08 April 2006

After Action Report: Friedrich 01.04.2006

Game: Friedrich
Designer: Richard Sivèl
Publisher: Histogame

Instead of 'Hammer of the Scots', we chose to play Friedrich. Wow! It was an experience.
01.04.2006 - Saturday

Game 1

Prussia/Hanover: David
French: Timothy
Austria/Imperial: Chris
Russia/Sweden: Shyue Chou

The game started with the dastardly Prussians advancing south with three armies. In the northern front, an army was allocated to watch over the Swedes while another guarded the eastern borders.

Three ponderous Russian armies approached the single Prussian army but were stalled. At that point, I simply did not have the right hand. I had only one of that card in hand (Spade). This impasse was to continue throughout the game. I had divided my armies into the following:

Army 1: strength = 2
Army 2: strength = 6
Army 3: strength = 2
Army 4: strength = 6

Meanwhile, the French armies steadily advanced while the Hanoverians staged a careful retrograde movement.

By turns 2-5, in South Prussia, the Austrians finally met and engaged the Prussians in a few indecisive battles that resulted in the Austrian armies reeling with minor casualties. The armies involved were engaged in a war of manouvre threatening their respective supply trains.

In East Prussia, the ravaging Russians captured three cities but were unable to take the last one for the lack of a card to destroy the opposing lone Prussian force. The two small Russian armies had to contend with a holding role. The other Russian armies approached Prussia proper but was again strangled by the lack of a particular type of card. I had gone through the whole game missing two types of cards, I received them once in the whole game! I was quite passive and didn't accomplish anything which suited me fine as I was quite lethargic that hot afternoon.

The Swedish army was practically fixed for want of the correct card type.

The inconsequential battles in South Prussia did not avail to much beyond holding the unyielding Austrians in place. At that point in time, around turn 6, the aggressive French armies finally engaged the Hanoverians in a large bloody decisive battle which largely wiped out the Hanoverians. That was followed by a quite occupation of all the victory point spots, thus resulting in a shattering French victory.

Congratulations Timothy!

Game 2

Prussia/Hanover: DavidFrench: TimothyAustria/Imperial: ChrisRussia/Sweden: Shyue Chou
David, in his little dingy palace in Potsdam demanded a re-match after that swift crushing game.
Thus, we took up the same roles again.

The opening of the second game is not dissimilar to the first.

The Prussians led by their insidious leader began by committing the bulk of the armies against the Austrians and Imperial armies. The Austrians responded by advancing north. In the east, in a few uncharacteristic moves, the Russians quickly sent four armies into East Prussian. I had the same army dispositions. And the initial card draw was a card of each type. And I began drawing spades which was what I needed. And I wanted to force battles.

Army 1: strength = 2
Army 2: strength = 6
Army 3: strength = 2
Army 4: strength = 6

I engaged the Prussians in a large battle until I ran out of cards and I was forced to do a retreat with minor casualties (strength 1 or 2 lost). However, I had depleted a large number of cards and so had David. He was definitely weakened. I was able to use two armies to fix his lone army later when I had one card of that type. Of course, he was rather happy to hold my two armies. It had accomplished his objectives.

Meanwhile, the Austrians had engaged the Prussians in a series of indecisive and inconsequential battles while in Hanover, the Hanoverians were cleverly denying the French battle while retreating.

Turns 1-6 were a series of manoevres. However, when it came to the event card draw after turn 6, the first card reduced the Prussian hand by two cards. That immediately forced a change in the Prussian strategy. The interminable battles against the Austrians had depleted the daunting Prussian hand. Suddenly, the Prussians were forced to avoid battle totally. And even in unavoidable battles, the previously strong Prussians were forced to retreat.

Turns 7-10 saw advances made into virign Prussian and Hanoverian territory. Thus, the Austrian advance in south Prussia became one of titanic clashes between the large armies that resulted in heavy attrition. The Prussians could not afford that and lost a few battles. Soon, there were four Austrian armies facing one Prussian army.

In East Prussia, the sole Prussian army was finally eliminated after being constantly engaged and reduced. Strength, 4, 3, 2, 1.. The Prussians had thrown in the towel. I had started shifting two of my armies west after losing a battle there with minor casualties. I bluffed with one card and David simply gave up letting his army go. He decided that he could not afford the distraction. Again, I had one of one type of card. And I have a lot of Diamonds and Hearts cards for some reason. I could bluff and I did. Most of my game was bluff, some of which were effective while others were inconsequential. David had managed my armies well.

In Brandenberg, the Swedish supply train occupied Berlin while a Swedish army rampaged before it was eliminated. A turn later, a reconstituted Swedish army invaded Brandenberg again.

In the mean time, the Hanoverians were cleverly retreating and then threatening the French supply lines by reoccupying territory. The French armies could not advance and hold at the same time.

Turns 11 and so forth. In Hanover, the French finally eliminated a small Hanoverian army while pursuing a larger one. The French army was also holding off one or two Prussian armies. Timothy had a fabulous hand of cards with four reserve cards! There was one victory point spot left to occupy. This could only be occupied if that remaining Hanoverian army was destroyed.

The four Russian armies had managed to occupy all the victory point spots with the exception of one.

The Swedish army attacked a Prussian army near Berlin and was repulsed.
Things were looking grim for Frederick and his Prussians. (Hey, it's like history.) At that point, an event card draw saw the Imperial army switch over to the Prussian side. And that area was practically deserted. The Imperials could win in three to four turns. An Austrian army promptly came over and prevented that.

In south Prussia, four Austrian armies eliminated the sole surviving Prussian army and thus ensuring the occupation of all objectives. Victory for the Austrians!

Well played Chris! Good aggressive play with great manoeuvring. Good play, David. Pity about the event card draws.

Observations: There were quite a few clever touches in the game design. The turn sequence has the Russians move after the Prussians. Through that, it will ensure that the Prussian hand is usually not depleted and the Prussian armies will nearly full-strength assuming that the Prussians don't lose. This can make for very bloody battles which actually happened in battles (for instance, Zorndorf) between the Prussians and Russians. We thought that this was a clever touch on the part of the designer. Another clever design touch was the card types and supply train that allows battle to be shattering and yet restrictive. This has forced armies to be circumspect at times. All in all, the wargame did capture a field of Frederick the Great's campaigns. The eventual depletion of the Prussian card hand also reflected the exhaustion of the Prussian armies in the later years. Again, a clever historical touch.

The Prussian player, obviously had the hardest task the game. Historically, the Hanoverians were able to manage the French well. And after Rossbach, the French were essentially out of the picture. In this game, there appeared to be a constant crisis in Hanover.
Sadly, I didn't take any photos of the positions which is a pity.

I recommend 'Friedrich'.

Note: If you spot any mistakes here, factual or grammatical, please let me know, I'll correct them. My memory is rather hazy as I was sleepy throughout that afternoon and I was pretty much a shadow of my usual self.


Richard S. has kindly pointed out two rules mistakes regarding the Imperials and the armies of
allies blocking. We also made another two rules mistakes in our games, one of the nature of retreat and another of the nature of reinforcement.

Regarding this report, I put it up to share with everyone. Please freely quote or re-use in full in other instances (ie print, review, website, blog, etc) if required. You do not have to ask me or notify me.


Machinistscott said...

I used to play a couple WWII games. They were squad based. One was based on the European theater and one on the Pacific. I don't remember the brands. They belonged to a friend that a played D&D with.
I remember it was card based with lots of chits.

The thing I remember most was the dreaded "Bonzia charge". A move reserved fo the Japanese units.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

You probably played the old Avalon Hill classic 'Up Front!' and 'Banzai!'

Up Front!


Desert War

It's an excellent game and it is still highly regarded today.

Jad said...

Yes probably. If what you mean by "squad-based" as the unit you control is a squad.

Those are my favourites. Rules are a bit long but you can ignore most of them as much of it refers to specific equipment.

Favourite squad - Germans.

There are websites where you can play them on the web - but I think you need the card manifest.