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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

loki100

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Like your 'cake' comment regarding the Frenchies. :)

Your Austrian style is such a contrast with Narwhal's Prussian approach: bludgeon (and a very slow bludgeon, at that) versus rapier. Interesting to watch it unfold.
well it sort of seemed to fit ... Do agree, I can't do elegant (that maybe generic but certainly not in this game with this set up), so I have to lumber into a position and then heave myself to the next (think of a hippo being disturbed from a nice muddy water hole), if I tried elegant I'd get trounced as my forces would just split up into individual formations.
 

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Mounting drama ... maybe: June 1758

As I'm getting more used to the game, I'm starting to realise why Narwhal and Baris are doing the things they are. So I'll spare you the details but I have an awful lot of damaged formations being detached, sent back to the rear to recover, supply trains shuffling back and forth and so on. In effect units regain manpower and org with passive orders sat on a depot & new units are harder to come by than replacements, and so on.

Anyway over on the French side



I think I can block Cumberland from anything worthwhile with the 3 corps of the Army of Germany and split up the Army of France a bit to threaten his supply and initiate some sieges. With luck, he'll either have to tackle one of my sieges (and with his 0 attack that would suit me fine), or fall back a long way in search of supply.

and on the Austrian front



there are 3 Prussian forces in the region. The two on the east side of the Elbe are pretty meaningless, what isn't is the 20,000+ now locked up in Dresden (& with Freddie at least 4 turns away). I need a breach and I may well win a victory that compensates for the Swedish disaster.



so its a turn of manouver and lots of agressive and manly looking at each other ... but no one does anything particularly nasty

By late June



this shows the wider Austrian front, I get my breach this turn (ie can assault in July), so gamble on concentrating for an assault next turn, the Bavarians slowly meander forward & Charles has got rather skittish now he is somewhere near Prussian territory (his low strategic rating, plus a cautious trait makes him very slow if enemy military control in a province is high)



and here's the events. Confirms the hole at Dresden. Note, I'm still mucking up orders, in this case the French at Munster had the 'don't do anything order' as opposed to a generic 'defend' order which would have started the siege. I'd put them on passive a few turns back so they could reinforce at Munster.

and this shows the new situation over on the French front



My risk is that Cumberland gobbles up some isolated formations, so I'll shuffle to bring them together. Also the Army of Germany can look to be a bit less defensive minded as I think he's retreating now.

For lovers of suspense ... Freddie has gone out of sight, I've not seen him for a couple of turns.

For lovers of tedium, all the Russians are doing is their siege thing, and moving supply wagons around, and the Cossacks are still being careless with matches.

I now reckon I might grab Dresden, or more importantly put a big hole in the Prussian corps there, next turn.
 

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I have to agree with Stuyvesant, the reference to cake was very good! As are these updates. A major battle and now some tense maneuvering, hopefully you are able to capture Dresden, as you said it would make up for the losses in Sweden somewhat. I also like the odd mistake you make whilst playing the game, any Paradox game I play is riddled with them, and for an AAR they can often add some extra suspense, humour or whatnot.

For lovers of suspense ... Freddie has gone out of sight, I've not seen him for a couple of turns.
*dramatic Jaws music begins once more*
 

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I have to agree with Stuyvesant, the reference to cake was very good! As are these updates. A major battle and now some tense maneuvering, hopefully you are able to capture Dresden, as you said it would make up for the losses in Sweden somewhat. I also like the odd mistake you make whilst playing the game, any Paradox game I play is riddled with them, and for an AAR they can often add some extra suspense, humour or whatnot.

*dramatic Jaws music begins once more*
There is, to be honest, more than the odd mistake, also the AI is quite capable of surprising me, and I'm getting better with the supply model but still manage to lose far more to starvation than in combat. ... and Freddie continues to lurk
 

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it all goes soooo well, July 1758

These two turns saw some real surprises, and a nice shift of fortune, so onto the details:



this shows the position over on the Rhine, I've got supply wagons trundling back and forth and Cumberland slowly falling back, I'll shadow him rather than look for battle but also deploy to protect my sieges.

over on the Elbe, Daun is given all out assault orders, 20,000+ Prussians will all be mine so so soon:



oh ... ah well odds of 75:1 are not to be complained about either

so lets see what happened really:



I seem to have take Dresden and lots of goodies, lost a supply wagon to lack of supply (now that takes some doing), the Russians are making slow progress and there is a small Prussian force annoying me at Troppau. In general though, a good turn.

So for late July, I didn't envisage much happening, the French and Cumberland continue to shuffle around, I was going let Daun have a turn off and so on



ah, Keith has attacked the Corps from Charles army and handed it a right beating



Louisberg falls to Perfidious Albion

but ... there is good news as well, very good news:



I should be able to assault Koenigsberg this summer which'll ease the problems for my Russian forces and Dortmund fell .. all I was doing was hanging around somewhere near it and ...

so as overviews:



France, I need to sort out my forces a bit to ease supply chain problems, garrison Dortmund and see if I can repeat the trick at Munster. At the moment Cumberland seems unkeen to get too close.



Austria, a mix of the good and bad. You can see the result of Keith's unprovoked attack, my east wing is a total mess and I'm now worried about being caught out of position and with supply losses. Its not impossible that Keith can besiege Koeniggratz before Charles' wakes up & retreats.

The Bavarians are moving to Chemnitz, and I need to decide if I can gamble with Daun and go for Torgau. Its only August so I may have time, but there is the unresolved question of quite where Freddie is lurking (I've not seen him for 3 turns now)
 

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Good stuff, managing to occupy Dresden and especially Dortmund with the considerable amount of prisoners taken, this should prove a useful boost. A pity that Cumberland is not being tempted on to your massed guns and worrying too that Freddie is still missing though. Hopefully you can capture a few more cities whilst also crushing some more Prussian force.
 

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The fact that you've actually taken not one, but two major cities makes your progress feel much more solid to me (probably a lot to do with being reared on the 'possession is king' model of Paradox games, with their warscore and/or victory points). Dresden must count as a substantial victory, non? By the way, did you ever find out what became of the missing 20,000 Prussians? Did they vanish, or did they simply walk out of your siege?
 

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Good stuff, managing to occupy Dresden and especially Dortmund with the considerable amount of prisoners taken, this should prove a useful boost. A pity that Cumberland is not being tempted on to your massed guns and worrying too that Freddie is still missing though. Hopefully you can capture a few more cities whilst also crushing some more Prussian force.
The fact that you've actually taken not one, but two major cities makes your progress feel much more solid to me (probably a lot to do with being reared on the 'possession is king' model of Paradox games, with their warscore and/or victory points). Dresden must count as a substantial victory, non? By the way, did you ever find out what became of the missing 20,000 Prussians? Did they vanish, or did they simply walk out of your siege?
Dortmund was a real surprise, I'd given 2 corps defend orders (in case Cumberland got frisky) & 2 attack, not sure if that tipped it over the edge but I had no breaches. As to the missing Prussians from Dresden, I think it was the same as at Koenigsburg a while back in that I reckoned they retreated into the fortress but they must have fallen back away and escaped.

I'm still struggling a bit to understand how to link tactical/operational moves in this game to a grand strategy. I know what cities I need to win, but its more understanding how to chain them together (as not least that gives a line of depots, perhaps interspersed with a few of my own). So my guess is that Dresden is good as it centres the war in Saxony not Bohemia and somehow I need to make the step now from Saxony into Prussia proper and so on. Also due to the Elbe, its really easy to resupply more forces there using the bateaux.

Its less chess like than 2 player, but even SP it does have that air of taking pieces off the board and slowly building a position that is superior to your opponent. Next post I'll include a quick look at the VP situation, I've not done this too often as it doesn't move very much from turn to turn.
 

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Yes, yes, Noooo, August 1758

Well in the first turn not too much happened, I shuffled French units around, sent Luchese from Dresden to Leipzig to see what was over there (with very cautious orders just in case), the Prussians looked at me hungrily over on the Koenigratz flank



The big news lies in the new breach at Koenigsberg, that means I can now assault.



Here's the VP situation in late August. Wesel needs a garrison (the last lot starved and/or mutinied), I'm still slipping a little back each turn but overall its even. Battle losses I think favour me (remember Narwhal is aiming for 2:1 in his battles), but that excludes my heavy attrition losses. So I guess I'm down about 3:1 in that respect. All in all, I'm pretty content, especially as on 3 out of 4 fronts I think events are moving in my favour:



Here's France, I've moved a fair bit back to Dusseldorf (supply issues) and the bulk of the Army of France besieges Munster with a decent protection at Dortmund. Cumberland seems to be edging backwards but is a large threat (he has 50-60000 men).



The main Austrian front. I'm still being cautious (freddie is somewhere near Berlin), but have found that Leipzig is poorly held so I'll take that, snaffle up the Prussian supply wagon I've seen. Elsewhere, I'm using Hussars to regain military control (eases my movement, reduces their intelligence about my dispositions) and trying to take Chemnitz.

In combination I should end up in control of south & central Saxony.



this is the 'bad' bit. They've both fallen asleep, they are both running into supply problems and Keith lurks. This could get very bad.



and Russia. 2 of the corps at Koenigsburg can assault this turn as can a third I'd moved back a bit (supply), so all are ordered to assault (note this is really important for the reserve corp or it would just turn up and wait to next turn ... we'll see below how important it was I chose this stance)

So what happens, you cry ... some really important stuff



the King of Portugal is molested by an albino jesuit (something like that), Russia gets a bit yucky (shades of Crusader Kings I fear) oh and:

good news:



it took 4 assaults but koenigsberg fell - particularly valuable was the arrival of the third corp with its assault orders



things went well at Leipzig (it has no walls, so that was easy to take)



lots of nice consequences



even better ... this is the way to do it?

Oh, yes the bad news anyone?



my siege at Munster has been scattered by a very irate Cumberland. And it looks like only 1 of my 3 corps actually bothered to fight (stances again, obviously still not exactly getting that part of the game spot on)
 

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Rather good going on the whole. I think capturing Koenigsburg rather makes up for losing against Cumberland. The VP screens makes for interesting reading, you seem to be gaining the upper hand quite comfortably now although the less said about Wesel the better perhaps! The typhus outbreak at Rossya also had me instantly thinking to myself, 'ah, a good day's work for Harry' as you suggested! Good stuff.
 

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Wow. I'm trying to be mindful of the fact that neither Keith nor Freddie has shown up yet, but I can't help wondering: did you reach a tipping point? Königsberg, Leipzig... It feels like a veritable whirlwind (or, dare I say, 'lightning war'?) after the earlier turns of plodding. So... sounds pretty good. Did more than the average amount of leaders activate, or is the weight you can project finally starting to tell?

Of course, in the absence of a real Prussian reaction it's hard to know how solid these gains are.

Oh, and this:
...snaffle up the Prussian supply wagon...
'snaffle'? Another one of them Scottish words? Or are you just making stuff at this time, hoping to trip me up? ;)
 

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Rather good going on the whole. I think capturing Koenigsburg rather makes up for losing against Cumberland. The VP screens makes for interesting reading, you seem to be gaining the upper hand quite comfortably now although the less said about Wesel the better perhaps! The typhus outbreak at Rossya also had me instantly thinking to myself, 'ah, a good day's work for Harry' as you suggested! Good stuff.
On balance I reckon those 2 turns in August were very good. Cumberland's victory changed very little (I think I outnumber them 3:2 on that flank and I'm not facing many Prussians so am about the same competence levels). So I reckon come 1759 I can manouvre him back and move into Hannover proper.

The typhus thing made me think that Astarte was bored again --- thats the problem when you get type-cast and/or establish certain key concepts a bit too firmly

Wow. I'm trying to be mindful of the fact that neither Keith nor Freddie has shown up yet, but I can't help wondering: did you reach a tipping point? Königsberg, Leipzig... It feels like a veritable whirlwind (or, dare I say, 'lightning war'?) after the earlier turns of plodding. So... sounds pretty good. Did more than the average amount of leaders activate, or is the weight you can project finally starting to tell?
Kieth is bashing Charles about - well actually he's just watching him starve in the mountains while he gently considers whether to ever be bothered to move.

As to speed, well if you recall sometime back I said my biggest risk was if I started to move individual corps and my army got spread out ... well that was actually a very good insight, pity I didn't stick to it.

so I think my original plan to form groups with 3-4 corps and slowly lumber forward was good and every now and then I got quite a lot active too (& then maybe rather forgot that this was more good luck than the norm)

Of course, in the absence of a real Prussian reaction it's hard to know how solid these gains are.
well this Prussian reaction thing ... I sort of convinced myself that Freddie was having a nice snooze in Berlin, but ...

Oh, and this: 'snaffle'? Another one of them Scottish words? Or are you just making stuff at this time, hoping to trip me up? ;)
not sure its Scots, but it maybe, snaffle up ... sort of enthusiastically grab something that is sort of not really yours ...

anyway if August was good ... lets look at September -
 

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Blood on the water ... September 1758

well in planning for the first turn, It was so quiet I didn't even take any screenshots. The Austrians at Dresden are mostly inactive, Lucchese rests on his glories at Leipzig, my new shiny ex-Prussian supply wagon moves to help the Bavarians at Chemnitz. The French did some shuffling, the Russians are recovering, Charles is asleep.

across Saxony, bunny rabbits run in sunlit quiet meadows, fish plop in the Elbe, curlews curl ... all is calm and relaxed

(you have to now imagine the music from jaws)



oh hallo Frederick ... mind you I didn't even know I had forces at Torgau



easy come, easy go (that was my captured supply wagon regained by its rightful owners)



well I never wanted Leipzig in the first place ...



so overall that changes things, all those gains in NM wiped out, Lucchese's forces are badly mauled, but at least I pull him back to the Bavarian lines at Chemnitz. To make it worse, Daun et al chose this moment to go into slumber (well I'm not sure I would have done anything anyway)



this is better news, about 4 brigade worth of French troops can now be deployed from Paris, so I organise them into commands and send them off to the Rhine.

The Bavarians had also gone to sleep, which was a pity as otherwise I'd have fallen back from Chemnitz



In the circumstances not too bad, as Fred is retaking Leipzig



so after the rather huge shock of early Sept, that, overall is ok, lets look at where things are:



This is the Austrian sector. Lucchese is falling back to a depot and to regain his strength (lots of casualties and trashed organisation) so that is 1 corp lost.

The Bavarians are sort of ok and retreating into the hills but towards Dresden.

Now between Fred and Von Braunscweig (who won at Chemnitz) there are about 70-80,000 rather good Prussian troops. Daun has 80,000+ in Dresden, the Bavarians have 30,000+. Luchesse is lost for this campaigning season.

So I have a huge dilemna. In theory I can supply Daun even in winter using the Elbe, but at the moment if Freddie hits him, I know I'll lose. Fred is 4 on attack, Daun 6 on defend, but the Prussian troops are a lot better.

If I retreat, I've lost all the gains of this campaign season on this sector, but I may be able to fight a defensive battle in the hills before Lebowitz. If I stay, the danger is I retreat somewhere bad (you don't seem to have much control over retreat direction). But the gamble is if I can join the Bavarians to Daun, I might just have enough to win a defensive battle.

choices, choices, choices ... this game is too intriguing for its own good.

Now if thats not enough



Cumberland is being feisty again. I have 2 corps at Dortmund and have sent two more to help, so I think I'll hold him off, but there is a risk to losing control of the area around the town (I've increased the garrison so it should withstand a short siege).

I'm going to play defensive over here. All those new units moving from Paris will give me 2 quite powerful forces for the next campaigning season, and if Freddie is snacking on Austrians, I reckon I can beat Cumberland if I take my time.

The Russians are recovering and its too far, too late in the year for anything else anyway.

I've two questions about that sector though. One is the Russian army seems very cavalry heavy (about 50%). Now this may be accidental in that I lost a lot of infantry to attrition to last winter.

Second is the status of the Polish towns between Koenigsburg and Prussia proper. My guess is I can pass freely and build depots as I wish/need?

If so, 1759 will see French and Russian attacks on the flanks of the Prussians while hopefully their main army is engaged with the Austrians - that of course assumes i retain a viable Austrian army.
 

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Finally the great white shark unleashes his devastating attack! Well semi-devastating, a small unit lost, the supply wagon retaken and Lucchese mauled but it does leave you in a bit of a predicament. I think I would take the risk and remain with Daun where he is, rushing the Bavarians over to aid him. Although saying that, as your update states later on, if the Russian and French forces can fall upon Prussia's flanks whilst she is busy fighting Austria in the future, such a risk may be a waste of time. A difficult decision.

Really though, things do not seem so bad that you need bring in some Scottish troops! Although I guess they will supplement the Austrian army nicely, happily drinking too much and falling asleep at the most inopportune of times.
 

Narwhal

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So I have a huge dilemna. In theory I can supply Daun even in winter using the Elbe, but at the moment if Freddie hits him, I know I'll lose. Fred is 4 on attack, Daun 6 on defend, but the Prussian troops are a lot better.
Actually, it is not so much the "4" of Freddie or even the quality of his Grenadiers, but the number of special abilities Frederick has (Master of Offense, Infantryman, Fast Mover, Beloved leader, ...) that makes him by a large margin the best commander of the game.

If I stay, the danger is I retreat somewhere bad (you don't seem to have much control over retreat direction). But the gamble is if I can join the Bavarians to Daun, I might just have enough to win a defensive battle.
Actually, you do not control, but you can guess where you will retreat. You will TEND to retreat to the region where you have the highest Military Control, and/or the easiest to enter (rarely in mountains). If you were moving, you fall back to your previous position, of course. Most of the time.

Second is the status of the Polish towns between Koenigsburg and Prussia proper. My guess is I can pass freely and build depots as I wish/need?
I don't think you can build depot. Supplies transit freely, though.
 

Stuyvesant

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oh hallo Frederick ... mind you I didn't even know I had forces at Torgau.
I was going to say 'Easy come, easy go', but you beat me to it. :)

Overall, you didn't lose major battles (though I assume Leipzig is a major prize), but it is disconcerting to notice that Freddie slaughtered some 2,700 Austrians before the first Prussian died.

I think I'll take the opposing view to MorningSIDEr's position: fall back. You have strength in numbers and time is on your side. What you don't have are troops of the caliber of the Prussians, let alone leaders of their stature. I fear that, if you try to tough it out north of the mountains, that some inevitable foul-up or non-activated leader is going to leave your forces open to defeat in detail.

The only real problem I foresee with retreating is that you yield the initiative to Freddie - and who knows where he'll hit next?

Still, my vote would be for the defensive on the Saxon front, while Russian and French cannon fodder distract the Prussians on the flanks.
 

Sathariel

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In one of the battles Prussia managed to field almost 100k troops, quite impressive concentration of their forces: Hannoverians, Brauschweig and on top of that Brandenburg Landwehr (militia's elements). Defeating the Swedes early gave the AI quite a huge army at its disposal, should be quite interesting to see if it won't waste that potential.
 

loki100

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Finally the great white shark unleashes his devastating attack! Well semi-devastating, a small unit lost, the supply wagon retaken and Lucchese mauled but it does leave you in a bit of a predicament. I think I would take the risk and remain with Daun where he is, rushing the Bavarians over to aid him. Although saying that, as your update states later on, if the Russian and French forces can fall upon Prussia's flanks whilst she is busy fighting Austria in the future, such a risk may be a waste of time. A difficult decision.

Really though, things do not seem so bad that you need bring in some Scottish troops! Although I guess they will supplement the Austrian army nicely, happily drinking too much and falling asleep at the most inopportune of times.
This is a ridiculous admission, but I spent most of the weekend thinking about what to do. My dilemna is at some stage I need to fight Freddie and my best chance of winning comes with Daun on the defense somewhere that Freddie really wants to get his paws on (viz Dresden). But if I get that wrong (& then all the fall out with inert commanders etc), I could end up with no viable Austrian army. So in the end ...

those Scottish regiments amused me ... we obv spent the entire 18 Century wandering around Europe looking to join in with someone else's wars.

Actually, it is not so much the "4" of Freddie or even the quality of his Grenadiers, but the number of special abilities Frederick has (Master of Offense, Infantryman, Fast Mover, Beloved leader, ...) that makes him by a large margin the best commander of the game.

Actually, you do not control, but you can guess where you will retreat. You will TEND to retreat to the region where you have the highest Military Control, and/or the easiest to enter (rarely in mountains). If you were moving, you fall back to your previous position, of course. Most of the time.

I don't think you can build depot. Supplies transit freely, though.

thanks about Poland, I was wondering how to get the Russians from Koenigsburg to Prussia otherwise.

I was going to say 'Easy come, easy go', but you beat me to it. :)

Overall, you didn't lose major battles (though I assume Leipzig is a major prize), but it is disconcerting to notice that Freddie slaughtered some 2,700 Austrians before the first Prussian died.

I think I'll take the opposing view to MorningSIDEr's position: fall back. You have strength in numbers and time is on your side. What you don't have are troops of the caliber of the Prussians, let alone leaders of their stature. I fear that, if you try to tough it out north of the mountains, that some inevitable foul-up or non-activated leader is going to leave your forces open to defeat in detail.

The only real problem I foresee with retreating is that you yield the initiative to Freddie - and who knows where he'll hit next?

Still, my vote would be for the defensive on the Saxon front, while Russian and French cannon fodder distract the Prussians on the flanks.
it was more the way a game turn plays out in the AGEOD model. You set it up, press play and have no more control. So suddently Freddie erupts, snacks on a cavalry force I didn't know I had, snags back his supplies and whacks me at Leipzig ... & all you can do is to watch it unfold. When things go wrong, you do have that feeling of escalation.

In one of the battles Prussia managed to field almost 100k troops, quite impressive concentration of their forces: Hannoverians, Brauschweig and on top of that Brandenburg Landwehr (militia's elements). Defeating the Swedes early gave the AI quite a huge army at its disposal, should be quite interesting to see if it won't waste that potential.
I have a horrible feeling that my mis-management of the Swedish front is really going to hurt me, as will losing probably 3+ corps of French, Russians and (in the next update) Austrians to attrition. I'm struggling to think about how to get any initiative in the game - I'm sure I can survive by being really cautious but need to gamble at some stage.
 

loki100

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discretion and all that: October 1758

Well after a lot of thought, I decided the best answer with Daun was not to fight.

My logic - if I'm careful, with the Bavarians and 2 currently savaged Austrian corps, I'll have the equivalent of around 7 corps next campaigning season. If I concentrate (& for reasons below I have to do this), that is a huge force, enough to maybe fend off the great white F.

So



not dynamic but keeps things safe



Freddie takes a quick bite out of the retreating Bavarians, they had withdraw on contact orders so I got off lightly.



and the next turn, they all (or most) turn up safely at Lebowitz, I'll retire to winter quarters and take on reinforcements etc.

In late October, winter arrives.



Charles has now spent 8 turns in succession inactive, so another complete corps has frozen/starved to death. Obviously this is what you get when you put aristocratic inbreds with dodgy chins in charge of anything that matters.

For 1759, whats left of the Austrian army will operate as a block. The two key forts over on the East side (Koenigratz and 'the other one') have strong garrisons (I've been allocating reinforcements to them), so my hope is they will stand for most of the 1759 campaign. If I win in Saxony, I can take them back later, if I lose in Saxony it doesn't really make things much worse.



here's France by the start of November. Currently a stand off, but I think if I can avoid destroying my army this winter, I'll make good progress next campaign season.



and the VP situation, with winter pretty well set in, this is probably the last campaign moves in 1758. I'm really not sure if this is good or bad. I think it depends on if the Russians and the French can exert real pressure next year.