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Napoleonic Battles: Austerlitz 1805

Napoleonic Battles: Austerlitz 1805

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In December 1805, Emperor Napoleon I led about 67,000 men against about 75,000 Russian and Austrian troops near Brunn (modern Brno) in Bohemia, part of today's Czech Republic. The battlefield, divided by hills and streams, became known as Austerlitz and would be celebrated as Napoleon's greatest victory.

After fierce fighting amid the morning mists, the sun broke through the clouds. The French stormed the key Pratzen Heights, and after a bloody bayonet fight with the Russian troops manning the lines forced the Allied army into a disorganized retreat.

Austerlitz re-creates the area were the battle was fought as a topographic map divided into irregular areas rather than the hexagons used in traditional board wargames. These are not chosen randomly, but rather conform to the lie of the land to channel movement the same way folds, rises and gullies do on an actual piece of ground.

A unit must fit in the area it occupies, in the direction it faces. If the area is too narrow for one of the large pieces, it's not allowed to occupy the area, or at least not stay there and face the direction the player might like. Thus troops are placed along ridge lines, for example, not across them. Flanks become even more important; if you leave a unit "hanging" in a position where it can't turn to defend itself fully against an approaching enemy because it can't be placed in the area facing that direction, be prepared for serious losses.

The game pieces come in two sizes. 'Long' pieces are 1 and 1/3 inches long and 2/3 inches wide, a very large piece. These represent infantry divisions. Other pieces are squares 2/3-inch across each side. These represent cavalry brigades and artillery batteries. Each unit is rated for combat strength and morale.

Combat can take the form of assault, cavalry charge or bombardment. Each player rolls a number of dice equal to the total combat strength of his or her units involved. For each result of 6, one hit is achieved. For each hit suffered by a unit, it loses one 'step,' or level of strength.

But before it can make an attack or move, a unit must be activated. Better leaders are better able to activate their units more easily, giving them a significant edge. The French player has Napoleon, who is not that much better than the Russians' Mikhail Kutuzov. The difference is that Napoleon's subordinates are far more active than the Austrian and Russian leaders who support Kutuzov.

The rules for Napoleonic Battles Austerlitz 1805 are very similar to Avalanche's War of the States and Rome at War series, and build on earlier Napoleonic battle games like the now-discontinued Napoleon in the Desert. Developer Doug McNair and designer Rob Markham have created a game that retains the older games' simplicity of play but is far more historically accurate.
(used by g2 with the permission of Avalanche Press from the AP website).

Avalanche Press is known for its high quality, easy to learn war games with quality maps and counters. Whether you are a Grognard or new to war games, you will appreciate the amount of effort that this company puts into its games and supplements.

  • Time: 2 to 4 hours
  • Players: 2
  • Map Scale: 200 meters/centimeter
  • Unit Scale: 1300 to 1500 men / infantry point; 4 to 9 guns / artillery unit
  • Counters: 44 double sided 1 1/3 inch by 2/3 inch; 154 2/3 inch square
  • Maps: one 34x22 inch map
  • Rules: 12 pages
  • Difficulty: 1 of 5 stars
  • Solitaire Play: Very Good

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