Cetacea
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A campaign of enlightenment

Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:56 pm

Introduction
Frederick the Great and his Seven Years War have always fascinated me. The man who stood at the cradle of the early twentieth century German superpower, who in his youth loved war and later in his live avoided it, who was both a cynic and an idealist, an enlightened atheist, an accomplished musician, a good and witty writer as well as a fearsome warrior, friend to many contemporary European intellectuals - this man epitomizes the 'movers and shakers' we have come to consider as shaping our modern history.
But others in this era are as colorful as Fred-the-G. Consider his opponents Maria Theresia and Catharine the Great; or William Pitt, Voltaire, or the young George Washington. Louis XV and his mistress Mme. de Pompadour (Fred scorned her and named one of his poodles Pompadour) are the stuff of romance.

Eighteenth century European society was fascinating as well, being heavily involved in freeing itself from the constraints of feudalism and religious pre-modern thinking. In the process - what was cause, what consequence? - modern centralized as well as rationalized nation-states were born. Vicious wars were an inevitable consequence.

In this context 'Rise of Prussia' should be viewed. The game is wonderful, although 'colorful' is the word that first comes to mind. I love playing wargames (either board or computergames) that provide a kind of sensory immersion into the period they claim to simulate. RoP is such a game. The map, the counters and the musical score offer the 'couleur' necessary to open the door to a good experience that combines my interest in history, what-if-curiosity, and longing for competition, be it against a human player or machine AI.

Unfortunately the game seems to lag somewhat in popular interest. One indication is the small number of AAR's on the forum. As I have some spare time during these summer holidays I thought it might be a good exercise to start playing and describing a game. Although I did start campaigns several times in the past few months (always as Prussia, never as Austria) I never played beyond 1757. By that time I realized I had made stupid errors in previous turns, the enemy was running havoc among my ranks, I seemed to have ignored basic mechanics, or I simply did not have time. And, to be honest, it is quite dispiriting to be beaten by the AI! So this time I will try to force myself to go through the war until the bitter (but hopefully sweet) end.

The aim of this AAR is to show how this wonderfully rich and complex game can be tackled from an average player's point of view. I do not consider myself an expert on all the byzantine intricacies of the game's rules and engine. I do approach my moves and actions more from a real-world perspective (what would work in the real 18th century campaign and on the 18th century battlefield) than from a mechanistic mind-set (does line 3, column 5 in table XIXa provide me with a +2 or a +3 modifier?). Still I do greatly appreciate any mechanistic clarifications of events that I encounter during my endeavour. Writing and reading an AAR should not only constitute an entertaining pastime but also an enlightening experience.

Cetacea
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A campaign of enlightenment

Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:58 pm

Settings

I start single player (against AI) game version 1.05 beta patch 5, with some recent AI adjustments that were presented in the past days by Clovis, but without the latest terrain adjustments. Fog of war is on; Activation rule is checked in the middle box (large movement and combat penalty if leader unactivated); Delayed Commitment: small; Randomized Generals off; Naval Handling standard; Historical Attrition off; no AI detection bonus; Difficulty level and Aggressiveness normal; all behaviours used; Activation Bonus normal.
I will play the long(est) campaign, 1756-1764, as the Prussian king, of course!

Cetacea
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A campaign of enlightenment

Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:00 pm

Strategic considerations

One of the interesting, if not appealing, aspects of playing Prussia in this game is the fact that one ultimately conducts a defensive war. The aim is to keep the superior encircling forces from Austria, France, Russia, the HRE and Sweden out till 1764. No inexorable steamrollers to take Vienna or Prague. Of course, if the opportunity presents itself, grab it. The resulting national morale (NM) and victory points are essential to get the upper hand. So be opportunistic. But be aware of the fact that any prolonged thrust into one direction leaves the rest of the Prussian perimeter vulnerable.

To accomplish this basically defensive strategy, however, operational and tactical aggressiveness during the various campaign seasons is essential. Mobility and hitting hard are core concepts for a Prussian player who wants to survive. The quality of the Prussian and other German generals (high strategic and tactical ratings), being able to exploit interior lines, as well as probably the quality of the Prussian line units will be major assets in implementing these high-level strategic thoughts.

(As a sidestep: I don't know how much better the average Prussian unit is than the average Austrian or Russian unit. I never played their side. I never checked and got my information from some links at the forum.)

One thing I need to keep in mind as the Prussian king is manpower. In this respect the allies (Austria cum suis) have a major advantage, that will only increase in the course of the game. Prussian operational and tactical aggressiveness should not distract the Prussian player from the basic fact that one needs to be very conservative regarding manpower. Recovery of damaged units and elements can be very slow, and losing experienced units is tantamount to losing battles, campaigns and the war. So no winter marches, no camping in snow and ice, no unsupplied positions. Only if opportunity arises....

Well, enough generalizations for the moment. Let's start!

Cetacea
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A campaign of enlightenment

Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:09 pm

Early September 1756 - invading Saxony

The very first months of the war and the remaining season of 1756 - I guess until November or December, when troops go into winter quarters - is dedicated to the destruction of the Saxon army and the subjugation of what remains of the country. The Saxon army is concentrated in Pirna and the challenge is to destroy them before sizeable Austrian forces intervene. I don't know how large this remaining army is, but the tooltip information over the Pirna camp icon lists 16 units. (Who knows the exact size of this Saxon contingent?)

One route to their destruction is to occupy the areas of Dresden, Dippoldiswalde and Radeberg with Prussian forces and to hang on to these positions for 1 to 3 turns. This is what the instructions in the event log state. The attractive part of this approach is that complete destruction can be accomplished without too many costs to our precious (...sss....) Prussian forces. The disadvantage may be that it requires the splitting of our Elbe Armee in three, making each part vulnerable to piecemeal destruction by suddenly appearing Austrian forces that are assisted by a sortie of the Saxon forces. Imagine if I would lose Dresden with its depot and its fortifications! (Let me tell you that this once happened to me in a previous game!) Another approach was championed at the forum. Somebody advocated a turn 1 assault with the combined Elbe Armee on Pirna itself. He claimed that this brought immediate rewards in terms of experience gain, and promotions of generals. But I abhor the potential slaughter of my forces that may go with it and I decide to adhere to my strategic maxim of attrition minimization.

So: build up and place my forces in order to block the three roads to the Pirna camp. Dresden has to be sufficiently garrisoned; Dippoldiswalde needs to contain a sufficient force to block a potential Austrian blow; and Radeberg - well, that's across the Elbe, not readily approachable from Austrian territory.

One of the things I like in this game is the endless organizational challenges one encounters while constituting one's forces. In order to accomplish the blockade of Pirna I group my Elbe Armee as follows.

Keith, as a column (Corps) remains in Dresden. His strategic rating, 5, and particularly his defensive rating, also 5, make him eminently suitable to protect Dresden. His force will consist of two artillery battalions, two supply wagons, three infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade, 15,000 men in. In addition the two siege artillery units from Frederick's column and the 1/Pioneers battn are transferred to Keith (totaling 168 guns for the force). Thus, a force is created that in the future may operate against fortresses. I'm not sure whether siege artillery impedes movement. The unit stats give these wheeled units a movement coefficient of 115%, so it doesn't seem. But one should be wary!

Image

Talking about brigades: some interesting discussions can be retrieved from the forums regarding the optimal composition of brigades. I try to fill all my infantry brigades with four battalions: three regular infantry or fusilliers and a grenadier battalion. I'm not sure whether this provides the optimal power mix, but I think it is historical. (Please comment!) As one of the initial activities of the campaign, all brigades have to be structured. The King will supervise that Himself!

A second column is Wedell's, east of the Elbe, in. Bautzen. His is the column to move with three filled brigades, two artillery battalions and two supply wagons to the Radeberg blocking position. A fourth brigade, with the elite infantry, has to cross the Elbe (at Pirna!) and move on to Dresden in order to strengthen Keith. As I said: I do not expect many problems for Wedell.
Prince Ferdinand von Brunswick leads a third column that contains three infantry brigades, one arty battn and two supply wagons, for a strength of about 12,000 men. Its task will be to slip past the Pirna defences in order to reach Dippoldiswalde at turn 1. The main force, led by Fred, will probably take two turns to reach that same destination. I guess the combined forces of the King and Brunswick must be able to parry any Austrian blow may materialize by late September (turn 2).

Talking about Frederick's column: his consists of 7 infantry brigades (four battns each), two cavalry brigades (with 3 regiments each), a separate Hussar regiment, two artillery battns, 1/ Genie btn and 8 supply wagons - an impressive 46,000 men with 96 guns.

This is the force that has to isolate Pirna. What if the Austrians attack Dippoldiswalde? Most likely it will be from the direction of Prague, through Lobositz. Let them come! An early victory here will yield me extra NM and victory points and will bring me a merry winter! To make sure that Frederick hits hard: set him to Offensive Posture (which is not offensive in any way ;) )

Some additional moves. Von Ziethen and his two Hussar regts. in Leipzig are brigaded (although that does not relieve the 10% command penalty! What does?) and sent south through Chemnitz to occupy the mountain passes in Freiberg and later Aue. Here they provide early warning for an unlikely western approach by Austrian forces. Within a few months I want to send a force to Chemnitz in order to build a depot there. The Chemnitz / Freiberg / Aue pass seems a nice threat to Western Austria.

Talking about Hussars: I love independent small, two regt Hussar brigades with a high quality strategic 6 or 5 brigadier. I use them for long range scouting and you will notice that I tend to form as many of them as possible, to provide my armies with ears and eyes. Their weakness is their often precarious supply position, which requires frequent withdrawal to supply sources. Perhaps I should go to one regt. brigades? That would solve the 10% command penalty. Does it affect supply? Such units lack any fighting power, however.

Of course Silesia needs attention. Kurt von Schwerin is without thought, without jealousy, with only one mouse-click, designated as commander of the Schlesien Armee in Glatz. That army needs some hard work in terms of brigade reorganization. I will do it now but may comment upon it later.
Prince Wilhelm, currently with Frederick is detached and sent to Stettin, in the north. Later in the game, with the Russians and the Swedes coming, I need a separate army over there. He and Lehwaldt, as three-star leaders, seem obvious choices for that job. Wilhelm's stats (4-0-0) are unimpressive but bypassing him will cost NM and victory points. Let's wait and see. An early lead in NM may make the pain bearable.

The cavalry force in Glogau (Von Kätte, who lacks command initiative) is sent to Breslau. I wonder if he gets there by the next two weeks. Together with the cavalry force in Breslau under Gessler, a major reshuffling of cavalry will take place, with units sent to either the Elbe or the Schlesien Armees.
Finally, Wobersow's force in Magdeburg is sent to Dresden. It also will reinforce Keith, but only after at least 16 days!

A good habit: check the orders of all your columns and forces once again. Nothing worse than to find a neatly programmed and highly anticipated battle not to take place because one forgot to set attack orders.
And finally: check military options (none this turn) and consider replacements or builds (none possible this turn).

OK. press the proceed button and let the turn turn loose!
Attachments
Pict_1-Keith Column Sept 56.png

enf91
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Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:19 pm

Cetacea wrote:Some additional moves. Von Ziethen and his two Hussar regts. in Leipzig are brigaded (although that does not relieve the 10% command penalty! What does?)


Add another general?

P.S. Apparently you have an attachment, but I can't see what it is.

Cetacea
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A campaign of enlightenment

Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:20 am

But before proceeding it may be helpful to summarize graphically the moves described above

Image
Attachments
Pict_2-Situation early Sept 56.jpg

Cetacea
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Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:24 am

enf91 wrote:Add another general?

P.S. Apparently you have an attachment, but I can't see what it is.

You're right! In another game I added a general to the 2 regt. Hussar brigade and it now lost its 10% penalty.

Re. the attachment: that was the unintended remnant of initial attempts to insert the image.

Cetacea
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A campaign of enlightenment

Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:16 pm

Late September 1756 - invading Saxony (cont'd)

The most important message:


Image


Interesting situation in Dippoldiswalde! Brunswick reached the area at day 9 but was attacked at day 14 by what must be the Austrian main force of 45,000. Fortunately he had defensive orders and was able to extricate himself without significant losses. The fact that he is still in Dippoldiswalde may mean that this turn counts against the Saxons. And although he is retreating, Frederick will advance from Pirna. He has to receive new orders and it will take at least 4 days. What to do with Brunswick? Put him in defensive posture and let him await the Austrian onslaught of 60,000, hoping to add his 10,000 to Frederick's Elbe Armee main force once it arrives, or have him retreat to Pirna? I guess the mountainous terrain offers a major tactical advantage. I opt for the former course but set his orders to 'defend and retreat'. This may be a moment of opportunity to inflict heavy losses on the Austrians...


Image
Attachments
Pict_4-Situation late Sept 56.jpg
Pict_3-Ferdinand's encounter.jpg

Cetacea
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A campaign of enlightenment

Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:20 pm

Late September 1756 - invading Saxony (cont'd)

As to developments in other parts of the theater: Itzenplitz's half-strength brigade (from Wedell's column) reinforces Keith. Von Zieten's hussars did not yet bring Freiberg under complete Prussian control so they will remain there another turn.

Major reorganizations of the assembled cavalry forces in Breslau take place. Two new Hussar (2 regt) brigades are formed. Von Puttkamer's is sent to Hohenelbe, to secure the pass and to bring the area under Prussian control. Von Normann's goes to Zittau, for similar purposes. Karl von Katte is designated a column of the Schlesien Armee and heads for Schweidnitz, west of the main army, with 4 regts. Gessler takes position at Bautzen, with 8 regts. His is a column of the Elbe Armee but he will ultimately hand over most of his regts. to Wedell.

In the north forces in Stettin and Colberg become active. The purpose for the next weeks is to bring as many troops as possible to Stettin. Here the Nord Armee has to constituted. Wilhelm did arrive in the city but I wait to designate him commanding general of the new army. Perhaps a better choice will become available.

Current Prussian NM is 119, with 50 VPs; the Austrians stand at NM 112 with 18 VPs. The number of replacements is still very low and once I engage the Austrians I will not be able to fill the depleted ranks. So I decide to build a regular depot battn. in Berlin and select the military option 'Prussian regular soldier training'.

And for the rest: another hit-the-button remaining....

kosmoface
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Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:13 pm

Cetacea wrote: I never played beyond 1757. By that time I realized I had made stupid errors in previous turns, the enemy was running havoc among my ranks, I seemed to have ignored basic mechanics, or I simply did not have time.


You robbed yourself of tons of fun. I played the full campaign without knowing the rules of the game full well and kept on going, even though I made some bitter mistakes and often times I was demoralizend, but it was at the same time uplifting how I survived time and time again - against all odds. I tend to have the most fun, when it is narrow and in the end I played all turns and was happy about it. I hope you play the game in full this time - I certainly like your AAR and would like to read more from your campaign.

Cetacea wrote: (Von Kätte, who lacks command initiative)


I always wonder who this von Katte is. The best friend of Frederick was called von Katte, but he was executed. Is this a brother or a cousin of him?

PS: I can't see your pictures, too.

Cetacea
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Sat Aug 07, 2010 2:45 pm

I guess it's better like this?

kosmoface
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Sat Aug 07, 2010 3:40 pm

Cetacea wrote:I guess it's better like this?


Jep everything ok now. :)

Cetacea
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Von Katte family

Sat Aug 07, 2010 5:37 pm

kosmoface wrote:I always wonder who this von Katte is. The best friend of Frederick was called von Katte, but he was executed. Is this a brother or a cousin of him?


I looked it up. The Von Katte (not, as I wrote earlier: Von Kätte) family was a noble family from the Altmark - but probably originating from the Netherlands. Hans Hermann von Katte was Frederick's friend who was executed in 1730 after a death sentence by Friedrich Wilhelm I. There have always been allegations that he and Frederick were involved in an intimate homosexual relation - probably the reason why the father reacted so viciously.

Hans Hermann was the son of Hans Heinrich von Katte, who was a cavalry general and was appointed Fieldmarshall by the the same Friedrich Wilhelm I in 1736. This elder Von Katte died in 1741 (and thus did not participate in the 7YW).

The Von Katte in this game must have been Johann Friedrich von Katte, a son of Hans Heinrich's elder brother Heinrich Christoph. Johann Friedrich von Katte distinguished himself in several important battles during the Silesian Wars and was appointed Lieutenant General in 1756. He died in in 1764.

Many members of the Von Katte family served in the Prussian army - as was expected from such noble families.

See the Wikipedia link:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katte_%28Adelsgeschlecht%29

Cetacea
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A campaign of enlightenment

Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:35 pm

Early October 1756 - invading Saxony (cont'd)

In fact, surprisingly little happened. Frederick reached Dippoldiswalde but the Austrians were not assaulted. Von Brunswick held his position. (Btw: I don't understand why Postures and ROE changed. Frederick is now Defensive, Von Brunswick Offensive.) So what to do? The next turn I may get the whole Austrian army plus a sortie by the Saxons over my back! Given the terrain I give defensive orders to both columns, with standard defense.

Image

Wobersow's understrength brigade is integrated in Keith's column. Dresden cannot be strong enough and has too be held at all costs.

By now the Koeningsberg troops are activated. All the formations and units start to withdraw towards Colberg. For the cavalry units that will be a trip of about 20 days; for the infantry it's more than double. I hope everybody will be in by late November, not having suffered too much from the weather that will be bad by then. Only Malachowsky's Yellow Hussars will remain around Koeningsberg. They will hopefully provide some information on the Russian steamroller that will come next year.

We lead in NM (119 vs. 112) and VPs (70 vs. 31).

Let's do some Elite Soldier Training (5 EP military option) and build another depot battn. in Berlin.

My hopes for late October: the surrender of the Saxons and a major victory over the Austrians!
Attachments
Pict_5-Situation early Oct 56.jpg

Cetacea
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Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:53 pm

Late October 1756 - invading Saxony (cont'd)

What happened? Saxony may a desparate sortie out of Pirna into the direction of Dresden but was beaten back by Keith (who was there exactly for this eventuality). That was fine - although I lost over 3000 men and 801 wonderful horse against an enemy who was already doomed, but apparently did not know it himself. (In game terms: a good decision by the AI!) The Saxons did not yet surrender.

Image

Even more to my chagrin the Austrians concentrated both Brown's and Kollowrat's forces in Dippoldiswalde, thus establishing a major force that forms a major threat to Frederick's columns and intentions.

Image

What is wise? Defend or attack? I decide to hang on to the position and slug it out. Saxony must fall by the next turn. Ferdinand's column is somewhat strengthened from Frederick's and both forces receive orders to hold at all costs. By now, both have entrenchment levels of 2. In order to prevent another Saxon sortie, now into Frederick's rear, I have Keith attack into Pirna. One brigade remains in Dresden, to block the road.

In other parts of the theatre Gessler's 8 cavalry regts. head for Bautzen, Wilhelm reaches Stettin, and the first cavalry regts. from Koeningsberg reach Colberg.

I still lead in morale and victory points. With 6 engagement points I recruit another Prussian general in order to provide better organization to Von Schwerin's Schlesien Armee that still lacks a sufficient number of brigadiers. Let me wait with to allocate replacements - first let's see what happens on the battlefield.

(If replacements are not used to fill depleted elements, they are sent to existing units as extra elements. This is indicated by messages like: 'Kurssell's Brigade received: Fusiliers'. I wonder if there is a way to really stockpile them for desperately needed post-battle replacements.)
Attachments
Pict_7-Situation late Oct 56.jpg
Pict_6-Results late Oct 56.jpg

Baris
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Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:01 pm

Good AAR, how I didn't see it? :)

Like yourself, I also tried playing Prussian side but after some attempts I give up early because of the superior numbers of Austrian coalition. But it is better not to give up as Frederick The Great is in command and his fellow commanders.

Like most of the Napoleonic era commanders and leaders he shares the similar idealistic and revolutionary mood. Thats why Im so addicted to this game apart from game mechanics and warfare.

With the addition of building forts in latest beta, I tried my last game building a fort across the river seen in your last screenshot, Both Ferdinand and Keith coloum rushed to the region to block Austrians. While Frederick is assaulting Pirna camp. It was a successful tactic, But without depot they would starve to death.

I will enjoy reading your AAR.

note: (If replacements are not used to fill depleted elements, they are sent to existing units as extra elements. This is indicated by messages like: 'Kurssell's Brigade received: Fusiliers'. I wonder if there is a way to really stockpile them for desperately needed post-battle replacements.)

Im not sure I understand that, But what I understand depleted elements can be a problem as Bertram stated in his aar, so it is better not to fight when you have depleted elements. Depleted elements can only replenish with maximum supply.

Cheers,

kosmoface
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Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:07 am

Wow! Thank you very much for the clarification about Katte!

Looking forward to your next updates. :)

@Baris
Interesting. For me it is just the scope. To endure 7 years (!) against overwhelming opposition is just a great gaming experience. I won my second campaign 49 years before the end of the real camapign, but I played on a fairly easy difficulty (no hardened attritiosn and so on). Now I feel ready for the real thing.

I always play NCP inbetween my big ROP campaigns because NCP has a great variety in scenarios, but ROP will always be number one for me. Just the most perfect strategy game on the market right now and I really love the setting.

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