Thursday, July 13, 2017

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO PARIS

     There's a reason I'm generally leery of snap judgments. The problem is I wanted it too bad. Seems to be a recipe for disappointment. My head knew better. My heart said otherwise. (Lousy heart...)
     If my initial reaction to On to Paris! seemed too good to be true, that's because it was.
     Here's the problem in a nutshell: The French leaders are all vastly over-rated. Remember my last post when I wasn't doing too well against them. I thought it was due to my lack of experience with the game, that I just had to try harder. Maybe if I cut off their supply first... No, the French leaders are better at reacting than their opponents. Maybe if I concentrated on picking off isolated corps...No, only bad leaders would leave corps isolated, plus the reaction thing again. There's actually nothing you can do. With all those awesome leaders, the French should never lose a single battle, unless it's due to the French player's incompetence. Once he understands the rules of the game, he should never lose. He might even contemplate taking the offensive!

Heeeeeeere's Patrice! Patrice de MacMahon, Duke of Magenta. (Apparently made Duke prior to the invention of 16-color EGA graphics.) The game treats him as though he were Napoleon himself -- and I mean I, not III! History has not been so kind.
      In every battle, you count all leaders on both sides. Almost every Prussian leader is a 0, so that's easy. 7 of 9 starting French Corps leaders are +1 or +2. So a 3 Corps per side, the Prussians start off in a -3 hole. In addition to that, the French automatically get a +2 due to -- get this -- Prussian incompetence! You've gotta be kidding me! Look, combat rolls are only 2D6. If you're getting an automatic +5, you're almost always rolling at max. 
     What's the big Prussian benefit? Artillery. At first this seems like a big deal, since the Prussians routinely double or triple the French. But while this looks impressive on paper, in practice it only accounts for maybe a +1 difference, maybe a SP or two.  

+'s are good. These look more like Napoleon I's army, not Napoleon III's.
      I don't want to make a huge deal about it. I went back and looked at Hozier's Franco-Prussian War book to see what the story is about French leadership. I highlighted a few passages until I lost heart. At some point you just have to say "F-it, I'm moving on."
     According to my reading of Hozier, most battles were lost by French leadership before they ever started. In one passage, speaking of De Failly, a leader in MacMahon's army (in the game, MacMahon is depicted as a military genius of the first order), Hozier says: "Trusting to a vague idea that the enemy were on the defensive, he neglected this obvious precaution."
     But wait! There's more....

     "A girl thirteen years of age gave, for a thaler, much useful information [to the Prussians] concerning the division of General Douay." The Prussians managed to find a source of info. It cost them a buck. Probably could've been had for some candy, if they'd had any. The French command couldn't be bothered with such trifles as reconnaissance and various forms of info-gathering. This was MacMahon again. Not Ed, either.
     "Although the fight lasted so long, no supports were sent to the French general from Marshal MacMahon."
     "For the isolation of his division [at Wissembourg] MacMahon must be held in some degree accountable."
     "[By doing this thing just mentioned] it is not impossible that a check might have been inflicted on the Prussian commander. Nothing, however, of the kind was attempted."
     "De Failly...misinterpreting orders....remained immovable while the German army was being concentrated." De Failly again. At least he's rated 0 -- the same as all the Prussian leaders who did not remain immobile (but that's another story). Note also that he is in MacMahon's army and MacMahon has a 4 reaction rating (the best on the board) and +2 re-roll rating (also best, similar to Alexander the Great presumably).
     "MacMahon...knew that the prince was marching upon him...[but] had no idea of that army's strength and was even unaware of its exact whereabouts." A 4 Reaction rating! "He had no scouts or spies thrown out, no organization of outposts, none of the precautions usually adopted by a leader of armies to warn him of his enemy's vicinity." 4!
     "Fortunately for the Germans, the French were left by their generals with a most inadequate supply of artillery -- one of those unaccountable mistakes which marked French generalship as a MAIN CAUSE OF THE DISASTERS TO THE IMPERIAL ARMIES IN THE CAMPAIGN." (Emphasis added.)
     I could go on and on. We're far from finished with MacMahon, and haven't even started in on Frossard and Bazaine and the rest of these Gallic clowns. A true comedy of errors. As a hopeful fan of On to Paris!, it just becomes too depressing.
     In the end, I can only say this: F-it, I'm moving on!

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