Napoleonic Warfare

Napoleon!! – Update

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Napoleon 4th EdIt has been awhile since we looked at what is new in the Napoleonic realm. Since our last post there have been a number of new goodies released and we even discovered some old ones.

Perhaps most recent is Columbia Games’ new Napoleon 4th Edition block game fresh off its Kickstarter. Napoleon is a classic game that is now better than ever. Also from Columbia is their Eagles: Waterloo 1815 card game. We finally got a chance to try this and really like it. It takes a couple of plays to get comfortable with but is a quick playing game that gives a nice feel of Napoleonic warfare and the cards are very nicely illustrated. We wish they would expand the game with more battles. Annoyingly Columbia has not posted the full rules, but check BoardgameGeek for a nice rules summary.

Another classic game we got to the table is Age of Napoleon 2nd Edition. If you want a grand strategic game for two that you can play in one sitting this is a good choice.

GMT Games has been busy and put out the Russian forces for their excellent Commands & Colors: Napoleonics system. Either the Prussians or Austrians will be next. They also released Fading Glory: Napoleonic Series 20, which is a package of four small games previously done by VPG. They are small games that are fun and quick to play. We look forward to the next set.

Albion Triumphant v2Warlord Games released two Napoleonic expansions to their Black Powder miniature rules: Albion Triumphant Volume 1 – The Peninsular campaign and Albion Triumphant Volume 2 – The Hundred Days campaign should keep fans of Black Powder busy for awhile. As always the books are also useful to players of many other game systems.

Another very recent addition is 2HourWargames’ new Muskets and Shakos rules. This is a 65-page ruleset covering the period of 1803-1815 at division level.

Computer gamers are in luck as well. Matrix Games released the excellent Napoleon’s Campaigns game. It takes a bit of time to learn but has a nice tutorial and manual and your time spent will be rewarded with a challenging game.

That should be enough to keep your inner conqueror busy for awhile.

[Updated: 9AUG13]

Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast

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Napoleon PodcastThe Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast, also known as Napoleon 101, is a great audio series on Napoleon and the Napoleonic era. The show is now basically complete, having started in 2006, but the content is essentially timeless. The series consists of about 58 episodes that average 60-90 minutes apiece. So altogether there is well over 80 hours of material. The show features historian and educator J. David Markham, President of the International Napoleonic Society and Cameron Reilly, CEO of The Podcast Network. Mr Markham has written a number of books on Napoleon, including Napoleon for Dummies, and does a great job delivering the life and times of Napoleon.

You can certainly jump into any particular episode that interests you but we very much enjoyed starting from episode #1 and going straight through. If you do not start with the early episodes be aware that the show is obviously pro-Napoleon but the hosts will generally admit when they are being biased and also indicate topics that are often in dispute. In later shows they even have a number of guests that disagree with some of their own interpretations. The goal of the show is to spark your own interest in Napoleon and the period to lead you to further study of your own.

Overall the podcast is extremely well done. Audio quality is generally very good although some shows have some minor issues. Also there is often a sound level difference between the two hosts that can be a minor annoyance.

As with any show there are various complaints found throughout the show comments. One common complaint is about the off topic chit chat. This does appear in most episodes, especially later ones, but is mostly kept to a minimum and usually just in the beginning of each episode. After all, the podcast is not an academic lecture but simply a show — Some banter among the hosts should be expected. Another frequent complaint is over the occasional political shots at the Bush administration (the show was mostly recorded from 2006-2009). Again, these are very infrequent and minor. You will need to be extremely thin skinned for these to detract from your enjoyment of the show. We found the occasional comparisons of Napoleonic events with the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars interesting.

Overall, as newcomers to the Napoleonic era, we found the series incredibly valuable and entertaining. Combined with the recent bounty of Napoleonic games and miniature rules it has spurred us on to further reading and research into the period. Frankly we are shocked at ourselves for having ignored such a fascinating period of history all these years. If you think you have any interest in Napoleon or military history you should give at least the first few episodes of this show a listen.

Napoleon at War – The Hundred Days

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Waterloo Campaign CoverMan at War games announced its first expansion for its Napoleonic miniatures game, Napoleon at War. The Hundred Days: from exile to Waterloo will allow players to recreate the “Waterloo campaigns, with new settings, uniforms, army lists and a lot more.”

Napoleon at War has quickly become our preferred Napoleonic miniature ruleset and the minis themselves are well done. We hope to have more information posted soon.

Man at War now has a preview posted.

[Updated: 15JUN12]

Napoleon!! — Revisited

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It’s been a bit over a year since we last posted about a variety of Napoleonic warfare titles and thought it was about time for an update.

  • Battles of Napoleon: The Eagle and the Lion — The bad news here is that the company that actually developed the game has folded. Fantasy Flight Games is only the distributor. This means future updates for the game are certainly in doubt. On the positive side Wings of War was in the same boat and recently got picked up by another company so there is some hope BoN will be saved similarly.
  • Napoleon’s War: The 100 DaysBattle Pack 1 and Battle Pack 2 are both available. They include new maps and scenarios but no new figures.Waterloo Napoleon’s War II that covers the invasion of Russia should be out soon.
  • Commands & Colors: Napoleonics — GMT Games released its latest addition to the Commands & Colors line. It is probably the most approachable of any of the Napoleonic titles (NW is just as easy but C&C:N blocks are less fiddly than the NW figures). It is a lot of fun and coming soon is the Spanish Army expansion.
  • Waterloo — Warhammer Historical has gotten in on the Napoleonic fun as well with their new Waterloo miniature rules. The rules are a large 288-page hardback book “… representing the forces of France, Britain, Prussia or their allies. This rulebook is focused on the campaign and battle of Waterloo, the climax of the Napoleonic Wars, but the rules within allow you to recreate battles from across the entire period (1792-1815) and even beyond.” We have not seen this yet but it sounds good.
  • Black Powder — Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson, both of GW fame, produced a new set of miniature rules that cover Napoleonic warfare. Specific Napoleonic supplements will be out soon but the 184-page hard back core rulebook covers the basics. The rules are intended for 28mm but easily modified for any scale. They are perhaps not the best choice for a first time Napoleonic gamer but are well done.
  • March Attack — Crusader Publishing has also released a new set of easy to play Napoleonic Rules called March Attack.
  • Napoleon at WarNapoleon at WarPerhaps the most interesting development is Man at War Miniature Games’ release of the new Napoleon at War miniature rules and miniatures line. We have now seen these in person and they are very well done. Man at War seems to be attempting to do for Napleonic warfare what Battlefront did to WW2 mini gaming with Flames of War. The rulebook is extremely well presented — and FoW-like — and the minis are equal to if not nicer than Battlefront. The miniatures are 18mm and are being released in various boxed unit sets. All of this is designed to make Napoleonic gaming easy to get into for the newcomer. It remains to be seen if Man at War will be successful but if you have any interest at all in Napoleonic miniature gaming Napoleon at War is certainly worth a look. We hope to have more soon. The Meeples & Miniatures podcast Episode 79 has a great review of Napoleon at War. Noble Knight Games is one U.S. based distributor we found that carries the NaW line and we found them very responsive.

[Updated: 21OCT11]

The Best Games Not Yet Published – 2011

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Another new year and new games and miniatures to lust after! Once again we present our annual look at the games and miniatures we are most anxiously awaiting in 2011. Our 2010 prognostications did well. As always, there is no guarantee any of these titles will be published in 2011, nor that they will be any good if they are, but we are always optimistic.
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Battles of NnapoleonFor 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. Read the rest of this entry »