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Wise Bayonets 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia by Acies Edizioni   Alexander Suvorov (the last...

Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia

Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia

Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia

Wise Bayonets

17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia


Acies Edizioni

  Alexander Suvorov (the last Generalissimo of the Russian Empire) is supposed to have fought sixty-three main engagements and won them all. Some military historians wish that he and Napoleon had been matched against each other during Wars of Revolutionary France. Some of the maxims that are attributed to him sound almost like they came from Napoleon's mouth:

"A strong pursuit, give no time for the enemy to think, take advantage of victory, uproot him, cut off his escape route."

"When the enemy is driven back, we have failed, and when he is cut off, encircled and dispersed, we have succeeded."

"One minute decides the outcome of a battle, one hour the success of a campaign, one day the fate of empires."

 In one way his views differed entirely from Napoleon's. Suvorov is often quoted as saying:

"The bullet is foolish, the bayonet wise."

 However, another saying attributed to him is more in sync with Napoleon's view of firepower:

"Fire opens the gates of victory."

 In 1799, while Napoleon had his hands full in Egypt, Suvorov was given the onus of reconquering Italy from France. In this he was matched against the French Generals Moreau and Macdonald. Moreau's part in this campaign is slight. Macdonald, on the other hand, was to feel the full fury of Suvorov and his Russians and Allies at the two day Battle of the Trebbia. Macdonald also had a storied career and was made a Marshal Of France. However, he was not in the same class of generals as Suvorov. So, this is the backdrop to Acies Edizioni's game about this battle. This is what comes with the game:

One Game Map 84x60cm.
216 5/8" counters and 140 1/2" counters
Four Player Aid Cards
One Rules and Scenarios Manual
Two six sided die

 The game uses these charts and tables:

Terrain Effects Chart
Combat Table
Initiative Track
Casualty Table & Losses Box (on the map)
Turn Record Track (on the map)

The game scale is:

1 turn: 1 hour (2 hours turns 1 and 12).
1 hex: 300 m (about 328 yards).
1 strength point: 2-300 men for infantry, 150-200 men for cavalry, and 2-3 guns.

 The rulebook is in full color and in large print. It is thirty-five pages long. The English translation of the Italian rules is very well done and there is no discernable Yoda speech. The designer, Enrico Acerbi, has included an excellent eight page historical commentary on the campaign and battle of the Trebbia at the end of the rulebook. The rulebook does not include samples of play. The map is well done, and shows the mostly open terrain dominated by the Tidone creek and Trebbia river. There are some higher elevations at the lower edge of the map, but the terrain is mostly clear, except for the marsh hexes next to both the river and creek. The fords and wooden bridges over both river and creek are the salient points to be aware of. The unit counters are 1/2" in size, and are very colorful, but easy to read. The general counters are 5/8", and come with well done small portraits of them. The marker counters (square, charge, etc.) are also well done. It comes with four separate paper like Player's Aids. Three are double-sided and one is single-sided. They are Initiative Track and Losses, Combat Tables and Terrain effect Chart, and the French and Russian setup pages. While not being of hard stock, they are printed in large type and are easy to read. The game itself comes with four scenarios, these are:

Scenario 1: The Battle of Tidone Creek - June 17th, 1799
Scenario 2: The Second Day - June 18th, 1799
Scenario 3: The Last Attack - June 19th, 1799
Scenario 4: The Campaign Game - June 17th-19th,1799

 The victory conditions for all of the scenarios is a combination of controlling hexes and inflicting Strength Point losses on your enemy.

 The game has a few nuances that you normally do not find in most tactical games. One of these is the ability of some artillery units to fire cannister. The weather plays no part in the game; during the battle it was hot and sunny. The games I have played have been touch and go affairs just like the actual battle. This is the Sequence of Play during the Command Phase:

"A. Command Phase
This phase is divided into four segments:
1. Command Segment
Units which are within the radius of their commanding officers are considered to be in command. The units beyond this radius are out-of-command (Place an Out of Command "OOC" marker on top of the out of command units).
2. Orders Segment
The Players check their Chains of Command. In this segment, it is possible to change old orders for new ones (5.3). The player may also declare "independent" brigade (s) in command (5.4).
Out of command officers maintain the order they had in the proceeding game turn, but they can try to change it in their activation (5.5)
3. Initiative Segment
The players roll a die to decide who goes first (7.0), and organize their formations on the Initiative Track (7.1).
4. Reorganization Segment
Players can try to reorganize their Disordered or Routed units if the type of order they received allows for it (19.0)."

Austro-Russian Counters

French Counters

 The game continues with an Action Phase in which Bombardment, Combat, Movement, and Attacking all take place. It might seem a little deep, but it is no harder to play than any other Tactical Napoleonic game, and a lot easier than some I own. The rules work on a tactical scale, and seem to allow, or force the player to use their units in a historical manner. The game does not feel like you are moving generic anytime units across the map. In some games you can substitute Heavy Cavalry for tanks and the action plays out like a WWII game. This is not one of those games. It plays out as a Napoleonic warfare game. As mentioned, it is not as deep as some tactical Napoleonic games, but it has enough bells and whistles to make a grognard happy, and not make a newbie run from the table screaming. 

1st Turn Setup, North and South are switched

 As far as the actual gameplay, this is a battle that should not have been fought. Macdonald was outmatched in wits and soldiers. He believed that help would come from Moreau that never appeared. In truth, Macdonald's force could very well have been wiped out or mauled much more severely than it was. The French can credit their soldiers' tenacity in saving their army. Playing as the French on the first day scenario or the campaign scenario, your first order should be to march quickly and grab all of the passages across the Tidone. Then you have to hold onto them no matter what. The French have more troops than the Allies early in the day. However, the tide changes with each passing turn. Playing as the Allies you can either try to hang onto at least one of the fords or the bridge over the Tidone, or wait until more of your force arrives during the day. For the second day and the campaign scenario, at least the French have the Trebbia River line to fall back on.

game in play shot

 Thank you Acies Edizioni for allowing me to review another of your fine games. My next review from them will take us to the Battle of Austerlitz for their game 'Moravian Sun'. These two games, and a third earlier one 'Massena at Loano', are based on the Vive la France: Empire rules system. The system is of medium complexity and is solitaire friendly.

The photos are from Adriano Visconti; many thanks.

Acies Edizioni:

Wise Bayonets:

My review of their game 'Durchbruch':