Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dumbhead David Plays Another Napoleonic Game

I encourage those of you interested in a BIG Napoleonic miniatures game to direct your browser to and check out Battles of Napoleon. This game has a hefty price tag but there is a lot of game in the box. Multiple scenarios, hard mounted map boards, and neat miniatures. There has been some flap over on fantasy flgiht's message board over some misprinted cards (U.S. buyers can get a replacement deck at no cost and we played with the replacement cards!) The cards are quite beautiful, very nice glossy finish with quality artwork. The miniatures are nice, but the horseman needed to be glued to the saddle seats.

Still, there was lots of flavor in the game, most of it centering around what players could do and when they could do it. An interesting initative system uses a number of chits. The chits have numbers on them. A player may attempt to "change orders" for a unit in an attempt to obtain a lower number. He also may end up with a higher number that forces that particular unit to move or attack later in the turn. Changing orders is not a certain thing, however. Communicating with subordinate generals during the heat of a battle isn't always easy. Sometimes, they are out of reach and sometimes they just don't listen. Therefore, a die roll result of 11 (the standard success number in this game) is required to change orders. Oh, and the game only comes with 10 sided dice. Obviously, a number of modifiers are added for almost everything.

Formations count in this game. Players can be in column, in line, or form a square against a cavalry charge. Each formation governs some of the modifiers and permits or restricts movement.

On top of the other stuff thrown in that make this game cool is the combat system. players fire and\or melee and then add up the modifiers to combine with their die roll. An attack of a modified 11 is considered a success. There is no complex battle chart and no automatic hits. The attacker flips over the top card of the event deck and checks the result (indicated by an icon) based on the actual number of his modified roll. Results are more devastating with larger die roll results, but the various icons offer results.

The event cards are pretty cool. I had one in my hand that would have won me the game I played today, and I played it at the wrong time. My French troops had one of the three Victory hexes under control and on the last turn was in position to take the second one. In order to prevent the British from slipping in and taking that hex, I meleed an adjacent unit and got a result > 11. I was overjoyed.. it was the result I needed to play the card and move those Brits further away and they could not take the square. Then I had another melee with a result greater than 11 and could have forced his unit OFF of the Victory hex and moved onto it and would've controlled two of the three victory hexes... which would have won me the game since it was the last turn. A typical Dumbhead David move, I assure you!!!

I've decided I like miniature games, but don't care for handling a tape measure or yeardsitck around a gaming table with miniatures. Typical Dumbhead David move # 2 would be knocking over miniatures with the measuring implement. A Napoleonic battlefield should never look like a nuclear bomb went off on it or like Godzilla just stomped through. This is especially bad because I am not artistic at all and can't paint minis worth a darn. Since my gaming buddies CAN and actually CARE about all the hard work they have put into painting miniature figures they tend to become a bit cranky when this happens in a game.

So this game offers a huge gaming experience without the measuring, without the painting (though I am sure that there are some artistic fellows who will paint theirs) and without the constant purchases to keep adding to a collection. In other words, the $99.00 retail box is HUGE and OVERSIZED and packed with a lot of great, great stuff.

This game also offers a variety of rules-- we played with the simplest rules and had a great time, but I can sure see that the optional rules add even more depth and Napoleonic flavor.

Finally, while the game may look like a Port of Memoir '44, Battlecry, etc. it is not. There is much more depth here and I don't think players will be disappointed.