Situation: It is June 1797. The French just knocked back the sardinians (in red) towards milano and took Turin. Unfortunately the sardinians didn’t break. They set up defensive positions along the Ticino, blocking all routes to milano. Their spirits are high as the austrians are approaching to help their beleaguered ally.
Orders for the sardinians are hold. Orders for the austrians are protect milano (secondary) and protect own supply line (primary). They are Austrians after all, the safety of the armies supply always comes first.
I as the French will try to move along the south Bank of the po and take out the two Austrian supply depots (white cubes) crossing the po at Mantova. As i have 1 supply less than the enemy I lose one morale per phase (starting at ten). It’s a race against the clock.
Phase 1 – French
My south swing is in full motion, all corps designated for the southern attack activated and moved. The two infantry corps unfortunately picked up a lot of fatigue by crossing the rivers. I will have to rest them next turn. French lose 1 morale.
Phase 2 – Austrians
Sardinians first army activates twice. I promptly roll a zealous character as their commander. He proptly changes his orders to attack. Why should he defend milano when Turin is in the hands of the vile Frenchmen? First sardinians corps moves to Novara and stops there.
On the Austrian side 4th corps activates, promptly roles a shaky leader and changes its orders to “fall back”. It decides to use the southern road and stops at Parma before crossing the river.
Finally the Austrian 1st corps with a stubborn leader, way up in the north near Brescia, decides to stick to the plan and move on Milano.
Phase 3 + 4 – French
Motivated by the apparent lack of courage from the austrians the French role a double phase (2 sixes). Unfortunately the rest of the dice is bad and they only manage to combine their armies for the southern attack. French lose two morale.
Phase 5 – Austrian
First sardinians army continues its advance while the rest stays put. Only the sixth Austrian corps moves as well and promptly changes its order to “protect po crossings at Pavia”
Battle of Vercelli
To the dismay of the French the sardinians seem to have brought most of their army. They start the battle with a heavy artillery barrage – destroying one French infantry brigade and most of the French artillery. The following infantry attack on the town leads to heavy losses on the side of the French which stay in the battle thanks to their defensive minded general and manage to beat the sardinians back for the day. Still losses are catastrophic – the French won’t survive another day of heavy street fighting. Even more problematic: should they lose Vercelli the road towards their supply line is wide open. They lose one morale for the lost battle.
Phase 6 – French
The heavy fighting in Vercelli send shock waves through the entire French army. The French general can’t make up his mind as to a change of plan, thus everything moves on as normal. They now have very strong forces just west of Piacenza.
French morale is now 4.
Phase 7 – Austrian
Thankfully the sardinians first army decides to take a days rest after the heavy fighting. The rest of the sardinians army decides to keep on defending the Ticino. While the 4th Austrian corps falls back to Mantova.Situation in Phase 6:
The situation looks worse for the French every day. All enemy troops are entrenched north of the river po at every important bridge. The french attack on the south bank was a lot slower than the Austrian retreat, foregoing the chance of taking out part of the Austrian army. And let’s not forget, the western flank won’t stand much longer and with it the precious French supply line will be in grave danger.
Phase 8 – French
Another double phase for the French. 4 the corps hurries towards Parma.
Phase 9 – French
Now the French get lucky. They roll another phase after this one, meaning three phases in a row.
Phase 10 – French
I need to rework the morale loss mechanic. French would only have one morale left now. At the end of phase 10 two French corps are on the eastern side of Parma, while the cav screen defends Piacenza.
Phase 11 – Austrian
The sardinian army finally crushes the remaining French forces in Vercelli. Other than that the combined sardinian Austrian forces just idle and wait for the war to be won in the west.
Phase 12 – French
With a little luck the French are able to change the order of 4th and 5th corps to assault, thus they move into attack position on Mantova even though they have to force march there. Their fatigue loss is extremely high by now – remember they didn’t rest since turn one. Still no fighting this phase.
Phase 13 – Austrian
Battle of Mantova: the austrians only have one infantry one cavalry and the fortress artillery in Mantova. A glorious victory for the French. They take out the 4th Austrian corps and one of the Austrian supply sources – gaining 2 morale. The two attack corps are extremely exhausted by now and won’t do anything until rested.
First Austrian corps changes its orders to “protect supply at Verona at all cost” and force marches there, stopping on the west bank of river oglio at peschiera.
French morale is around 5.
Phase 14 – French
French corps rest.
Phase 15 – Austrian
Austrian army 4 re-enters the theatre at Botzen.
Phase 16 – French
Special action counter is up to 6. The French relocate one of their supply sources to Parma.
4th and 5th corps are still on rest orders thus they don’t advance on Verona.
Phase 17 – Austrian
First sardinian army finally moves again and enters casale, threatening the supply source at Tortona.
Second sardinian army decides it is time to get moving and changes its orders to “help the austrians”. They lose their way and march in circles picking up two fatigue points while gaining little ground. Realizing his error the stubborn commander urges them forward and in a night of marching the get close to Brescia.
Phase 18 – French
The French corps in Mantova remember their duty, take the unguarded Verona and thus win the campaign. Vive la France. Situation at the end:
This was a nail biter of a game – as close as it gets. The first sardinian army charging my weak flank right away – and in force – made me fear that my plan was doomed from the start. Because i didn’t have a corps on reserve i couldn’t react. Even if i had a reserve, i am not sure whether defending the left flank would have been a good choice. The constant morale loss would have meant a slow and painful loss of the game.
The austrians falling back on Mantova at the same time looked like a masterstroke to me. Giving up the right flank while hitting hard on the left would have been my first choice of strategy as well. This artificial intelligence employed the strategy by lucky – or unlucky – dice rolls. I will have to wait and see whether the system i am using truly works. In this game it was all i could have hoped for.
I always felt on the brink of defeat – the tension, my heart pounding when i rolled the Austrian moves – it felt like the fondest memories of my Friedrich games as a student. In the end I was lucky that the sardinians, after taking Vercelli, stopped and took their sweet time to get moving again and that the austrians had almost no troops at Mantova.
Ok baby is awake now. System analysis has to wait until next time.