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    Fall of the Second Empire 1870


Von Moltke's Triumph: Fall of the Second Empire, 1870 is a two-player game simulating the first decisive campaign of the Franco-Prussian War. Under Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, the German states used superior logistics, advanced artillery,

and a strategy of envelopment to terrorize the sluggish and unprepared French. Historically, it ended with the capitulation

and capture of Napoleon III after a mere five weeks. By designer Tom Russell (Blood on the Alma), the game slants historically but is intended for competitive play: the French will almost always lose the war, but a good French Player can win the game.


Available is a Vassal module for Von Moltke's Trimph 

created by Art Bennett. The module is complimentary

upon request with purchase of any game format.

Prices in menu below includes shipping and handling. Select Domestic (US), Canada, or International destination. The game comes in boxed, folio (poly-bag), and print-and-play (PnP) formats.


Game Design: Tom Russell

Developer: Peter Schutze

Production: Michael W. Kennedy

Game Map Art: Jose R Faura

Countersheet Art: Gonzalo Santacruz

Cover Art: Mike Mirfin

Vassal Module: Art Bennett

Play Testing: Mary Holland-Russell,

J. Donald Proctor, Mikael Whitaker,

Bill Molyneaux, Michael Wheeler,

Chris Monzi


8-Page Rulebook

88 Double-Sided, 5-8" Counters and Markers

33" x 17" Game Board

   Printed on Three 17" x 11" Sheets



Supply Checks and Attrition


French Entrenchment

Infantry and Cavalry Unit Types

Artillery Points

Step Loss/Retreat Combat Results

Surrender Combat Result

Army of Chalons

Railroad Movement








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Counter Sheet Sample

Bottom Box Cover

Game Components


When I designed my Crimean game, Blood on the Alma (2012, Lock N Load Publishing), I read quite a bit about the Second Empire under Napoleon III. I thought the emperor was a fascinating figure. He often gets a bad rap compared to the original article. His uncle had a perfect alchemy of intelligence, ingenuity, cleverness, boldness, cruelty, and ambition that really made him perfectly capable of rising to power when and how he did. He was really quite fitted to his times and the opportunities they presented. Napoleon III was not so blessed. In fact, it seems that, failing again and again for over a decade to put himself into power, he had exactly the wrong qualities for his time. But he kept at it, as untalented as he seemed to be, and he did at last succeed. With none of his uncle's gifts or advantages, he still managed to put himself on a throne, and to keep himself there eight years longer than Napoleon I. He had it harder and stayed in power longer. For untalented guys like me, that's kinda inspiring. He's the poster child for sticking with it as long as it takes.


Of course, it all went to pot in the colossal cock-up that was the Franco-Prussian War. Both as a designer and as a player, I'm drawn to lopsided conflicts, I'm interested in the role technological advancement plays in deciding military contests, and I'm fascinated by differences in doctrine. So the Franco-Prussian War hit all of my sweet spots and then some.


I started working on the game that would become Von Moltke's Triumph on July 20, 2012. I know it's July 20 because I created a thread on Board Game Geek, "The whole shebang, or war with the boring parts cut out?", asking opinions about how to handle a conflict that was really decided early on, but dragged on ineffectually for months and months after. I was intentionally dodgy about the precise conflict to be gamed, but not sufficiently so, apparently, as Pete Belli said, "I look forward to your game on the Franco-Prussian War. End it when Napoleon III capitulates." Based on the advice I received in that thread from Pete and others, I decided to concentrate on the campaign that decided the war, instead of getting into sieges.


The next decision was how to capture the conflict in a game, and here I gave myself a sort of challenge. If you've played any of my other games - the Shields & Swords series, the Blood Before Richmond series (the first game in which will probably have seen print by the time you read this) - then you know that, while my games are traditional in some respects, they tend to shy away from full-on odds-ratio, column-shift CRT, and that I rely on semi-unusual core mechanisms, plus chrome, to recreate the peculiarities of this or that conflict.


So the challenge here was to capture the essential nature of the war using wholly traditional wargaming mechanisms. Part of this is that I wanted to do a game that I could design and get published fairly quickly, instead of spending 8-12 months as was usually the case. Not being entirely used to playing it by the book, I'll admit that I did my fair share of stumbling in the early going. There were several times when, after a disastrous play test, I would just throw up my hands and say, That's it. I'm never going to make a game out of this. I'm going to bed. A few hours later, roundabout two in the morning, I would be back at the table, staring at the map. (I think a big part of designing games is throwing up your hands, going to bed, and then staring at the map at two in the morning.)


One of the early problems was that, in the first version, the Germans went first. As a result, the French Player was always reacting, and reacting badly; the game wasn't even a contest. At some point I asked myself why the Germans went first, and found that my answer, because they were the attacker, was unsatisfactory. I tried it with the French Player having the first turn, and everything started to click. (Incidentally, having the defender go first often produces interesting results, especially for lopsided conflicts.)

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