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Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games    The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) is a war that not many people know about. Oh, you have...

Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games

Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games

Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games





Cockpit of Europe


by


Red Sash Games



 



 The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) is a war that not many people know about. Oh, you have history buffs that because of Frederick the Great know about the war in central Europe, but not many people know anything about the war in the Low Countries. The English Army did not always have things their way against the French. In another war that is even less known about, The Nine Years War (1688-1697), Marshal de Luxembourg consistently had the upper hand. It is true that during the War of the Spanish Succession, Marlborough beat the French Army whenever he faced it. Now we come to one of France's greatest Marshals Maurice de Saxe; as an aside, he could bend and snap horseshoes with his hands, just like his father Augustus the Strong of Saxony. Neither a Frenchman nor a Catholic, he became Marshal General of France's Armies during the War of the Austrian Succession. I believe his writings helped to bring about the Corps system that allowed Napoleon to rise to fame, and it is still used today. de Saxe was also able to beat the English whenever he faced them. This simulation is focused in the Low Counties in the years 1744-1748. So, for those of us who have longed for the day, we now have an operational simulation of the war that featured the Battle of Fontenoy. So, let us see what comes in this oversized box. These are the contents:


1) One 24x18 inch map representing Northwest Europe from the Channel to Metz, and from Paris to the Zuider Zee, derived from a mix of modern cartography and period maps dating from 1715 to 1750. Scale is 8.5 miles per hex (roughly 4 leagues per hex).

2)  1080 die cut counters representing contingents from France, Britain, Holland, Austria, Hesse, Bavaria, and even Russia! (The Dutch army itself contains Swiss, Saxon, Bavarian, Walloon, and Scottish mercenaries, not to mention forces from Holstein-Gotthorp and Hessen-Philipstahl).

3) Rules, charts, tables, and display cards.

4) An historical commentary.




 Opening the box is like looking into a cornucopia. You do not know where to start first. The map may seem kind of small for anyone who is used to monster games. However, if you have played any games about the campaigns of Marlborough you will notice it is exactly the same area. There is a reason it was called the Cockpit of Europe. France and her allies and enemies alike had been fighting over this area for centuries. The next thing you will notice about the map is how colorful it is, and the fact that it is covered in fortresses. Again, if you are not used to wargaming this area during this period, sieges and battles to stop sieges were a way of life for the military in the Low Countries. Movement on the map is point to point, although the rules, to follow wargame norms, call them hexes. Looking at the map, you can easily see how easy it is to fight a defensive war, and how difficult it is to prosecute an offensive one. The map might seem 'busy' to some, but the actual space between points is only 8.5 miles. Barely a good stretch of the legs (if you are into old movies). The game comes with two rule books. One is the 'Lace Wars' rulebook. Lace Wars is the series of games that Cockpit of Europe is part of. Lace Wars is based on the War of the Austrian Succession and the different games are based on the different parts of Europe during the war. The second is the actual Cockpit of Europe rulebook. They are both in black and white. The Lace Wars rulebook is forty-two pages long, and the Cockpit of Europe rulebook is twenty-three pages long.  Some people might look at them and believe they are daunting to behold (more on this later). However, they are well set up and take the player through the different concepts in an easy manner. The counters seem larger than their 5/8" size. On one side is a beautiful recreation of the unit's actual uniform jacket. The flip side is the unit's name and rating, etc. This side is in large type and easy to read. The officer counters also have all their ratings  displayed large enough to easily read them. They also have small portraits of the officers when they could find one available. I cannot say enough about the counters; they are extremely well done. It also comes with a fantastic forty-four page Historical Commentary that is better than most articles about the war. There is so much else that comes in the box. I will give you a list:


Two, two-page French and English HQ Display Charts

Turn Record Track and Peace Index & Operation Track etc.

Cockpit of Europe Counter Guide

Cockpit of Europe Terrain Effects Chart, The other side shows how to setup Battlefields

Sequence of Play

Four sheets of Tables

Allied Campaign Plans, Opposite side has the French Campaign Plans

Cockpit of Europe Unit Class Summary

Cockpit of Europe French OOB Book

Cockpit of Europe Allied OOB Book

Two sheets with Officers" Mess, Recovery Box etc.

Two sheets of 'Wings' A through J to use for battles


 In a word, it has anything you can think of that a player might need to play a deep simulation like this. All of the tables are in black and white. The Counter Guide and Terrain chart and a few other are in color.



These pics are of the Print & Play map


 So, in a nutshell this has all of the trappings of a monster game without the size. I will tell you straight off, anyone looking for a light or medium complexity game please avert your eyes. This simulation, and its brothers, were meant for the grognard. Some gamers who are used to the sweep of panzers across the steppe might think the game slow. For those of us who have wished and prayed for an operational game about the Austrian War of Succession, our prayers have been answered. There have been some games about the war, but almost all of them center on Frederick the Great's part in it. For me the battles in the Cockpit of Europe are the end all and be all. My birthday is May 11th, the same day the battle of Fontenoy was fought. Just hearing the name de Saxe gets my ears to perk up. This is a piece written in the latest Lace Wars rulebook to give an overview of the system:


"Focus of the Series

The Lace Wars series examines the wars of the 17th through 18th centuries (with an option to move into the 19th Century) at the Operational level. In the military thinking of the period, there was no written doctrine entitled ‘operational art’. It was either strategy or tactics. So, by Operational I mean you play the part of a theatre commander. Above you are the Monarch and his or her cabinet (or a republican senate), and the diplomats, and any allied rulers, and all the faceless socio-economic forces. None of which are in your control, though you may be able to manipulate them. Under you are the combat Units, the regiments, brigades, battalions, and war-bands, plus a logistics net and a motley group of generals. These also are not entirely under your control. Generals have personalities of their own, and combat Units have variable strength and cohesion. Since you are in the middle, ‘winning the war’ is not all that vital, and is usually not made the focus of the game, even when the situation is a balanced one. Most historical situations are not balanced. But, the system does provide a balance between you and your opponent, which is all that really matters. This is done by making you chase after personal Prestige. Campaign Plans (CPs) are the key to earning Prestige. They are essentially a set of ‘mandated objectives’, but you usually have a lot of leeway not only in resolving them but in picking them. This way, you can experiment with different strategies. In fact, the series is intended to give you lots of scope for experimentation. The system does not absolutely constrain you to a particular course of action, but it rewards you if you hit on the correct strategy and penalises you if you make mistakes. As you might expect with an operational-level game, the core elements in the Lace Wars series boil down to managing your Units effectively, supplying them, outmaneuvring your opponent, and winning in combat. In the period covered by the series, battles were infrequent but important, sieges were all-important, armies were usually fragile instruments, and supply was centered on the establishment of a network of depots. If you can maintain your forces in being while accomplishing some Campaign Plans, you have a good chance of winning. "





 This is a link to the Lace Wars Quick Start Guide on Red Sash's website:

LW QSG (redsashgames.com)


 How does it play? Like a simulation of an 18th century war, focused on operational warfare. The tactical module is an added attraction. The tactical battles play out much like other games that have 'Battleboards'. Movement is slow compared to most other wargames. The period relied on depots, and while sacking was not uncommon, a king did not want to add a burned out shell of a province into his realm. As I had alluded to, the movement will seem glacial to gamers that are used to 20th century games; even Napoleonic warfare has more movement to it. The simulation rewards you if you can play as an 18th century general. If you go into it with the mindset of Zhukov or Guderian, you will quickly fail. 



 The simulation has everything an 18th century general would have to contend with:

Lines of Communication

Fortifications

Formations

Siege Artillery

Auxiliaries

Leadership

 This is just a small taste of what you will have to deal with while playing. The rulebooks are filled with excellent quotes from many of the generals etc. of the time:

"The French are what they were in Caesar's time, and as he described them, brave to excess but unstable" Marshal de Saxe 

"A pack mule can go on the campaigns with Prince Eugene of Savoy, and still learn nothing of tactics". Frederick the Great




 This was one of my Grail games, and after reviewing it my mind has not changed one bit. It is a labor of love, as is the whole series, of one man's vision to bring the War of the Austrian Succession to a wargamers table. In this, Red Sash Games has hit the bullseye in the target. This is not a simulation to start on your road to becoming a grognard. This is one of those jewels of wargaming that you find after you have traveled that same road for awhile. Thank you Red Sash Games  for the chance to review this beautiful, and excellent simulation.

 The Lace Wars from Red Sash Games are on the pricier side of wargames. However, they also offer 'Print & Play' options for all of their games at incredibly low prices. I myself would suggest to save up and buy the games ready made. Then you have nothing to do but open the box and start playing, or at least start reading the rulebooks.

Red Sash Games:

Red Sash Games Home Page

Cockpit of Europe:

Cockpit of Europe (redsashgames.com)


Robert 

 

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