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Board Game: Jena-Auerstadt
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Subject: EXPLORING "JENA-AUERSTADT": RULES & PLAY NOTES rss

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Mark Saha
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Here are some old notes I found from back when I was very into this game, passed along for whatever they are worth.

Basically I was trying to record all the fine points as I saw them, so maybe this should be called "More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About J-A".

I still think highly of the game.

* * *

What follows assumes you either know this game or, if not, that you have recently acquired it and can follow this with the game and rules in hand.


PART I: QUICK OVERVIEW OF WHAT’S GOING ON HERE

Shortly before this battle, the main Prussian army which had been deployed at Jena withdrew north to Auerstadt, leaving a small covering force behind.

Napoleon entered the Jena map (at 0104) believing the main body of the Prussian army was still before him, and gave battle with his own main body. He detached a smaller force (ultimately only Davout) to sweep off-map from Jena to the northeast and enter the Auerstadt map at 0128. From there Davout was to push west, then South, to enter the Transit Track at 1622 or 2122 – and return to the Jena map in the Prussian rear circa 2320.

When Davout approached Auerstadt he blundered into the main Prussian body. His flanking sweep was now a dead letter, though Napoleon had no difficulty dispatching the Prussian rear guard at Jena without his assistance.

Davout, however, was in serious difficulty. But in an exceptional performance he rose to the occasion with his elite force and managed to put the superior Prussians to flight. Retreating Prussian forces from Jena and Auerstadt became entangled on the same roads and the retreat quickly became a rout.

It is the above “historical” twin battles of Jena-Auerstadt that are simulated in Scenario A (called “Reinforcement Option A”) of this game.

Scenario B assumes the entire Prussian force remained at Jena where the only battle occurs. Notice in this option no units deploy or enter the Auerstadt map. However, Davout is assumed to have done so (unopposed), and arrives as Napoleon intended on the north edge of the Jena map on Game-Turns 11 and 12. This is the battle Napoleon was expecting.



PART II: RULES CLARIFICATIONS

(1) JENA-AUERSTADT GAME MAP

The compass rose on map is correct but can be confusing to those unfamiliar with this battle, as place names and hex numbers are printed “upside down”: Auerstadt is north of Jena.


(2) NIGHT TURNS [16.1]

Units in this game (only) cannot enter a Woods hex at night. However, the French unit deployed in Woods hex 0606 may remain there, though it cannot enter another Woods hex, nor return to this one at night if it exits the hex.


(3) HALVED MOVEMENT IN FOG TURNS [16.2]

The designer’s intention with regard to halved movement is open to debate. He says any resulting fractions are rounded down, which is the customary rule when fractional movement points have no legitimate use in a game.

However, Roads cost only ½ a Movement Point, bringing one to wonder whether the designer really intended to drop fractions.

If a 3 MP unit is simply halved to 1 ½ MPs, it can move 3 hexes along a road. But if, as stated in 16.2, it must be rounded down to 1 MP, it can move only 2 hexes along a road. Literally, the rules as written state the latter, but I wouldn’t be bound by a possible misstatement unless play balance supports its being correct.

My initial play experience suggests that dropping fractions does most harm to the Prussians at both Jena and Auerstadt, as they have the greatest distance to travel on both maps. I suspect fractions should be retained, since otherwise my Prussians are hard pressed to achieve the Jena map ridge defense advised in the Players’ Notes.

My suggestion is that players retain fractions in their initial games. Dropping fractions may be used as a play balance option to assist a weak French Player.


(4) MAP EXIT AND TRANSIT TRACK RULES [17.0]

Players should be aware that, unfortunately for clarity, two entirely separate and distinct rules are lumped together and explained under this case heading:

[Rule 17A] EXITING THE MAP

Neither Player may exit a map section until one (either) player on that section is Demoralized. Once that occurs, each player has the option to exit that map section on the edges specified for that player in 17.0. Exited units CANNOT enter the other map section, nor reenter the exited map. (A Demoralized player may want to exit units to avoid further losses. The French Player may want to exit the Jena map in pursuit of the 125 Strength Points exited Victory Condition [19.1].)

[Rule 17B] FRENCH TRANSIT TRACK CLARIFICATIONS

The Transit Track is not subject to the above map exit rules. Also, units in the Transit Track are not reinforcements and are not subject to [14.0] Reinforcement rules (see below).

The French player (only!) may use the Transit Track -- and may do so at any time whether one of the players is demoralized or not.


(5) DEMORALIZATION AND REINFORCEMENTS [18.0]

For clarity and completeness, Demoralization rules [18.0] should include rule 14.15 -- reinforcements arriving on a map section have the same morale status as friendly units already on the map.


(6) REINFORCEMENTS CLARIFICATIONS [14.2]

Some subtle distinctions to keep in mind:

(a) Reinforcements cannot be delayed. However, if a player’s units on a map section are Demoralized, some or all of that player’s reinforcements to that map section may be permanently canceled [14.2].

(b) French units in the Transit Track are not considered reinforcements. Their arrival can be delayed, even permanently, though they cannot return to the map section from which they entered the Transit Track [17.21].


PART III: PLAY NOTES FOR “JENA-AUERSTADT”


(1) SCENARIOS (“Reinforcement Options”) A & B [15.1]

Although [15.1] says it is the Prussian Player who chooses between Reinforcement Options A or B, these are in fact two entirely different games. Therefore, I feel that players should mutually agree on which they wish to play.

Option A is the historical situation, and the more interesting one because both players have thoughtful alternative courses of action to contemplate.

Option B assumes the Prussians did not split their force, so no units are on the Jena map and a massive slugfest occurs at Auerstadt. This is the battle Napoleon expected and intended to fight, and is a rather straightforward and intense slugfest for players in the mood for that sort of thing.

(Players should be careful not to confuse Reinforcement Options A and B of rule 15.0, which are the two game scenarios, with rule [20.0] “Optional Reinforcements” which are merely variant reinforcements.)


(2) COMBAT RESULTS TABLE

This table is slightly modified from NAPOLEON AT WATERLOO, and I rather like it because – together with the option to voluntarily reduce odds – it allows for quite a bit of creative flexibility and imagination on the part of the attacker.

Some examples…

3-1 odds are a sure thing unless you roll a 6, but here the Ex result is replaced with Ar so the attacker suffers no harm. 4-1 guarantees a successful attack but in this case a 6 = Ex.

If you have a 4-1 surrounded, probably you won’t want to “voluntarily” reduce to 3-1 and risk the enemy escaping on an Ar result – unless an Ex would Demoralize your force. But if the defender is not surrounded, and you seek only to retreat him, a 5/6th chance of that at 3-1 is usually acceptable.

If you wish to disengage your own units by a self-inflicted retreat, you can safely reduce odds to 1-2 against yourself without coming to harm – but there is a 1/3 chance you will unintentionally “win” the attack. Reducing odds below 1-2 risks an Ae elimination, so this should only be done if the unit will be lost anyway if it fails to disengage.

When firing ranged artillery you can reduce the odds all the way to 1-5 with no harm to your artillery. Occasion for this may arise if the artillery is soaking off a unit that would be helped by retreat, or a unit that you don’t want to retreat from an impending trap.


(3) FRENCH TRANSIT TRACK [17.1]

The French Player should not get too excited about this fascinating contraption, since most often it will (at best) merely serve as a threat, though as such it can force an otherwise undesirable defensive strategy on Auerstadt map Prussians and relieve pressure on the French there. But at other times it can be thrilling indeed.

Basically, in the “historical” Game A, Davout’s French force at Auerstadt are going to be ahistorically “on the ropes” and hanging on by the fingernails. The Transit Track allows the French Player to exit units from the Jena map to assist Davout.

The problem is that, unless the Prussians at Jena defend poorly, it is difficult for French units there to exit prior to Game-Turn 8 – which I feel is the last turn it is worth exiting units. Such units do not arrive at Auerstadt until Turn 11, almost certainly on the Eastern Track at 1022-1322.

By this time Davout’s French are usually pressed hard on the Auerstadt east map edge circa 0128, so Transit Track units arriving on Turn 12 will be of little use. But units arriving on Turn 11 can enter at 1022 and 1222, cross the stream (+2 MP), and place themselves solidly on the Prussian right flank. Even if you only force the Prussian to peel off a covering force, this relieves pressure on Davout.

Better yet, if Davout still has offensive capability, he can prepare for the relief force by pulling the remainder of his army to the 0426/27 to 0525 area. From here he can attack toward 0825 in a threat to link up with the arrivals. He should also seek to engage as many Prussian units as possible and pin them in French ZOCs for the last Prussian turn before Transit Track units arrive. Then the Prussian right can be caught in a pincer attack which, if successful, will surely demoralize their army.

The first time I tried this, I didn’t support the Transit Track arrivals with Davout. The Prussians responded to this solitaire play blunder by driving my arrivals off the map, demoralizing the French at Auerstadt.

On a subsequent game, Davout executed a successful disengagement from 0128-0427 (a combination of intentional Ar’s and a sacrifice screening unit to prevent the Prussians from re-engaging), and threw this force into an assault on 0825. Together with arrivals from 1022, this attack broke the enemy right and demoralized the Auerstadt Prussians.

I suggest the French send from Jena a mixed force of cavalry and infantry (i.e., both mobility and strength) of at least 4 units.

Keep in mind also that, should Davout win early at Auerstadt (highly unlikely but possible with bold play and skilful use of the CRT), he can take the Transit Track to Jena. He isn’t needed there, but can then contribute to the 125 Strength Points that score points for exiting the Jena map [19.1], or free other French units to do so.


(4) THE “WHAT IF” OPTIONAL REINFORCEMENTS OF [20.0]

These two plausible but “never happened” events are for play balance, one to help the Prussians and one the French.

Prussian Option [20.1] in my opinion should never be used in the Option A Game unless the Prussian Player is really bad. Davout’s French are already on the ropes at Auerstadt, and this force arriving so early (Turn 3) simply assures destruction of the French. Even adding French Bernadotte [20.2] would not even the balance, as he doesn’t arrive until Turns 10 and 12, by which time it should be all over.

However, using Bernadotte [20.2] alone may make Option A games more interesting. Davout has a better chance of hanging on due to these last minute arrivals at 0128, exactly where needed. Generally, it is only in the last few turns that the Prussian can deliver a coup de grace at Auerstadt, so this could be thrilling.


(5) AUERSTADT MAP PLAY

Despite an overall Prussian superiority of 2-1 on this map, Davout’s French can often hang on until the last few turns. This is due to the constricted front between the river and two ridges, and the doubled defense of the town (Hassen-Hausen). Moreover, due to the low Prussian Demoralization level on this map, if the Prussian suffers some awkward retreats due to bad die rolls on the attack, an alert French player may be able to deliver a riposte that breaks him.

But the French demoralization level is also low here, so on this map he is vulnerable. The greatest danger is that by the time he is demoralized he will likely also be heavily engaged near the map edge. Without “air” to disengage and then exit, his entire force can easily be destroyed or driven off-map for Prussian VPs.

Should the French Player judge that chances for his slim shot at victory have passed, he may (cunningly) deliberately sacrifice a unit to trigger his own demoralization. Light sacrifice units and terrain should be utilized as a screen to prevent his larger units from being engaged. These larger units can then exit the map next turn to escape elimination.

Of course, if [20.2] Bernadotte is in play Davout should probably hang on. With Demoralization levels so low here he may have an opportunity to wrest a late game victory.


(6) JENA MAP PLAY

The French should always be able to demoralize the Prussians on this map, the only question being when – and the sooner the better.

Following Prussian demoralization here, the French Player often finds the number of remaining Game-Turns forces him to choose between two strategies: either chasing down demoralized Prussians to improve his casualty ratio, or attempt to exit 125 French strength points from the North and West map edges [19.1].

If the Prussians break early, you can attempt both. If not, demoralized Prussians can draw you southwest while blocking the western exit until time expires. This can force you to choose between eliminating enemy units or exiting the map.

If the French have been broken at Auerstadt, they will likely have a poor casualty ratio that can only be improved by Prussian losses at Jena. But it will require almost the entire French force to exit 125 strength points, leaving little behind to inflict losses to improve the casualty ratio. So that’s the dilemma.

Things the French Player should consider are:

First, late game French Jena reinforcements at 0104 cannot exit the north or west VP map edges anyway, so they should be used to pursue Prussians along the east-to-west road. Second, I allow Bernadotte’s standard rule arrival at 0820 to promptly exit and count toward the 125 exited strength points. (See below for legality of this.)


(7) COMMENTS ON REINFORCEMENTS EXITING MAP ON ARRIVAL TURN

Neither Map Exit Rule [17.0] nor Reinforcement Rule [14.0] make any mention of an arriving unit exiting the map on the same turn it arrives. Providing only that map exit is possible due to at least one force on the map being Demoralized, it would appear to be legal.

The option of a Demoralized force’s Player to cancel reinforcement [14.21] “suggests” that arrivals must remain on the map at least for the turn of arrival – which might force a possible ambush against the map edge. If Players choose to use this interpretation, French Bernadotte’s Jena reinforcements on Turn 10 would have two subsequent turns to exit again for VPs, but his Turn 12 arrivals would not.

So how Players rule on this affects Victory Conditions as well. Personally I’m inclined to allow reinforcements to enter and exit on the same turn, since otherwise Bernadotte’s Turn 12 arrivals would appear to serve no purpose except under exceptional circumstances.



PART IV: GAME MAP PLAY AIDS SUGGESTIONS:

(1) HILL TOPS AND SLOPES:

Hill tops and crest lines can be confusing on this map, yet reading them clearly at a glance is vital to good play. So I’ve borrowed a trick from Redmond Simonsen’s original PANZERBLITZ boards: using an orange felt pen, I’ve carefully drawn an orange line along the “high ground” side of Crest hexsides. For example, along the 0510 side of the hexside shared with 0409, and the two hexsides in 0209 with slopes.

Such orange lines are especially helpful along the line from 0811 to 0715, then back to 1113 and around to 0717, etc. Another confusing but critical stretch is a line from 0112 through 0214. And the two high round hexes flanking hex 1508.

But if you do this, I suggest doing it consistently on the entire game map, not just trouble spots.

SLOPES: This is a purely cosmetic option, but I’ve found Slopes stand out nicely from my orange Crest hexsides if you run a wide tip yellow felt pen along the length of Slope lines. The “spattered” graphic art where Slopes dissipate stands out nicely against this yellow background.


(2) TOWNS:

It also helps play if Towns are more obvious to a strategic glance.
This is easily fixed, though I suggest practicing on a scrap Xerox copy of a map section to find the “look” you prefer.

Using a fine point black pen, I carefully outline the cluster of irregular shapes depicting a town. I prefer as straight a line as possible parallel to one of the outer irregular town blocks; where that town block ends, I sharply cut the line inward, then outward again to follow the next block. In this way, the town is neatly outlined
with a “natural” looking jagged appearance.

When done, you can make the town even more obvious on the map by filling it in with a yellow felt pen – preferably a different shade than used on slopes. (Dark yellow and day-glo yellow pens are available.)

(3) RIVERS AND STREAMS

Good play requires that you distinguish at a glance between Rivers, which are impassable except at bridges, and Streams which can be crossed at +2 movement points.

If you’ve created the Xeroxed game map suggested above, use a fine point indelible blue felt pen to enhance the parallel lines that define Rivers.

(4) ENTRY/EXIT HEXES [NOT IN REGARD TO TRANSIT TRACK]

Reinforcement arrival areas and maps edges that French and Prussians can exit after a Demoralization are rather complex and not clearly marked. Marking them makes play of the game much easier – it’s really nice to know what you and/or your opponent can or can’t do at a glance.

(5) REINFORCEMENT ENTRY HEXES:

I’ve typed these hex numbers in bold on my computer and printed them out on sheets of green and blue paper. Using a ruler and pen, I “box” each number and simply cut and paste it in the appropriate hex. The color shows which side enters there with hex number easily visible.

Examples: I have a green hex number pasted in hexes 0129 and 2320, and a blue hex number in hex 0820.

(6) MAP EXIT AREAS AFTER DEMORALIZATION

Using fine green and blue pens, it is helpful to make a small arrow of the appropriate color in a hex of a map edge to denote that a player can exit that edge. Notice that both players can exit some edges, but only one or none at other edges.

(Personally I’ve photo-reduced the “arrow” sides of “fire/movement” chits from AH’s old TOBRUK. These reduced Xeroxed arrows can be cut and pasted neatly on map where needed -- and are easily colored with a swipe of a felt pen.)


(7) ENLARGEMENTS & COLOR XEROX MAPS:

Personally, I liked this game enough to make a 129% color enlargement of the map. This requires six oversized 11” x 17” Xerox sheets, which you then carefully cut, allowing one hexrow overlap for joining the sections, and assemble with paste.

Obviously, all the above suggestions can be applied to any other game in which it clearly improve ease of play and the pleasure of gamers.
I especially recommend color enlargements games with small maps such as these quads or SPI’s LENINGRAD.

But strongly suggest you avoid defacing the original maps -- or at least practice on a Xerox copy first.



- END -



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Now, What IF... there were some "overlay" material with these as you depict? NEXT, take the same material and 'print' other "Battle Set Ups!" for the likes of "Battle Cry"? Add into this with that "Mexican-American WAR!" VARIANT? etc.
What's NEXT?
How about using some "miniatures" covering their 'types' to HIDE under? oh yeah, there was SETs of that in fact!
I've 'seen' THAT!
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Magister Ludi
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Very helpful, jsut setting this up to play and many of th anomalies with the transit track etc sprung out straight away.
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