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Subject: The bunch of Roses did advance ... rss

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Phil Hesketh
United Kingdom
Lytham St Anne's
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The game takes 5 minutes to set up and before you know it skirmishers are attacking Hougomont and the grand battery has started taking potshots at the mixed bag of infantry cowering behind the ridge.

Battle commences at 12 noon, very civilised for a Sunday. It plays through one hourly turns until 8 pm. Napoleon has to get infantry into Mont St Jean to destroy the allies communications and throw them back across the Channel or pulverise them so much that they turn and flee because of the casualties they have taken (13 non-cavalry and non-Prussian units destroyed is the tipping point). Wellington and his Prussian chum win by getting infantry into Rossomme, or by persuading the French army to run away, which it will do if it suffers the loss of 16 non-cavalry units - beware the temptation of finding the Napoleonic moment juste and throwing in the Imperial Guard for the coup de grace because Imperial Guard infantry losses count double against the French, it kind of upsets the regular troops to see the favoured ones get beaten up. At your disposal you have wooden pieces representing leaders or units of cavalry, infantry or artillery.

The heart of this game is in the action rounds which take place after the very simple skirmishing, re-organisation of formations and arrival of Prussian forces. The side with the initiative (the French until tea time and beyond if they are doing well) goes first and has between 2 and 5 actions to take. To mortify the planners out there, only your opponent knows how many actions you take until you reach the limit - she then reveals the chit (numbered between 2 and 5) that she drew when you started your turn and starts her turn. Now this can be terribly inconvenient for you. If you have just seen your eagles charge across the ridge and destroy the perfidious artillery and red(or green or orange!)coats that were waiting for you only to find a malfunction in your command system (Wellington drew a 2 chit!) and you can't take any more actions. So no time to send the cavalry back in (they were beaten off in the attack!) to protect your infantry, or get the infantry to take up a defensive position. Your opponent starts her turn and you draw a 2 chit as well. Hurrah! Unfortunately that is the sound of the cavalry (they may even be Dutch to add humiliation to the catastrophe) as they run down your brave infantry who didn't have time to get into square. Look away now this is going to be ugly.

Each action involves expending a green, red or purple chit (order) which activates the units in one area (or two adjacent areas if there is an unused leader hanging around to co-ordinate things). Purple lets you move troops round at double speed as long as they are not adjacent to the enemy. Red means you must move into an enemy occupied area and assault. With green you can do either of the above or move at normal speed adjacent to the enemy, fire ranged artillery, re-inforce an area or change formation. Most of the chits are green. The French start with more chits the Allies who get more once the Prussians arrive mid-afternoon (in unpredictable dribs and drabs, between 2 and 5 units per turn from 3pm). If a side starts its action round but has no green chits left then the game turn ends and the clock moves forward an hour. Typically the French will have three separate action rounds, the allies two until the Prussians deign to show up. The effect of this is that the French can end up with the last action round of one turn and the first action round of the next turn.

This activation of just one or two areas at a time, and the limited number of actions allowed very well simulates the battle. Areas of the battlefield can be quiet for a while, why, games of football may even break out between skirmishers as they wait around, whilst at the other end of the field all hell is breaking loose. Each area can hold a maximum of three units which makes massing troops for the big push tricky. Of course you want to co-ordinate cavalry and infantry assaults after the artillery have done their banging thing that they do. Area troop limits make this difficult. You can ignore these limits whilst you are taking your actions but as soon as your action round finishes (and remember you don't know if this will be after 2,3,4 or 5 actions) then units in an area that is overcrowded will start loosing troops due to the disruption caused by everyone getting in each others way. Be ready with a really good explanation for why you threw your troops away in this way.

I like the way assault combat is dealt with. You work through the procedure methodically dealing firstly with defensive artillery fire (assault guns just won't keep up with the advancing troops), then the cavalry fight it out, then infantry, then cavalry fight infantry and so on. If you set your troops up defensively or if you had cavalry with them then you will get them into square before the cavalry charge hits home. There are few modifiers to combat table (eg -1 for shooting from stronghold or square, +1 for British muskets). All infantry will take morale checks if they suffer damage either from defensive artillery or from the opposing infantry. If there is infantry from both sides still present after the first round of infantry fire they go at it again for another round taking morale checks again if they or any of their colleagues suffer a hit in the second round. After that if there are still infantry from both sides then the attackers withdraw (no doubt to try again soon, they could be ordered to assault again immediately after if you have the chits to do it and your action phase doesn't come to an end.) Infantry that retreat as a result of a morale check will be slaughtered if there are enemy cavalry in the area (the cavalry battle which goes on before the infantry get down to business will result in one side's cavalry being destroyed or driven from the area so at this stage a maximum of one side will have cavalry present).

Casualties are very neatly dealt with. Cavalry go from upright (fresh) to lying down (tired) to destroyed. So two hits will destroy cavalry. Tired cavalry is less effective against fresh cavalry (but can still round up and slaughter infantry!). If artillery is alone in an area and gets hit by enemy artillery or cavalry then it's crew are slaughtered and it is marked with a damage cube to show that. It can still be used later in the game if you bring more infantry into the area, the gun crews rush out from hiding with the infantry and start shooting again.

Infantry damage is marked by cubes. If you have two infantry units in an area and they get hit by ranged artillery then they will suffer one or two damage cubes. These cubes are simply placed in the area. At this point you do not assign the cubes to either unit. A unit can take upto 5 damage and still operate, a sixth damage cube will destroy the unit. So if the area with two infantry units already had 10 damage cubes in it and suffered one more hit from artillery then the total would be eleven. That means one of the units has to be destroyed because one of them must have taken 6 hits. Owner chooses which one.

Damage cubes have to be assigned if there are more than one infantry units in an area where an assault is taking place. Once the assault is under way you can not switch damage cubes between your units. The more damage cubes a unit has the less effective its fire is and the more likely it is to be eliminated or retreat as a result of a morale check. Once it retreats or is eliminated all of the damage cubes assigned to it are removed with it. Say two infantry units withdraw at the end of two rounds of infantry fire having been unable to dislodge or destroy their opponents. During the fighting one unit picked up 3 cubes and the other just 1. They take them back to the area where they started the assault. These 4 cubes are now no longer assigned. If the player assaults again he can divide the cubes 2 per unit even though before it was 3:1. Alternatively he could leave one unit behind with all four cubes and send a fresh undamaged unit back into the fight. You can not leave damage cubes behind in an area which has no infantry. So if all the infantry leave the area they must take all the damage cubes with them. I like this system very much. It is quickly grasped and visually very clear.

I like this game a great deal. It is very difficult to get your troops where you want them, when you want them. Losses can quickly mount up when you assault. Napoleon knows Blucher is on the way so has to get on with things but has to take time to get the troops in place. He also has a grand battery lined up in front of his army, how long does he spend pounding away with that before attacking. Where does the attack fall, on Wellington's weak left, subtly through the centre, take Hougomont or skirt round Wellington's right? I think I will want to come back to this game often.
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meenki boo
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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Deconstructing Wargames
I think Martin Wallace has done it again - the euro-wargame.
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Andrew C
United States
San Marcos
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Great review! thumbsup

I like reading English writers (with your 'whilst' and 'firstly') almost as much as I enjoy hearing English speakers.

In terms of the game, I just became aware of this a few weeks ago and it is now probably my most anticipated game. Is it in stock and on sale in the states yet?

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Martin Wallace
United Kingdom
Manchester
Unspecified
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There are a small number of US shops carrying the game. You can also order direct from Warfrog. It is a limited edition and the way sales are going it will be unavailable from about July.

Martin
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Craig Hebert
United States
Goodlettsville
Tennessee
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Me thinks you might get your pen ready to sign another 1500 units - should the desire and demand be there!

Lucky for me, a friend here took the plunge and has your 204th signature.

In an unrelated to this post matter, I just purchased Conquest of the Empire and was curious as to how much input, if any, did you have in that effort?

Thanks and cheers
 
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Mark Christopher
United States
Salem
Massachusetts
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In the wonderful game, Bonaparte at Marengo, this is how to get nasty Frenchies out of a village.
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bartman347 wrote:
I think Martin Wallace has done it again - the euro-wargame.


Or "waro" (or "weuro"), as they've been termed.
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