Friday, June 25, 2021

Heartless, cruel and calculating

Begging him not to demand Sweden
That's my youngest boy.  I posted here that the brothers, while the quarantines were going on and the boys were stuck at home doing college online with little else to do, decided to unpack the old Napoleonic war game against which all Napoleonic war games are measured.  Furthermore, they decided to let their youngest join in the game. He had wanted to for years, but it was obviously beyond him at such a young age. 

They spent several days explaining the basics to him, giving him a crash course on war games beyond RISK.  They also pledged to help him in the early rounds of the game.  They would try not to take advantage of him during diplomatic phases of the game.  During conflicts or battles, the brothers not involved would give him pointers and tactical advice as requested.

Well, no more.  After about 16 turns of play, meaning 16 months in the game's time, he has the entire game board upside down.  Initially he made alliances with everyone except my second oldest (Russia).  He then declared war on Russia, forcing everyone (but me) to join him or risk political damage by breaking the alliance.  This brought the three older brothers into a conflict they didn't want; one that depleted resources, troop levels and income. 

How does that part of Russia belong to him?
At the end of the first year, we had to compete to gain control of the countries that aren't being played by players, in our case Spain and Prussia.  My third son - and most competitive - had grabbed Spain at the beginning of the game.  Then, in a shocking turn, my youngest swiped it from him, after Russia was able to get France (my oldest) to sue for peace.  That left Austria swinging in the breeze against a very upset France, and forced him to surrender, much to his frustration. 

Then, and this is where it gets good, his brothers helped him form the Ottoman Empire, about the only thing that helps Turkey.  And help it did.  It boosts money and allows him to pour endless numbers of feudal troops onto the map.  While they are low quality and low morale, there are lots of them.  He continued on with his war against Russia, losing on almost every turn.  At one point, we beseeched his brother who was playing Russia to go easy on him.  Just a kid after all.

Before him we barely paid attention to our navies
Big mistake.  After getting frustrated that the youngest, helpless brother refused to give up, he sent his main force down and attacked his Turkish forces near Bucharest, just to finish things once and for all.  We have since called it the Disaster at Bucharest.  His Russian army suffered over 85% casualties, when he had already lost several forces chasing Turkey around, even if he had won most battles. In this case, however,  Turkey's secret weapon of overwhelming cavalry kicked into play.  Not only did Russia lose the battle, but the ensuing pursuit by Turkish cavalry led to a massacre of what remained.  Out of a force of six corps, only two mostly depleted corps remained. 

That forced my son playing Russia to surrender.  The funny thing?  Our youngest declared war on Russia in the first place just to seize Sweden from Russia's control.  We all explained to him that this was stupid.  Sweden is on the other side of the map, there is no way he can get Sweden, and he clearly doesn't understand the game yet.  After almost a half hour of my other two sons and me begging on our hands and knees, our youngest agreed not to take Sweden, but instead to seize Sicily and Podolia from Russian control.   If he had taken Sweden I do think my second oldest would have walked away for good. 

Our oldest's strategy is now Get Me Out!
Then in a surprise move, and against our advice, our youngest sent his Spanish fleet to cripple the French fleet while it was in Toulon harbor (Spain was still at war with France from its time under Austrian control).  Out of desperation, France moved against Spain.  He did this because he feared our youngest might just turn on him by land next.  Big mistake, and a case of not learning from history.  No sooner did he move into Spain, easily routing the miniscule Spanish forces that were sent to meet him, than our youngest sprung the Spanish guerillas behind his back.  Cutting off supply, and facing my British corps that have rushed in to help (I always enjoy emulating history in historical gaming, even if the year is off), he's now stuck not knowing what to do.  

'So 'No more help!', is the call from the three older brothers. He's on his own.  He can ask for rules clarifications, but having tricked one brother into a disastrous conflict with France, decimated Russia, and now having France on the ropes, they have told him they will give no more advice or opinions at all. You can't help be proud, even as you snicker a bit at what has happened.  Oh, and none of it has hurt me, which is the way it should be. 


  1. I'm confused by one aspect of this game. You said Turkey has to create the Ottoman Empire during the game. The real life Ottoman Empire formed in the 1300s. Why does a person playing a game set in the early 1800s have to "create," it? It should already exist.

    1. It's mainly a game mechanic. One of the many 'minor goals' of the game is to form various political combinations, as Napoleon was wont to do. The biggest and best are the Kingdom of Poland and Confederation of the Rhine. France is able to do most of them, while the other countries have various ones they are able to do. For Turkey, it wouldn't be practical - or overly historical - for it to be forming the Kingdom of Westphalia. Therefore, the designers made 'declaring the Ottoman Empire' the Turkish version. I believe somewhere it says the Ottomans were obviously there, but this is somehow 'formally' bringing onto the map into the political mix, just so the player of Turkey can have more than Poland (which, I believe, all players can try for).

  2. Oh. Ok. Makes sense. If they wanted to stretch historical period accuracy, they could have put in an "Italian Wars," mechanic where France and Turkey have some kind of joint objective in Italy, like in the real-life 1500s.

    1. I'm not the rules fellow for the game. That's my third son. Truth be told, I play little of it - being Britain, which has little in the way of anything but a navy. I mostly take notes and enjoy watching the boys. I think there might be something regarding the Kingdom of Naples that the Turks can also get involved with, but not sure.


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