Playings; 9 (12 hours)

At last we have the other part to Austro-Prussian War. Although the games do not include an option to play them together they use almost exactly the same rules and unit scale to allow combined play. There are more than a few problems with Risiorgmento because the charts sheet never got printed and you donít get all the charts. Most of these were on the web, which is a bit of a shame if you are not wired. Even those charts might have left off the modifiers for off-map actions (or there may be no modifiers). Luckily the charts as provided are so close to the Austro-Prussian War charts that these could be used where required.

Having sorted out the game it plays pretty rapidly because it uses the same unit scale as its sister games but covers a much smaller theatre. Net result there are far fewer units in use. Decision have nicely got around this by having more or less distinct counter mixes for each of the 3 time periods, 1866, 1859 and 1848. There is even a wad of spare Austrian units that are only used in a variant to 1866 that has the Austrians trying to take back Venetia after peace with Prussia. Only the Northern part of Italy I shown which allows telescoping into the areas where major conflicts occurred but you cannot take Sicily with the 1,000 or occupy Rome as the French. A drawback of the unit size is to marginalise Garribaldi who only has 1 dedicated unit although the rules do not prevent you beefing him up with extra Italians. With the aid of different event chits for each period the effect is of 3 different games using the same map and system rather than 3 scenarios of the same game. Each of the time periods has different scenarios but as might be expected it is easier to play the whole of each war as set up is quicker and we get to make our own mistakes. Looking at the set ups for the years some of them use units that do not appear in the initial set up, always a worry although the designer is the same Mike Benninghof that designed Pacific Rimís Blood and Iron and developed Austro-Prussian War so he should have got his numbers right.

The small unit count makes games quick and rather luck dependent; the chits help a lot to randomise things. The overall number of chits has been reduced from other Imperial age games with the proviso that a chit can effect either side but the players take turns in drawing chits. One turn the Austrian draws and the next the Italian. It is not clear which chits must be played and which can be kept out of play. The whole situation is much improved by substituting a combined chit draw phase at the end of every turn and making chit play compulsory.

Due to random factors the game is not much good for competitive play but a nice analysis of the overall situation. All the scenarios involve a fair share of sieges as 2 fortresses block the rail line to the Austrian heartland. There are 2 others that are not on this line but a re close enough to base units that can cut the line, these 4 fortresses are the famous quadrilateral. Fortresses reduce losses by 20% so are very hard to take. A better option is to sit outside and initiate a siege. The defender must either come out and attack with out his 20% cushion or risk a 50% chance of disruption and then a strength point a turn. If the rules are kept to strictly even the fortress garrison factors can be besieged as an option I allowed these factors to escape attrition. These places were designed to hold out for years. Incidentally most of the railways on the map had not been built in 1848. Luckily railway movement is suitably curbed in that scenario although the rail lines are still used to draw supply. The rail lines were probably built along populous transportation thoroughfares so I will let Decision off with that point. They do funnel all the scenarios along limited avenues of attack, basically right through the quadrilateral area.

1848 is the best player a both sides are weak, including the Austrian quadrilateral fortresses that are very hard to take in the other wars. The Italians get a lot of insurgent types that appear in the Austrian rear. Unfortunately they cannot move and fight pretty poorly, the Austrian gets a nice boost in national will for mopping them up. The Pope also turns up although he tends to go away again due to random events. There is a problem with this war in that the forces are so small that major victories will be rare because the nations can barely scrape enough combat factors together to suffer a major defeat if they are all destroyed at once. However it is a nippy little conflict for all its limited countermix.

1866 is interesting but flawed by the off-map combat system. As written in the web errata there is no way to influence off-map combats. This leaves the Austrian in a strong position in Italy; he will probably whip the Italians but still lose due to defeats in Germany caused by chit pulls. This is totally historical; there is even a chance of pulling off a win because no decisive battle occurs off-map. If the Austro-Prussian War modifiers are used then the Austrian should send a HQ and a good wad of units off-map to fight in Germany. These will need to be enough to guarantee a victory off-map. If this is a decisive victory the Austrians get a National Will bonus and can start to recruit in Italy, naturally the removed units can start to come back as well. While all this is happening the remaining Austrian units will have a hard time at best hiding in the rear, at worst under siege. There is a fair chance that all the despatched units will not win a big enough victory before Italy has been lost. There are some nice simple decisions to be made here giving a pretty reasonable feel for the conflict. The Italians will not get that far because they are not very good. An unusual rule has the Italians appear as weak divisions that can only combine into stronger corps units after a major Italian defeat. The problem here is that after such a defeat the Italian will probably have too low a national will to raise any more troops and what is left of his on-map units will not be in much of a state to reorganise.

1859 ought to be another handy affair but suffers from problems that are harder to fix. The Austrian starts off weak and can only bring in units from off-map by lowering his national will. If he uses his initial forces to attack the Italians before the French arrive he may win but will be caught by the French and probably lose forcing national will to drop. As national will drops it will become risky to lower it even further to bring on new units. The obvious compromise is to start off by running back to the quadrilateral and using a few national will points to bring on new HQs and units. These will hopefully ensure some sort of victory, bump up national will and provide the means to bring on more units. The result is to have a campaign where the Austrians go down the tubes pretty rapidly and do not crawl up them or a gradual improvement of Austrian power and national will. These are conceivable options although it is odd that the Austrians will send in more troops when they do well and not bother when they are losing. The Italian provinces brought in a lot of income to Austria and included a proportion of loyal inhabitants. The system penalises troop entry from off-map as it should but allows the wrong degree of control of the off-map forces. Some more random game effects for those of you that like that sort of thing. Allow the Austrian to move D6 units onto the main map whenever his national will falls from average to low.