SPI, JENA-AUERSTADT (1975)

JENA-AUERSTADT: The Battle for Prussia, 14 October 1806 is a grand tactical simulation of combat during the Age of Napoleon. The game was designed by Thomas Walczyk as a part of SPI’s NAPOLEON AT WAR Series of Folio games on the major military campaigns of the French Emperor. JENA-AUERSTADT was published by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) in 1975.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Napoleon at the Battle of Jena
On 14 October 1806, two simultaneous battles were fought a few miles from each other in Saxony that, because of their outcomes, largely sealed the fate of what was, at the time, the newest alliance to take up arms against the steadily growing power of Napoleon. This, interestingly enough, was only the latest act in a Continental political and military drama that had already been playing out for well over a year, and which would pretty much pit the same cast of European powers against Imperial France for the decade to come.

In December 1805, a decisive French victory at Austerlitz against the combined forces of Austria and Russia had, at last, persuaded Austria to seek peace with France. This effectively put an end to the Third Coalition’s military exertions against Napoleon's newly established empire. Nonetheless, in spite of the loss of an important ally, Russia and England refused French peace overtures and continued to share in an implacable hostility towards Napoleon. Thus, even though the “Sun of Austerlitz” had shown down on the French Emperor and his triumphant army in winter of 1805, the seeds of the next European war were already germinating in several of the most important courts of Europe. In fact, at the beginning of 1806, only a few key questions still remained to be resolved before Napoleon's enemies again took the field against him. The first of these, of course, was the matter of timing: when should the next campaign against Napoleon actually begin? The second question that lay before the momentarily quiet belligerents was, if anything, even more important: when a general war against Napoleon resumed, which currently neutral nations might realistically be persuaded to join England and Russia in the coming campaign against the French "upstart"? Austria, still smarting from its earlier defeat, could not be coaxed — at any price — into renewing its struggle against Napoleon in 1806, and the addition of Sweden to the allied coalition, although certainly welcomed by political leaders in both England and Russia, was of only limited strategic significance. Needless-to-say, given Austria’s unshakeable neutrality, uppermost in the minds of Napoleon’s enemies in both St. Petersburg and London was the question of what role, if any, Prussia and her army might be induced to play in the impending clash with France. Prussian armies, it should be noted, had not taken the field in a major European war in more than a generation, but the army of Frederick the Great was still considered — by virtually all of Prussia's neighbors — to be a major military presence on the Continent. Fortunately for France’s adversaries, Napoleon somehow managed, through a collection of provocative political moves and diplomatic missteps, to drive the Prussian Court firmly into the welcoming arms of France’s enemies. And given the Prussian King’s natural timidity, this was no small accomplishment on the part of the French Emperor, particularly given his string of military victories against the Third Coalition's forces in 1805.

Napoleon inspects captured Prussian battle flags at Jena
During the events of the preceeding year, King Frederick William IIIrd of Prussia — thoroughly intimidated by the speed and magnitude of the early French successes against Austria — had kept his country (and its armies) out of the Third Coalition’s war against France; preferring, instead, to bide his time in hopes that Napoleon’s military fortunes might change for the worse. The wisdom of the Prussian King's refusal to move against Napoleon, in spite of a brief violation of Prussian territory by French forces early in the campaign, seemed to be vindicated when news reached Berlin of the crushing defeat of Coalition forces at Austerlitz on 2 December 1805. Unfortunately for the prospects of a continued peace between France and Prussia, the French Emperor’s actions in Central Europe soon succeeded in provoking the ever-hesitant Frederick William IIIrd into seriously considering war with France. The most important of these provocations — but not the only one — was the establishment by Napoleon, over strenuous Prussian objections, of a pro-French alliance of German States on Prussia's western border called the Confederation of the Rhine. Moreover, to heap additional French insult onto Prussian injury, the Prussian King was further incensed when he discovered that, in spite of Napoleon’s promise to cede control of Hanover to Prussia, the French Emperor had secretly offered the same valuable German holding to the English as an enticement to accept peace with France. This last French slight was simply not to be endured, and reassured by a promise of military support from both Saxony and a still mobilizing Russia, William IIIrd issued an ultimatum to Napoleon demanding that all French forces immediately be withdrawn from Germany. Napoleon’s response was exactly what one would expect: he moved his headquarters and staff into Germany and prepared to invade Saxony in search of the Prussian army. The time for diplomacy had passed, and, within days, the armies of both France and Prussia were on the move.

Friedrich Ludwig, prince of
Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen (1746-1818)
On 9 October 1806, the first contact between the two armies occurred at Schleiz when a Prussian division was overwhelmed by fast-moving elements of the French army. The next day, a French corps led by Marshal Lannes smashed into a combined Prussian-Saxon force of some 8,300 men, under the command of the popular Prince Louis Ferdinand, near Saalfeld. The small Prussian/Saxon force was virtually destroyed in the action and Prince Louis, himself, was fatally wounded during the fighting. Clearly, the first few rounds had gone to Napoleon's troops. Somewhat surprisingly, in spite of these early skirmishes, the leaders of both armies were still uncertain as to the precise whereabouts of their enemy. On the other hand, these early Prussian reversals — along with the news of the death of the popular Prince Louis Ferdinand — had shaken the morale of many in the rank-and-file of the Prussian army and, perhaps even more importantly, the confidence of some of its commanders. Intelligence as to Napoleon's wherabouts did not improve during the next few days so, following a brief period of strategic inaction, the Prussian high command decided to convene a council of war on 13 October to consider the army's next course of action. After much spirited debate, the Prussian commanders arrived at a decision late on the night of the 13th: the Prussian army would be divided into two almost equal parts. One contingent — approximately 50,000 men and 120 guns — under the command of the Prince of Hohenlohe would occupy positions to the north and east of Jena to serve as a rearguard against a possible advance by Napoleon’s forces from the south and west. The second force, lead by the seventy-one year old Duke of Brunswick and accompanied by King William IIIrd — comprised of some 54,000 men and 230 guns — would withdraw to the north along the army’s natural line of communications. Thus, although the commanders of neither the French nor the Prussian armies expected a decisive action quite so soon, the stage had actually been set for a pair of battles that would, by the time darkness fell on October 14th, result in the utter defeat of two Prussian armies and the mortal wounding of the Duke of Brunswick. As something of a postscript, it should be noted that the twin French victories on October 14th, crushing though they were, did not mark the end of hostilities between France and Prussia. Some elements of King Frederick William’s army did manage to escape the debacles that were the battles of Jena and Auerstadt; nonetheless, 14 October signaled the end of any significant Prussian military operations against Napoleon’s forces. On 27 October, the victorious French army marched into the Prussian capitol, Berlin; and by mid-November, virtually all of Prussia had fallen under French military control.

DESCRIPTION

JENA-AUERSTADT is a division/brigade level simulation — based on the popular and widely-used NAPOLEON AT WATERLOO (NAW) Game System — of the pair of decisive actions between the Prussians and Saxons, under Prince Hohenlohe (at Jena) and the Duke of Brunswick (at Auerstadt), and the main French army, commanded by the Emperor Napoleon (at Jena), and the French right wing under Marshal Davout (at Auerstadt). The two French victories on 14 October, 1806, were instrumental both in bringing about Prussia’s capitulation in the War of 1806 and in ending — for a time, at least — the threat of Prussian interference with French influence over the political affairs of the several German States.

JENA-AUERSTADT is played in game turns, and each game turn is further divided into two symmetrical player turns, each of which proceeds as follows: the first player movement phase followed by the first player combat phase; the second player then repeats the sequence. The French player is always the first player to act in any game turn. At the conclusion of the second player’s turn, the game turn marker is advanced one space, and the turn sequence repeats itself until the scenario ends after twelve turns of play. Stacking is prohibited at the end of the movement phase, and supply is automatic for both players. Zones of control (ZOCs) are rigid and “sticky”: once opposing units become adjacent, they may only exit an enemy unit’s ZOC as a result of combat. JENA-AUERSTADT, like the other NAW-based games, uses a relatively “bloodless” odds-differential type Combat Results Table (CRT); in addition, the phasing player may, prior to resolving a battle, voluntarily reduce his combat odds in order to reduce or eliminate the chance of an unwelcome exchange.

Each of the hexes on the three-color JENA-AUERSTADT game map depicts one of eight different types of terrain: clear, roads, forests, towns, slopes, streams, rivers, and bridges. As might be expected, these different terrain types affect either movement or combat odds, or both. Forest, slope, and stream hexes slow movement and rivers are completely impassable except at bridge hexes; roads, on the other hand, double the basic movement range of all units that move directly from one intersecting road hex to another. Towns, crest hexes (the higher elevation hexes bordering slopes), streams, and bridges affect combat by doubling the defensive strength of eligible non-phasing units.

Battle of Jena-Auerstadt Map
Differences between the combat capabilities of infantry, cavalry, and artillery units in JENA-AUERSTADT are, for the most part, relatively minor. Cavalry, for example, has no special role in the game other than to serve as fast infantry. The operational flexibility of the Grande Armée is reflected in the fact that the French infantry and cavalry enjoy a slight advantage when it comes to movement over their Prussian adversaries, but the artillery units of both armies — at only three movement points — are uniformly slow. Despite this slowness, however, artillery units play an especially important role in this combat system. It can be used both to attack adjacent units, and also to attack (barrage) non-adjacent enemy units either independently or in concert with other attacking friendly units. This is especially important when it comes to combat in congested areas. Because all enemy units adjacent to those of the phasing player must be attacked, bombarding artillery allows frontline units to concentrate their combat power against a single enemy unit while other adjacent enemy units are attacked by friendly artillery fire from the rear.

Louis Nicholas Davout
Besides its double-battle, split map design, one other feature makes this NAPOLEON AT WAR title unique: JENA-includes special rules governing operations during “Fog” game turns. Thus, during the game’s two fog turns, all movement factors for both armies are halved (with odd values rounded down) and, just as importantly, fog also prohibits artillery from attacking non-adjacent enemy units using bombardment. Also, along with the game’s regular body of rules, there are two “optional reinforcement” alternatives which players can use, at their discretion, to adjust play-balance. The first of these optional rules assumes that Prince Louis Ferdinand’s small Prussian/Saxon force — instead of being destroyed on October 10th — actually avoided the earlier battle and thus, is available for action on the 14th. The second optional rule stipulates that Marshal Bernadotte’s Ist Corps — instead of spending all the 14th absent from both battlefields — actually marches to the aid of Davout at Auerstadt, as Napoleon had ordered.

Interestingly, in addition to the Historical Scenario (Option “A”), JENA-AUERSTADT also offers players the opportunity to experiment with a Hypothetical Scenario (Option “B”) which postulates that the Prussian army did not split up on the 14th, but that, instead, it remained near Jena to block the path of Napoleon’s advance. Although a careful reading of the rules seems to imply that the choice of which version of the game to be played rests exclusively with the Prussian player, given that the two scenarios result in completely different game situations, it is probably a good idea for both players to agree before hand on which option they are going to try. Both versions of the game are twelve turns long. Finally, victory, in both scenarios, is determined based on which side has amassed the most victory points at the conclusion of the last turn. These victory points are accumulated (not surprisingly) through the elimination of enemy combat factors and/or the demoralization of the opposing army or armies. Also, the French player may gain two additional victory points — when playing the Historical Scenario, only — by exiting units totaling 125 or more combat factors from the east, west, and south edges of the Jena battle map before the end of the game. Either player, depending on the final tally of victory points, may win a Decisive, Substantive, or Marginal Victory; the game can also end in a Draw.

A PERSONAL OBSERVATION

Napoleon reviews the Old Guard
before the Battle of Jena by Horace Vernet
The NAPOLEON AT WATERLOO Game System is probably one of the most successful conflict simulation design platforms ever created. Besides being used in numerous SPI (and other publishers’) Napoleonic games, it also formed the foundation for the SPI BLUE & GRAY Civil War quadri-games, and showed up in at least one WWII title (BATTLE FOR GERMANY) and even appeared in a modern naval game, SPI’s 6th FLEET. These games all share many of the same characteristics: they are easy to learn and comparatively quick to play; they also tend to be full of action, and they usually model interesting and historically significant conflict situations.

Such is the case with JENA-AUERSTADT; it simulates one of Napoleon’s early engagements, when he and the Grande Armée were both still at the peak of their powers. The Historical Scenario (Option “A”) is a classic “double-battle” situation. At the beginning of the historical game, the Prussian army has already been split into two widely-separated contingents while the different units of the advancing Grande Armée are dispersed across a broad swath of the battle area. In this instance, the French Emperor’s military problem is somewhat challenging: his initially out-numbered vanguard must fix the substantial Prussian forces north and west of Jena long enough for his rapidly-approaching reinforcements to arrive on the field and crush them. However, at the same time that the battle at Jena is boiling up, the greater part of the Prussian army (unbeknownst to Napoleon) is marching north where it unexpectedly crashes into the leading elements of Marshal Davout’s IIIrd Corps near the Prussian town of Auerstadt. In the Historical Scenario, the Prussians have virtually no chance of defeating the powerful French forces converging on Jena; the clash at Auerstadt, on the other hand, can very easily turn into a French battlefield disaster. The What If? Scenario (Option “B”) allows the Prussian player to ignore the choices of his historical counterparts and, instead, to mass his entire army at Jena in order to fight a single great battle of annihilation against the slowly-concentrating French. This set of alternative scenarios makes for a fascinating pair of very different game situations. Both the historical “Double-Battle” scenario and the ahistorical “Grand Battle” scenario present the players with fast-moving and exciting games that are easy to learn and enjoyable to play. Finally, I should note that all of the games in the NAPOLEON AT WAR game series are, at once, simple enough to serve as introductory games for beginners, and still challenging enough to make for an exciting contest for experienced players. For this reason, I strongly recommend JENA-AUERSTADT for anyone with an interest in the Napoleonic Wars, or who just has a fondness for challenging, well-balanced games that are also fast-paced and fun to play.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: 1 hour per daylight game turn
  • Map Scale: 500 meters per hex
  • Unit Size: brigade/division/corps artillery
  • Unit Types: infantry, cavalry, and artillery
  • Number of Players: two
  • Complexity: below average
  • Solitaire Suitability: above average
  • Average Playing Time: 2-3 + hours

Game Components:

  • One 17” x 22” hexagonal grid Map Sheet (with Turn Record Track and Terrain Key incorporated)
  • 100 ½” cardboard Counters
  • 20 cardboard Random Number Counters (included in all of the “folio games” as a substitute for a six-sided die)
  • One 8½” x 11” NAPOLEON AT WAR Standard Rules Booklet (with Combat Results Table and Terrain Effects Chart incorporated)
  • One 8½” x 11” JENA-AUERSTADT Exclusive Rules Booklet (with Combat Results Table and Terrain Effects Chart incorporated)
  • One 7½” x 8½” SPI Products Catalog and Mailer
  • One 9” x 12” card board Game Folio

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12 comments:

  • I haven't played this one, but I very much enjoyed the Blue & Gray Quad games I've played, as well as Second Fleet (I assume the system is the same as Sixth Fleet). I have the old Marshal Enterprises flat-box, thin-counter edition of La Bataille d'Auerstadt, which is not a bad game.

  • Greetings Ken:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment; your interest is appreciated.

    For my own part, when it comes to the 'BLUE & GRAY' Quads, I found that I much preferred I to II. Your mention of the old Martial Enterprises' series of 'La Bataille ... " Napoleonic games really take me back; although the basic game platform that powered this series tended to produce wildly ahistorical tactical outcomes, the one really good thing that these guys did do was to cover battles that no one else was interested in simulating at the time.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Kim Meints said...

    I posted a short AAR of the game over on Consimworld that I recently played. I played the Historical but added in the Optional Prussian force of Prince Louis.He entered the Auerstadt map but then exited right away to come in at Jena to help help. The French were having problems at Jena the first day and portion of the second until Bernadotte arrived behind Prince Louis force who had hit the French flank.

    Once the French got over the center defensive slope position and pushed hard on their left flank the Prussian army crumbled into a complete French decisive win. Davout was able to hold his own during the Auerstadt battle and even push the Prussian main army back slightly.
    Bad thing with the Jena map is it gets very constrained and packed tightly with units. Things can become a slugfest very quickly on that map if both armies are there in full or even in the historical scenario.

    But it's still a fun game out of the quad.

  • Greetings Kim:

    Yes, I have seen your posts and have enjoyed reading your AARs over at Consimworld on the titles that make up 'NAPOLEON AT WAR'.

    As you note, the Historical Option "A" -- even with the addition of Prince Louis Ferdenand's reinforcements -- is challenging scenario for the Prussians under the best of circumstances; if Davout manages to hold out at Auerstadt, then it becomes well nigh hopeless.

    For my own part, I have found that Option "B" actually offers the Prussians a much better chance of victory; particularly if the French player is either overly aggressive or unlucky during the first few turns after the fog clears.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • I wanted to chime in last week, but for some reason the Post a Comment menu buttons weren't showing up for me.

    This may be my favorite Nap Quad game (though Wagram may be the best overall battle regarding balance). I've played this game probably 20 times over the decades, as it had enough balance for the Prussians to keep me coming back.

    I loved the split map concept. The Prussians won enough times on the Auerstadt map in the historical option to keep it all close, and, IIRC, pull off a draw in the overall VP scoring. I even got a few wins in the "whole army" option B, and would peg it as maybe 60/40, 70/30 chances for a French win.

    PS -- I am enjoying the trip down SPI memory lane, when I get time to look at these. Thanks for the effort!

  • Greetings Bob:

    Thanks for commenting; I appreciate your interest.

    Kim Meints and I have discussed the different 'NAPOLEON AT WAR' titles at some length, off and on, and -- although he tends to like 'MARENGO' better than I do -- we both agree that this was an excellent set of offerings from SPI.

    For my own part, I became interested in 'JENA-AUERSTADT' only after I had played 'WAGRAM' almost to death; and to be honest, I initially thought that it was pretty much a French "romp". It was only later when I began to experiment with Option "B" that I began to see the game's real potential. In the Historical Option "A" game, I am inclined to give the edge to the French, particularly if Davout's corps catches an early break or two on the Auerstadt battlefield. Option "B", on the other hand, I have found to be a lot tougher for the French, especially if Napoleon gets impatient and attempts to press forward before adequate reinforcements have arrived on the field.

    Interestingly, the last game in the Quad that I really looked at was the 'BATTLE OF NATIONS'. Originally, I almost totally ignored this title because of the absence of artillery; when I finally took a serious (if belated) look at the game, however, I discovered that it was a lot more interesting than I had first thought.

    In any case, thanks for visiting and

    Best Regards, Joe

  • New Game Kicks Off Release of Recession Series Games
    Marshal Enterprises Releases New 'La Bataille’ Game "Halle" For Free
    There is a new La Bataille series game out and it is free! Marshal Enterprises has announced the release of “The Battle of Halle”, a contest between the French and the Prussians in the 1806 Campaign.
    Marshal Enterprises released the “The Battle of Halle” game on November 11, 2012, which is the first in its series of Recession Games, which will be free to the public. The Recession Games will be a series of lesser-known corps on corps battles from both the Wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The reason for the release of the Recession series is because, according to Marshal Enterprises,” everybody needs to save a buck.”
    The games are posted on the Marshal Enterprises website, which can be reached at labataille.me. The complete games will be ready to assemble to accessing the website and printing the map; rules; charts and counters. The player then can assemble all of the components by following the easy instructions available on the website.
    “The Battle of Halle” recreates the 1806 contest between the French, under Marshal Jean Bernadotte, and the Prussians, under the Duke of Wurttemberg. The battle, which occurred on October 17, 1806, was fought just three days after the twin French victories at Jena-Auerstadt. The Prussian forces had been the only major Prussian formation left unscathed after Jena-Auerstadt, and represented the best chance for a Prussian recovery after those losses. However, Marshal Bernadotte prevailed in a hard-fought contest, which led to the pursuit of Bernadotte up to the Baltic Sea Coast at Lubeck.
    Marshal Enterprises consists of Monte Mattson; Dennis Spors; James Soto and Mike Neylan. This organization, which had been involved in the development of the La Bataille series in the 1970’s and was responsible the publishing of several titles in the 1970’s and 1980’s, reformed to attend the Consim convention in Tempe earlier this year.
    The response to their reappearance, after many years away from the business, was so positive, that they decided to issue this new series of games in the La Bataille system as a thank you to the public, as well as with the hope that those who wanted to play a more streamlined version of La Bataille could do so.
    The hope is that “The Battle of Halle” and other subsequent releases can be played in a few hours.
    More information about Marshal Enterprises can be obtained by visiting the website.

  • Greetings Dennis:

    Ordinarily, I don't permit shameless plugs from either game designers or publishers on my blog; but, having looked at the description of your new game, 'HALLE', when it was recently featured on Consimworld, I have decided to make an exception in this instance. Besides, one really can't argue with the price: "free" is always good.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Joe,
    Thanks for making an exception but yes our games are free. The next is due in January and I will provide some information. Would you also post a like to our site labataille.me? for Marshal Enterprises. We have some articles and other information there; all from the original designers, for people who are into the system. Our games look pretty much like they did in the 80's

  • Greetings Dennis:

    Don't mention it. Also, I have gone ahead and linked to the "labataille.me" website in my sidebar.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Would you like a review of La Bataille de Wagram by Marshal Enterprises? It has been out of print since 1982 but I have fresh copies and all the production and development information.

  • Greetings Dennis:

    Your proposal sounds interesting. Go ahead and email me at jcbeard1@cox.net with what you have on 'LA BATAILLE DE WAGRAM' and I'll see if I can put something together on the game for my blog.

    However, I should warn you that it may be a little while before I am in a position to devote much time to such a project. I currently have four different essays in the works (all at various points along the path to completion) and I have resolved that nothing else (however interesting) is going up until at least two of these posts are finally written, edited, illustrated, and published.

    Best Regards, Joe

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