Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Field Commander Napoleon in Italy, 1796

Today I decided to play Field Commander Napoleon.  It's a game I just haven't had the time to really indulge in lately, so hopefully I don't make too many rule mistakes.  I've decided to start over again with the very first campaign, 1796 in Italy.  I start in Nice, in the Southwest, and must conquer my way all the way to Klagenfurt.  I need to take every city except Genoa, and if I ever control less than 2 objectives at the end of my turn, I automatically lose.  Also, once I move past Genoa, enemy reinforcements will sweep down from the Northeast to dislodge me.

Field Commander Napoleon is a significant step up from Alexander, both in terms of rules complexity, and difficulty.  The battles are far more strategic, as you will see, and the enemy won't sit around waiting for you to come to them.  Well, the game is set up, so lets play.  Wish me luck!

Turn 1:  My first order of business is acquiring a second objective so I don't immediately lose.  The obvious choice is Turin.  However I also have Piedmont forces knocking at my door.  I decide to split my forces.  My goal is to envelop Turin with a force of 27 strength to their 9, automatically winning the battle.  I then send my cavalry, and some token infantry, along with Napoleon to deal with Piedmont.

I decide to resolve Turin first.  Even though I'm enveloping them, I still must do the Fog of War check.  Unfortunately, they perform quite well on this check, gaining an extra garrison.  I no longer envelop them, and must fight the battle out.  This could go less than well.

The first round I decide to preempt the enemy using my Prepare Battle Plan.  It was not one of my smarter moves, since all it did was give the enemy fortifications a target.  They end up dealing 2 hits, one to my best unit, and one to my worst.  On the second round of combat, I use my Flank Battle Plan to advance on the garrisons, forcing them to make (and fail) a shock check.  The Flank also attacks, taking out the other Garrison.  Now there is just the fortification.  For the 3rd round of combat, I decide to Prepare again, advancing on the cannons before they can fire.  They fail their shock check, and victory is mine!

Now for the battle again Piedmont.  The enemy Fog of War check is pretty low, and would have allowed me to move Napoleon there if he wasn't already.  It also fixed the rounds of combat at 2.  I decide to select the Cavalry Sweep Insight, reducing the number of Battle Plans I can select by 1.  However if it's successful, all the Cavalry I keep in my reserve area will get to attack 3 times against the rearmost enemies!  It's always been devastating whenever it's been successful.

So for the first round of combat, I roll to activate my insight and roll a 1!  Wow, this is going great.  I proceed to roll a total of 8 hits against the enemy, taking out most of their forces, and leaving the last one reduced.  Now all I have to do is survive this round and the enemy will fail their rout check because I have 10 strength to their 3, three times as much.

I select flank as my battleplan.  It's my hope that the enemy will advance forward once, and then I can finish them off.  The enemy ends up drawing an Assault battleplan, which will require them to roll for activation.  Sadly, they fail to activate, which means my Flank doesn't activate either since I need to be exactly 2 sections away from the enemy.  I decide to rotate my last guy into a line.  There is little point in chasing the guy off the board since I'll never catch him.  The Piedmont force ends up retreating into Genoa, out of my reach thanks to it's enormous buildup of forces located there.

I now get to Force March my units.  I really want to try to take Milan with some of my units in Turin.  I decide to go for it, paying 3 resources to Force March them, and leaving my weakest unit behind to hold Turin.

I decide to prepare again, putting a guy out there which I want to get hit this time.  Once again, the Fortification rolls a 1!  These things just never miss!  I take the hit on my leading man, and march the other two up.  For turn 2, I select Flank again, because it works so well against garrisons which I know can't move.  The fortification scores another hit.  I really don't want to lose a guy, but I also need to attack with a full strength unit.  So instead of wounding my flanker, I kill one of my guys instead.  Now my flanker charges in.  The garrison fails it's shock check, and my flanker succeeds in his attack, wiping out the fortification!  Not bad for a days work.

I now gain 12 supply points.  I decide to purchase a Scout, which I can use to force the enemy to reroll orders or Fog of War checks.  I also buy back my lost unit, reduced, along with a cannon, which I give to Napoleon.  Napoleon is hardly himself without a cannon or two.  Or three or four.

The enemy ends up spreading out every which way.  The wounded Piedmont infantry comes back for more, and he brings the Austrians with him!  Still, they aren't much to worry about, as I have Napoleon, and a brand new cannon to deal with them.

Well, the Fog of War check was quite beneficial to me this time.  I got to steal some of the enemies supply, plus this battle will last 5 rounds!  I decide to select my Cavalry Sweep insight again, since it worked so well last time.  My plan for this battle is to hold out as long as I need with my infantry up front, and my cannon supporting, until my cavalry can roll up their line.

And on the first turn of battle, I'm able to activate my insight by rolling a 1 again.  What are the odds!  I score 7 hits with my 2 cavalry, which is just enough to eliminate every unit on the battlefield.  What a stunning victory.  You can just hear that last Piedmont infantry battalion screaming "Not agaaaaaaaain!" as they are run down.

To wrap up the turn, I roll for the enemy cities resupply, and end up rolling extra supply points for all of them.  The enemy is now sitting on a sizable war cache of 9 points.  I'll have to try to exhaust them in the turns to come by carefully selecting my battles.

I think I need to consolidate

Turn 2:  Genoa is wide open for me now.  However I have some Austrian troops knocking on the doors of some pretty poorly defended cities.  I decide to send Napoleon into Genoa to envelop it.  I then direct some infantry from Turin to deal with the lone Austrian cavalry marauding through my territory.  I decide to resolve Napoleon's battle first, in order to use up the enemies supply.

The plan works spectacularly.  The enemy wasted 4 supply points boosting their Fog of War roll, and still only rolled a 7, resulting in me stealing 2 supply points from them!  I'm going to need these to Force March later.  I then proceed to envelop them, 30 strength up against 9.  Now to resolve the cavalry battle.

And it resolves just as quickly.  The Fog of War check awarded me another Scout, which is always useful.  I decided to have my infantry use Engage.  Odds are good the enemy cavalry will move forward at least one, if not two sections.  Sure enough, the enemy cavalry then drew a Forward Battle Plan, resulting in them moving forward, and doing nothing.  My infantry then advances, gets into a line formation, and fires, eliminating the cavalry.  Sweet, sweet victory.

I now have 3 supply with which to Force March somewhere.  I decide to chase after the Austrians in Lodi with Napoleon and a cannon, cavalry and infantry unit.  My strategy is to sweep them up again, hopefully.

Turn one is pretty blah.  My sweep fails.  Then the enemy draws an Officers Battle Plan, and a Close Ranks Battle Plan  which lets them ignore one hit.  It doesn't matter incredibly since my cannons miss, and no one else is in range to fire.  Turn two, my sweep fails to activate again.  I decide to charge with my cavalry, but the enemy Closes Ranks again, and their infantry uses Forward.  My infantry ends up taking a hit, but I manage to deal 3.  1 because they failed their shock check, and 2 for successfully attacking in melee!  However they end up ignoring one.  Still it results in a kill.  Sadly I have now hit the turn limit.  I roll to see what happens, and the enemy withdraws Northeast into Lonato.  That was a close battle, and I think I've now learned the folly of relying too much on Insights.  Now for my supply step.

This turn I gained 15 supply.  I decide to build up most of my reduced forces.  I purchase 2 more cannons to beef up Milan in case the Austrians in Lonato decide to invade.  I also purchase a strength 1 recruit to hold Turin since I'd like to move the infantry currently there closer to the front.  Now, lets see how the enemy reacts.

So many enemies wondering around!

Well, the Austrian in Lonato stay put, however the Austrians in Mantua advance on Genoa!  I was not expecting that, my troops there are not exactly the best.  Their first Fog of War roll is a 10 which would give them a reinforcement.  This doesn't sit well with me, so I force them to reroll it, spending a Scout.  They still roll a 9, which inflicts a hit on a unit in a random city.  I decide to accept that result since it's better than letting them get more units out.

For the first round of combat, not much happens.  The enemy's Battle Plans don't accomplish much, and my own cavalry charge fails to activate.  I decide to rotate my infantry into a line formation.

For the next round of combat, once again, not much happens.  The enemy closes in, and I fail all my rolls again.

Finally some action in the final round!  I decide to put my infantry in a Square, to preempt the enemy cavalry.  Unfortunately the enemy draws an attack bonus Battle Plan this round.  Thankfully, my infantry takes out the enemy cavalry before they can strike, and the enemy infantry all fail their attack rolls.  My cavalry then advances, chasing the Austrian conscripts back.  Sadly, this battle only lasts 3 rounds, and I didn't quite route the enemy.  They still had 4 strength to my 9.  So close!  But the withdrawal roll says to rejoin battle!

Starting the battle over, the Fog of War roll awards me another Scout.  The first round is rather punishing for the enemy, as all they do is advance forward, putting them in range of my Flanking cavalry, which destroys their conscripts and damages their poor infantry.  At the beginning of round 2, the Austrians fail to activate, and my infantry advance on them, causing them to fail their shock check, wiping them out.  And I barely manage to hold Genoa.

For the enemy supply steps Mantua get's a 3rd garrison, and Klagenfurt just adds more supply to the enemy's pool.

Turn 3:  I decide to spend all of turn 3 regrouping and resupplying.  I advance my forces closer to Mantua, preparing for the coming conflict.  I also add more cannons and fortifications to Milan, in case those last few Austrians decide to attack.  Everywhere else is exceptionally well defended.

Before the enemy moves

And naturally the Austrians decide to attack Milan.  Now I'm extremely grateful I beefed up it's defenses!  Once again the enemy flubs their Fog of War roll, awarding me 2 of their supply points.

For the first round of combat, I decide to flank again.  It's worked so well for me, when it works.  The enemy's line infantry ends up failing their activation check, but their poor infantry advance forward, in range of my flank attack!  They automatically fail their shock check, because they are in column.  Sadly my flankers don't follow through, failing their attack roll.  However one of my cannons does manage to hit, finishing off the reduced poor infantry.  And now the enemy fails their rout check!  It's open season on Austrians.  In round 2, their only choice is to retreat, perfectly putting them in range of another flank attack, forcing them to fail their shock check, to be destroyed in their own reserve region.

For the enemy resupply, Mantua adds more supply to the pool, and Klagenfurt gains a reinforcement from the cup.  I'm surprised that hasn't happened more often.

The situation at the beginning of Turn 4.  Mantua is getting nervous

Turn 4:  There is only one thing left to do.  Attack Mantua, and come out swinging hard at Klagenfurt.  I move absolutely every unit I have available into Mantua, and bring the forces I'd held in reserve at Milan into Lonato, preparing to move on Klagenfurt.  This next battle is going to be epic.

The Fog of War roll doesn't do much.  I would be allowed to move an adjacent mobile unit into this battle, but I like them all exactly where they are.  However, I choose my Engineers insight.  If I successfully activate it, I'll be able to destroy all the static units, which is all the enemy has this battle.  Fingers cross.

Well, the engineers don't go off.  However, none of the enemy cannons score a hit.  Additionally, my cannons manage to score 3 hits!  And now, just barely, the enemy fails their rout check, 16 to 50.  So all the static forces are destroyed, and I get to enjoy my victory.  However, because I entered Mantua, the Austrian reinforcements appear in Klagenfurt.  It's time for the climax.  I decide to Force March Napoleon, my cavalry, and my best cannons into Lonato, to join with my other forces en route to Klagenfurt.

I gain a whopping 18 supply points.  I spend 2 of them on another scout, and 9 more on a fortification and garrison for Mantua, not that I think I will need them.  The enemy reinforcements now get to spread out.  And spread out they do.  I'm just glad they didn't stick together in one large clump.  Sadly, Klagenfurt also got another fortification.

I think I can pick my way through these guys.

Turn 5:  The only thing left to do is attack!  I quickly rush Napoleon into Adige, adjacent to Klagenfurt.  With any luck I can end things on this turn.  

And once again, the Fog of War turns out quite favorable, giving me the remainder of the enemy's supply.  I opt not to do any insights this battle.  They've been a fickle mistress, and I think I'd rather just have the extra Battle Plans   I decide to play it conservatively, using Grapeshot with my cannons, and Engaging with some infantry.  The enemy's Battle Plans turn out to be completely useless, as they just spin their wheels.  However, all my cannons miss, although my Engaging infantry score a hit.

For round 2, the enemy does manage to score a hit against my weaker infantry.  However, luckily for me, all my cannons find their target!  And this time my cavalry successfully activate to charge.  The enemy cavalry hold their ground against the shock check, however my actual attack finishes them off.  And I've officially swept these Austrians from the board.

And now, in a risky maneuver, I decide to Force March Napoleon, along with 3 cannons, 2 cavalry, and just 1 infantry toward Klagenfurt.  If I can win this one, I'll end the game.  I end up not liking the first Fog of War check.  Or the 2nd.  Or the 3rd.  I use all three of my scouts in the end, but I eventually settle for a fairly innocuous roll.  I also pay 2 supply to gain an extra Battle Plan, and decide to forgo any insights.  For my first round I select Grapeshot, Charge and Flank, hoping to come out swinging quite hard.

My first round of combat is quite successful.  None of the Austrian cannons found targets, however 2 of mine did.  Additionally my Charge and Flank were both a hit.  I manage to wipe out 3 of the Austrian forces, including their garrison, without taking any hits so far.

Round two has far more mixed results.  The enemy infantry successfully executes a wedge, killing my cavalry, and driving off my infantry wounded.  My cannons manage to kill the offending wedge, however I am now faced with the prospect of closing in on the enemy fortifications.  Although they continue to miss, they are still threatening.

However, when I perform I rout check, I just barely succeed, with 25 strength to their 8!  The enemy fortifications are now abandoned, and I win Klagenfurt, and the game!  That was a bit too close for my usual conservative play style.

In your FACE Austria!

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