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All Are Brothers
Solferino, 1859
game design by Bryan Armor
estimated MSRP $66.00
estimated CPO Price $48.00
+ shipping
Which battle…

…was the last in world history in which all of the armies were under the personal command of their monarchs?

…allegedly inspired Pickett’s Charge?

…produced human suffering on a scale that led directly to the formation of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the establishment of the first Geneva Convention?

On the morning of June 24th, 1859, the allied armies of France and Sardinia-Piedmont ran headlong into two Austrian armies camped on the plains of northern Italy. With only the vaguest understanding of where their adversaries lay, both high commands intended to march forward to the attack. The earlier rising allied armies stole the initiative from the Austrians, and collided with their forward pickets before the sun had fully risen.

Thus began the Battle of Solferino, which would draw into the fray over 250,000 men - the largest general engagement in Europe since the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. Before the day was through, nearly 40,000 men would lay dead or wounded, and the Austrian armies would be decisively driven from the field. With the belligerent armies exhausted and alarmed by the potential expansion of the conflict, France and Austria quickly came to terms at Villafranca, ending the conflict known as the Second Italian War of Independence and placing Italy firmly on the road to unification.

All Are Brothers: Solferino, 1859 simulates the decisive battle of the Second Italian War of Independence at the Brigade-level, with some additional Regimental-size and smaller detachments included. National, army, and corps-level leaders are represented, on a Rick Barber map at 500 meters per hex, with 1-hour turns. Four scenarios are included: three that separately cover the north, central, and southern sectors of the battle, as well as a combined full battle scenario. The northern sector scenario – “San Martino” – is the smallest in scope and serves as a nice introductory scenario to the battle and to the game’s ruleset. The combined scenario is suitable for up to four players (France, Sardinia-Piedmont, Austrian 1st Army, and Austrian 2nd Army).

The battle itself was a grinding slugfest often described as a "soldier's battle" - a deliberate slight to the often uninspired leadership of the generals and a tribute to an allied victory gained only at the tip of the bayonet. Villagers in the surrounding region would do their best in the days after to treat the myriad wounded, and answer as to why Austrians, Hungarians, Czechs, Serbs, and Slovaks were treated as well as the Italians: "Tutti fratelli" (All are brothers). The battle pits two Austrian armies against the combined forces of France and Sardinia-Piedmont, and features the full panoply of colorful period units - Jagers and Grenzers, massed cavalry divisions of all types, Bersaglieri, French Imperial Guard, and the French African Zouaves and Turcos. Advances in infantry and artillery firepower would soon make the tactics of the time obsolete, and the carnage at Solferino reflected the start of this paradigm shift, soon to be highlighted bloodily by the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars.

This treatment of Solferino features an adaptation of Hermann Luttmann’s Blind Swords system as the core ruleset. The system is heavy on unpredictability and fog of war due to the chit pull mechanic. The chit pull mechanic also very much aids in solitaire play, as does variable activation rules and reinforcement tables. A number of other features help make face-to-face play attractive, including the Strategic Initiative system, a number of scenario variants and optional rules, the optional Encounter Battle system (focusing on altering starting and reinforcement conditions to allow the course of the battle to develop differently than in the historical case), and the move-and-countermove event chit play. Nation-specific event chits inject some period flavor as well.