Article published in The General, Vol. 17, 1980 (see also this PDF). By Mark G. McLaughlin

War and Peace – The Grand Campaign

Avalon Hill - The General - 17

The Grand Campaign should not be played by those who have not fought all or most of the individual scenarios, as it combines elements of play found in all of them, plus several new rules. The course of the game will be set by the mood of the French player and the number of people who participate. It can be a traditional recreation of the Napoleonic Wars, or a six-player free-for-all, more familiar to multiplayer games.

The solitaire and two-player games suffer from a handicap that was inadvertently developed into the Campaign Game victory conditions: by luck of battle and die, the French can win the game in 1806 or 1807 by forcing all the major states, except England to become pro-French or neutral. Note: The Campaign Game victory conditions are revised in the War and Peace errata printed in this issue.

The two player version should be played with the English player as the better of the opponents for purposes of balancing out this rule. The three and four player games offer no room for the above, and offer the most vivid recreation of the Napoleonic Wars, allowing France the opportunity to fight Austria without fear of Prussia, at least for a while, and offering the English the security of a nonvariable Russian ally, regardless of the outcome of an Austerlitz campaign. The French, in this version, have to invade Russia to end the game before 1815.

The five player game, and especially the six player version, force the French to play a diplomatic as well as a military game. The nonFrench players have an almost uncontrollable urge to gang up and pretend it’s 1814 and not 1805. An injudicious or abrasive mannered Frenchmen will find himself out of a job very early in a multiplayer game. Players may wish to temper this and force the Spanish and Prussian players to remain pro-French and neutral, respectively, until the allegiance die rolls free them from their initial status. Once another status has been opened up for them, they can act freely and choose their own alliances for the rest of the game.

A six player free-for-all eventually develops if France is conquered early, as the players have to jockey for production centers. Wars eventually break out, which enable Napoleon to return to the game and can result in some amazing alliances (such as an Anglo-French-Prussian alliance against Spain, Russia and Austria, for example). The game is subtly designed so that the players themselves can decide how faithful to the Napoleonic Wars they wish to game.

War and Peace - Avalon Hill - The General - Grand campaign charts

Chart C shows the maximum available forces for each country in each year of the game. French satellites are listed separately and the non-French totals do not include satellites (except for the inclusion of Portugal into England’s column and the noted inclusion of Holland at the expected date). The Swedes, Danes and variable Saxons (who change sides many times in the game) are not counted in any of the totals.

All Landwehr and Militia / Partisans are included in the table where indicated. As can be noted, the French and French satellites are outnumbered about 2: I throughout the game. The variable alliances, conquest of states and other diplomatic maneuvers can lessen or even reverse these odds. In 1805, for example, the Spanish are pro-French and the Prussians neutral, which means the French outnumber the non-French, depending on the establishment of minor states.

Chart D reflects the comparison in number of leaders available to the armies. This shows how many corps, or stacks of maneuver, are available, since leaders must be used to move the foot soldiers. Chart E presents the naval balance. Britain might have a tough time of it early on, but will rapidly draw ahead to an unchallengeable naval position, unless the French are very crafty. Chart F lists the production cities’ distribution among the major states and the minor groupings.

War and Peace - Avalon Hill - The General - Grand campaign charts

The French player begins the Grand Campaign in an 1805 scenario-type situation. A crushing attack on the Austrians at UIm should be followed by as quick a victory as possible in Austria, before Prussia enters the war. Although the time constraints of the first scenario are lifted, the conquest is more difficult since Prague and Budapest must also fall. A two-point leader will have to be left, along with ten or so strength points in the north to keep an eye on the small but mobilizing Prussian army. Paris should be held by a skeleton force which can be quickly built up by production. It should be dug in and a leader of at least one point in value should always be in marching distance of Paris. Concentrating the French fleet into one clump has its advantages, but the English will follow suit and thus increase the overall effect of Nelson and that should eliminate any French chance of a naval victory. The sea campaign is interesting, and the French first turn and its consequences can set the stage for an even war at sea.

The French, once Austria has been defeated, normally turn on Prussia to cripple her and bleed Russian manpower and English production points. New wars against other major states should not be conducted until the losses of the two abovementioned wars are completely replaced. The French can then elect to sit it out until the game ends by holding down the Germans, or go for broke in Spain or Russia (or, if they are really meglomaniacal, both at once.)

War and Peace - Avalon Hill - The General - Grand campaign charts

The Austrian player has an excellent chance for victory: a large army, a lot ofgood defensive terrain and easy access to the production cities of Italy and southern Germany make for a strong contender to the crown of victory. The Austrians will need help to defeat a French invasion, but, even if conquered, “the addition of Landwehr to the force pool helps make up for it.

Prussia, initially weak and indefensible, does have a lot of northern German production centers open to it and can negotiate with other players, especially Austria, for timely assistance and to establish spheres of influence.

Russia, although it has a large and tough army, is hemmed in by its two natural anti-French German partners. The Russians can deal with the French to carve them apart, blackmail the Germans for some of their own cities (I won’t help you unless … ) or trust to their allies sharing the German spoils with them.

War and Peace - Avalon Hill - The General - Grand campaign charts

England, although possessing a small army, has mobility, bribery (production points and naval expeditions) and quality on its side in the campaign. A lot of production cities are within one or two hexes of the coast and thus easy prey to a swoop from the ocean. As was its historical policy, however, a continental ally is needed to help it protect these conquests.

On the surface, Spain appears a mere afterthought as a player country. A weak army, few strength points and limited access to production areas seems to doom it to a continual sixth-place country. Like Italy in THIRD REICH, however, Spain has to base its strategy on threats, diplomacy, blackmail and pity. Although it can do little more than defend itself, it can stab France in the back in southern France or by refusing to work with France at sea, thus dooming the French navy to rot in port. With English cooperation, Spain can shuttle troops into Italy and thus dismember that portion of the French Empire. Portugal is a tool to get at the English: the English can’t hold Lisbon against the whole Spanish army and still fight somewhere else effectively (a bargaining point which can be used to convince the French to be nice and give Spain something in Italy). Spain probably cannot win, but has one of the best chances for second place of any player.

Spain need not be defended with much of an army, since any invasion will result in a rapid build up of militia, partisans and leaders to control them, thus giving the main army time to return to defend Madrid.

All things considered, the more players there are, the more possibilities are opened up in the game.