I am pleased to be able to present this replay of a game of Napoleon’s Triumph played by Will Green and Clark Millikan. Both are able and experienced players and have graciously agreed to co-operate in this presentation and have provided turn-by-turn commentary on the game. It was a very tight game, and my own assessment as to who would win changed several times over the course of play. It was unusual in that it was a game almost entirely of maneuver, with extremely light losses for both sides and in the end surprised both participants, neither of whom expected it or planned for it.
The photos were taken during play and processed with Photoshop to normalize size, perspective and lighting. This normalization made possible the QuickTime movie of the entire game, which is presented at the end of the article.
Once again, my thanks to both players for their participation in this project. And now, on with the game!
|Czar Alexander’s Account: My overall plan for this session was to make a slow advance on my right flank, while taking care to have two other elements play out. First, I wanted to swing wide left, to see what might happen by doing so, with my Guard units. Second, I wanted to give the look of possibly attacking in the center, left, or the right flank. Realistically, I had my strongest units in the center, with less strength on the right. This can be risky, as the main road that the right flank sits on is the shortest distance to three star locales for the French. I felt the risk was worth it, as with a strong center I would have great flexibility in responding to most threats, while simultaneously looking threatening, or potentially threatening in several areas.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: This is my third game of Napoleon’s Triumph, all as the French. The Allies set up strong in the middle, with Langeron, and Miloradovich having large corps. My initial plan is to have concentrated strength on my left, leaving the center and right weak. The units in the approaches on the right are all regular infantry, Legrand has one elite and one regular infantry. I won’t be able to defend the blue stars from a determined attack on my right, and I’ll try to fall back instead of fighting if the needed commands are available, to avoid losing morale points in a lopsided battle. In return, I hope to be able to grab a star of my own on the left side, which is all I need if I don’t bring on the reinforcements. I’ve created two cavalry corps, Murat, with all the heavy, and one regular cavalry, and Lannes with 4 regular cavalry. I’m undecided on the worth of cavalry corps so far, but I’ll try it in a big way this game. I plan to have them run forward and left, stretching out the Allied line. Hopefully, a weakness will show up in that line, allowing me to punch through and take one of the stars. I have yet to see the reinforcements help with a territorial victory, but I’ll bring them on (Davout and Bernadotte each have a guard infantry and three regular infantry units) if I see a chance to demoralize the Allies. The fixed battery sets up behind St Hilaire, blocking the path between the lakes. This is the first time I haven’t put the fixed battery on the Santon, but with a strong push on the left, I don’t think the Santon will come into play this game.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: With my overall plan in mind, I begin. My Guards began their wide swing left, while my right flank begins to move forward in order to appear threatening. Meanwhile, my center holds steady.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Bagration, Constantine, and Kollowrath advance on my left, while Dokhturov, and Kienmayer slide right. It looks like Kienmayer is heading South of the Satchan. This will delay the attack on my right, but make it stronger when it does happen. That’s a good trade for me, since I wouldn’t be able to hold against a frontal attack anyway. The more commands Will uses over there, the better.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: On my turn, Lannes, Murat, and Bessieres start marching, and on the right I drop a unit out of an approach to go meet Kienmayer. I won’t try to fight him, but if I can position the unit two spaces in front along the road, that will slow Kienmayer down to one locale per turn. A cavalry unit detaching from Kienmayer could force me into the approach, but that will take an extra command, and this not being cavalry friendly terrain, Kienmayer may not have any.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: The only surprise to me was Legrand’s single unit that pulled back from his entrenched position.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: Here, my plan began to take on more form. The left swing continued its inevitable course, while the center began to look menacing to either the left, or the center, while the right flank began to expand and strengthen its frontage.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Kienmayer continues his trek, and several units detach (likely cavalry) and move forward to probe my defenses.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: I have Lannes, Murat, and Bessieres continue to move forward. St. Hilaire retreats behind the fixed battery to avoid having a unit forced into an approach by Will’s probing cavalry. Vandamme slides left to avoid the same thing.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: Here, I was surprised by the powerful push to the French left, even exposing a mile and a half wide gap between St. Hillaire and VanDamme. This coupled with the deep drop behind the French set artillary piece opened up more viable options to push in the center. At this point in the day, however, I felt that it was too early to begin such a concerted campaign.|
Czar Alexander’s Account: The French front on my right began to concern me, and left me lingering doubts as to whether I should push in the center at all. Would it be wiser to attack into Bessierre, or Van Damme, or to push into the open gap that sits there for the taking?
I push on with my left flank, while beginning to probe in the center.
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Miloradovich, Kollowrath, and the probing cavalry push forward in the center, and Kienmayer continues his approach.|
|Rules Note: There is an illegal Allied move here: both Miloradovich and Kollowrath moved into the same locale. Kollowrath moves by road. One corps or the other could have made the move, but not both. Technically, this shouldn't have been allowed, but as sometimes happens in real games (and this was a real game, not a demonstration), it did and nobody caught it. Fortunately it wasn't a critical move in the game.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: There is a gap in my line between St. Hilaire and Vandamme that needs to be filled, so St. Hillare shifts left, leaving a regular infantry behind to defend the fixed battery. Vandamme also detaches a unit which moves back to help fill the gap. Lannes and Murat keep moving, but Bessieres isn’t strong enough to move adjacent to Bagration, so holds in place.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: St. Hillaire takes away the gap in the center, leaving behind token support behind the set artillary piece, while VanDamme begins to siphon off his strength, in order to close off the front.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: It is here that the “Morning plan” is complete. I have my left swing move in place. The center is able to move in strength to the left, with my most powerful corps waiting, albeitly with less and less patience, in the center, and my right flank working to keep any French moves at bay. From this point I grew hesitant. I am suddenly concerned that if my far left flank with my Guards. If I attack into his single unit in defense, I can see his reinforcements coming on and hitting me hard. So, I wait.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: The probing cavalry force units to detach from Bessieres and Lannes, and the attack develops on my right.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: On my turn, I finish filling the gap in my center, and start pulling back on the right. Lannes, and a detached cavalry unit move adjacent to Constantine, but can hold the line against any attack. It’s too dangerous to put Murat adjacent to two corps on different sides, so he detaches a regular cavalry unit into the local instead. Vandamme moves up to help out my attack. This leaves the area around St. Hillare dangerously weak, but it’s not in immediate danger.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: I was surprised to see him move away from my Guards, yet pleased. His center and left flank began to get more aggressive, which worried me, as my right flank is decidedly weak.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: I realize that I need to move on my left flank to threaten and worry the French player. My right flank is of more concern, as I suddenly feel outmanned, and the beginning of my thinking that I am not going to have enough command to continue with a strong effort in all three areas of the battlefield, (left, center, and right). I realize that I need to make a decision on where my true push will be.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Four corps are now bearing down on Legrand’s position, and after feinting against Lannes, Constantine moves into the approach. It looks like Constantine has an artillery unit that wants to fire, as otherwise, there is little reason to put Constantine in the approach. A detached unit has headed off Lannes’s attempted end run, but Constantine being in an approach leaves Bagration in a weak position.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Lannes, Murat, Bessieres, and Vandamme all move adjacent to Bagration, on two sides. This also gets Lannes out of the way of Constantine’s artillery. The cavalry unit blocking the approach against Constantine drops into reserve. It can retreat from an attack threat, avoiding any artillery attack. Constantine won’t be much help to the Allied position next turn, being stuck in the approach.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: More aggression by the French. Will I need to call off my center attack plans? Might I have to ‘rescue my right’ with my center?|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: I decide it is time to put some pressure on the center, and pull back on my right flank. I want the French to feel as though the sailing is smooth, then, if possible, cut behind him and break his communication with the rest of his army. I sense this is possible, yet very difficult given the troops available to me. Other than Miloradovich I don’t have a great deal of confidence in my troop deployment on my right.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Will is moving to take advantage of St. Hillare’s weak position, moving two corps in his direction. He can have a star, but the big danger is that he can break through all the way to my main road exit locale, cutting my line of communication even if I do get a star of my own. Maybe Vandamme should have stayed back to help out, but my attack didn’t seem to be progressing fast enough with only three corps.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Bagration steps away from danger, but now Miloradovich can be put under the same pressure, so all four of my attacking corps shift right. Bagration is on the far side of a town from Miloradovich, and towns are hard to move around in this game, with those annoying pinwheel locale junctions, so it will be hard for Bagration to help out with this threat to Miloradovich. Hopefully, this is the break in the line I was looking for.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: The French are preparing for a surge, yet, at this point, I realize that his reinforcements would be more of a detriment, than a stroke of genius, if they were to be brought onto the battlefield.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: I decide to push on the left, the center, while adjusting to the French push on my right.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Langeron and Kollowrath are sliding sideways through a gap left by my advancing corps, just as my corps are sliding through a gap left in Will’s line. This game has been unlike the other games of Napoleon’s Triumph I have played. There is much more maneuver, in this game, and there has not been the corps shattering battles I have seen in the other games. Even so, it’s a tense game.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: As I start to see hope of capturing a star, I’m not sure if I can hold Langeron and Kollowrath away from my exit locale. Miloradovich steps back away from my corps, but this opens up a path to a victory star locale, that I think Vandamme can capture. My attacking corps shift right again, leaving Miloradovich with two victory star areas to defend, and with Bagration and Constantine too far away to help. I also have to use most of my independent commands to surround and eliminate a pesky one strength cavalry unit that could have threatened Vandamme from behind, forcing a needed unit to detach.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: I notice that I have a gaping weakness between Miloradovich and my single 2-strength cavalry unit. The French are bound to make a breakthrough, and there is precious little that I can do to counter it. Miloradovich is still strong, yet not strong if the French Murat’s corps makes it around Miloradovich’s flank. I am at odds as to attack on in the center, or draw those troops back to assist my rapidly deteriorating defensive center, being held by a single cavalry unit.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: I decide to pull back from my push with Kienmayer and push with Bagration and Constantine. With this I hope to cut off and surround Bessieres, Murate and Lannes. I am pleased that I have made the French player leave nearly 15 detached units scattered about the board. With that, however, I don’t seem to be able to take advantage of it.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Will sends Kollowrath back to try and help out his defense. It won’t stop me from taking a star, but may be able to take it back. This is actually a relief to me, as I was far more worried about what he and Langeron could have done had they continued to push forward to my exit locale. As it is, I think St. Hillare can hold off Langeron long enough, without the extra strength of Kollowrath’s units.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Vandamme grabs the star, and now it’s a matter of holding off the charges against Vandamme, and the exit locale.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: Vandamme breaks through running roughshod over my cavalry.|
|Czar Alexander’s Account: I see no way to fully stop Vandamme’s progress, yet attempt valiantly with an independent move by cavalry to do so. After a few other moves that won’t affect the outcome, I decide to retire from the field.|
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: Will takes his 3:00 turn, but it becomes clear he won’t be able to push Vandamme out of the victory star locale, or cut my line of communitcation, and he resigns.|
Czar Alexander’s Account: After finishing the game, and having some discussion, I realized that had I pushed in the center with everything I had, my two corps would have overwhelmed his single corps and three detached units. I could have taken his “entry point of communication” that would not have allowed him to savor his captured stars. Victory would have been mine.
Each time I play this, I learn so much. Being bold, in proper measures is one tenet that I will seek to hold my firmly. Losing a corps is not as bad as one might think, yet being timid will not win the day for you.
|Emperor Napoleon’s Account: A very exciting game, even without the corps rending battles from all the other games of Napoleon’s Triumph I’ve seen. Even as late as 2:00, I wasn’t sure which way the game would go. The lack of large battles meant that morale was never a problem for either of us, and made it a game of territory control.|