On the table is GMT‘s game Prussia’s Glory II. Designed by Bob Kalinowski, it’s a follow up to his Prussia’s Glory. This package has four battles from the Seven Years War at a scale of 500 yards per hex, hourly game turns, and brigade and regiment sized units. The battles are Prague, Kolin, Krefeld and Kunersdorf.
The game system allows you to recreate the movements before battle which, generally, allows Frederick and the Prussians to start first and move to the best positions. However, fate plays a hand, and nothing is certain; even Frederick can stumble at the moment of truth. And if you don’t want to bother with the pre battle movements, there’s always the Battle Scenarios to get you right into the action.
The game system at this level is “I go, you go” with command determination adding that element of chaos into the picture. Superior leadership should triumph, but that does not always happen. Units are rated for strength, morale, movement and the number of steps. (Each step is 400 infantry, 200 cavalry, and 2-5 artillery pieces.)
Artillery can be deadly, so if you cannot keep out of its way, you must minimize time closing with the enemy. Most combat is, therefore, close combat. It is odds based, with a rich range of factors to take account of disordered or routed units, superior morale, superior cavalry shock ability, terrain, and so on. The results include variations on units of different morale, or those that are unsupported. And to top it off, cavalry can sweep successive lines of the enemy, if they get it right.
I like the variety, but some will find the exceptions fiddly and troublesome. Try it and see.
Overlaying it all is Army Morale, which tracks how your side is doing. Losing units and having units rout is bad. Success in combat is good. If your army does badly enough, it become demoralized. If worse, it becomes broken. This morale measurement is an excellent part of the design which is easy to work, and means your army will not fight to the death, but to whenever it thinks enough is enough.
When PG came out, I played all of its battles extensively. Although PG II came out a few years back, it’s only now gotten to the top of the ‘to be played list’. And since PG, the rules had been improved. So, I had to do a lot of refreshing of my memory.
I played the Prague Battle Scenario a couple of times to get things right, and have now just finished a complete run through of the Prague Main Scenario. The Battle Scenario is a slog. The Main Scenario is a desperate flank march by Frederick and the Prussians* to try to get into a better starting position to avoid some of the slog. The designer gives good value for money, with several options to try out. The other scenarios have variants, but not as many.
(Now, is that a good name for a rock band? Maybe Freddie and the Prussians would be better?)
The Scenario booklet also includes an extended example of play of the Prague Main Scenario, which clarified a few of the rules for me, and is well worth reading.
What I liked
- High solitaire playability
- One map per battle – no two or three map monsters
- The scale makes it easier to play than more tactical games – simpler, not simple
- It’s also fast to play
- Army Morale
- The counter artwork
- The option of doing the pre battle movement
- The vagaries of combat
- The effects of combat – especially the grinding down of units
- Scenario options
- Detailed and lengthy example of play
- GMT’s usual high standards of production
What I disliked
- Command Control is a bit basic – assuming the Wing/Group passes its command roll
- I’m unsure about the special leader rules which allow you to overcome a blown command roll – if you stack a hero with a zero
- I would have preferred more historical information
- Absence of a bibliography
Enjoyable, engrossing, and challenging. I suspect double blind play of these games with an umpire, would be an awesome experience.