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  Custoza Fields of Doom by Europa Simulazioni  Custoza and its fields were a crossroad in Italy for a long time. It was also essential to a...

Custoza Fields of Doom by Europa Simulazioni Custoza Fields of Doom by Europa Simulazioni

Custoza Fields of Doom by Europa Simulazioni

Custoza Fields of Doom by Europa Simulazioni





 Custoza Fields of Doom


by


Europa Simulazioni





 Custoza and its fields were a crossroad in Italy for a long time. It was also essential to attack or defend the fortress system called the 'Quadrilateral' (composed of the four fortresses Peschiera, Mantua, Legnago, and Verona). The first battle in 1848 was decisive in the First War of Independence of Italy. The third battle took place during the Third war for Independence in 1866. Both battles were fought because Austria-Hungary was trying to keep control of its possessions in Northern Italy. Like many areas in Europe, because of Custoza's geography many other armies have traversed its fields also. The year 1848 saw the Hapsburg monarchy of Austria-Hungary fight for its life against the tide of revolution flowing across Europe. The Hapsburgs were barely treading water, let alone able to deal with insurrections and invasions into the outer parts of the Empire. Finally with some semblance of calm in the inner empire Franz Joseph I, the new emperor, was able to send Field Marshal Radetzky to secure its Northern Italian provinces. Unbeknownst to many, the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 also saw Austria-Hungary fighting in Italy. Custoza was the scene of another battle in this war. Why do I mention two battles? Because the game allows the players to fight both of them. So, let us see what you get with this two for one deal. These are the contents:


Two 23"x34" maps

A rules booklet (the Italian version also contains a rule booklet in Italian)

3 sheets of large (5/8") counters

Charts and tables (both in Italian and English)

Two Dice

Boxed




  This will be my third review of a Europa Simulazioni wargame. I must tell you upfront that the game impresses me as visually as the first two did. Even the artwork on their game boxes are wonderfully done. The maps that come with the game are large and have big hexes to accommodate the large 5/8"counters. The maps are extremely well done. Another thing I like about Europa Simulazioni maps are that you do not have to guess what the terrain is in each hex. They make it very easy for the player that way. There is no need for quibbling if this hex is more forest or swamp etc. The counters are very colorful without being 'busy'. You get very nice looking counters, with small black and white portraits of the different generals. The two Player Aid cards are of thick paper and are done in large print. On one side of the first one is the terrain chart. The other side has the Assault Table and the Fire Table, along with the modifiers and the Cohesion Check Modifiers Table. The other Player Aid is 'The Objective Map'. This is used in the advanced game; more on this later. The Rules Booklet is thirty-two pages long and is in black and white. The rules only take up sixteen pages, and the rest is the different scenario setups, background history, and designer notes.




  The game actually comes with these scenarios:


Three smaller ones to learn the game (two from 1866, and one from 1848).

1848 Historical

1848 Free Set-Up

1848 Late Start

1866 Historical

1866 Free Set-up

So, you get eight scenarios from two different wars in one box. Not a bad package at all.




 The game allows a player to deal with almost every problem or tactical conundrum that faced all 19th century generals. The terrain helps with that, but the various scenarios really help to put you in their shoes. The Basic Game rules only take up twelve pages. There is enough in the rules for anyone who wants to play out a 19th century battle. Where the game really shines is with the addition of the Advanced Rules. These include:


Formation Status

On March Formations

In Reserve Formations

Fatigue

Command Collapse

Line of Communication 

Reinforcements

 There are also a few Special Rules that deal with Fortresses and Night turns etc.





 This is the Objective Map below.





 This is the Basic game Sequence of Play:

"1. Initiative Determination. Each Player rolls two dice,
 adding the Command Rating of the Overall
 Commander, if in play. The player with the highest
 total is the Initiative player. Re-roll on ties.
2. Engaged Formations Action Phase.
2.1 Command Step. Check the Command Status
 of all of the units, and mark the Out of Command
 ones (4.1).
2.2 Activation Step. Starting with the Initiative
 player, both sides alternate trying to activate one
 of their Formations (5.1). A failed attempt is
 considered an attempt. Both players can choose to
 pass, and to not try to activate a Formation, but if
 players pass three times in sequence (i.e. Player 1,
 Player 2, then again Player 1), the Phase ends and
 Formations which have not been activated cannot
 activate any more on the current GT.
 NOTE: Out of Command units can still move in
 their Phase (see Step 4.)
 Once activated, the Formation’s units that are In
 Command can act, Force by Force.
 NOTE: Remember, consider a single unit as a Force.
 For each Formation to activate, conduct the following
 steps:
2.2.a) Assault and Charge declarations
 Assaults and Charges must be declared at the
 beginning of the Activation, before any action,
 using the appropriate markers (see 6.1).
2.2.b) Forces perform Actions
 Each Force belonging to the Activated Formation
 can perform one Action, potentially causing
 Reactions (see 11) by enemy Forces. A Force can
 choose one action among:
- Movement (7.0) (including any Action implying
 expenditure of Movement Points)
- Fire (8.0) (Artillery or Light Infantry), including
 movement before firing, if Light Infantry (6.4)
- Charge/Assault, including the movement to
 perform it (9.0 and 10.0)
2.2.c) End of Activation
 Eligible Forces can Recover Status Levels and/or
 Exhaustion (see 13.6).
 Remove Assault/Charge markers.
3. Non Activated Formations Phase. In Command
 units of Non Activated Formations can Recover
 Status Levels and/or from Exhaustion (see 13.6).
 They must execute Withdrawal (see 12.0) if they are
 in a ZoR.
 The Initiative Player’s units move second.
4. Out of Command Units Phase. Out of Command
 units can move now, and Recover Status Levels
 and/or from Exhaustion (see 13.6).
 They must execute Withdrawal (see 12.0) if they are
 in a ZoR. If they are not in a ZoR and move, they
 must move closer to their Commander (4.1.1).
 Initiative Player units move second.
5. End of the the Game Turn Phase.
 Remove “Low Ammo/Out of Ammo” markers.
 Advance the GT marker one box on the Turn record
 Track."




  When using the above Objective Map in the Advanced Game, only the commander and his scout unit is shown on the large map face down. Every 'On March Formation' has it's marker placed on the above Objective map. One interesting rule is that at least half of his movement allowance must be on any type of road hex. The commander also has to be at least one hex closer to his destination after movement. The designer states that both "fair play and good sense" are to be used in conjunction with the above. They must grow grognards differently in Italy. 

 So, the game comes with eight scenarios and the inclusion of the Objective Map, and the free set-up scenarios mean that the gameplay in this box is almost limitless. 

 The designer states that at first the project was boring and predictable. Their answer: "Hence the radical decision: we reset everything and started gain with a completely new system. Without using predefined schemes,  and with the basic concepts of a) non-absolute control of formations and b) continuous action/reaction, the system that you find was born". Historically, in 1866 the cavalry of both sides were not used to their fullest advantage. Both sides groped about the battlefield trying to find each other. In these essentially Napoleonic battles I am sure that most grognards will do better. The games revolve around a unit's cohesion, and its ability to withstand the enemy fires and then use shock. In my eyes Europa Simulazioni has hit the mark with this game. As long as you are a fan of 19th century warfare, you should be a fan of this game. Thank you Europa Simulazioni for allowing me to review this unknown, but very welcome addition to battles of the 19th century.


This is the link to the English Rules:

Custoza-Rules-P1-2-Eng.pdf (italianwars.net)

This is the link to Europa Simulazioni:

Europa Simulazioni - Home (italianwars.net)

This is the Link to Custoza: Fields of Doom:

Europa Simulazioni - Custoza, fields of doom (italianwars.net)


Robert

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