For some odd reason or another we recently picked up a number of Napoleonic warfare titles. We haven’t played any of them yet but thought you might be interested in some initial impressions. Please note that we are not generally players of Napoleonic games nor consider ourselves students of Napoleonic warfare. So these comments will be most useful to those with a similar mild interest in the period.
- Battles of Napoleon: The Eagle and the Lionby Fantasy Flight Games. Wow!!
- Official blurb: “Battles of Napoleon is a gaming system that allows two players to recreate the most important historical battles the era. The Eagle and the Lion, the first game in the Battles of Napoleon series, gives you all you need to recreate many of the major clashes that saw the French and English armies face each other on the battlefields of Belgium, Spain and Italy. No less than 10 battles are featured, each of them based on a major historical event.”
- Components: We had no idea what to expect really when we went to pick up this game. We had seen a few shots of the game but they did not prepare us for the massive box. ‘Coffin box’ is the term often used to describe FFG’s large boxed games — Those look small next to this one! The game comes with four large mounted maps, a sheet of thick counters, 120 cards, and 200 plastic miniatures. The miniatures are not the normal FFG bendy plastic ‘game pieces’. These are extremely finely cast 1/72 scale (25mm) plastic miniatures (based on the Italeri line). They are slightly softer than styrene (and do not file easily) but should paint up just fine for those interested in doing so. The minis all fit into colored plastic bases that form your units (stands). A nice touch is that FFG included a plastic insert in the box that holds all of the assembled components for storage and transport.
- Rules and play: The rules are considerably more detailed than we were expecting as well. We are not familiar with many Napoleonic games but would rate them of moderate complexity. They are well written and well illustrated. The rule book, scenario book, charts, cards and map all have a very nice period look to them with great illustrations. The game play is basically orders and initiative based. Each order has an initiative value and movement, fire combat and melee are carried out in order of initiative. All of the basic Napoleonic warfare tactics are simulated including forming squares, ranks, cavalry and artillery. Special importance is placed on commanders and chain of command. Overall it looks to be a very nice balance of historical accuracy and playability. Our only initial comment is that, especially with the wonderful miniatures, playing on a hex grid seems a tad off. This is one game you almost want to play as a tabletop miniatures game not a board game.
- Expansions: An expansion, entitled Grand Melee, is already undergoing playtest and will include more miniatures, maps, cards and scenarios.
- Summation: If you have any interest in the Napoleonic period at all this game deserves a serious look. FFG has a PDF of the rules posted on their site.
- Napoleon’s War: The 100 Days by Worthington Games. Released almost at the same time as BoN, Worthington’s Napoleon’s War gets somewhat overshadowed by FFG’s massive game.
- Official blurb: “The Napoleon’s War Series are games that give players the French Army of Napoleon against the foes of France from 1796 -1815. Each game will include battles that have their own custom game boards, plastic figures representing the infantry, artillery, and cavalry with counters representing the special units, leaders, etc. Each battle within the game are playable in 1 to 2 hours. The game uses the Hold the Line command action point (CAP) system.”
- Components: Napoleon’s War comes in a standard wargame box. It also includes 120 very well done plastic miniatures (in three colors). They are softer than those in BoN but are a bit better than your average FFG plastic piece. They are approximately 20mm (1/76) scale and are based individually. The maps are very well done and printed on heavy card stock. Also included is a sheet of standard cardboard counters. The maps are smaller but we actually like the artwork on them more than the BoN maps.
- Rules and play: The rules are only eight pages long and cover the basics of Napoleonic warfare. The system is a derivative of the Hold the Line system, but we are not familiar with that series. Actions are performed by spending action points. We have not looked at the rules too closely yet so can’t say much more.
- Expansions: The first Battle Pack 1 is already available. It includes the Battle of Alexandria March 21, 1801 on a desert map; Jena October 14, 1806; Auerstadt October 14, 1806 and Busaco 1810. The next major upcoming title is Napoleon’s War II: Gates of Moscow that has the armies of France (blue), Russia (green) and Austria (white) and covers the battles of Austerlitz, Friedland, Borodino, and Aspern-Essling.
- Summation: If not for BoN we probably would have been very impressed with this title but even still our initial impressions are positive. It will be interesting to compare the two titles. You can also get the rules in PDF format.
- Honour: Lasalle by Sam Mustafa Publishing. Lasalleis a new set of ‘light’ Napoleonic miniature rules.
- Official blurb: “Lasalle is the first game in the HONOUR series. Players take the role of a brigade or division commander in the Napoleonic Wars. — The game is small-scale and tactical in nature, focusing on the movement of individual battalions and regiments of cavalry. The player will manage a small force of roughly a dozen units as he tries to complete some specific mission assigned to him, such as “Hold the village and our bridgehead at all costs!” or: “Drive the French from Plancenoit!””
- Components: This is a set of miniature rules not a boardgame so you simply get a single 136 page, full-color, hardcover rulebook.
- Rules and play: Lasalle is considered a ‘light’ set of Napleonic rules that allow games to be played in 2-3 hours with about a dozen units per side. Scale can be anywhere from 6mm up to 28mm or even larger. Compared to the above two titles we would rate them of moderate complexity and they are considerably more detailed than the rules for Battles of Napoleon. The main game rules are 70 pages long compared to 45 pages for BoN (both page count totals include lots of figures, charts and tables). The rules seem clearly written and well illustrated with figures, tables and shots of painted miniatures.
- Expansions: The next game in the series, Blücher, is a campaign system. “Blücher puts the player in the role of an army commander in the Napoleonic Wars. It represents the most complete rethinking of grand-tactical gaming in decades.” It is schedule for a summer 2011 release.
- Summation: Lasalle was a bit heavier than we originally thought it would be and we will probably get around to looking at it more closely after playing through BoN and NW. But it seems perfectly suited to any wargamer with some experience and would be a fine introduction to Napoleonic miniature gaming. The Lasalle website includes PDF versions of errata, army lists, basing guidelines, and some sample rules pages.
- Napoleon Total War by Sega — The latest Total War game for Windows.
- Official blurb: “Completely separate from Empire: Total War, Napoleon immerses players in a concentrated, gripping wartime experience with exciting battles, memorable characters and Total War’s award winning signature mix mix of turn-based and real-time strategy.”
- Summation: We haven’t even loaded this one up yet but we have enjoyed other titles in the series. The graphics look good and they seem to have delved into historical detail a bit more for this title. Also, unlike the above titles, NTW includes naval combat as well a strategic campaign. Certainly this is a good choice for anyone looking for an easy to play Napoleonic computer game. There is a demo available for download and even a short strategy guide.
Well hopefully that will satisfy any Napoleonic cravings you may have for awhile. We’ll post more details as we have them. Vive la France!!
Also see Napoleon!! — Revisited