach but Frederick assaults anyway 54 SP : 6 SP, 9:1 = 5:1 shifted 3 left to 1.5:1 The DR is a 4 (+3) = 7 0/50MM result which reduces to 0/30MM The lone Austrian artillery unit and the engineers are shattered 2SP losses but the Austrian Guard (4-G-12) stands firm and is not demoralized. Frederick will not take Neisse this day although it's capacity to resist is past.
The French move out but do not field a big anough army to defeat Frederick on the open field of battle. Accordingly they split into two groups and head northeast towards Minden and obliquely towards Seydlitz sequestered in Wittenburg.
At this point, we ended the game as it seemed apparent that Frederick would now try to hunt down the French forces who would try and dodge around and avoid combat and try and capture some isolated fortresses.
The game system works well, the March Table has foiled me a couple of times with unexpected results (that's warfare in the Age of Reason!). Since Ian and I aren't disclosing March rolls, Rally rolls or Leader recruiting, the fog of war is thick and I can only assume the same thing is happening to him.
Ian: "I have generally been lucky with march rolls (that plus 3 of Freds really helps) but have lost a few units to attrition, as you may have as well. Using light infantry as cheap attrition fodder is a really good idea."
The system promotes the fog of war as well as forces are generally represented by their leaders and/or a single counter. So that one counter could represent a solitary 2-V-16 cavalry unit or an army of 50SP led by Frederick and two other generals!
Ian adds "As is historically correct, the game seems to result in fortresses and sieges playing a key roll, and battles are to be selected very carefully. (And never roll a 1) One should never fight a battle without a good reason (ie capturing a leader, relieving a fortress etc). Storming a fortress can work, but you better have a good reason for that, as well."
After some discussion, we decided to end the game as the course of play would consist of the Frederick 'death stack' hunting down and bringing to battle the French forces who are not large enough to defeat Frederick alone. In the longer game, a war of attrition is feasible but with four of seven turns complete, we felt the conclusion was foregone.
Ian and I will be commencing a PBEM game of S&T#171 On To Moscow soon. This game uses the same system but is smaller in scope consisting of Charles XII adventures in Russia culminating in his defeat at Poltava in 1709.
Look for it here soon and I hope you enjoyed this PBEM Game Report.
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