Three greatest chess players ever: Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Tal, and Victor Korchnoi.
The 1758 campaign begins with a big surprise: Russia switches sides! The new strategic plan is thus as follows: Russia and Prussia will invade Saxony then drive into Bohemia while the Hanover forces hold off the French. There is a French force poised to head for Saxony so the question becomes: who will win the race to help their ally Russia or France? Saxony braces itself for the ravages of war….
The Prussians and Russians quickly descended on Saxony. Frederick arriving first prepared to lay siege to Dresden.
The main Austrian force decided not to wait for the French to finish their depot building and thus combine their forces and hoped that their superior numbers would tell. At the bloody battle of Dresden both sides lost a whopping 20% with the Austrians losing just enough to lose the fight.
With the Austrians in flight the question for Frederick now becomes what to do next after the siege of Dresden. Given his losses of the previous year (and new alliance with Russia) it might make sense to march to the aid of Hanover, smash the French there and consolidate the gains of 1758 to get ready to deliver the coup de grace to Austria in 1759.
With this in mind, Old Fritz settled down for a siege of Dresden while the Russians marched to join Hanover. The Austrians did not remain idle as a force under Daun prepared to lay siege to Koniggratz the recovery of which would be the first step in launching an invasion of Silesia.
Dresden has fallen! Saxony is out of the war! Te Deums are sung throughout the land! Now, Frederick can set his sights on Prague, the big prize to winning the war (in game terms, Old Fritz needs 200% more VP than Austria and control of 4/5 key fortresses and Prague will get him there!). In the north, the combined Russian-Hanoverian army defeated the French and have recaptured Hanover once again. Now, the northern army is contemplating a strike at Minden but there are also plans a foot to send the Russians to Silesia has Daun has just recaptured Koniggratz. If Daun can capture enough fortresses in Silesia he might be able to bring Frederick’s VP down and, potentially, capture Breslau which would thwart Prussian plans for victory in 1758!
After much debate, the Hanover forces are left behind and the Russian-Prussian army heads post haste to Silesia via Saxony. Frederick descends on Prague and lays siege whilst Daun moves on Neisse. The critical unknown element: how soon will the Austrian demoralized force rally?
Prague falls, Old Fritz marches. Neisse falls. The Russians arrive outside Breslau but decide to not attack the Austrian demoralized force. It is a big mistake as the force rallies and Neisse falls. Frederick arrives in Silesia and unites with the Russians and the two Austrian forces unite under Daun. A massive battle is brewing, one which could well determine the outcome of the 1758 campaign and, perhaps, even the war…
By the second half of October, the Austrians had two options: attack Frederick and hope for a successful battle or march to try to recapture Prague before the campaigning season ended. The leadership in Vienna favored the decisive battle so Daun attacked near Brieg. The bloody battled ended in a narrow Prussian victory thus allowing Frederick to move to recapture the fortress at Neisse.
However, before this could be completed, the Austrians rallied and began marching on Prague with the Prussians close on their heels.
In the end, Frederick won the race to Prague and, in desperation to try to lay siege and recapture Prague before winter set in, the Austrians attacked and again a bloody battle ensued with high losses (7 and 6 SP) and another Prussian victory. But alas for Old Fritz his desire to save Prague cost him dearly. When the VP was totaled up for 1758 the Prussians had a 100-55 edge on Austria a 181% advantage. The crucial difference? The fortress of Neisse which Daun had captured. Without it, Prussia has a 105-50 edge (201%) and a win in the war.
Thus, both sides went into winter quarters to prepare for 1759…
Both sides are worn down as the new year begins. Prussia, in a bid for victory in 1759, increases their strength by 70%. The House of Brandenburg also gets a boost as Henry arrives on the scene. Frederick thus plans for Henry to help Hanover defeat the French while he finishes off Austria. The Austrians are in a tough spot but the French may try to stave off defeat by withdrawing and occupying as many fortresses as possible to slow down their foes. The plans thus laid, the campaigning season begins…
Prince Henry marches towards Hanover and the Hanoverian army comes out to meet him. Frederick, bent on crushing Austria this year before his army collapses, heads straight to Koniggratz to confront Daun. In another bloody struggle Frederick prevails again (barely 5 SP to 6 SP) but demoralizing the enemy was the key part of the strategy.
After some deliberation, the French decide to seize fortresses in the German states (thus accumulating VP for their side) so Henry departs Hanover and begins rapid marches to join Frederick on the other side of the mountains.
And while Frederick prepares to lay siege to Koniggratz, Henry will do the same to Olmutz. As for the Austrians, they have two choices in front of them once they rally their forces: risk another battle in the hope of a victory or spread out their stronger leaders in fortresses to try to deny Frederick their capture in 1759.
Koniggratz gives Frederick some trouble and Henry closes in on Olmutz.
Once again Daun manages to rally his forces. He sends a leader with a 1 initiative value to prepare to defend Vienna against siege then marches to fight Frederick who has begun preparations to lay siege to Brunn. Another ugly battles sees Austria defeated.
Olmutz falls to Henry quickly but Brunn stubbornly resists Frederick until almost the end of summer. Daun again rallies his men and tries to fall on Prince Henry.
Another bloodbath results in Austrian defeat as they fail to even beat Henry’s smaller force. The Prussian prince then marches to join the king as Brunn falls. The combined Prussian-Russian army then lays siege to Vienna which falls at the end of October 1759.
Post game comments: This campaign variant was very interesting. The process of creating forces is tricky as the system is based on a percentage of forces currently on the map so risking battle can be doubly dangerous as it can knock out a force through demoralization but also reduce the manpower needed to expand the army in the following year. Russia switching sides was huge as Frederick would’ve been hard pressed to win with the armies of the Tsarina sweeping through the northern fortresses of Prussia. I had a lot of fun with this game and look forward to trying it again
Phew! Wargaming as sparkling alt-history. Most excellent session report.!