By Hermann Luttmann
At Any Cost: Metz 1870 Rules
On the morning of August 16th, 1870 at the Gravelotte crossroads outside the fortress of Metz, Napoleon III, Emperor of the French Second Empire, turned over command of the Army of the Rhine to a reluctant Marshal Francois Achille Bazaine. The Army of the Rhine, the last intact field army and already the last hope for France during the two-week old Franco-Prussian War, was gathered around the protection of the Metz fortress complex. The Prussian First and Second Armies were sweeping forward, hot on the heels of the retiring French. But poor weather and a disorganized cavalry screen allowed the French army to break contact with the pursuing Prussians.Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the Prussian General Staff, instructed his armies to wheel south of the fortress, cross the Moselle River and attempt to catch the French in flank. The only problem with this plan was – where were the French? The resulting two-day campaign produced some of the more remarkable battles in military history – the Battles of Mars-La-Tour and Gravelotte-St. Privat. These two battles produced over 60,000 casualties, with each army suffering equally. Both battles had significance not only for the Franco-Prussian War, but for the course of European history. In fact, Otto von Bismarck remarked at Versailles in January 1871: “What is certain beyond argument is that the war – and with it the future of Europe – was decided at Mars-la-Tour on 16 August 1870.”
At Any Cost: Metz 1870 is a game simulating the situation west of the Metz fortress during those few days of August 1870. The game is designed to be a playable, two-player brigade-scale game that allows players to experience the unique tactical warfare matchups that characterized fighting during the Franco- Prussian War. This era, though generally overlooked in the gaming industry, is a fascinating study in Napoleonic tactics (and uniforms) slamming head-on into modern killing technology. The Prussian military juggernaut is armed with the new steel Krupp breach-loading artillery pieces that far outclassed the French guns. Prussian doctrine, adapted to the lessons learned during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, allowed junior officers to exercise initiative and aggressiveness. The French army, meanwhile, was armed with the modern and deadly Chassepot rifle, a firearm so advanced that many argue its deployment alone should have won the war for the French. In addition, the French army was now equipped with their ultimate secret weapon – the Mitrailleuse, which was the first machine gun used en masse. Moreover, the game system makes clear that the French soldier, despite misconceptions to the contrary, fought valiantly during these battles. By all rights, they could have – and should have - won many of these engagements. But leadership, morale and tenacity won the day for the Prussians. All these factors are seamlessly embedded into the At Any Cost game system and players will be challenged to utilize their advantages and minimize their disadvantages throughout the game. Will YOU as the Prussian player be able to withstand an early severe numerical disadvantage and use the brave audacity of the Prussian soldier and artilleryman to win the day? Can YOU as the French player overcome the lethargic and uninspired command structure of the Army of the Rhine and allow your tough and well-equipped infantry to fight unhindered?
At Any Cost: Metz 1870 also features the Blind Swords chit- pull system which emphasizes the three “FOWs” of military conflict: fog-of-war, friction-of-war and fortunes-of-war. With each chit pull, players will be challenged to make tough decisions based on their assessment of the current situation. Unlike traditional chit-pull mechanisms, the Blind Swords system ensures that no combat units can be counted on, or conversely, counted out. This yields an environment of tense action and constant surprises - an environment that will challenge each player…..
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