Article published in The General, Vol. 17, 1980 (see also this PDF). By Mark G. McLaughlin
War and Peace – The Scenarios
Although the Napoleonic Wars covered a ten year span and were fought over an entire continent, the war was not a continuous conflict. There were several separate campaigns between France and a few, rather than all, of the major powers, and there were occasional periods marred by an unexpected outbreak of peace.
These individual campaigns are reflected in a series of short scenarios which can be played on one or two boards with a fraction of the counters and can be completed within one to four hours, depending on the scenario, familiarity with the rules and individual gaming speed.
Chart B lists the seven scenarios which are used to cover the major European campaigns of Napoleon. The chart lists the strength points available to the French and non-French player at the start, middle and end of the game. This number does not reflect losses, but is a maximum of available forces. Additional forces which may enter or be removed from play are listed in the “Notes” column. All scenarios listed assume full replacements and reinforcements except the 1809 scenario, which assumes four Austrian cities from March-May, three from June-August and two in September and October. Starting forces do not include first turn reinforcements, which are usually minimal. “Assume” in the notes section means that . these forces have already been included in the totals. The bias represents a rough estimate of the chances of that player winning the scenario (10% – 90%). Victory conditions for all the scenarios are based on equalling or slightly improving on the performance of the coalition which won the actual campaign.
Austerlitz – 1805
This scenario is a simple, clearcut introduction to the W&P game system. The French player has one, straightforward objective: take and hold Vienna. If he accomplishes his task he wins; if not, he loses.
The French player has the opportunity to smash the Austrian army around Ulm on the first move. Napoleon and most of the French units can enter into this battle and wipe out about half to two-thirds of the 14 strength points in the area, depending on how they are deployed, French forced marching and, of course, pure luck. The destruction of that army is essential to French victory. It must be beaten and then, in the second turn, completely erased. Once that mission is accomplished, the French must race for Vienna before the Russians get there. Strong forces have to be detached, along with the armies in Italy, to shadow the Austrians which start in Italy and to prevent them from massing with the incoming Russians. Judicious movement, blocking positions or a major battle may be needed to halt the Austrian southern forces. The French will have to protect an extended supply line down the Danube Valley (Munich to Vienna) or set up an alternate one through southern Austria to Milan.
The limitations on French strategy are based on the Austrian’s first two turns. The non-French player has several options. First, he can delay the French on the Danube by contesting every hex along the way to Vienna. This will surely eliminate the Austrian army, but might cause enough battle and attrition (due to their constant need to concentrate) losses to save Vienna from anything more than a 1: 1 battle. Entrenched Austrian reinforcements and the Russians combine to present a strong front to the tiring French. This strategy eliminates any possibility of Prussian involvement due to the number of victory points the French will achieve.
Second, the Austrians can race for Vienna. The Italian theater armies are set up close to Austria (Charles at LL20 northeast of Venice) as are the Bavarian army (Mack at LL14 southeast of Ulm). Everybody force marches at maximum speed, avoids combat and steals a march on the French. Unless the Russians have forced-marched successfully, the Austrians will either have to give up Vienna without a serious fight and then counterattack when the Russians arrive, or risk a battle, alone, for the city-a battle they will almost surely lose.
Both of these strategies base the Allied’ chance of victory on luck: the luck of forced march and last ditch battle die rolls. A third strategy is an indirect approach which, hopefully, reduces this dependence on luck. The basic idea is to leave the defense of Vienna to the Russians and the meager Austrian reinforcements while the main army heads for the Innsbruck mountain region. Charles and the cavalry from John’s army lunge at Massena (whom they should defeat at 2: 1 or 3:2, depending on the success of the Florence garrison in reaching Massena) and his satellite army and thus equal the victory point gained by the French at Ulm. Mack joins John’s entrenched infantry at Innsbruck, which acts as a supply base.
Part of Mack’s force could move to the Bohemian mountains north of the Danube or reinforce Vienna, depending on the numbers which remain from the original army. A major Austrian army around Innsbruck (which can be joined by Charles on the next turn) threatens the French supply line at its source. If the French move toward Vienna, they can be cut off and thus are halved in combat and hurt in attrition and forced march situations (and they cannot overrun enemy units). The French, therefore, are forced to try and dig the Innsbruck army out of its mountain fastness. This costs the French two badly needed marches: one to go south to Innsbruck, another to return to the Danube Valley. If the French do not win an overwhelming victory (or, worse yet, if they lose) they will have to detach a sizeable force to keep hammering at the Austrians with the remainder of the army racing along a perilously unprotected supply line towards Vienna. A small Austrian cavalry force in the Bohemian mountains will not retard French movement, but might deflect it slightly.
The entrenched Russian army in Vienna, which is strengthened by the handful of replacements and reinforcements produced there and shuttled in by a “0” leader from Budapest, should be strong enough to hold the city against the one attack the French will have time to launch. The illustration at the upper right shows this “partisan” strategy, socalled because it concentrates on indirectly tackling the French via a threat to their supply lines. Even after the Innsbruck concentration is broken, there will still be a handful of Austrians and some decent generals who can be hurled against weak lines in the French supply chain or who can physically block it.
Jena to Friedland 1806-1807
The war against Prussia in 1806 should be fought like a blitzkrieg: the French must move as fast as possible, with as much force as possible, and literally destroy every single Prussian strength point west of the Vistula before they can be reinforced by the Russians. The French player must, however, know when to rein in his far-flung pursuing squadrons and regroup, lest the Russians crush these outlying units.
The French begin with a considerable numerical, qualitative and leadership advantage over the Prussians. The entry of the Russians in December and January erases the qualitative and leadership advantages of the French and, depending on how thorough the massacre of the Prussian army was, the original numerical edge might also vanish. The Baltic cities must be besieged, taken and garrisoned before the Russians can move by sea to reinforce them and threaten the French rear. The winter, as Napoleon found out, is a lousy time to wage a war, and the French should use that time to sit on the defensive west of the Vistula while reinforcements can be brought forward. The French can cluster stacks of five strength points in one or two groups around either Danzig or between Posen and Thorn to threaten Warsaw and Konigsberg.
The French should be able to take one of these two cities by default; the wooded zones between them make it difficult for the Russians to switch back and forth between the two. The French should seek a series of decisive spring battles to eliminate the Russian army. The French can afford to stay concentrated for battle in the spring (especially if they can take Warsaw and add those extra strength points to the army) and should plan on driving the Russians back toward their own border, so they can only threaten one of the two Polish cities.
The difficulty the French will have in this finely balanced scenario is dependent on the initial Prussian play. To put it mildly, a smart Prussian will have to swallow his pride and learn the value of survival. To do what the Prussians did-advance on the French-can just about hand the game over to them. October will probably start out poorly for the Prussians, with the French attacking the Leipzig and Weimar forces, and unless poorly coordinated, the French should win three battles, thus effectively negating any Austrian chances of entering the war. To continue to fight for western Prussian cities just makes it easier for the French player to completely destroy the Prussians.
When the three Prussian main stacks are forced to retreat, they should retreat to the Elbe river hexes and, in their own turn, force march across the Oder. By putting this river between themselves and the French, the Prussians will at least partially equalize the morale and leadership advantages their opponents enjoy. Since the Saxons would be destroyed once Dresden falls, the non-French player should try to use them to fulfill any battle or force march casualty requirements he might have. A single Saxon strength point in Dresden will deny that river crossing to the French.
The Berlin force should cross the Oder and make for I 1O. The Posen force should advance to I 11 so that the entire Prussian army stands concentrated in one area, behind the river line and able to reinforce itself in case of a battle. The one-point leaders should be distributed one per stack.
The zero leaders should dash off to gather in the scattered garrisons at Cassel and Brunswick. A leader should go back to Berlin to pick up the reinforcements which appear there in November (probably the last the Prussians will ever get).
In November and December the Prussians should continue to fall back behind the Posen and Thorn river lines, and link up with the Russians. Once the Russians arrive, the Prussians should be split up into stacks with the Russians, so that each stack is at least half Russian (for combat purposes). Prussians can be used for half the battle and all attrition and forced march losses, since they are less valuable than the Russians.
The relatively short supply lines, winter attrition, sea movement and rapid reinforcements all work to the advantage of the Russian army, which only needs to dig in and defend one of the Polish cities: Konigsberg or Warsaw.
The non-French player should hit hard with the combined Austrian army in the March, 1809 turn. With proper positioning of the variable-location forces, he should take Munich, Warsaw, Dresden and Ratisbon that turn, as well as defeating at least one French army of five strength points or more for a victory point. Although the French will probably retake Munich and Ratisbon, conquer Innsbruck and defeat one Austrian army, the allegiance die will still be in favor of the non-French player.
The non-French player should avoid attacking Napoleon directly, focusing instead on his other corps, especially if they cannot be reinforced by Napoleon. The mountains around Prague and Innsbruck make an excellent base for the Austrians to defy the French march on Vienna and to harass its supply lines. Smaller forces can contest the Saxon cities. If German, Russian and Prussian forces enter play against France, victory becomes very difficult for the French player.
The French player is in the unenviable postion of being caught by surprise and facing a first turn as explained above. A quick counterattack can recoup much of the political aspects lost by the early Austrian victories, and a major portion of the enemy army can be eliminated. The French are, however, in a race to regain the lost allegiance points before variable forces start entering play. The French should use Poniatowski and some “0” Leaders to pickup the scattered garrisons in Prussia and use them to help defend Germany. A 2-point leader should go into north Germany to lead the defense of Cassel or Amsterdam, whichever is most threatened.
The main French effort must be directed against Austria. The French can either focus on first securing Saxony and Bohemia (Prague) and then driving on Vienna or vice versa. A thrust down the Danube is not advisable if a sizeable army is based in Prague. A Prague force can always slip north and, even unsupplied, cause difficulties for the French. The French must move rapidly and ruthlessly before Landwehr and variable forces allow the nonFrench player to achieve parity in numbers.
The initial advantage of numbers rests with the French player, whose forces outnumber the Russians by 2: I. Attrition, long and vulnerable supply lines, winter and numerous little battles will rapidly wear down the French army and, as the Russian reinforcements roll in, the invaders might even find themselves outnumbered (sound familiar WWII lovers?).
The Russian army gains from all of the above and from an increase in its morale which reflects the incredible determination shown by the Russian soldiers in the defense of their homeland (mapboard 4). The Russians will, however, need all of these pluses to defeat and then push the French out of Russia and prevent a draw.
A drawn game is an exceedingly easy thing for the French to gain. Historically, Napoleon could have advanced part way into Russia, consolidated his supply lines and struck out for conquest in 1813. Politically, he did not feel secure enough to do this and risked everything on one quick thrust. It is assumed that a French player would prefer to go for the kill rather than a mere crippling of the Russian bear. (For those who prefer this other ploy, use the 1812-1814 “linkage” scenario which appears elsewhere in this issue).
The French have several strategies which they can adopt. There is sufficient leeway in the set up to enable the French to adjust it to a northern or southern strategy.
The northern strategy concentrates the army for a crossing of the Nieman between Kovno and Memel, with the army then dividing into two very unequal columns: Davout and the Prussians with some other satellites head through Riga for St. Petersburg while Napoleon and everybody else (except Schwarzenberg who guards Warsaw) heads for Smolensk. Once that objective is reached, the main army digs in, acts as a flank guard for Davout and might be able to send him a few reinforcements.
The southern approach takes the main army, including Davout, across the Nieman between Grodno and Kovno, and then drives for Smolensk and Moscow. Schwarzenberg, with Poiniatowski and Jerome, attack toward Kiev where they engage Bagration, act as a flank guard and might reinforce the main army. The Prussians guard Poland.
Either before or during the game, the French might decide to switch from one of these strategies to a modified central strike: everybody up the middle to Moscow. Although this concentrates the army,
it sacrifices its supply lines. Without flank guard forces, the French cannot prevent Russian raiding corps from interdicting their communications.
Regardless of which strategy the French player chooses, he must march as fast as possible to catch and destroy the Russians before winter sets in. Supply lines will have to be guarded, especially by cavalry who can stalk the bothersome cossacks.
The Russian player has fewer options than his opponent, and, at least in the early stages, must react to the French. If they adopt a northern strategy, the Russians should fall back above Vitebsk where they can concentrate on the supply lines of both French forces. A one-point leader, some infantry and a few cossacks should be sent to St. Petersburg to entrench the city so that when the September reinforcements appear there they will have a better chance of holding off Davout. The main army should then be used to whittle away the main enemy army and eventually hope to confront it in a massive battle around Smolensk in October. The Bagration-Tormazov army can operate in the French rear and cut apart detachments which the French will have to send to protect their supplies.
If the French move south, Bagration and Tormazov can withdraw to Kiev, while the rest of the army digs in for a losing battle at Smolensk. They can then retreat to prepared positions in the Moscow woods. They should not fall back any farther since they have to farther west to push the French back. A French army should not be able to bypass a considerable force of entrenched Russians in the Moscow woods without sacrificing his supply line (in which case the French would have the Russians attacking their rear areas, thus rapidly clearing the French out of Russia while Napoleon sits in the Kremlin, temporarily).
The Russians, too, can fight for a draw just by fighting forever for Smolensk and hoping the French will never get much farther than that. A Smolensk meatgrinder, however, works to the French advantage and a draw could turn into a last minute French victory as the Imperial Guard cavalry races to Moscow.
The War of Liberation 1813
The 1813 scenario is an extremely hard one for the French. The lack of cavalry and the loss of the favorable attrition and forced march die rolls decidedly inhibits the French player’s ability to overwhelm the smaller Russo-Prussian army he faces. The French must pick an objective and go after it with all of their forces if they wish to win. Although it is possible to drive deeply into Prussia and rescue the beleaguered garrisons, such a move exposes the French supply line and army to an Austrian blow from Bohemia, if they intervene. If the French have not crippled the initial Allied armies before Austria enters the war, the French will have to retreat and mass their troops at one major city. The French should always try to counterattack Prussian and Austrian armies even at I: I to wear them down. Higher odds are needed against the Russians to hurt them.
The French have several options which they can begin with. They can keep the army concentrated to win a few battles and prevent allied victories against them, or they can adopt a “shotgun” approach which will maximize casualties (for both sides) but will focus on gaining political and military points to delay Austrian entry into the game.
The shotgun approach tackles four allied armies on the first turn: Lubeck, Dresden, Leipzig and the Berlin forces. It attempts to gain four victories, deny two cities to the allies for points, secure a third, seize another for French points and gain the allegiance of Saxony. This approach requires a bit of a minute in which French leaders must move, “drop off” units and then go to other hexes to lead troops in battle or prepare for the next movement phase.
Eugene begins the move by going to F8 (adjacent to Berlin) and dropping off nine strength points (one of which is Guard). He then moves to command the Danes at Bremen. Victor takes two strength points to Hanover to secure it and then moves to Hamburg to lead the attack against Lubeck. Davout moves to Hamburg, drops his men off (so Victor can lead somebody) and then continues on to F8 to take charge of the Berlin attack.
In the center, Napoleon goes to BII and force marches from there to ell with Ney. Soult splits off at BII with six strength points and force marches to DII. Each of these forces contain at least one Guard strength point. Marmont goes to command Hanover and Bessieres travels to Mainz to pick up the next turn’s reinforcements.
In the south, a “0” in Bavaria brings his army to BlI, leaves one strength point there for supplies and force marches the rest to join Soult. The leader then goes to Stuttgart. The other leader in the stack immediately moves to Wuzburg. Both leaders will pick up small satellite forces in May. The Milan army force marches to J Jl8, where it is met by Murat; the “0” leading it returns to Milan. Poniatowski begins his move into the Bohemian mountains.
The result of this move is four battles: Victor at Lubeck (1:1 +3); Davout at Berlin (2:1 +2); Napoleon at Leipzig (2: I +3) and Soult at Dresden (2: I + I). The three later battles can all add + I more if the Guard is committed. On an average die roll of seven (before modifiers) the losses would total four French and eight allies. The losses to both sides could increase through use of the Guard or if the allies were foolish enough to hang around for a second combat phase. Part of the French loss will be made good through the immediate addition of the Saxons. Allied forces could reduce the odds by going into fortress and probably double the French losses, but their entire army would be destroyed as the fortresses fell. Such a move would, of course, give the game away to the French.
After this initial onslaught, the French should keep trying to rack up victory points. The temptation to plunge into Prussia and rescue the eastern garrisons, as noble as it might seem, plays into the hands of the Austrians who, when they enter the war, can sweep across the French rear and knock the pedestal right out from beneath the emperor. The French will eventually need to pick a last stand area to hold onto to win the campaign. The twin Saxon cities are almost indefensible, especially with the sanctuary of the Bohemian mountains immediately adjacent. Austrian forces can be supplied directly out of Prague and even attack from the mountains, thus limiting French counterthrusts. The northern group of cities is preferable for the final defensive line, since they are adjacent to one another (and thus mutually supportive) and theyalso allow occupation of Berlin for a few more turns.
The non-French player, initially outnumbered but possessing an incredible potential force, must run on the first turn to keep his army intact. The cavalry superiority they enjoy will benefit the Russo-Prussians as they can escape from unpromising situations. The incoming reinforcements and the original forces’ remnants should mop up the French garrisons and then come forward to snipe at French supply lines. If the Russo-Prussians are in good shape when Austria enters, the combined armies should be concentrated to overwhelm French corps which are not led or adjacent to Napoleon. The French must be prevented from concentrating in depth in one area. If Napoleon can pull all his forces into one city for the last few turns, the allies must do the same. The resulting battle, needless to say, would not favor the allies unless the odds are heavily in their favor.
Napoleon at Bay – 1814
The 1814 scenario requires the French player to literally dance around his enemies and defeat small forces in detail. This is a difficult task, even for an army with superior marching and combat skills, not to mention a large leavening of Guards and excellent leaders. The French player must decide, each turn, which enemy army most threatens Paris and then go after it.
Soult and the other Spanish theater army can either delay the allies there or race north to take up the defense of Paris, forcing the Anglo-Spanish to waste about half of their force on a supply line and freeing up the Paris garrison for field service. At no time should Paris be without at least six strength points, a one-point leader and an entrenchment marker. Anything less will enable a flying column of allied cavalry to slip into the city.
The non-French player can either send everyone hurtling forward in an attempt to swamp the French, keep them off balance and sneak up the Seine, or he can pull back, reorganize his forces into one tight concentration and bludgeon his way to Paris. Both the broad and the narrow front options offer the allies a fairly good chance at victory. Although a major force is hard to defeat, a series of corps threatens Paris from several directions and forces the French to disperse as well.
Waterloo – 1815
The French player is faced with an extremely brittle situation which is nearly impossible for him to win. (But what would a Napoleonic game be without a Waterloo scenario?) Napoleon must take enough men forward to crush the Anglo-Prussians and still leave enough in Paris to foil an end run by the survivors of a “Waterloo”. This first turn, however, is the only turn on which the French have an opportunity to take the offensive and put an Allied force out of commission for most of the campaign. If they lose this battle, they will surely lose the scenario; if they win it, they are at least still in the running. The scenario largely comes down to a two-turn (or less) gamble for the French player.
The non-French player’s strategy (as if he needs one) depends on the results of the French player’s first turn. If the French have lost, or won only marginally, the Allies can either force march on Paris and hope for a quick blow or regroup, let the Austrians move a little closer to Paris and then go back down from Belgium, thus catching Napoleon in a pincers (which also gives him the central position). The main choice is how close the Allied player wants to come to refighting the 1814 campaign in 1815.
The Spanish Scenarios
Both of the Spanish Peninsular War scenarios-VIII and IX-offer the French player an exciting challenge: to conquer two countries, completely, in the face of supply-cutting partisans, never-ending hordes of militia, ineffective but continually reincarnated regulars and a small but nearly unbeatable English army, led eventually by the Iron Duke of Wellington.
The French forces need to follow a few basic tactical rules to conquer this forbidding peninsula. First, the supply line must be guarded, almost hex by hex, to keep the means of war flowing to the forward troops. Second, stacks of five or less should be used, occasionally in tandem, to advance, take cities and fight field battles. Larger stacks offer insecure communications and take useless attrition losses. Third, cavalry should be jealously hoarded for its pursuit, retreat, speed and partisan-hunting capabilities. Neither player has very much cavalry in the Peninsula, and the occasional horse soldier ‘can make a great difference in 3 turn. Fourth, the cities which are occupied need to be held by at least two strength points, because forlorn attacks by partisans or even unsupplied militia against singlestrength point garrisons will cause both sides a casualty, thus leaving the city devoid of French troops and, therefore, in Spanish hands.
The last, major advice the French must heed is to advance deliberately. Where speed pays off in central Europe, it is a hindrance in Spain. Moving too fast, too soon, invites destruction, partisan activity and swift Englis!J,counterattacks. The French need to consolidate, advance; consolidate and then advance again. The Spanish are easy to beat in a field battle, but fortresses are difficult to attack: it is rare that the French can afford to tie up a stack for several turns of siege and rarer still to remain in supply throughout it. Large forces are needed to storm cities, and the French cannot field too many such armies without stripping their garrisons or cheating other sectors of reinforcements.
The supply line back into France should go to Toulouse since Bayonne can be easily cut by an English naval expedition. The French should then establish themselves, early in 1808, in the “bastion” of northeast Spain. From there they can flood Andalusia (southern Spain) in 1809. Once that is secure, the French can push towards the Portuguese frontier in 1810. The British will undoubtedly fight for Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, the “keys” to Spain (so named because they control the two main valleys into and out of Spain). The complete conquest of Spain should be completed in 1811, and the advance into Portugal should not begin until that conquest is complete.
The 1812 invasion into Portugal will surely run against the entrenched lines the British will construct outside and in Lisbon, but the French should keep hammering away. The English will probably launch an amphibious raid into Spain to seize or open up a city or two and thus slowly pull Spain back into the game. Small corps should remain in Spain to prevent this.
If the French see that victory is impossible by 1812, they can begin a gradual withdrawal back toward and into the bastion line. This line should not be abandoned before mid-1813 or it will be impossible to hold onto anything else, as the Spanish army will rapidly regain its numerical strength. By the end of 1813 the French may have to retreat to the last line of defense-the Pyrennes, but they must occupy at least one Spanish city to remain in the game.
The non-French player must play a waiting game, tempting the French to advance a little too deep into Spain and then cutting their advanced forces off. A seaborne invasion or several partisans in northeastern Spain can cutoff the French supplies at the source and make it extremely uncomfortable for the emperor’s forces. The Spanish are basically worthless in a field battle, unless combined with a force which is about two-thirds British/Portuguese, but they are useful to cut supply lines and hold fortresses.
The small British army, with its two excellent leaders, Moore and Wellington, is.well-served by steady reinforcements and can be easily supplied. The main function of this force is to form a strong counterpunch against one point of the farl1ung French Empire in Spain and punch it in. The French will need to keep relatively large forces wherever the English are and thus denude anti-Spanish campaigns of the forces needed to cover the numerous cities and supply line connections throughout Spain.
Chart A shows the balance of forces in the Peninsular campaigns, year by year. The discrepancies between the two scenarios, at least in the French forces, are accounted for by troops lost to withdrawal and the number of casualties which were never replaced due to the other campaigns waged by France at this time. The Spanish forces differ because of the collapse of the Royal army and the subsequent reduction in its maximum strength.
The French will rarely have more than twothirds of the forces shown at anyone time. The Allied totals will vary with the fortunes of the French.