Early September 1756 - invading Saxony
The very first months of the war and the remaining season of 1756 - I guess until November or December, when troops go into winter quarters - is dedicated to the destruction of the Saxon army and the subjugation of what remains of the country. The Saxon army is concentrated in Pirna and the challenge is to destroy them before sizeable Austrian forces intervene. I don't know how large this remaining army is, but the tooltip information over the Pirna camp icon lists 16 units. (Who knows the exact size of this Saxon contingent?)
One route to their destruction is to occupy the areas of Dresden, Dippoldiswalde and Radeberg with Prussian forces and to hang on to these positions for 1 to 3 turns. This is what the instructions in the event log state. The attractive part of this approach is that complete destruction can be accomplished without too many costs to our precious (...sss....) Prussian forces. The disadvantage may be that it requires the splitting of our Elbe Armee in three, making each part vulnerable to piecemeal destruction by suddenly appearing Austrian forces that are assisted by a sortie of the Saxon forces. Imagine if I would lose Dresden with its depot and its fortifications! (Let me tell you that this once happened to me in a previous game!) Another approach was championed at the forum. Somebody advocated a turn 1 assault with the combined Elbe Armee on Pirna itself. He claimed that this brought immediate rewards in terms of experience gain, and promotions of generals. But I abhor the potential slaughter of my forces that may go with it and I decide to adhere to my strategic maxim of attrition minimization.
So: build up and place my forces in order to block the three roads to the Pirna camp. Dresden has to be sufficiently garrisoned; Dippoldiswalde needs to contain a sufficient force to block a potential Austrian blow; and Radeberg - well, that's across the Elbe, not readily approachable from Austrian territory.
One of the things I like in this game is the endless organizational challenges one encounters while constituting one's forces. In order to accomplish the blockade of Pirna I group my Elbe Armee as follows.
Keith, as a column (Corps) remains in Dresden. His strategic rating, 5, and particularly his defensive rating, also 5, make him eminently suitable to protect Dresden. His force will consist of two artillery battalions, two supply wagons, three infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade, 15,000 men in. In addition the two siege artillery units from Frederick's column and the 1/Pioneers battn are transferred to Keith (totaling 168 guns for the force). Thus, a force is created that in the future may operate against fortresses. I'm not sure whether siege artillery impedes movement. The unit stats give these wheeled units a movement coefficient of 115%, so it doesn't seem. But one should be wary!
Talking about brigades: some interesting discussions can be retrieved from the forums regarding the optimal composition of brigades. I try to fill all my infantry brigades with four battalions: three regular infantry or fusilliers and a grenadier battalion. I'm not sure whether this provides the optimal power mix, but I think it is historical. (Please comment!) As one of the initial activities of the campaign, all brigades have to be structured. The King will supervise that Himself!
A second column is Wedell's, east of the Elbe, in. Bautzen. His is the column to move with three filled brigades, two artillery battalions and two supply wagons to the Radeberg blocking position. A fourth brigade, with the elite infantry, has to cross the Elbe (at Pirna!) and move on to Dresden in order to strengthen Keith. As I said: I do not expect many problems for Wedell.
Prince Ferdinand von Brunswick leads a third column that contains three infantry brigades, one arty battn and two supply wagons, for a strength of about 12,000 men. Its task will be to slip past the Pirna defences in order to reach Dippoldiswalde at turn 1. The main force, led by Fred, will probably take two turns to reach that same destination. I guess the combined forces of the King and Brunswick must be able to parry any Austrian blow may materialize by late September (turn 2).
Talking about Frederick's column: his consists of 7 infantry brigades (four battns each), two cavalry brigades (with 3 regiments each), a separate Hussar regiment, two artillery battns, 1/ Genie btn and 8 supply wagons - an impressive 46,000 men with 96 guns.
This is the force that has to isolate Pirna. What if the Austrians attack Dippoldiswalde? Most likely it will be from the direction of Prague, through Lobositz. Let them come! An early victory here will yield me extra NM and victory points and will bring me a merry winter! To make sure that Frederick hits hard: set him to Offensive Posture (which is not offensive in any way
Some additional moves. Von Ziethen and his two Hussar regts. in Leipzig are brigaded (although that does not relieve the 10% command penalty! What does?) and sent south through Chemnitz to occupy the mountain passes in Freiberg and later Aue. Here they provide early warning for an unlikely western approach by Austrian forces. Within a few months I want to send a force to Chemnitz in order to build a depot there. The Chemnitz / Freiberg / Aue pass seems a nice threat to Western Austria.
Talking about Hussars: I love independent small, two regt Hussar brigades with a high quality strategic 6 or 5 brigadier. I use them for long range scouting and you will notice that I tend to form as many of them as possible, to provide my armies with ears and eyes. Their weakness is their often precarious supply position, which requires frequent withdrawal to supply sources. Perhaps I should go to one regt. brigades? That would solve the 10% command penalty. Does it affect supply? Such units lack any fighting power, however.
Of course Silesia needs attention. Kurt von Schwerin is without thought, without jealousy, with only one mouse-click, designated as commander of the Schlesien Armee in Glatz. That army needs some hard work in terms of brigade reorganization. I will do it now but may comment upon it later.
Prince Wilhelm, currently with Frederick is detached and sent to Stettin, in the north. Later in the game, with the Russians and the Swedes coming, I need a separate army over there. He and Lehwaldt, as three-star leaders, seem obvious choices for that job. Wilhelm's stats (4-0-0) are unimpressive but bypassing him will cost NM and victory points. Let's wait and see. An early lead in NM may make the pain bearable.
The cavalry force in Glogau (Von Kätte, who lacks command initiative) is sent to Breslau. I wonder if he gets there by the next two weeks. Together with the cavalry force in Breslau under Gessler, a major reshuffling of cavalry will take place, with units sent to either the Elbe or the Schlesien Armees.
Finally, Wobersow's force in Magdeburg is sent to Dresden. It also will reinforce Keith, but only after at least 16 days!
A good habit: check the orders of all your columns and forces once again. Nothing worse than to find a neatly programmed and highly anticipated battle not to take place because one forgot to set attack orders.
And finally: check military options (none this turn) and consider replacements or builds (none possible this turn).
OK. press the proceed button and let the turn turn loose!