[Solved] 1796-1800 Battles
David, I know you discussed an ACW and 7YW variant of ESR in several venues, but wondering why doesn't the game state that the pre-Empire campaigns are covered. Not sure what the differences would be from playing Lodi or Marengo for the rules versus as an example the autumn 1805 campaign? Structure of the armies? Thanks
The short answer is that when we developed ESR we didn't proof it or test it against pre-1805 battles, so the answer is that it may work just fine as is, or it may requiring tweaking – I doubt anyone would find it to be broken – but since we didn't test it, we didn't include any official support for it.
One of the key concerns that you correctly bring up is the structure of the Armies. Without delving into the research deeply, my surface answer is that many of the battles of pre-1805 become two player engagements (not a bad thing) because effectively the smallest useful body of troops is about a brigade to division in size and reporting to the "Army Commander" directly (this isn't always the case obviously but often). And thus the "Army Commander" is actually in the role of a Force Commander in ESR, however, while smaller, these bodies might behave more like tiny corps than divisions of a corps – this would need to be proved out by research – and if that was the case, then the objective – directive system may not prove sufficient to allow players to recreate events as they occurred historically. The other concern about structure is how long a given body of troops was able to fight and does that match up to the longevity of that size of Formation in ESR.
Let me know if that helps!
With that said, there are people using ESR for scenarios pre-1805. Some use it as-is, others make minor modifications, the most common I've seen is treating each 'Formation' as a 'Force' of a single Formation and generally without a Formation Commander – thus practically tying the Force Commander to the Formation in order to ensure it remains responsive. This allows for different objectives and multiple players. Though there is a double-edged sword there; since it really desires multiple players, but often each player only has a single Formation in their Force – and that Formation is often on the smaller side, it allows for players to get knocked out of the game quickly.
I worked out a Marengo Orbat when I first got the rules - by that I mean 1st ed ESR. You can find it here on the old Yahoo group:
For the map I would use the Age of Eagles one from - again - Yahoo. There is a mass of Napoleonic scenarios here at:
You will have to sort thro the Power Is My Mistress files til you found Marengo. The maps are set at 1" equals 100 yards, I play ESR at that scale but you can easy scale up or down to meet your desired scale.
I played this when I first got the rules and before all the scenario book came out. I always like to try out big battle rules with Marengo because it is a 'real' battle with a solid Napoleonic scenario, i.e. the French reinforcing into an existing situation. The battlefield is a challenge but the two armies are relatively small. I designed this with 1st Edition ESR so you might want to tweak it - for example Austrian rifle units, engineers etc.
When I designed it I worked out all the units, forces and formations. For the latter two I took liberties because the Austrians didn't, obviously - use a corps structure. But grouping units into forces and formations like this is exactly what ESR does for all of its pre 1809 scenario books. It was only when I had done the donkey works of setting up the orbat that I realised the rules did not go back prior to 1805, so the CRs for units - especially the Austrians have been tinkered with.
From memory the games worked, I might try it again with ESR 2nd ed. and my greater experience of the game. From memory we spent quite a lot of the original game getting our heads around the off the wall nature of ESR.
Not sure ESR would work in its present form prior to 1800 - the battles are too small. But lots of the scenarios in the supplements are very small battles and they seem to work. I suppose the issue is when battles stop being Napoleonic on a tactical level. I have always assumed that ESR is designed to meet the concepts in Nosworthy's 2nd volume on 18th century to Napoleonic warfare, what he calls 'impulse warfare'.
But I would be interested to see if ESR could be modified to meet the demands of, say, mid 18th century warfare. You could, for example, force armies into historical linear formations. But I bet that would transform ESR into a new game, which is not a bad thing, I've always been a bit suspect of rules being morphed slightly to meet other periods. I used to play Age of Eagles - an ACW game morphed for Napoleonics. I was not really happy. Indeed one of the big gripes was that you could not do what happened historically. we refought Borodino with AoE - the way you added up all the artillery factors meant that the French amassed 100+ artillery factors and simply swept the ridge with the Russian redoubts on it with fire - it was impossible to survive in the face of such firepower. Lutzen was worse - the allies simply could not move fast enough to attack Ney's isolated corps before the main French army came up. So we learnt that AoE did not work for Napoleonis - it works in its original F&F manifestation - I've done laods of ACW refights with these rules. Whne we have done a bit more rebasing and painting we are going to try Borodino & Lutzen with ESR. I get back with the outcome.