Choose your own tactic
October 10, 2021 7:00 AM   Subscribe

A group of tabletop wargamers fight the Napoleonic battle of Austerlitz. At a crucial point in the action, you have to decide: left or center?

The gamers are members of the Army Group York wargaming club in Pennsylvania, which produces the Little Wars TV channel. They post videos of wargame sessions, rules reviews, and miniatures tips†.

Austerlitz was the second iteration of their 'choose your own adventure' style wargame. In the first they teamed up with (against) the American Battlefield Trust on-site at Lee's Headquarters to fight the Battle of Gettysburg. There were more options in that game but they were all made by polling ahead of time—except for one done live during the game—which limits the enjoyment for those tuning in afterwards (although the number of decisions voted on in advance gave some amusing order combinations.)

In their third outing they visited Brandywine Battlefield State Park where they were rejoined by the ABT to fight the eponymous battle of the American Revolution. This time they did early polling to determine initial strategy but, as with Austerlitz, they played through two versions of events allowing the viewer to decide: support or retreat?

† Incidentally, those three links constitute a very affordable introduction to naval miniatures.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker (14 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
What a fine idea!

Also a very interesting alternative, with Bagration actually attacking and putting serious pressure on the French left.
posted by doctornemo at 9:53 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

I'm actually reading 'War and Peace' right now (almost done) and I'm sure Tolstoy would have strong opinions about this.
posted by ovvl at 12:02 PM on October 10

I played these games for years, painted thousands of minis.

From Empire by the EHQ guys to Legacy of Glory which was so elegant compared to Empire.

Many in between, dice rollers.
posted by Max Power at 12:49 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Give me Napoleon's Triumph over minis any day. A shame it is no longer available.
posted by Windopaene at 12:58 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

I'm sure Tolstoy would have strong opinions about this.


“What’s this? Am I falling? My legs are giving way,” thought he, and fell on his back. He opened his eyes, hoping to see how the struggle of the Frenchmen with the gunners ended, whether the red-haired gunner had been killed or not and whether the cannon had been captured or saved. But he saw nothing. Above him there was now nothing but the sky—the lofty sky, not clear yet still immeasurably lofty, with gray clouds gliding slowly across it. “How quiet, peaceful, and solemn; not at all as I ran,” thought Prince Andrew—“not as we ran, shouting and fighting, not at all as the gunner and the Frenchman with frightened and angry faces struggled for the mop: how differently do those clouds glide across that lofty infinite sky! How was it I did not see that lofty sky before? And how happy I am to have found it at last! Yes! All is vanity, all falsehood, except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing, but that. But even it does not exist, there is nothing but quiet and peace. Thank God!...”
posted by doctornemo at 4:25 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Whelp, that's the wrong thread.
posted by mollweide at 4:51 PM on October 10

Whelp, that's the wrong thread.

Any thread is the correct thread if you're brave enough.

PS. Why are block wargames their own special niche? Why not use chits, instead?
posted by Beholder at 5:44 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

I'll take a unit greater black-backed gulls over just about any other force, it's true.
posted by mollweide at 5:51 PM on October 10

Give me Napoleon's Triumph over minis any day.

Oh, also Austerlitz.

It looks a tad too abstract for me. If you can't form square, is it really a Napleonic wargame?

Why are block wargames their own special niche? Why not use chits, instead?

Depends on the game: Stratego-style concealment (as with NT). More than two levels of unit strength. Don't get stuck to the bottom of someone's shoe.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:32 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Why do they call the man labeled Dave2 Dave Trois?
posted by Gable Oak at 10:54 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]

Why do they call the man labeled Dave2 Dave Trois?

I loved the video and commend them on the concept and execution!

(But confess to cringing occasionally at their French pronunciations.)
posted by darkstar at 5:48 PM on October 11

The video makes it seems like a French victory was guaranteed either way--the only way one of them ends in a qualified victory is only because the allies get a couple of really lucky rolls at the right time. Is there a winning strategy for the allies at all or do the French just have the numbers?
posted by fatbird at 8:24 PM on October 11

Is there a winning strategy for the allies at all or do the French just have the numbers?

Historically, the Allies had the numerical advantage. The French had the better troops and commanders overall, although some of the Russians were very good.

The winning move for the Allies was not to play, and the Russian commander knew this. He wanted to retreat and extend the French supply lines while drumming up more allies. Unfortunately, the Tsar was present and overruled this (and then blamed the commander when things went south.) It should be noted that while Napoleon did everything he could to bait a battle, he thought this was his best available move, and not a sure thing

It generally makes an unsatisfying wargame when one side can simply Nyet out of there at the beginning, however. So, assuming the battle is to be joined, do the odds favor the French? Without having read the rules they're playing under... probably. The numbers aren't that different once the all the French arrive and the rules typically give the French some advantages to reflect their historical performance (which arguably bakes in the luck they had on the field, but game design is another topic.) That said, Napoleon gave up some actual advantages to lure in the Allies, so it should be possible for a skilled player to leverage them well (IHaveTheHighGround.GIF)

Why do they call the man labeled Dave2 Dave Trois?

I don't know, but I'm betting it boils down to someone (or ones) finding it funny.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:06 PM on October 12

Well, I just finished reading War and Peace by Tolstoy, so his view is... he has strong views about Borodino...
posted by ovvl at 6:37 PM on October 13

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