Aspern-Essling

This is the Gamers Napoleonic Brigade Series version of the 1809 encounter between Napoleon and the Archduke Charles. I am using version 3.0 of the rules. I even made the effort of making my own counters to deal with the few later corrections made to the OOB. (There are not many games I would do that for.)

I know from past experience that doing one of the longer scenarios will not go well, because the staff work – with the orders – becomes too much of a drag. So, I have been playing the (relatively) short first day scenario.

The Austrian 6th Corps tries to take Aspern and, after several rounds of bloody fighting, fails its Attack Stoppage roll, and is thrown back.

The Austrian 1st Corps joins in just as 6th Corps is about to snap, the former keeping a wary eye on the French cavalry beginning to mass to the east. Eventually, the French cavalry attack. A couple of repulsed charges sees the Austrians about to gain the upper hand with progress in the fight for Aspern when the 1st Corps also fails its Attack Stoppage roll. And back they go, too.

Then, just two turns into their attack, the newly arrived 2nd Corps also comes to a halt.

The Austrian 4th Corps do not do so badly, and are still in reasonable shape, but the French defenders, courtesy of some rapid orders from Napoleon, form a solid enough line and the Austrian’s don’t make it to first base, aka Gross Enzersdorf.

By the time the Austrian high command have sorted out the mess, it’s too late for further action and the battle ends with the French bloodied, but still in position.

Here are my random thoughts on the experience:

  • There’s a lot to admire in the 3.0 rules. I particularly like the way close combat and infantry fire is dealt with, speeding up play considerably.
  • Checking the roster sheets is a huge drain on time. I would prefer if the A, B, and C strength ratings were ditched in favor of a simple single combat strength.
  • The orders system – and all the command and control paraphernalia – brings about a good result, but it’s clunky. For example, leaders are restricted in how many orders they can issue according to their quality. That abstraction works but it doesn’t feel right. In any event, the lower quality leaders are penalized twice – once for order writing ability and once in the order acceptance calculation.

I understand the creators of version 3.0 are working on a new system. It remains to be seen if that will ever see the light of day. Until then, this system is likely to see more time on the table. But it is not without its competitors. Basically, I’m spoiled for choice.