Glories of Future Past:
Playing Prussia in
By William Sariego
Playing Prussia in a game of Soldier Emperor is a daunting task. Though the name “Prussia” conjures up images of militaristic glory for many, such a casual view of history will not put a player in good stead. The time frame of the game is firmly between the martial prowess of Frederick the Great and the imperialism of the Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. Approaching the campaign game with the mentality of a survivor, rather than a conqueror, will serve you well as the Prussian player.
The Concert of Europe
Prussia is the smallest Major Power in Europe. Here is a breakdown of your territory. All the following are based on the 1803 Campaign Game.
East Prussia (Port)
Your starting Manpower and Money are 24 and 26, respectively. As seen in the table above, your future take on those commodities will be 9 Money and 11 Manpower. In short, spend the pre-war surplus wisely! As far as your military is concerned, you get nine armies, and two leaders; Brunswick and Hohenlohe (both have a “1” value). Your Force Pool of armies is: 1 x 4-2, 2 x 3-2, 6 x 2-2, and 5 x 2-1. You also have two quality Leaders waiting for entry, Blucher and Yorck (both are rated “2”).
Beyond getting religion and saying a few prayers what can you hope to accomplish with Prussia? First of all you have to accept that you are not a mover or a shaker in the game; that honor belongs to Britain, France and Russia (and to a delusional Austrian player). You have a decent starting army with two leaders, and a nice war chest from more peaceful times. In short, you are akin to a pugilist with a strong punch, glass jaw and little stamina. A good point to mention is that your Automatic Victory threshold is only eight, down from the unobtainable 20 from the first edition!
Total War is for the 20th Century
You go to war in Soldier Emperor to score Victory Points, pure and simple. I’ve seen too many players go into such an elegant game with “total war” ideas more fitting for a WWII “scorched earth” strategy. If you are getting kicked around, then negotiate! Don’t fight to the last man because especially in the case of Prussia, with just four home areas and limited ability to rebuild, it might just be your last man!
You are surrounded by three powers, each of whom, one on one, can kick your tail. Worst of all each of the three (Austria, France, and Russia) covet either something you have or something you also want (the small German states). Before the game even begins you will need to try and cut a deal with at least one of them. Or you can try and fence-sit, and see how the opening salvos go, hopefully picking off a few neutrals when no one is looking (but good players are always looking). Then after everyone is a battered from the first conflicts you can choose sides. Eventually you will have to or you will be a meal for either France or Russia.
History would put you on the side of Austria and Russia. Ask yourself though, if this is indeed the best choice? The beauty of gaming is the ability to explore alternate history. Frederick the Great loved all things French and maybe you should also. Assuming Austria is defeated and the Russian army still intact, the game may be rechristened “Battleground Prussia” in short order. King Wilhelm went to war with France before the Russians were coming. Not a good move in the long line of foolish declarations of war (police conflicts, peace keeping missions, whatever).
Allying with France can get you a slice of the German States. If you side with Russia and lose then you will have nothing to show for it. If you side with France and lose, the Tsar has other priorities than looking after Germany. If you are on the winning side the world will smell like roses, or at least bratwurst. Regardless of with whom you eventually side, start slow. With such a low Automatic Victory threshold if you race to fast out of the gate you will be crushed on all sides. Nothing can stop a seizure of Mecklenburg with your first move, gaining you extra Manpower and Money (not to mention the valuable VPs). Since it doesn’t have an army it would contribute nothing to the Confederation of the Rhine, anyhow. Any move to Hesse early should be contingent on your diplomatic efforts. Like I said earlier, diplomacy is a good thing.
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