The Jena Campaign (Part 2) -Structures and Chaos

There is no I in team; however there are issues with teams without a leader.  The structure of the Prussian Team may have had a king but during the battle the king just let his captains do their job effectively missing a leader for the full team.

For those that haven’t read part 1, please read it here.


I played the Jena Campaign as the French which was the most structured of the two teams to prepare for battle… the question is; what it is like for the other side.

This is actually a great exercise as I didn’t play the opposite side.  However, I can look at the French structure and guess what occurs on the other side.

DISCLAIMER: this exercise could result in a wrong answer and I may be wrong… if someone does challenge it then I will inform you.  Also some of the statements may be coming from the DoBO (Department of the B******* Obvious).

Firstly, there were three leaders on the other side… there was still a structure but there were four general in charge of the battle.  In the planning phase… ok quick disclaimer this is through experience… it would take longer to plan.

This was obvious in the way that we were in position five minutes before the Prussian team… so why… well the Prussian command structure would facilitate a slow planning phase; there were other things:

  • There was a senior general with no promotion above the rank of the other three generals so if the final plan was made and agreed by the King without his ideas, it could be difficult for him to execute the plan with no confidence in it.
  • There is also no fixed army structure so they would have to split the units at the start compared to Napoleon’s Structure (Napoleon did have some to give BUT it was his choice alone) meaning they do have adaptability but if they get it wrong then commanding forces become more complex.

So what happens during the campaign, well the command structure for the French meant that Napoleon was able to plan and execute the strategy immediately.

Unfortunately there is an extra layer of command with the Prussians (King, Generals, Division Commanders) and with strategy plans (Done by Army Commanders) and the clearance to do it (King) being separate, this will not just slow communication down due to the extra layer but disallow any adaptability when the situation changes.  And do you see another problem…

… four Generals with orders to look at the strategy of their army while other Army Commanders doing the same.  Even if they have a plan to adapt they have to agree with the other two commanders and the King; they could be paralysed by awaiting orders.

Now communication is a mess for the Prussians but it could have been a lot worse in game.  They were divided up into three armies on the table and in theory could have spoken to the other players in the army.  If they had been divided like the French team it could have been worse, Division Commanders passing messages to the Army Commander who would then have to send it up the tree for it to come back down.

Night phase for each day, players were allowed to move around and regroup on the main tables.  I can imagine what was going on (as everyone was crowded around the table), because of the communication lines Napoleon could give commands effectively so he just needed to know exact locations from the Umpires.

Because there are four different plans operating differently; then they need to:

  • Inform the other Army Commanders of the exact locations
  • Negotiate a new plan
  • Get it cleared by the King.

See the problem.


Now you remember I said that no-one was to blame for the failure of the Prussian Team… well after reading all this can you understand why.  This structure was unless for wartime against a drilled opponent.

Imagine what it would have been like for the real fighters of 1806.  Communication would have taken a day, an army could have moved 6 miles a day but messengers could travel 6 miles an hour or faster, but that would still mean that information would arrive out of date. Even at night the same messages would have to be sent Unit to Unit. This would mean a strong communication network which would have become vital for anyone to fight; the orders would need to be clear and as up to date as possible while there had to be faith in the plan itself as they would be away from each other for days.

In real life and in game, the Prussian structure failed on all fronts.

Unfortunately… up until this point we’ve skirted player intervention… until next time.


R.P.G. Werewolf on Twitter —  RPG Werewolf on Facebook

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