After the crushing defeat I suffered at Austerlitz, my dad and I have moved onto the next scenario presented in Avalon Hill’s War and Peace, “Jena and Friedland”, which recreates the War of the Fourth Coalition. This scenario combines Napoleon’s crushing campaign against the Prussians with his sweep across Poland to head off the Russians who are arriving too late to bail out their Prussian allies.
The French objectives in this scenario are to secure every city in Prussia, and there are a lot of them. Here, the French must use their inherent mechanical advantages (better morale modifiers, better leaders and more cavalry) to spread out and quickly overwhelm the Prussian army then reconsolidate to face the Russians who’ve spent the winter trekking across eastern Europe to find their allies scattered.
The Allied player has a much better chance in this scenario than Austerlitz. One must go into this scenario, however, understanding that Napoleon will win Jena and it can be brutal. The Prussians main forces between Weimar and Dresden will slow, but not stop, the French advance. Where this scenario may be won by the Allies is in what the Prussian forces outside of this pocket can try to do. By harrying French supply lines and distracting Napoleon from his drive on Warsaw, the Allied player can buy time for Russians to set up a line if they can, or at least beef up the garrisons of unconquered Prussian cities.
There’s no stopping the Prussians from getting steam-rolled, but they can accomplish a few important things:
-If you can muster at least 4 or 5 SP after Jena, this may force the French player to choose between wasting time with a siege or risking heavy attrition by stacking more than 5 SP in any one hex during the winter turns.
-Try to set more fires than Napoleon can put out. The unnamed Prussian leaders may do more for you than the named leaders; the Prussian named leaders are not very good, but by virtue of being named, they may attract more attention than the unnamed. While Napoleon is trying to deal with remnants of the Prussian army fleeing into Leipzig and Dresden, the unnamed leaders can shuffle small forces to the north around into position; the French player will have to break off troops to deal with these or risk losing these key cities when the main forces move east.
The hope is that by the time the French player is ready to move onto phase two, capturing Poland, his forces are spread thin enough that the Russians (who may or may not have taken heavy losses from winter attrition) can either go toe to toe just long enough or pick off stragglers, that the French won’t be able to secure all of the cities by the game’s June 1807 conclusion.
It’s looking as though my strategy may pay off. Napoleon’s won all of his battles, but the clock is winding down and there may just be too many cities left for him to take in the time remaining.
Further play has brought up some issues with the rules. The most obvious gripe is that I’d like a subsection that details all of the rules pertaining to cavalry, so we didn’t have to check all half dozen chapters on combat every time we ask “what do cavalry do again?” And despite the emphasis on redundancy and an attempt at clarity that borders on obfuscation, we came upon something which the rules may not have or did not clearly address. Cities are treated as hexes within hexes for purposes of sieges; units retreating from a field battle in a city hex may withdraw into the city and the besieger moves onto and shares the hex. From within the city, the besieged may attempt to attack out and try to break the siege, but we did not find any specific rules for how to deal with an external force attempting to break the siege. If you go by a strict interpretation of the rules of combat, either the force in the city or the force outside the city would attack and the other would have to roll to attempt to join the combat (forces may attempt to join adjacent combats after the first round). This makes sense for most field combats, but you’d think that if the forces on the walls saw that suddenly the guys camped outside were forming up and fighting in the other direction, they should have some way to take advantage of it. We ended up deciding that if an external force attacked a force laying siege to a city, the besieged defenders could forfeit their city bonus to contribute their SP to battle and the external force would take first losses; if the relieving forces were wiped out, the besieged forces would have to continue fighting without the city bonus until they chose to withdraw (and could do so only back into the city) or are eliminated.
One other issue that has come up a bit, at least for the French player, is managing who is commanding what troops. The French Player has more than double the number of leader pieces as any Allied faction, so it can be a chore to make sure that leaders have SP moved into their command when they’re broken off from this or that big pile. Though it was an entirely honest mistake, somehow Soult managed to ride into Berlin with no one but his personal staff and capture the Prussian’s reinforcement hub.
I don’t know how many more scenarios we will play before moving on to another game, but I would not mind a few more. War and Peace is not without its issues and could do with a clean-up of the rules, but it is not a bad game at all. Apparently, it has undergone several revisions since its original release, including official corrections and updates by the designer across multiple issues of The General, which have been incorporated into unofficial 3rd and 4th editions of the game. Purportedly, the former attempts to reconcile the differences between the official releases and incorporate various errata released over the years while the latter seeks to address issues with the official materials. The game enjoyed extensive official support from Avalon Hill and still appears to have an active and devoted player community.