Monday 12 February 2024

Austerlitz 1805

Austerlitz 1805 - Rising Eagles is volume II in the Eagles of France series designed by Walter Vejdovsky and published by Hexasim.

Units are regiments and the map scale is 250 metres to the hex. Turns represent one hour of real time.

There are links in the Resource Section below to replays of Quatre Bras and Ligny, both part of the same series.

The game gives us four scenarios, the first three are just 5 turns long, with each playing on a single map and focusing on a smaller part of the battle. 

The fourth scenario is the full battle game and uses two maps and is 12 turns long, representing 12 hours of fighting.

The scenarios are listed in the following order;

Davout’s stand in the south. The battle for Telnitz and Sokolnitz

Bagration, Lannes and Murat. Clash in the North 

Soult’s great breakthrough and the Battle of the Guards

Full battle game. The Battle of Three Emperors.

Today, we are looking at the full battle.

For the rest of this post, please use the ‘read more’ tab below.

The two links at the foot of this post show other battles and describe the system in some detail, so I will avoid repeating that here.

One of the things that I like about this system is that the combat engine takes away ultimate power from the player. So you set up your attacks roll the dice, hope that the modifiers that you rely on will help carry the day, but you can never take this for granted and there are good chances of reverses.

The advantage of this is that the player obviously is moving things around at the regimental level, but once attacks etc are set up and the dice are rolled, you are back up in the chair of army commander - seeing an action ‘over there’ and hoping it works out in your favour.

Secondly, there is an ordering system that determines where various corps will move to. Once plans are in motion, changing them is not a certain thing and again, this elevates the player to the commanders chair.

The situation here is quite fascinating. The Russians and Austrians have combined on the battlefield. Historically, Napoleon deliberately weakened his right to encourage the Austrian centre to leave the heights and push troops towards that vulnerable flank. The intention being that with the coalition centre now thinned, Soult would attack and break the coalition centre ….. it worked, resulting in a great victory.

The victory conditions in the game invite us to such a venture, but we can choose other paths. 

What makes things more fraught for the coalition is that it is harder for them to change their orders, so they need a robust initial plan.

click on me!

It is easy to be unsure what to do for the best, but the coalition does need to be decisive if they are to keep the French off balance. There is a sudden death victory condition based around capturing Turas and then holding the road all the way back to Austerlitz. Since the coalition already occupy half of this road and the French right is so weak, it seems a good choice to go for this option - though it brings Kobelnits very much into focus, as this village strategically sits on that road and the coalition must capture it.

See .... I have already fallen into Napoleon's trap!

Davout on the French right ... looking weak!

Enough! Let’s go.

I am playing this solitaire, so will not be using the fog-of-war rules of the game, which start with units being hidden, plus some dummy counters thrown into add further confusion. 

A few years ago, I played this face to face, unbeknown to each other, we manoeuvred our respective guard to a critical point of battle, expecting to deal the final blow ….. instead each side’s guard met the other and any advantage was negated. It was a memorable gaming moment that genuinely surprised us both.

but outside of such delights, playing this solo will not cause any problems.

ABOVE - the opening French order chart. Basically V Corps (Lannes) will protect the left, the cavalry Reserve (Murat) will move out to the right, behind Davout, to prevent coalition breakthrough, III Corps (Davout) are to hold area around Sokolnits (top right) and prevent the enemy crossing the Goldbach stream on the right. Finally, IV Corps (Soult) and I Corps (Bernadotte) drive forward to break the coalition centre.

ABOVE - the opening Austrian order chart. Everything is advancing to engage the French along the Goldbach stream, with II Column specifically instructed to capture Kobelnits. The Russian Guard will move to  Blaziowits (towards the right) to act as a reserve for the coalition centre / right. 

Play starts at 6 AM. Fog limits visibility to 2 hexes.

Special rules prevent movement this turn except for 3 coalition formations. This allows the Austrians to move early towards Lannes at Sokolnitz while they are weak.

7 AM. Fog limits visibility to 2 hexes.

This is another turn of limited activations. The Austrian (Advanced Guard) left makes contact with Davout at Telnits, but are robustly seen off - in fact it is a bit of a local disaster. 

Two Coalition regiments are routed (15th Regiment losing its flag) and in the rout they carry cavalry units away with them, though O’Reilly’s cavalry has taken a bridge downstream. The Advanced Guard probably now doesn’t have the strength to make much use of this bridge (see photo below).

8 AM. fog limits visibility to 3 hexes

The coalition make their first assault on Kobelnitz, which fails, with losses, but their Advanced Guard on their left had more success, making a second assault on Telnits causing Davout’s 3rd Line Regiment to flee.

9 AM. Fog limits visibility to 4 hexes

The attack that Soult probably wished he didn’t have to make (see photo below) as he faces a wall of coalition artillery - though the troops themselves are inferior. The fire is murderous, but still, Soult partly breaches the first line of defence.

Below Photo, Davout’s reinforcements have arrived (top right) and he is now strong enough on the right to prevent a coalition breakthrough.

Below - but there are a lot of Coalition troops facing the French left / centre, including the Russian Guard (Dark Green counters, top centre). They pose a real danger to Napoleon.

10 AM. Fog limits visibility to 5 hexes

Davout goes onto the attack and crosses the Goldbach Stream and though the attack is a shambles, with heavy casualties, the Coalition are pushed out of Telnits as they fall back to maintain a cohesive wing.

Understanding that a Coalition breakthrough on their left is now not going to happen, Kutusov orders the Coalition right to attack the French V Corps (Lannes) at Santon. The Russian force under Bagration is lacking in quality and so Kutusov takes the decision to release the Russian Guard in support.

As soon as Napoleon hears the news of this advance, he orders his Grenadiers Division (Duroc) and the Imperial Guard (Besiéres) to support the left. The Coalition are now fully committed, with everything set on an all out attack to crush the French. Napoleon still has one reserve, the Cavalry Reserve Corps (Murat), but this is stuck out on the right, with few options until bridges over the Goldbach are taken, so that they can cross.

11 AM. Fog limits visibility to 6 hexes

There is heavy fighting everywhere. Both sides are taking heavy casualties and both sides have routing units streaming to the rear. It may be the centre that becomes the first point of crisis … can Soult crack the centre!

12 AM.

Napoleon sensing a tipping point orders Davout to attack towards Aujest Markt, this sits at the bottom of the Pratzen Heights and will give the French access to the lateral road than runs behind the heights.

He orders Murat to take the cavalry reserve into the centre to support any breakout that Soult might effect, but first Kobelnitz must be full cleared to give the cavalry their nearest crossing points.

The first clash between the Russian Guard and the French Imperial Guard occurs. The Russians stand firm, seeing the French Chasseurs taking heavy casualties from the Russian guns.

1 PM

The Coalition left had been ordered to pull back at noon towards the base of the Pratzen Heights, but with Davout not pressing them, the wing had not fully implemented the order and had simply fallen back a short distance and formed a new defensive line, but with the centre now cracking, they may well find they are in danger of their path of retreat being cut. 

Above - though Soult is still prosecuting his attack in the centre and he has suffered many casualties and several of his units are routing, but he must keep the pressure up. He is in Pratzen and above him is the prize of Pratzenberg (the two flags in the photo).

There is a lull in the fighting. 

[note, rather shockingly, there are only two formation activations this turn before an unusual combination of die rolls brings the turn to an end].

2 PM

The Coalition's 2nd Column under Langeran has been stoutly defending Kobelnitz, refusing to give ground, but has taken so many losses that the column is now demoralized.

There is a real crisis for the Coalition centre. Soult’s battered Corps has almost captured Pratzen Heights and the fresh Cavalry Reserve (Murat) now passing through Kobelnitz are now positioned to exploit the centre.

[note - as last turn, this turn ends rather quickly].

3 PM

Tsar Alexander changes the Coalition main battle plan [note - this is allowed once per game for each player, all orders can be freely changed] and puts the army into a defensive stance. 

The Russian Guard pull back, as does the 4th Column (yellow and green counters at the bottom of the photo), which are fragile, but intact and have a strong artillery component. 

They need to make to Stare Vinohradi (behind them) as quickly as possible to block the path of Murat’s cavalry, which otherwise would have an open route to Austerlitz and be able to cut the Coalition army in half.

Above - Murat (purple counters), who is desperate to break out behind his enemy catch 3rd Column (Prezybyszew) on the Pratze to Austerlitz road. He makes a fully committed attack, smashing 3rd Column and capturing Prezbyszew.

Below - On the Coalition left, 1st Column (Dokhturov - brown & green counters) has worked hard to disengage from Davout (who has been quite lax in this battle) and struggled up the steep slopes of the Pratzen in a race to get to Pratzenberg before Soult can reach it.

The sides fight desperately for control. Note Above there are two objectives (flags) for Pratzenberg. The French dragoons have captured the left one and Austrian jagers have captured the right one (as viewed from here).

4 PM

Davout eventually gets going, isolating and attacking the Coalition Advanced Guard, throwing them back, but both sides suffer heavy casualties.

Below - Until his corps re-organises by re-concentrating and recovering the routing stragglers, Soult is too weak to fully clear Pratzenburg.

5 PM

Darkness is descending and firing on the battlefield is dying down. 

In the last moments of battle, 4th Column (Kollowrath) have managed to block Murat’s cavalry at Stare Vinohradi, with a frontage that bristles with cannon and the fight at Pratzenberg concludes indecisively with both sides having a foothold there, but neither being strong enough to eject the other.


Before adding up victory points, I generally look at a battlefield and try and gauge who has had the best of it and what would be a likely outcome if a turn or two more were able to be played.

By the end of play, the French will be worried that Soult is close to collapse and that Murat’s attack towards Austerlitz has been checked. 

But Murat could attack in the opposite direction and combined with Soult and Davout, might be expected to completely destroy the Coalition left wing. Elsewhere on the battlefield, the fighting has become rather stagnated, with French Ist Corps (Bernadotte) becoming demoralised through casualties (see the above map, the units directly below Murat).

For their part, the Coalition will be worried that they have lost the initiative and are now fully responding to French actions. They do not have any reserve troops to plug the penetration to the centre and ultimately, their depleted left wing will have to fight their way towards Austerlitz to unite with the rest of the army.

But the truth is that overall, the Coalition, while having not obviously defeated the French, have managed to hold them in check by the end of the day - their army has not been destroyed. So what does that mean in victory point terms?

VP’s are scored for controlling 14 objectives on the map and for controlling 4 supply exit points and for the number of casualties inflicted. When these are totted up, the Coalition can claim a major victory - I thought it would have been closer.

I have had this up on the table for 4 days, playing over 3 days, which is something of a treat for me, though my back refuse to thank me! 

I didn't record playing time, but 12 hours plus wouldn't surprise me.

It has been a hugely enjoyable game fest due to the scope of dealing with the 'big battle'. I have become rather involved with the map and units and am now interested to take this further.

I have Ian Castles book on Austerlitz (Kindle copy), which will now be my next read. I also had another meaty game on the battle, but this comes with a smaller footprint of one map, which will be more convenient. This is the recent Austerlitz reprint from the Vae Victis folder collection in the Jour de Gloire series.

Thanks to all who stuck with the post. I am still a bit undecided how I will present these big battle boardgames in 2024. I do try to condense them, but it is difficult to talk about the game, the system and do a meaningful ARR that captures the scope of the game in too few words.

I think if you are interested in games on the battle or thinking about buying this one, then the read is easier and possibly more interesting - if not, I know many readers, particularly those only interested in the figures side of things will just scroll on and I am okay with that.

I am tired after three days of gaming and even thought twice about doing the work behind this post and putting it up - what to do?

Resource Section.

A detailed replay of Ligny LINK

A replay of Quatre Bras LINK

My sister webspace ‘COMMANDERS’  showcases the various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and gives a flavour of where current projects are up to. Link.


  1. Thanks for that, a very enjoyable read which, I think, gives a good flavour of the game. I haven't bought a board game for years but am tempted. Cheers, Mike.

  2. Hi Mike, there are 4 games in the series, Austerlitz, Waterloo, Ligny and Quatre Bras. Apparently Eylau will be out this year or next.

  3. The map looks first rate. Very handsome! For a detailed account of the battle, grab a copy of Goetz.

    1. Thanks Jonathan, I will check that out. I have just got the Jours de Gloire (Vae Victis folio) map out and was instantly disorientated as the battlefield that I have grown to know so well over recent days, is re-oriented 45˚ and of course jusr looks odd. Correct, but odd.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Michal, it has plenty more to give.

  5. That seemed to go better for the Coalition than it did in real life Norm, so as you were "playing" them, well done to you - although the French did manage to stymy your plans by the look of things.

  6. Thanks Keith, I was also playing the French, so perhaps cannot take any coalition credit :-)

    In the VP count, the French did score more points than the Coalition, but not enough to lift them from bottom place. I imagine if daylight had lasted a couple of more hours (i.e. 2 turns), that the French VP level would have risen him enough to move the situation from Major Coalition win, to minor coalition win - though I doubt that is enough to bring any French comfort.

  7. Thanks Norm, that was an excellent account. I really like the look of that Corps orders system, perhaps a touch of Shako there? I've done Austerlitz a few times, but it never occurred to me to orient the battlefield from corner to corner. What a brilliant idea!

  8. Hi Martin, the order sheet has destination points marked in red dots. A commander changes order by selecting a red dot that is within 15 hexes of the commanders position and his formation will now march in that direction. The limiting iss is the question of how many orders a side will get in the orders phase - very often it can be zero in these games! Outside of that, during play, Army commanders can move within command range of a formation and directly change its order.

    That sounds easy, but there is often something more critical to do on the battlefield and by time those things are done, the end of turn die roll is often ending the turn and preventing the commander from acting …. So it has to be fairly important to give an activation to a commander early on …. It adds another good brake to proceedings.

  9. Thanks for posting this, Norm. This was a very engaging report to read, and I know it's sometimes difficult to create an exciting report around a boardgame but you certainly pulled it off. It must have been alot of work.

    It seems like the game produced a lovely narrative and for me that's the thing I'm after. Unexpected events and surprises are always welcome.

    Also I concur with some of the comments above the game has a beautiful look to it. The game map is evocative of the maps of the period.

    12 hours total of gaming sounds luxurious!

  10. Thanks Steve, it was very engaging and it did feel ‘right’. The next game in the series is promised to be Eylau ….. right up your street :-)

  11. Though more of a miniatures gamer than a boardgamer, I do enjoy your boardgame AARs. And yes, that means I read them all the way thru :).
    I would figure this battle would be harder for the French to win decisively the way they really did because the Allies have hindsight, always a nice thing. Of course you were both sides so even harder to fool yourself!

  12. Hi Joseph, thanks for dropping by. I am collecting some French / Austrian napoleonic figures and hope to eventually be able to lift some situations created in the boardgame, over to the tabletop.

    That is an interesting point. I am just looking at another game on Austerlitz and wonder whether the same will be true. In this other game, formations have their chit in a draw bag and as chits are drawn, their formation activates. The final chit stays in the bag, so that unit doesn’t get to activate that turn.

    I wonder whether this more dynamic way of activating units will partly counter that control that the player usually has in controlling a point of crisis. Regardless the game may ‘unfold’ in the same way.

    I suppose you could write up three plans for each side and randomly select them and use them to determine the opening set of orders.

  13. It takes a lot of work to get a report like this up, so the effort is appreciated. I am not familiar with the battle (except by name) or the period, and I enjoyed it, so thanks a lot.

    Velikiye Luki has made it to European vendors so I might pick it up soon. Thanks again for the game reports.

  14. Hi, thanks for the thumbs up. The game has intrigued me enough to start reading up on the battle.

    Yes, I saw Velikiye Luki listed on the Second Chance Games website the other day. At £20 plus postage it comes in at a little less than I paid for direct order from overseas.

    1. Interesting. I wonder if the recent release of Legion’s Battle of Velikiye Luki is responsible for the more than a half-dozen copies of GDW’s 1979 Velikiye Luki up for auction on eBay? I have never seen so many copies of this rarish game up for sale at one time. Maybe Compass Games are planning a reprint?

    2. Jonathan, there have been two recent releases on the subject recently. One by Legion and the other by Vae Victis magazine.

      That of course is not to say that they are good replacements for the venerable GDW game.

      Don’t know about Compass reprints in the case of VL, but I am looking forward to their reprints of 1940, 1941 an 1942 reprints of the GDW 120 series and it will be interesting if that has cause those older games to circulate 2nd hand in greater numbers.

    3. I have yet to play the VV version of Velikiye Luki. Have you?

      I played GDW’s 120 1942 in the very early ‘80s when Bigger is Better was my preference. I recall the game not doing a very good job of recreating the campaign. It might be interesting to see if my tastes have changed in 40 years or if the game is still as bad as I remember.

    4. They have chosen to use the same graphics style, which I think is a mistake. I was a huge fan of GDW, so will probably get it for old times sake - as part of the nostalgia collection..

      I have not played the VV VL, it went in the great streamlining of just going to series games, as being just another title, just another set of different rules!

  15. An excellent game by the look of it Norm and nice to see you were able to have time to play it at your leisure. I hope you back is recovered now? I like the look of the map visually and the fact that once the action gets going, you feel you lose some control over your units and become much more the overall commander, which sounds good to me.

    As for presenting these games, personally I'm less worried about the mechanics and more about how the game unfolded etc. So maybe a post on the mechanics etc to start with and then a follow up one on the action?

    1. Hi Steve, I really enjoyed this and it has left me doing more research on the battle and looking at another system - so all good.

      For Presentation, I had thought about doing a big post when covering a new system, so that mechanics are understood and then in subsequent posts on games in the same series, just rely on a link to the original post for anyone wanting a deeper look at the mechanics, that way, subsequent posts can be more about the story telling.

  16. A super impressive game Norm….thats the sort of board game I would like !

  17. Hi Matt, yes, I think you would like it. To my mind, it allows the wargamer to take a very complete look at the bigger battle, with all units present and the terrain presented accurately and allowing figure gaming to settle on the smaller actions with reasonable sized armies.

  18. A board game that takes 12 hours to play is certainly too much of an investment for me currently. though in my youth there were times where we would play Axis and Allies fir that long or longer.
    And I guess that now that I have Naps, I should take more time t learn what these battles are. 😁

  19. Hi Stew, it was a longer game than I normally get to, but it was a bit of a wargame fest for me, which are few and far between, so enough goodness to savour. You will soon be a Napoleonic Grognard :-)

  20. Thanks Norm, your posts are always interesting even for non-Napoleonics players.. I suppose if you were worried about the length of the reports, you could break them up into 2 or 3 epsisodes. I think you said you played the game in several sessions, so reporting each session might have its advantages, as you would be writing each one 'in the moment' without knowledge of the eventual outcome. if you were lucky you might even contrive a cliff-hanger ending each time!
    I do like your idea of taking smaller episodes from these larger boardgame battles to create table-top scenarios for your figures-based games.

  21. Hi David, thanks for the suggestion, on the couple of times that I have done episode posts, I lost audience the longer the posts went on, so I ended up doing probably more work overall, but it obviously wasn’t doing it for the viewer!

    Yes, I do like boardgame generated games and hope to bring a lot more of that in the future.

  22. Like Joseph I'm a figure gamer who always enjoys your clear,concise narrative and explanation of mechanics of systems I will probably never use but might be able adapt ! I like the degree of lack of control of the commanders but I do wonder if the historical result is achievable against an even moderately able coalition player with the benefit of hindsight?
    Best Iain caveadsum1471

  23. Hi Iain, I felt that the victory points did not really show the potential that the French had to prosecute a victory over the next few hours ….. but, I suppose the day ended with the coalition still in possession of the field and they did lose a lot of infantry.

    The objective VP’s don’t require the coalition to make big advances on the left, most might be gained by crossing the Goldbach, so I suppose the scenario is trying as hard as possible to ‘encourage’ the coalition to attack on their left at the expense of their centre, but the fact that in this game they failed to get these victory locations, but still won handsomely, does raise questions.


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