Kriegsspiel That Would Never End™ – An AAR, part 2

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The AAR takes waaaay less time than the game ~

Jim Owczarski, 16 May 2018

One of the great joys of the Kriegsspiel is the fog of war and command friction that results from any double-blind game.  The Jena-Auerstedt campaign’s fights over 13 and 14 October made this point eloquently — and I am not only discussing the fact (alluded to in the videos) that during this period Napoleon lost Bernadotte’s I Corps for a fair amount of time and Brunswick lost contact with Blucher and Ruchel for several days.

While Murat, Lannes, and Davout were barrelling nigh Hell-fot-leather Northward along their western line of advance, Napoleon I himself could never quite figure out where the Prussians were.  He kept punching forward hoping to hit something and never realized just how empty the battle space was.  In the early marches, he failed to catch the divisions guarding the Hof gap and then both Marshals Soult and Ney kept nudging forward along the eastern routes trying to make contact with Hohenlohe’s men who scampered as fast as they were able.

Looking at the other side of the fight, though, I want to draw particular attention to both Generals Blucher and Ruchel.  I know both of these fellows fairly well and neither of them is a Napoleonic gamer.  Blucher, quite frankly, is not much of a tabletop wargamer at all.  (Do not, however, challenge him to a game of “Civilization IV”, you have been warned.)  Both of them, however, accepted the game for what it was and performed with remarkable elan.  They are friends in real life and as the story evolved there were some fine moments between the two of them — shared only over e-mail messages — as they tried to work together to solve a very difficult problem.

What that problem was will be readily apparent from the videos below.

(Author’s Note: I really do need to put more “real world” time stamps in these. I love the fact that that this one was recorded two days before Christmas 2016. Also, Marshal Davout here conducts the THIRD boldest maneuver of the campaign. Issued: Jena Campaign Medal.)


(Author’s Note: I have no idea why I adopted this melodramatic tone.)


(Author’s Note: This one was so close for Marshal Soult.)


(Author’s Note: Marshal Murat here conducts the FOURTH boldest maneuver of the campaign. Issued: Jena Campaign Medal.)


(Author’s Note: If you want to know a) how hard it is to get men into the “battle space” and b) how what you did not know in the 19th Century could kill you, look no further. This also allows me to express my gratitude to Prince Brunswick for stepping in after Hohenlohe went missing.)


(Author’s Note: This is a legitimately great video, content-wise. The fight at Erfurt was, as narrative, quite the thing, with General Ruchel exhorting his men so well that at one point I even gave them a small strength bonus for the effort. The incident outside Weimar, however, had me laughing for several days.)


(Author’s Note: I did this one not sober. Hence the arty filter. I felt really badly about the AG Ruchel thing, too. Not for the first time my wife, my certified die roller, really abandoned the Prussians.)

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