The defeat of the Third Coalition at Austerlitz on 2 December 1805 greatly complicated the already fragile relations between Prussia and France. Prior to the defeat of the combined Russo-Austrian Army in Moravia, Prussia had contemplated joining the coalition against France, or at least, given Frederick William III’s natural timidity, parlaying Prussia’s strategic position athwart Napoleon’s line of communications into some form of political and territorial advantage in Germany. The stunning French victory at Austerlitz dramatically changed everything. Unfortunately for Prussian ambitions, with Austria now prostrate and Russian troops retreating east towards Poland, Napoleon saw little reason to indulge the territorial yearnings of the Royal Court in Berlin. Instead, the French Emperor, in a diplomatic gesture that could only incense the Prussian King, unapologetically withdrew his offer from the previous year to cede possession of Hanover to Berlin. Instead, in an effort to promote a tenuous peace with England, Napoleon offered the German possession to the British instead. This diplomatic affront infuriated the Prussian King and, spurred on by his intractably anti-French wife and her friends in the Prussian “war party,” Frederick finally ordered his generals, in mid-August of 1806, to begin preparations for war with France. Characteristically, Frederick William’s enthusiasm for war soon wilted, and despite the imprecations of his wife and generals, and the military assurances of the Russian Court, it was not until 1 October that the Prussian King finally issued an ultimatum to Napoleon demanding that all French troops be withdrawn from Germany. Napoleon received the Prussian demand on 7 October. Immediately, the French Emperor began plans to force march the 200,000 men of the Grande Armée — already in encampments in Germany and Bavaria — against the 130,000 Prussians and 20,000 Saxons that were slowly feeling their way towards him in three uncoordinated and dispersed armies. Ironically, despite the weeks of Prussian dithering, Frederick’s only continental ally, Tsar Alexander I, had not been informed of Berlin’s plans early enough to order Russian reinforcements to march forward to support the Prussian movement against the French. With the forces of his two adversaries temporarily separated, and the Prussian Army itself disorganized by its advance into Germany, the stage was now set for one of the great triumphs of Napoleon’s practice of the art of war.
JÉNA! is an operational (battalion/regiment/brigade/division) level simulation of Napoleon’s invasion of Saxony during France’s war against Prussia and Russia, in 1806. Players maneuver combat units and leaders in an effort to destroy and/or demoralize enemy units. The focus of the simulation is on command and control, leadership, decisive maneuver, combined arms, and unit morale. The player who most effectively coordinates these separate combat elements will, like Napoleon, almost invariably win.
JÉNA! is played in game turns. Each turn in the game, besides encompassing its regular player operations, will periodically require the execution of one of two special game segments. These are: the Reorganization Phase (occurs prior to the start of each “starred” turn on the Turn Record Track); and the Disengagement Phase (occurs prior to the first night turn of each day). Once these preliminary operations are completed, the game turn is divided into two player turns: the French player turn, followed by the Prussian player turn. Each of these player turns is further broken down into a rigid sequence of player actions. First, the French player turn proceeds in the following sequence: the Command Phase; the On Board Movement Phase; and the three-stage (Artillery Bombardment, regular Infantry/Cavalry Attacks, Breakthrough Attacks) Combat Phase. The Prussian player then executes his turn, as follows: the Prussian Orders Prephase (occurs twice during each game day); the Command Phase; the On Board Movement Phase; the three-stage Combat Phase; and the Off Board Movement Phase. At the conclusion of the two player turns, there is a Turn Interphase which consists of two additional segments: the French Corps Morale Phase, and the Turn Marker Phase. The sequence is then repeated until the final turn of the scenario.
JÉNA! offers five short one day scenarios, and one extended eight day campaign scenario. The Campaign Game (Scenario 1) begins on Turn 1, October 9, and continues until Turn 8, October 17 (64 game turns). The shorter scenarios begin with The Battle of Saalfeld (Scenario 2), October 10, 1806 (5 game turns); Jéna (Scenario 3), October 14 (7 turns); Auerstaedt (Scenario 4), October 14 (6 game turns); Jéna-Auerstaedt (Scenario5), October 14 (8 turns); and a Hypothetical (Scenario 6), October 13 (2½ game turns). For those players who want to add more uncertainty to the game, two optional rules are included by the designer to increase historical realism by limiting the information available to each player about the enemy’s dispositions. These are the Obscured Units (inverted units) Rule, and the French Fourth Column (deployment of dummy units comprising a phantom IIIrd French Corps) Rule.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATION
Clearly, as the preceding commentary suggests, JÉNA! is not a simple game. It is, instead, a very richly detailed and quite challenging simulation of Napoleonic warfare. The French Army during this period was at the zenith of its military prowess: well trained, well equipped, highly motivated, and brilliantly led at virtually all levels. The Prussian Army, despite its victorious tradition and proud history, was fifty years out of date. It was a force trained primarily for set-piece battles and sieges, and not for fast-moving campaigns of maneuver. The Prussian player can win in JÉNA!, but not if he attempts to fight on Napoleon’s terms. That is the central challenge posed by the game: Napoleon wants to maneuver against his enemy’s communications and flanks, and attack when his enemy is disorganized and vulnerable; the Prussians, on the other hand, want only to fight. Both players must therefore combine patience and cunning with audacity. For this reason, JÉNA! is probably not a good choice for the casual gamer. However, for the experienced player who is genuinely interested either in the Jéna-Auerstaedt campaign specifically, or in the Napoleonic Wars more generally, this title is probably a must own.
- Time Scale: 2 hours (approximately) per game turn
- Map Scale: 1,000 meters per hex
- Unit Size: Infantry strength point = 1,000 men; Cavalry strength point = 500 mounted horsemen; Artillery strength point = 1 battery
- Unit Types: leaders (army/corps/division), infantry, cavalry, light cavalry, pontooneers, artillery, horse artillery, and information markers
- Number of Players: three (two and four player versions are also possible)
- Complexity: above average
- Solitaire Suitability: low
- Average Playing Time: 6-60 + hours (depending on scenario)
- Three 22” x 34’’ hexagonal grid Map Sheets (with French Morale Track and Terrain Key incorporated)
- One Sheet of 280 ½” back-printed cardboard Counters
- One Sheet of 140 ½” back-printed cardboard Counters
- One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet (with Scenario Instructions and Historical Commentary incorporated)
- One 8½” x 11” Turn Record Track
- One 8½” x 11” back-printed Combat Results Table and Terrain Effects Chart
- One 11” x 17” Off-Board Movement Track
- One 8½” x 11” back-printed Players’ Notes and Errata Sheet
- One six-sided Die
- One 8½” x 11” back-printed Clash Of Arms “Spanish Campaigns” Ad Page and Order Form
- One 8½” x 11” back-printed “Kevin Zucker Napoleonic Games” Ad Page and Order Form
- One 8½” x 11” back-printed AFRICA Ad Slick
- One 4” x 6” back-printed Clash of Arms Games LA BATAILLE DE LÜTZEN Advance Order Card
- One 3½” x 8½” Clash of Arms Games “Customer Response” Card
- One 9¼” x 12” x 2” bookcase style cardboard Game Box
See my blog post Book Review of this title which I recommend for those visitors looking for additional historical background information.