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Here, Ray Weiss opines and makes probably incorrect assumptions about wargame design.

Game 003: 1812

1812 is our strategic game on Napoleon’s attempted conquest of Russia.

1812 is our strategic game on Napoleon’s attempted conquest of Russia.

1812 is a subject I’ve always been fascinated with, while simultaneously wondering why there weren’t more games on the subject. Apart from the conflict in the Americas, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was one of the more ambitious gambits in all of history other than the Swedish attempted conquest of Russia in the early 18th century. Both efforts would ultimately fail in part to similar factors. Both Karl and Napoleon’s armies were extremely far from their sources of supply, their lines of communication being extended far beyond the limits of what was possible in either century. While Napoleon had reached Moscow, the Russians rendered this massive achievement meaningless by burning down Moscow and retreating further into Russia to regroup.

French Retreat in 1812 by Pryanishnikov

French Retreat in 1812 by Pryanishnikov

The end result of the domestically unpopular strategy of scorched earth and fighting withdraws was decisively devastating for the French and the repercussions were far too grave for the French to ever recover, directly leading to the capture of Paris in 1814. Scorched earth tactics meant that the French could not draw any supplies from cities they had just captured. While this may seem like a relatively minor concern in more modern conflict, this tactic forced an army to be increasingly reliant on a supply train, something that was never really reliable until the dawn of the 20th century. Armies during the Napoleonic era, much like armies before, helped to sustain the good morale of their men and their basic needs by plundering anywhere they captured for supplies. This was a more nuanced issue for the French as some peoples would prefer the French to their own rulers, but the further the French pushed into Russia, the more hostile the country came surrounding the French army, dangerously overextended.

Playtest setup for 1812

Playtest setup for 1812

Accordingly, 1812 focuses on the nature of what is truly decisive in war. Clausewitz famously posits that war is an extension of politics, which boils down to basically say it is impossible to win a war without clear political objectives. Without clear political objectives, there can be no decisive result in war. The French player must decide on 1 of several ways to win the game, by either eliminating as many Russian units as possible, taking cities before Russia burns them down, and/or winning “decisive” battles defined as when players have enough SP involved that they both throw 3d6 during combat. The Russian player must finesse his forces to nudge the French into trying to do too much at once, so they can appropriately bring in reinforcements to counterattack the French army when weakens. Supply and Command points play roles in how effective units can be, or what units may activate.

ANYWAY I am fairly excited about 1812, it’s been a lot of fun to playtest and getting good feedback from one or two players, so we look forward to getting this title shipped out at the end of a week or two.

With Love

Ray

Owner/Operator at CSL

Ray WeissComment