Running the gauntlet: A Rise of Prussia Review-AAR

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An Introduction

Why do we need another Rise of Prussia AAR?
Well, I really liked reading Generalissimos superb AAR, it is very well written and he uses the illustrations in a perfect way. It is however more an explanation of the game then a review and Generalissimo himself, being a veteran of AGEOD's games knows all the ins and outs. Thus we have no idea how difficult it is to learn and master Rise of Prussia nor how much fun it is to someone who normally plays games like EU and HOI (and currently Achtung Panzer). Besides that, more screenies and another AAR never hurt, do they? Thus when I was asked to do a review on Rise of Prussia for an upcomming edition of the AARland Tribune I couldn't resist to make it into an AAR as well.


RoP is set in a period I know very little about. And I suppose the same can be said for a lot of Paradoxians as well, the Seven Years War is not one of the periods in history many people know about. Other Paradox published games focus on those periods which are far better known and we learn a lot about at school for example; Heart of Iron's WWII is a period in history everybody can tell you something about. The crusades and late medieval period of Crusader Kings shouldn't be a complete historical black hole and most people can recall some of the major events during queen Vicky's reign.
Then there is Ageod's American Civil War which focuses on a war well known to Americans and I gather Europeans as well. While their other title; Wars in America, lets you replay a quite famous rise to independence from a superior overlord (from the cultural viewpoint that is); something about a cozy tea-party at Boston, the mud and mosquitos of Yorktown, a few lads camping in a freezing valley springs to mind. But the Seven years war? Well, all I know is that it made Fredrick the Great great and subsequent rulers all over Europe based the principles of their army's training and tactical behavior on the filed of battle on the legendary Prussian army. Will this thus be a both a good game and a history lesson at the same time or will I be boggled by this game and the period in history forever remain a black hole in my historical knowledge.


How does AGEOD introduce Rise of Prussia?

manual said:
Rise of Prussia (ROP) is a historical strategy simulation that recreates the
seven years of warfare (1756-1763) that shook the continent of Europe in
the 18th century. Players assume the role of military and political leaders
in command of land and naval forces belonging to either the Prussian
Kingdom or nations opposed to Prussia (Austria, Russia, France).
Using a system of simultaneous turn resolution, the simulation can be
played against either the computer’s AI or a human
opponent using file transfer protocols (PBEM) or (TCP/IP).

That all sounds very interesting. There are some questions which spring to mind immediately after hearing about RoP for the first time, I hope I can answer them in the next few posts.
  • The map, how big is it? Those who have experienced the multiplying of the numbers of province from HOI2 to 3 know a big map, lots of provinces, is a big plus
  • Do I really get the feel I am defending my country and fighting for my faction or could it be a fantasy scenario just as well, thus are the leaders historical (how do I know?) and are there some nice events and decisions to be made?
  • Are the armies organized and moved around in a convincing way or am I just moving about some ?
  • Is any of the sides overpowered and how good is the AI? I already found a button with which you can turn the AI up another notch (25% it says), interesting
  • Battles, we want battles! Am I there, can I smell the cordite and see the smoke, sheer my troops on and dread the losses of a necessary but deadly charge or don't I care a damn?
  • Are there enough nations to play, in other words, how is the replayability of the game?

Ok, lets head out towards adventure and battle in the Seven Years War


 
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Generalisimo

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It is however more an explanation of the game then a review and Generalissimo himself, being a veteran of AGEOD's games knows all the ins and outs. Thus we have no idea how difficult it is to learn and master Rise of Prussia nor how much fun it is to someone who normally plays games like EU and HOI (and currently Achtung Panzer).
Sadly.... you are completelly right... :D

Besides that, more screenies and another AAR never hurt, do they?
Never ever! ;)

Thus when I was asked to do a review on Rise of Prussia for an upcomming edition of the AARland Tribune I couldn't resist to make it into an AAR as well.
Already subscribed waiting for the next update.... :D
 

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The Gathering Storm

Saturday, September 5th, 1756
A young officer dusted his long green coat with the back of his hand. The grey dust had settled on it during his ride to headquarters this very morning and he knew the generals wanted their officers to look crisp and clean. So, after dusting off his coat he redressed his lace collar and pulled straight his bright-red jacket. It wouldn't be for a while before he would let in he knew, the bastard was having his lunch and didn't want to be disturbed until well after noon, even though he was bearing an order from fieldmarshal Maximillian Browne.
Heinrich of Monchau scraped his throat and rose from his seat to take a good look at the surrounding countryside. A perfect symmetrical garden stretched out in front of him, to the right was a small, shallow pond after which the forests stretched out. good hunting ground he knew, even though he would never be allowed to hunt or even accompany a hunt there, he wasn't noble enough. Sure, he was born to a noble family, had been raised in his uncle's modest chateau during his early childhood but his uncle only being a baron, and he thus only being the nephew of a baron, his blood wasn't blue enough.

Walking to the other side of the room, arms at his back, he peered out of the opposite window. Here his view was blocked by tents, row upon row, hundreds if not thousands. What Heinrich saw here in front of him was the second line, a 30.000 men corps of Browne's Bohemische Armee. The fields in front to the heavily fortified city of Prague were bustling with activity to the west, south and east. A truly massive force had been assembled to counter the Prussian invasion into Saxony, 49.000 footsoldiers, 26.000 cavalry and over 400 canon. A scene unprecedented in the history of Austria.


Why have I called this review-AAR 'Running the Gauntlet' you might ask? The explanation is straightforward. I will not be playing the Prussians in this AAR even though that might be the obvious choice. There is a good reason for this however. In the early game playing Austria might prove to be a much more interesting game. Saxony is invaded and has withdrawn her forces to the Saxon-Austrian border, the Prussian army is moving in to finish them off and is at this moment in history very powerful and a force to be reckoned with. My mission will be to stop them, defeat them and run them out of Saxony. Something which might not prove to be all that easy (if I may believe the guys at Ageod and the lessons of history), most certainly not before substantial reinforcements arrive from, amongst others, the French.


The Austrian army at hand to confront the Prussian forces to the north were commanded by fieldmarshal Maximillian Browne, 49.000 footsoldiers, 26.000 cavalry and over 400 cannon. All composed into three corps' (didn't the French invent the corps organization at the end o fhte 18th century?).


These forces are the First line with five brigades and support troops.

The Second line, 8 brigades and some artillery.

And Piccolomini's corps of six brigades and several regiments of horse and footn.

Almost ont he Saxon border, near the town of Lobositz there was the Advance guard: 1119 footsoldiers and 1531 cavalry.

The possible reinforcements were many but I did not expect any of them to be available quite soon, Browne's army was thus the force I had to manage with.
  • In the Austrian Low-Countries some 30.000 soldiers were stationed.
  • On the Donau a force of 12.000 guarded the Southern border.
  • And there was Grisnach's brigade near Pilsen, to the south of Prague, some 5000 soldiers all told.

Then there were the French and other allies but only God and the script know when they will become available.

 
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Austria to the rescue!

Before I move Browne’s Bohemian Armee to the north to counter the Prussian attempts at encircling the Saxons I have to do a few things first. I need to make a plan. Now, to make a good plan of operations there are several things which I have to find out:
  • What are my exact objectives
  • What are the forces I have to fulfill these objectives
  • Which enemy forces oppose me; gathering intelligence
  • Which difficulties might I stumble upon

Well, we have already taken a look at the forces I have at hand for my first goal; Browne’s army, currently encamped around Prague, with an advance guard on the Saxon border. The current situation might also be clear: the Prussians have invaded Saxony and most of the country up to Dresden is under their control, the Saxon army has withdrawn to a fortified position on the river Elbe, Prima Camp.


There are three roads leading to Prima Camp, one to the north towards Dresden, one to the south, towards Austria and one to the east into southern Saxony. The objective of the Prussians is to cut all these roads, block supplies and reinforcements from getting in and the Saxon army from coming out. If they manage to hold it for three turns the garrison will surrender.
Thus my objective will be to prevent this by either outmaneuvering or defeating the Prussian forces.


Then the intelligence. I can’t see into the fog of war but are able to asserting the position of two forces. A small one to the west of Dresden and a larger one, possibly an entire corps, to the east of Prima Camp. My advance guard will be brought forward, first to a position alongside the Elbe, then towards Prima Camp itself. Their mission, to gather more intelligence.
When I can a second reconnaissance force will moved forwards as well, this force will consist of two regiments of cavalry from the corps’ around Prague and will move on Chemnitz, more to the west. Their mission, to see what’s south of Leipzig.


Enough for now about the objectives, intelligence and the current information on the enemy’s forces and whereabouts. It is early September which will make sure there will be about two more months of good campaign weather before winter sets in. I have no idea however how long it takes me to bring up my forces, do some reconnaissance and throw out screens. It don’t expect any major battle to take place in this year however. But we’ll see.
This turn I will only have my Advance Guard at full effectiveness. They however aren’t moved all that much forward as I don’t want to make contact with my Saxon allies until I have seen a bit more about the Prussian intentions. Browne’s three corps’ aren’t able to move up all that far as they are not fully activated yet. Perhaps they will next turn, I move them a bit closer to the border, away from Prague anyways. Get them on the road!

 
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A General is thought


Heinrich of Monchau, the young, rash, dashing staff officer we left in major-general Joseph Lucchese's headquarter's waitingroom was finally allowed entrance into the dinning-hall of the estate he had used as the center of his activity throughout the summer. The young led stepped straight towards his target, taking a sealed enveloppe from his pocket, having lifted the modestly embroiled, still in gold,pocket-cover for a moment. He stretched out his hand, made a slight bow with his right knee and then turned towards Lucchese's aid presenting him with the enveloppe. As quick as he had entered, Heinrich left without as much as looking at the table filled with rich food and goblets of the most expensive red Bordeaux. Seconds later Heinrich of Monchau (Monchau is a picture-postcard town on the Belgian-German border, 15 kilometers south of Aachen. The little town is in its element during Christmas with its famous Weihnachtsmarkte. But in fact it is Christmas there whole year round, Santa is grinning at you in the heat of August just as he is in the days preceding Christmas. Because of this and its typical German neatness I hate and love it so much at the same time) had mounted his horse again and spurred it on towards Prague.


Before we continue with progress of my march to the north and my attempts to relieve the beleuagured Saxons I should tell you about the learning process of this game

Rise of Prussia is not the “Jump in and Play” kinda games. When first loading the game, too stubborn to play a tutorial, I browsed over the rather awe inspiring beautiful and large map. Checked out some units, ‘not mine’ and then a few others, ‘these are mine’. Cool to see them in full detail, from Corps to regimental level and then all the stats and stuff. While browsing the map it wasn’t very easy to see which troops are Austrian and which are my allie’s. It wasn’t as easy as in HOI and EU to see the different nations easily on the map. There are some map-filters to aid you with this however. It is perfectly clear however, a nice flag is your best friend, to see which province is controlled by whom when close up.

After ‘botching’ my first turn, or better said, not having a clue what I did and if it was right, I fired up the tutorial. There are three of them
  • User Interface and Movement Orders
  • Command Chain
  • Attacking the Enemy

This is very nice and useful, the more because RoP isn’t really selfexplainatory and I will have a lot of respect for everyone who does not need the tutorial or the manual (which is very good btw).




These three tutorials guide you in a step-by-step fashion through all the possible commands, information-ledgers, and options of fiddling with the organisation of your army. You will learn about the different stances of a force (more later), skills and ranks of generals and how best to compose an army. When you have gone through most of it, which will take you one or two hours, you can fire up your first campaign and give it a go. A whole lot wiser, even though not very sure of beating the enemy in your first go.




Now, a word on the different stances every force can have. There are four main stances:
  • Assault
  • Offensive
  • Defensive
  • Passive (defence with some penalties but more mobile)


After selecting a stance you can also decide on a posture: do you want an agressive offensive move or rather prefer a cautious one. Wait, perhaps you like one of the forces to probe or faint instead. The same goes for defense; will it be a 'victory of Valhalla' afair or do you skedaddle at the first sight of the enemy. These different choices decide what will happen during the different turns of a battle and are not only very important but very interesting as well.




Knowing what I now know I decide to make some different moves, I make sure all of Browne's army moves at the same time (can't change their defensive stance as they are not activated) and chance the Advance guard to a cautious offensive posture.

I decide on recruiting some troops as every soldier might soon come in handy for the denfese of Austria. I go with a unit of Jager-skirmishers and some cavalry to gather information, Uhlans. Having done that I press the "next Turn" button and wait what will happen.....I am already starting to like this game, even though I now have the gut-feeling I am bound to lose.


 

machtnix

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You can use shift+(F1-F4) to show only your/enemy units or the map without any troops.
It took me a while for ACCW to discover that and especially the blank map mode is quite handy when lots of units are in one place and you need some info about the province.
 

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You can use shift+(F1-F4) to show only your/enemy units or the map without any troops.
It took me a while for ACCW to discover that and especially the blank map mode is quite handy when lots of units are in one place and you need some info about the province.
Thanks for the tip! Have merged some units by accident trying to get a good look at a province already, so I now lock 'em all which is a good thing anyways. But this ne will come in handy. :)

I will update tomorrow.
 

dublish

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Hehe. You should have played ACW or WiA before jumping into RoP. :D
 

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The battle of Lobositz

The white-grayish clouds of smoke rising from the valleys around Dippoliswalde were an obvious sign to what was going on. Heinrich had been sped off by Browne to inform Futak's Advance guards (two regiments of cavalry and two regiments of infantry) to screen the mountain passes for a few more days while he brought up his troops to the surrounding countryside around Lobositz. From here Browne would attempt a relief of the Saxon army, so Heinrich of Monchau gathered as he wasn't told anything about the Austrian plan of battle, at least not more then he needed to know. And that was what he was now send out to accomplish, Andreas von Futak had to hold Fredrich at bay and make sure his cavalry didn't come through to interrupt the defensive positions being brought into readiness.
Heinrich knew the Prussians would send a big cavalry force to the south and Futak would be hard pressed holding his own. He had learned whilst being a student at the Prussian Staff College the dashing bright Prussian cavalry commanders would do anything in their ability to dislodge him from his position. Had he kept loyal to those who educated him he would have been on the winning side of the skirmish about to take place he thought. But, reflecting on his choice to go south and apply for the Austrian army, he was still glad that was not what he had done. The late summer sun shone on his face and his sweat covered body. The ringing of muskets sharp in his ears, he spurred on his horse once more and then he heard the deep growling thunder of cannon in the distance. This was not as it was supposed to happen, something was wrong. Heinrich dug his spurs into the flanks of his mount once more, the horse fumed and but brought him into the next valley nevertheless where Heinrich could see a spectacle before him: a small advance force, barely over 2000 men, was holding back an entire army.




The previous day Fredrick had arrived in position to invest Pirna Camp and the Saxon army. But instead of what Browne (or me) had thought would happen, Fredrick marched his army due south into the hills and mountains ofDippoliswalde, leaving only a small force; Kleist's column, to screen the entrenched camp. Fredrick II von Preussen took the bulk of his army and engaged Fultak's 2700 men on this late September morning. The later however, knew exactly what he had to do. He blocked the path of this massive force as good as he could, ordered his regimental leaders to put cavalry in front, next engage the oncomming enemy with infantry once the cavalry had given ground and retreat them to a new position. The infantry would slowly withdraw and the whole process would be repeated again. At the same time he send out half a dozen messengers to inform his commanding general, Browne, of this unexpected turn of events. It was these gallopers Heinrich of Monchau met as he descended into the valley, towards the raging battle. He however, decided to go on and once more stressed the importance of holding his position to Futak, who did just that. And his force suffered for it.

At the end of the day Futak broke of the engagement, leaving a fifth of his force as casualties, dead or wounded, on the battlefield.Browne had been allerted, but had it been in time?




During the next two days brigade commander Andreas von Futak withdrew his battered forces slowly, he couldn't hold back the oncoming might of the Prussian forces much longer however and by September 23rd Fredrick's forces streamed onto the Lobositz plain and arrayed for battle to confront Maximillian Browne's froces. The numbers were in favor of the Austrians however as Futak had bought enough time with his bravery to allow Browne to bring up his entire First and Second Line.Only Piccolomini's force was missing but still east of Prague it would be of no help at all during the battle.




The battle of Lobositz was a hardfought battle. Freidrich's 31.783 Prussians engaged Browne's 45.738 Austrians. The forces being about the same strength if you took the superior Prussian training and generalship into the equation and had Browne been able to fight a battle on these terms he would have chosen to engage.The day wouldn't turn out as he had hoped however. Fredrick showed his brilliance on the field of battle, brilliant commanding skills which had been so obvious during the Saxon campaign earlier that year. His first assaults on the Austrian left flank were beaten back but a second and a third succeeded and even though it was no total victory at days end Browne chose to withdraw in the direction from where he had come. His army was tired, four brigades were utterly mauled and several more had suffered heavy casualties, almost a quarter of his force was lost.




 

Generalisimo

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How did they manage that? :confused:
To understand a battle, you need to analize all the icons present in the battle report to get an idea of what actually happened.
Also, now you can check the detailed battle report, that will inform you what happened round per round during the battle.
If Mosby did that, it will just take forever... on the other hand, if you had the game in front of you, by just placing the mouse over one of those icons, a rollover text will tell you what does it mean exactly. ;)
 

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How did they manage that? :confused:
One of the reasons I lost was because the Prussians had far better generals and their luck in this battle was better then mine. Next they opened fire earlier and with more troops while my position was a lot better. Best asset of all for them is Freirdich himself (6-4-3 againt Browne's 3-2-2). It is hard, however, to see how I can beat the Prussians atm with the troops at hand as they outnumber me overall and their soldiers and generals are better man-by-man. Hence the thing I should do is wait for the French and major reinforcements to come up, buying time in the meantime.
 

Enewald

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Prussia has more troops than Austria??? :confused:
How is that even possible?
Can you not recruit?
 

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Prussia has more troops than Austria??? :confused:
How is that even possible?
Can you not recruit?
I can and I am doing so at the moment.
It is 1576 and a good deal of my troops are tied up in the Austrian Low-Countries and on the other frontiers. The French are boozing at the moment as well, no intention of aiding me for God knows how long. So yes, I have to cope with what I've got which is less then what the oncomming Prussian have.
 

Akritas

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It's 1756, the start of the war. Prussia has just launched a surprise attack against Saxony and caught Austria with his pants down ;)
When Austria musters his forces form Hungary, the Ottoman frontier, Italy etc things will be somewhat different. But organizing this takes time... i bet Browne is praying for an early winter that ends the 1756 campaigning season before its too late for him and Prague! :p
Great AAR Singleton!
 

unmerged(18239)

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It's 1756, the start of the war. Prussia has just launched a surprise attack against Saxony and caught Austria with his pants down ;)
When Austria musters his forces form Hungary, the Ottoman frontier, Italy etc things will be somewhat different. But organizing this takes time... i bet Browne is praying for an early winter that ends the 1756 campaigning season before its too late for him and Prague! :p
Great AAR Singleton!
Praying as hard as he can :D And thanks ;)