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  Napoleon's Resurgence The Spring Renaissance of the Grande Armée, May-June, 1813 War of Liberation, Part I Lützen, Bautzen, Luckau, Kö...

Napoleon's Resurgence: The Spring Renaissance of the Grande Armée, May-June, 1813 Napoleon's Resurgence: The Spring Renaissance of the Grande Armée, May-June, 1813

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May-June




 Napoleon's Resurgence


The Spring Renaissance of the Grande Armée, May-June, 1813


War of Liberation, Part I


Lützen, Bautzen, Luckau, Königswartha, Weissig





"He could pass none of his wounded soldiers without being greeted with the cry of Vive l'Empereur! Even those who had lost limbs or who would die a few moments later made him this last tribute. He responded to their cheers by uncovering his head to them."


 To discuss Napoleon's 1813 Campaign we have to go back to the 1812 Campaign in Russia. Although Napoleon did take Moscow, this did not force Tsar Alexander I to make peace. No, Napoleon's 600,000 man army was not buried in the snows of Russia. Typhus and malnutrition had pared the army down to about 1/4 its size before the first snowfall. The Russian winter and army finished the process of turning this remnant into a shambling mass of men that in no way resembled an army. Napoleon had left the remnants of this great army to its own devices and headed back to Paris. One of the greatest minds in history was hell bent on creating another Grande Armée and returning Europe to the status quo of 1811. Napoleon was faced with a superhuman task. While still fighting the 'Spanish Ulcer', he had to create an army from almost nothing. It is a tribute to his genius that he was able to do it. True, the new Grande Armée was mostly green conscripts, the 'Marie Louises', but it was an army nonetheless. In a tribute to his skills Napoleon was able to field a larger army than the Coalition against him in the first part of the campaign in Germany. This game is listed as the 'Library of Napoleonic Battles Volume VIII. It takes us through the battles that were fought before the armistice in the middle of 1813. I want to take a bit of your time and give you a short bio about the designer. This was written by John Best:


"Kevin Zucker was with SPI back in the 1970s. Like many who went on to "greatness" as designers under the tutelage of JFD, KZ initially served SPI in the capacity of Managing Editor, half-way between Dunnigan's R&D and Simonsen's Art Departments.

OSG was initially named Tactical Studies Group, and the name was changed relatively quickly, to avoid any clash with TSR. He left the company in September of 1979; the company remained active for a few more months.

KZ has remained active in wargaming during the entire period. He did work for AH for one year: 1980. It is interesting to hear him speak about the reasons he had for revitalizing the OSG brand name at this, seemingly unpropitious, point in time. "My grandfather, who farmed 80 acres in Iowa, had an old red & black 1948 Dodge pick-up. As a kid, I asked him why he didn't get a new one: 'Because everybody knows this is me.'" And it is interesting to consider the list of all the original OSG games. There were a dozen or so: Napoleon at Bay, Panzerkrieg, Rommel & Tunisia, Napoleon at Leipzig, Dark December, Bonaparte in Italy, Devil's Den and Air Cobra prominent among them.

The Napoleonic titles such as Napoleon at Bay and Bonaparte in Italy were pathfinding designs that for over two decades have been hugely influential on many members of the wargaming community. OSG did some WWII games too including the J. A. Nelson design, Rommel & Tunisia. By the standards of today, the 28 page rulebook is, I suppose, a mere bagatelle. But for 1978, the whole presentation gives the impression of somebody going for Big Ideas and Very Serious Stuff."





 Operational Studies Group now publishes Napoleonic Wars operational studies (who would have thunk it). I have a good number of Mr. Zucker's older games, and they are some of my favorites. This game's focus is on the 1813 campaign which is by far my favorite campaign to game and read about during the Napoleonic Wars.


 Let us take a look at what comes with the game:


2 Maps 34"x22"

1 Map 17"x22"

1 Map 11"x34"

2 Maps 11"x17"

2 Counter Sheets (560 die-cut player pieces)

2 Booklets (System Rules and Study Folder)

17 Player Aid Cards (TRC x 6, Initial Setup x 6, Casualty x 2, Combat Results, Reorganization, and Weather)

5 Resource Cards (Adding the Cards, Combat Tables, Sequence of Play, Victory Worksheet, List of Cards Removed).

2 Card Decks (50 cards each)


Map of the early 1813 Campaign.


 Normally I would go right into an appraisal of the components. However, because of this game having multiple battles, I will post OSG's synopsis of three of the battles first.


"LÜTZEN, STRUGGLE FOR THE FOUR VILLAGES, 2 MAY

With the death of Marshal Kutusov on 28 April, there was no further obstacle to the Tsar’s fervent dream of dictating peace from the Tuilleries. The Allies marched boldly across the Elbe, not knowing Napoleon’s plans, his strength, or his location. They took up a position astride the road to Leipzig, the Emperor’s presumed objective. After a string of actions at Halle, Merseberg and Weissenfels, the two armies met on the field of battle at Lützen on the 2nd of May.


BAUTZEN, THE GUARD’S MOMENT OF TRUTH, 20-21 MAY

The Russo-Prussian army was nearly 100,000-strong, but Napoleon outnumbered them, and Marshal Ney was approaching with 85,000 reinforcements. Napoleon had planned to pin down his enemies and then trap them with Ney's troops. But the Bravest of the Brave ended up coming in on the flank, not far enough to oblige Wittgenstein to redeploy, and so no deadly “hinge” was formed in the enemy line. The Russians were defeated, but Napoleon’s army was at the end of its tether, and the pursuit cost him more men than the enemy. The Bautzen map is one and one half map sections: 33x34”


LUCKAU, GATEWAY TO BERLIN, 6 JUNE

Bülow’s Prussian Corps of 30,000 men marched south from Berlin, threatening French Communications with Dresden. Oudinot’s XII Corps and Beaumont’s cavalry were at Hoyers- werda on the 28th of May when some of Bülow’s force stumbled upon them. By the time Oudinot caught up with them again on June 6th Bülow had concentrated most of his Corps at Luckau, driving the French back with a loss of 2,000"



The game, in truth, comes with five battles. These are:

Lützen

Bautzen

Luckau

Königswartha

Weissig

 The game also has two Mini-Campaigns and a Campaign Game.


 The components of the game are completely top shelf. The maps are beautiful. They are also easy to read and the terrain is not difficult to discern for each hex. They are a cross between a period map and a new wargaming one. This marriage works extremely well in my eyes. The counters are also up to snuff. They are 1/2" in size. Some of them are blessed with small portraits of the French and Allied commanders. Their size may put some people off in this age of 1" counters, but to a grognard the hex and counter size are completely normal. The stacking limit is up to five units in a hex with a leader. This sounds like it might make the game stack heavy, but in reality this is not the case. The System Rules Booklet is twenty-four pages long. It is mostly in black and white, but does have colored play examples, etc. The Study Folder Booklet is also twenty-four pages long. It is split in half between information about the battles and campaigns, and a wonderful Historical Notes section written by Mr. Zucker. These notes are a concise and well done history of this part of the 1813 campaign. The Player Aid Cards, and the Resource Cards, are either blank and white or one color. They are easy to use and completely informative. The game comes with two Card Decks (one French, and one Allied). The decks are smaller than regular cards, but are just as sturdy and laminated, more on these cards later on. All of the components are what you would expect from a company with such a life span and pedigree. 



 So, we have a bit of a different animal here than most. Not only do you get the battles, but you can also play out the campaign. I am trying to think of another game that I own or have played that has this. Many games do a chain of separate scenarios and make a campaign game out of them, and very well at that. However, I cannot recall having one that you could play either of them on the same map at the operational level. One other thing that the game has that no other one has is a separate Battle of Bautzen. The Battle of Lützen has a few games on it. I know, I have all of them. Bautzen, on the other hand, is a glaring black hole in the gaming world. This battle, had Ney not turned petulant, might have saved Napoleon's Empire. Had Ney not felt slighted by Napoleon, who gave him Jomini as his Chief of Staff, the history of Europe would more than likely be much different. The Allies were setup on the Bautzen battlefield with Austria close to their left flank. Tsar Alexander I was adamant that Napoleon wanted to crush the Allies' left flank and push them away from Austria. In actuality, Napoleon wanted Ney to crush the Allies' right flank and actually force them into Austria. Austria herself was still on the fence about joining against Napoleon and was not ready yet to intervene. This would have forced Napoleon's father-in-law to either become a belligerent before he was ready or to intern the Allies troops. If Ney had one wit of operational sense he would have come in behind the Allied right as Jomini begged him to do. Ney became like a stubborn five year old and followed Napoleon's orders to a tee. This only pushed the Allies back and allowed them to escape the battlefield. Ney had forgotten Seydlitz's famous answer to an order from Frederick the Great "After the battle the King can do what he likes with my head, but during the battle will he please allow me to use it?". Yes, you can tell that I am an aficionado of the Campaign of 1813. 




 So, how is the game/simulation? In a word, excellent. I do have many of Mr. Zucker's earlier designs so the rules and playing were probably easier for me than most. When you compare some of the older games, 1809 and Napoleon at Bay, to the newer ruleset you get a very good idea of how the Napoleonic games from operational Studies Group have matured into what they are now. The ruleset has been worked on during the years and this game's rules are from version 7.34.This is not an easy game. Meaning, I certainly wouldn't use it to introduce an Axis and Allies player to real wargaming. In fact there are rules about:


Zones of Control

Leaders

Command

Hidden Forces

Cavalry Charges

Vedettes

Supply

Baggage and Pontoon Trains

Road March 


 Along with many other concepts. As I mentioned earlier, the game can also be played with cards. This is OSG's blurb about them:


"Due to the chaotic conditions of war the actions of units and leaders were always uncertain. Opposing generals rarely knew where the battle was boing to be, nor who was going to be there. The cards make such doubts a part of the player's calculations."  


I think I forgot to mention that the game is supposed to be played with all units and reinforcements hidden. Until you decide to uncover that genie's bottle, you will have no way of knowing what is in front of you. The French Imperial Guard could be right over that next hill. My favorite battles are Bautzen (of course), and Lützen. However, the Campaign Game is my favorite of all the different scenarios to play. I have played it with and without cards based on my mood at the time. Many thanks to OSG for letting me review this, I hate to say game, simulation of Napoleonic warfare at almost the end of the Empire. If you grognards have played some of the older games you owe it to yourself to get one of these newer volumes.


Robert

Operational Studies Group:

Napoleon Games – Operational Studies Group

Napoleon's Resurgence:

Napoleon's Resurgence – Operational Studies Group (napoleongames.com)














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