Austro-Prussian war (S&T 167)

 

Playings, 5, 8 hours (1 Austrian win, 5 Prussian)

 

Decision continue to update their Wars of the Imperial Age system or take a leaf out of XTR’s book and sell you a game that you have already bought. Those who have had enough of the system should stay away, addicts really need the new updates, new gamers should go for Franco-Prussian War or Russo-Turkish War (in that order) before playing Austro-Prussian War, that being the order of best play value. Miranda has taken stock of his system and significantly tightened it with an eye to history rather than gaming, the Austrian player will really wish he wasn’t Benedict. A lot of fun has been taken out of the game at the same time, playing a morale chit against a demoralised enemy at the end of combat and turning a defeat into a rout is now much harder. Political chits can only be played in a separate phase (not as required) and often have restrictions on who can use them and when. To play the single morale chit (FPW had 3) requires the player’s morale to not be low and the targets not to be high, helping a player who is already doing well, of little use to one on a downward spiral (read Austrian). Armies are much tighter units, they can drop off units but any adding or reorganisation must take place at the beginning of a turn. Moving umpteen units into a hex will not put them all under an HQ, they must wait until the next phase. This is important, only components of armies can attack together or draw supply using railway lines, anything else happening to be in the stack will have to make its own arrangements.

 

The basic ‘‘play a chit or roll the die’’ system remains, the more chits you can play, the greater freedom of action. The map covers the Austro-Prussian border and stretches out to Berlin and Vienna

but Italy and West/North Germany are boxes. Most of the action occurs along a central strip of map representing the Northern Austrian border. Both sides have 1 command off map, waiting for a victory to bring the units into the main theatre, if they do not move any units to the main map victories are guaranteed off-map when the correct chit is pulled. On map, Prussia has a Field General Staff (2 operations), 1st, 2nd and Elbe Armies (2, 1 and 1 operations), Austria has Benedict’s Nord Army (1 operation). See the problem? Benedict starts well to the East of the Prussian armies and can either go for an invasion of Silesia while Prussia gobbles up Bohemia or hoof it to the war zone. Armies now have a -1 to the movement die for each 7 units in the force, if the Austrians want to see any Prussians before they capitulate they will have to use the single operation chit for movement when it is not required for supply. Even at top speed the initial Austrian deployment will require 3 turns to shift towards Prague (most likely Prussian target). If the Prussian heads straight for Benedict that’s very nice, more possible is an Austrian surrender caused by capitulation of minor forces and Western cities before the army gets into action.

 

A minor historical digression historically the Prussians ploughed through Saxony and pushed the Austrians and allies back on their main army around Koniggratz, the Prussians had combined all 3 field armies, the Austrians too were pulling together, both sides went for it. At this time Prague was wide open in strategic terms. Moltke did not think, ‘‘Prague eh, -2 Austrian National Will, important rail nexus, Pilsen down the road (another -2) I’ll have that’’. Seeing the lie of the land plus umpteen Austrian troops lying on it he decided that Prague would be useless without a supply line back home. The Austrians slipped Eastwards to join with Benedict and protect Vienna rather than Prague. There may have been some (subconscious) German understanding to keep the war in German lands and present the conflict as a German power struggle rather than an invasion of Czeck cities. Prussia could slice off chunks of Austria wher’as ethnic minorities could cause problems, the Austrians had enough problems with their Hungarian subjects, Prussia wanted to clip Austria’s wings rather than weaken it internally. Prague is not a fortress in Austro-Prussian War thus it is hard to defend plus units sitting in it are not automatically in supply. Whatever the justification Prague will affect this game much more

than it did the war. In game terms if the Prussian combines his armies and keeps supply

lines open he should be able to watch the Austrian fall apart when he takes Saxony, Prague and Theresienstadt (which lies between the 2), 6 Weeks War, it can be done in 2. The historical movement of 2nd Army (Prussians) across the mountains near Josephstadt helps the Austrians, avoid attacking Benedict and go for the National Will. National Will lies at the heart of all Wars of the Imperial Age games, victory is more often won by a 0 National Will than by the victory conditions. Unfortunately it is clear just where this lies, when a country drops below 5 both players move into overdrive to force it down or jemmy it up. Papers were not heavily censored, the Prussians learnt much

of the 1870 French deployment from Paris newspapers but the effect of circumstances was impossible to quantify. Prussia got a shock when a defeated France did not surrender. The game fault is that National Will goes up when it should go down. The tracks run from 0 to 17, going no higher than 17 but ending the game on 0. 0 should be the end stop, nothing can get any better than 0, setbacks drive the Will up, 18 should end the game but might not, a die roll should be in order with the odds of capitulation increasing as Will increases to unspecified levels. A 6 to lose on 18, 5 or 6 on 19 up to a maximum of 3+ (roll in both sides’ Political Segment, those not wishing to reverse the chart can flip the marker to a - side and go back up (or down) the track. Austria can win but relies on off-map events, picking the right chits.

 

Ideally a swift victory in Italy will release Albert and the flower of the Sud Army with 2 operations points. The Bavarians also may turn up with a handy operation point (only for Bavarians) and possibly clear out Saxony. Until then its a matter of using screens and small forces to cut railway lines and hopefully disrupt Prussian supply. Unfortunately the rules do not help here. Supply is either by a HQ spending an operation point and members of that command tracing along a railway to a friendly fortress (keep the lines clear behind). Or by being within 3 movement points of a fortress or supply unit. The supply units are a problem, they only move 4 (infantry move 6) but 1 unit can give supply to any friendly unit that can trace a bead of 3 movement points, the supply unit is then removed. Luckily any HQ can create a supply unit at the beginning of a game turn by expending 1 operations point. Moral, if you can spare an operations point you will never be out of supply, the combined Prussian armies can spend this and still have points to spare for other actions, not Benedict. Consider Napoleon III at Sedan, massive field army needing supply so he nips off to the Spar and orders 10,000 TV dinners and 10,000 bottles of Vin Ordinaire. Good plan apart from the Prussian armies outside Sedan preventing the artics from arriving and restocking the shelves. In Austro-Prussian War either side can always find what it wants to form a supply train. It is strongly recommended that HQs need to trace a line of interrupted rail hexes to a friendly fortress before being able to create a supply train. Decision are muttering about a Southern map game based on Italian wars in 1859 and 1866, memories of Roman Civil War where we had to wait for Gallia and the Spain map. A big influence on Austro-Prussian

War will be how fast the Prussians trounce the small German states plus how quickly Austria can pull troops from Italy. None of the 3 Wars of the Imperial Age games use the same scale so why pick a

scale for Austro-Prussian War that leaves out a lot of the action?

 

Since Risiorgmento has appeared , if has become worthwhile to buy Austro-Prussian War as a back issue, you really need it for the missing Risiormento tables.

 

 

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