Seven Years War In Europe 1756-1763 (S&T 163)

 

Playings; 5, 12 hours (2 Prussian wins, 1 Austrian, 1 draw).

 

There are 3 similar looking games featuring Freddie the Grate around so I have referred to this one by its full title. This is the game that is not called Frederick the Great but like the others does feature a piccie of our man on its cover. Also in the running is the 3W game that I do not own so cannot comment on and the SPI 1975 game, which I do and will.

 

Players of Franco-Prussian or Russo-Turkish Wars will recognise many rules in The Seven Years War, others can look up ZOCo back issues for the details. The system has been cut down (simplified) but begs the question of just how much or little warfare changed during the 200 years separating the 2 rule sets and what have Decision done to reflect this? Still in place are the Miranda favourites of rolling to activate for movement and political rules, shock change is total the absence of chits.

 

Combat is back to the old CRT (no combat chits) with the differences that losses are given as a % of the owner's forces and combat is simultaneous. If both sides suffer a 20% loss, the larger force will be worse off because it is losing 20% of a bigger number. The 19th century games caused losses based on the size of the opposing force, a concept that is easier to justify but was probably dropped for the dreaded "ease of understanding". In summary small forces are a bigger danger in the 1750s, size works against the large armies. Likewise size isn't everything, combat often results in a morale test, rabble units fail 5/6s of the time, line fail 2/3 of the time, veterans 1/2 and guard 1/6. The Prussian and British Allied armies tend to be of good quality and come off well in battles, unlike the French, Austrian and Russian forces. Low quality units increase the size of an army but are fragile, their disruption can make the difference between a draw and a major defeat in battle. These units are best used for out of the way garrisons and kept away from battles. If things are going badly this option will not be available.

 

Battles are heavily luck dependant but will rarely eliminate the loser or even disrupt his entire force. Attacking at low odds is bad news, a defeated force is recommended to run off to a remote part of the map and rebuild. Heading for a fortress is not a good idea. Fortresses reduce the defender's losses by 20% but the occupant can be besieged. A besieged force is susceptible to attrition plus if the walls are breached loses its 20% protection and becomes captured if it loses the assault. Fortresses should be left with only intrinsic garrisons or held by small but high quality forces. Putting a field army into one risks major losses. The attacker can siege but not assault the fortress, pinning the defender's field army inside while other attacking forces roam at will.

 

Turns are 3 months long, Prussian Allies move then fight followed by Austrian Coalition, then 2 more move and fight pulses with reduced chances of activation. Leaders influence the chance of activation and the die in combat, giving the Prussian an advantage that he will need to use. Prussia begins the game facing Austria and Saxony. Saxony is a gift, easily overrun with enough left over to simultaneously move into Austria. A likely game flow is a Prussian 1756 strategy to damage Austria before Russia and France turn up next year, an aggressive Austrian player may help considerably with this plan. When Prussia, Hanover and the small but perfectly formed British army face Austria, France and Russia from 1757 on its a matter of holding off 2 enemies while trying to crush the other. At the end of the year Prussia and most small states recruit new and eliminated units based on the number of home country fortresses held. Britain, France, Austria and Russia also have field army units that return automatically each Winter. The result of this is that Prussia can and will win battles but suffers losses that have to be paid for to rebuild. It's enemies' losses are largely re-built for free, plus France and Austria are able to build some new units based on fortresses held. Prussia may do well in a campaign year but find itself back in the same situation (possibly with less troops) in 1 Spring as at the previous.

 

Frankly this is much as things should be, unless Frederick can knock out 1 of its adversaries. France is possible as are minor states like Saxony. Russia is safe because it is off the map. Austria suffers from a rule forbidding it from becoming neutral, true some parts of the Hapsburg domains are off-map but the core lands are firmly on the hex grid. This was not an age of total war, it seems unlikely that the loss of Vienna and Prague would not force Austria to the negotiating table. Capture all Austrian fortresses (6) and the field army will still re-appear on the South map edge the following Spring. Call for some changes in this area. A ploy that Prussia can play is to hold on to captured enemy field army units and refuse to exchange or ransom them. I do not believe that this holds to the spirit of the age and provide an alternate system in the end of article game fixes.

 

Political rules are a must in this type of game. Nations can join and leave alliances but the rules are such that countries will rarely change allegiance. In 5 games, Saxony became neutral 3 times (after being overrun), Britain and Hanover once each and Sweden was the only nation to join an alliance. The system is based on a balance of power index and the use of diplomacy points. Most nations give diplomacy points to their alliance each turn, Austria has more allies so will tend to have more points. The team with the highest balance of power receives bonus points. The balance of power is affected by winning battles and capturing fortresses. In theory a very high balance of power will force the game to end in a draw (major political upheavals), in practice pillaging a hex will reduce a side's balance of power. If the balance of power is shooting off the scale a little constructive pillaging will fix the problem. Prussia tends to do best here (at least early on) which will offset the Austrian teams higher net diplomacy point revenue. The gross result is both teams having the same or very close totals. It is not possible to save more than 10 points from turn to turn, encouraging the 2 totals to remain similar. Both sides bid to influence nations, Prussian 1st, a high net difference (at least 2) and a good die roll are needed to affect a country. Diplomacy points can also be saved to build troops outside of the Winter recruiting. This benefits the Prussian, the Austrian may bid for allegiances and force the Prussian to choose between matching the bid or saving diplomacy points to build troops. Losing an ally also loses that country's diplomacy revenue, bidding to save an ally is far safer than hoping for a failed roll and saving up for troops. In all a lot goes on but nothing much happens in diplomacy, high on flavour low on game.

 

So far the game muddles through until it comes to the supply rules. There is a supply system but it is such that armies will almost always be in supply, besieged garrisons are the main exception. Supply is traced to a friendly fortress so armies march up to a weakly held fortress at the beginning of a season, overrun it in one of the 3 pulses and draw supply from there. There are plenty of fortresses so armies can pretty much march about as they please switching to another base if one is threatened. As they stand the rules allow Prussians to campaign in Southern Austria without worries and Russians to range across Germany at will. The Russians historically got as far as Berlin but were dependant on supply lines stretching back home. Supply is probably a major area of change between the Seven Years War and the Franco-Prussian War. The lack of railways is obvious but also note that roads had yet to be improved nor had the canal age begun to take off. Basic supplies could be bought (had to be bought) by local agents but ordinance and heavy stuff had still to be standardised within armies let alone between allies. Russian equipment had to come from Russia, German wheat could be bought for bread but German cannon shot had to be the right bore. In Miranda's game any fortress will supply anyone, you can even loot the place and take the supplies as a train unit to buy supply for 1 turn.

 

Overall impression is of more work needed, no surprise there. Step into the time machine and see how SPI handled the problem. SPI's game uses monthly turns and simulated the war in yearly scenarios, it is not possible to simulate the entire war as a campaign, political allegiances are not covered. The map covers much the same area but mobility is much reduced. Units can move up to 6 movement points, 18 in 3 months. This compares to 10 for a Miranda artillery unit that may be able to move 3 times, 30 in 3 months. Supply is also harsh slowing movement, it is traced by a line of depots to any friendly fortress (same fault as the Miranda game). Depots have to be built by a substantial force remaining stationary for 1 turn. This slows up any Prussian advance into Austria and Saxony but keeps his opponents out of Prussia that bit longer.

 

Commanders are classed for rank as well as ability. The highest ranking commanders must command stacks even though subordinates in the same stack may be more able. Supreme commanders must also command the largest of their nation's stacks, no shunting them off to quiet areas. Stacks must move in order of seniority and 1 nation's troops must complete movement before any of its allies can begin. All these ideas could be transferred to The Seven Years War. The Prussian player rolls a D6 and adds the score to each stack's leader's initiative to give the turn's movement ratings. There is a maximum value of 6 to stop Freddie running all over the map. Before combat the Austrian allies roll D6 for each stack that wants to react, allowing them to close in or avoid combat. After combat the 2 players swop roles, Austrian acting and Prussian reacting before a 2nd combat phase. This idea is jeopardised by the ploy of moving troops up to battle during the reaction phase, the other player cannot react to a reaction so is caught in combat. After battle the losing force is disrupted, preventing it from entering another combat until it recovers by rolling D6 plus the leader's initiative to score at least 7. Some important leaders are rated 0, making them once a year men. Losing a battle is more drastic for these chaps than under the Miranda rules.

 

As usual Decision have simplified an existing system to appeal to th' kids but are throwing the baby out with the bath water. ZOCo steps into the breach with a few ideas for a slightly slower (less happening each turn) and (shock change) less free form system.

 

The Seven Years War In Europe Rides Again

 

Treat the following as optional rules.

 

Supply.

 

Some fairly hefty changes here but note that the effects of being out of supply remain the same. To be in supply a stack must not be in a besieged fortress and must be able to trace a line of no more than 5 hexes to a supply source or a supply conduit that leads to a supply source.

 

A: Supply sources. These are specific to each nation. Countries may not draw supply to a supply source of an ally, neutral or enemy state. A supply source must be friendly controlled to draw supply from.

 

Austria. Supply source, Vienna or Prague.

Britain. Supply source, any North Sea coastal hex.

Russia. Supply source, any Eastern map edge hex or Baltic Sea coastal hex.

Prussia, France. Supply source, any 3 friendly connected fortresses or cities situated within the state's original borders. Cities or fortresses used as a supply source must be separated from each other by 5 or less hexes free of enemy units or a river free of enemy units. It is allowed to have 2 of the sites connected by river and the other by land.

All other states. Any 1 fortress or city that is friendly and within the state's original borders.

 

Supply conduits. Nations may share all or part of an ally's supply conduit but must trace supply to a friendly not allied source. A supply conduit is a friendly city or fortress connected by river or a 5 hex maximum land route to another friendly city or fortress. No part of the route traced may be occupied by enemy forces. A conduit may be made up of a chain of linked friendly fortresses and cities of any number of links but must end at a supply source.

 

B: Winter Quarters. All units that do not begin the logistics segment of each Winter turn in a fortress or city suffer attrition.

 

March

 

Stacks pay 1 extra movement point to enter any hex adjacent to an enemy force that is not inside a fortress.

 

Units may react to an enemy unit moving adjacent to them. Reaction movement is movement by the non-phasing player during his opponents march segment. Roll for march of the reacting force as normal. A result of march allows movement of 1 hex, forced march, 2 hexes. Any other result is treated as no march. Attrition results do apply.

 

Add the following modifiers to the march table.

-1, force has fought 1 or more battles or sieges, where the smaller force equalled or exceeded 9 SPs, during the current game turn.

-?, Strategic Value of any 1 adjacent enemy leader (enemy chooses which). Reaction movement only.

 

Diplomacy.

 

Prisoners of War must be exchanged each Diplomatic Segment. Each unit is valued by its recruiting point cost. Most valuable units must be exchanged first. Players must attempt to exchange an equal points value of Prisoners of War. If the players cannot exactly match points of Prisoners for exchange, any odd units may be kept prisoner until Spring. The player with highest points value of Prisoners may keep the excess until Spring.

 

During Spring Prisoner of War exchanges all Prisoners must be released. After Prisoners held by both sides are exchanged any remaining units must be bought free by Diplomacy Points. 1 Diplomacy Point will release 4 recruiting points of Prisoners. Leaders may not be ransomed but can be exchanged on a 1 for 1 basis. No player can refuse to pay to release Prisoners of war during Spring turns. A player having to ransom significant numbers of Prisoners of War will be short of Diplomatic Points to use on the Diplomatic Conflict Table, a natural result of his having lost many troops the previous year.

 

Diplomatic Conflict. Change. Austria may become neutral as by Diplomatic Conflict but only if all 4 fortresses in Austria and Bohemia (not the 2 in the Austrian Netherlands) are occupied by Prussian (only) forces. An N or T result on the Diplomatic Conflict Table is also required.

 

Keith Versey

Seven Years War is another beast entirely, excellent piece of design from map graphics, counters through to game rules. I believe this system was used in earlier S&T games. If so I will probably be buying back issues. Although not my usual period I really enjoyed the game, very atmospheric. I've played the "Frederick Marches" scenario a couple of times with victories for both sides. I've yet to play the campaign game with full advanced rules. I would imagine that it is a very long game. I would suggest that gamers make their own holding cards as the ones in the rules are far too small.

 

Frederick Rides Again

 

Unofficial Optional Rules For "The Seven Years War In Europe", S&T 163. Designer, Joseph Miranda, development, Keith Schlesinger.

 

The following rules add further detail to "The Seven Years War In Europe". They follow the S&T case numbering section and should be considered to come after the advanced rules presented in S&T 163. The rules fall into 3 independent groups, Logistics, March and Diplomacy. One or two of the groups may be used, it is not necessary to use all three groups in a game.++

 

(9) MARCH

 

All standard and advanced rules are still in use, including sea movement. Armies now have a limited ability to react to an enemy during the opposing player's turn. Armies can now run away or intercept forces that move adjacent.

 

4. Reaction - new

 

Stacks pay 1 extra movement point to enter any hex adjacent to an enemy force that is not besieged inside a fortress. This rule is compulsory only if the reaction rules are used.

 

Units may react to an enemy unit moving adjacent to them. Units inside a besieged fortress may not react. Reaction movement is movement by the non-phasing player during his opponent's march segment.

 

The non-phasing player must state his intention to react as soon as a stack moves adjacent to an eligible force. Units may not react after the enemy force moves past or after the stack finishes moving, even if the stack stops adjacent to a non-phasing army. Conversely, the moving player must give his opponent every opportunity to react when he moves adjacent, no rushing past or moving onto the next stack before the enemy notices. If a player ends his march segment with any stacks that did not move but were adjacent to hostile units throughout that phase, the hostile units have one chance to react.

 

Roll for march of the reacting force as normal. A result of march allows movement of 1 hex, forced march, 2 hexes. The reacting force may move in any direction, except it may not enter an enemy held hex or prohibited terrain, other terrain is ignored. Any other result on the march table is treated as no march. Attrition results do apply. After a non-phasing force has reacted, the original moving stack may continue to move as long as it has movement points remaining. The moving stack may move adjacent to the same or other opposing units, causing further reaction attempts.

 

There is no limit to the number of times that a force may move by reaction. Reacting units may only attempt to react once each time the same force enters the same hex. If another force enters the same hex non-phasing units may roll for reaction movement again. If the force successfully moves by reaction but the original force moves adjacent to it later in the same phase, the non-phasing unit may react again. Note that the non-phasing unit must roll on the march table each time it wishes to react and is at risk of attrition every time. A moving force rolls for march only once per phase, regardless how many times it's movement is interrupted by reacting units.

 

MARCH TABLE - addition

 

Add the following modifiers to the march table.

-1, force has fought 1 or more battles or sieges, where the smaller force equalled or exceeded 9 SPs, during the current game turn.

-?, Strategic Value of any 1 adjacent enemy leader (enemy chooses which). Reaction movement only.

 

++Two factors have been changed here. The ability to react allows a force to chase or fall back from a hostile stack that moves adjacent. The sequence of play does not allow the reacting unit to immediately attack the moving unit. If an Austrian stack reacts to a moving Prussian stack and both end the Prussian March segment adjacent, the Prussian unit may attack the Austrian but the Austrian may not attack until its own combat segment. The 1 movement point penalty to move adjacent to an enemy simulates armies slowing as they deploy for battle and throw out scouts. The extra movement points paid to move adjacent to the enemy will slow down the marching player's overall movement.

 

Armies are now penalised in marching if they have already fought in earlier segments. This represents time spent in drawing up and recovering from battle. ++

 

(18) DIPLOMACY

 

Only sections 2 and 5 are changed.

 

2. Prisoner Exchange - clarification

 

Prisoners of War must be exchanged each Diplomatic Segment. Each unit is valued by its recruiting point cost (for example a veteran infantry would cost 8). Most valuable units must be exchanged first. Players must attempt to exchange an equal points value of Prisoners of War. If the players cannot exactly match points of Prisoners for exchange, any odd units may be kept prisoner until Spring. The player with highest points value of Prisoners may keep the excess until Spring.

 

During Spring (only) Prisoner of War exchanges all Prisoners must be released. After Prisoners held by both sides are exchanged any remaining units must be bought free by Diplomacy Points. 1 Diplomacy Point will release 4 recruiting points of Prisoners. Leaders may not be ransomed but can be exchanged on a 1 for 1 basis. No player can refuse to pay to release Prisoners of war during Spring turns.

 

++Some sort of points system for exchanging Prisoners of War is essential for solitaire play. The original rules would have the player bid secretly against himself. A player having to ransom significant numbers of Prisoners of War will be short of Diplomatic Points to use on the Diplomatic Conflict Table, a natural result of his having lost many troops the previous year. The nation has been seen to perform badly on the world stage (losing more prisoners than it has captured) during the previous year. This could affect the status of its allies or number of its enemies.++

 

3. Diplomatic Conflict - change

 

Austria may become neutral by Diplomatic Conflict but only if all 4 fortresses in Austria and Bohemia (not the 2 in the Austrian Netherlands) are occupied by Prussian (only) forces. An N or T result on the Diplomatic Conflict Table is also required.

 

++Prussian players will no longer have to watch as the Austrian field army reappears from the South map edge after all 4 fortresses in Austria and Bohemia have been captured. This was not an age of total warfare, it is hard to imagine Maria Teresa continuing to resist after the Hapsburg ancestral lands had been occupied by Prussia. Austria may never be an ally of Prussia. Austria becoming neutral will not end the game but the "Austrian" coalition player should consider if it is worth continuing to play after this event.++

 

(19) LOGISTICS

 

The General Rule and sections 1, 4 and 5 are unchanged.

 

2. Receiving Supply - change

 

A force is still in supply if it is in the same hex as a friendly Supply Train or can pillage the hex it is in. The method of tracing a Line of Communications has been changed.

 

To be in supply by tracing a Line of Communications a stack must not be in a besieged fortress and must be able to trace a line of no more than 5 hexes by land hex or 10 by river hex to a supply source or a supply conduit that leads to a supply source. No part of the Line of Communications may be traced through an enemy held hex. Neutral forces, cities and fortresses are ignored.

 

A: Supply sources. These are specific to each nation. Countries may not draw supply to a supply source of an ally, neutral or enemy state. A supply source must be friendly controlled to draw supply from.

 

Austria. Supply source, Vienna , Prague, Namur or Luxemburg.

Britain. Supply source, any North Sea coastal hex.

Russia. Supply source, any Eastern map edge hex or Baltic Sea coastal hex. Russia may only draw a Line of Communications to a Baltic Sea coastal hex if Russia and Sweden are not members of opposing alliances.

Prussia, France. Supply source, any friendly controlled fortresses printed in that state's original colours. Note that Maastricht should be green, it is not part of Prussia.

All other states. Any 1 fortress or city that is friendly and within the state's original borders.

 

B: Supply conduits. A supply conduit is a chain of friendly cities or friendly unbesieged fortresses connected by river (any length) or a 5 hex maximum length land route to other friendly cities or fortresses. No part of the chain may be occupied by enemy forces. A conduit may be made up of a chain of linked friendly fortresses and cities of any number of links but must end at a supply source. Nations may share all or part of an ally's supply conduit but must trace supply to a friendly not allied source.

 

C: Winter Quarters. All units that do not begin the logistics segment of each Winter turn in an unbesieged fortress or city suffer attrition.

 

++Nations are now tied to their home country for supply. Eighteenth century armies relied on a mixture of local purchasing and road or water transport for supplies. General items such as flour or gunpowder could be bought locally. Other supplies were specific to each nation and had to be brought from home. Muskets, ordinance, uniforms and replacements are possible examples. The new rules make it difficult for France to move troops into Eastern Germany and slow the arrival of Russia in Central Germany. Prussia is now no longer able to campaign in Austria and Bohemia by drawing supply from a captured Austrian fortress. Links must be maintained with Silesia, Prussian capture of Vienna and Prague is now more difficult.

 

The Winter Quarters rule is recommended for the campaign game. It forces less to happen in Winter as armies use the 2nd or 3rd impulse to head for a safe base.++