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Subject: Tactical Napoleonics at last rss

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Tom Shydler
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Battles of Napoleon: The Eagle and the Lion (BoN) is the first game in a series that (one hopes) will eventually allow gamers to play battles from the entire Napoleonic Wars. This game covers ten scenarios between the French and the British, the "classic" Napoleonic confrontation. (Note: I am using "British" to include the English and their allies, as there are Portugese dragoons and Hannoverian infantry in the game as well. Not to mention Scots.)

The components are outstanding. The basic design theme is to represent the artistic style of the Napoleonic era. The double-sided heavy cardboard map (which is a bit over 3mm thick) has the appearance of a military map from the time period. The cards (which are playing card size) are a bit thin, but are beautifully rendered with contemporary-appearing pictures of military figures (representing the units in the game) and portraits of the commanding officers (representing the commanders used in the game). I would recommend sleeving or laminating the cards. (The cards have values for morale/melee/firing that make each unit individual.) The rulebook also carries the "antique" feel on the paper, but the rules themselves, and the many color illustrations are all fully modern.

The miniatures (blue for the French and red for the English) are 1/72 Italeri figures with special bases. The figures are well detailed (the cavalry more than the infantry). There are several different positions of infantry, representing Line Infantry, Grenadiers, and Light Infantry. Here I think the design fails slightly as there is more than one pose for each type, so it can become confusing as to which figure represents which type. Generally, four figures make up a battalion (3 for a cavalry regiment) and several battalions make up a Unit Group (UG), which is the basic unit of play. The UG has one commander figure (UGC). There is one Army commander (CC)

IMPORTANT NUMBER: for almost all die rolls in the game (combat, morale, order change, rally), the player must roll an "11" or higher (using a ten-sided die where 0 is "10" and various +/- tables)

The game sequence is:

Command Phase
Card Draw Phase
Action Phase
Rally Phase

Command Phase: All units in BoN must have an order to follow, either Attack, Defend, Maneuver, or Reserve. Either the units start the game with a particular order assigned by the scenario, or the player assigns order to each UG. The player draws an order marker from a bag/cup. Each order marker contains a section for each type of order along with a sequence number for that order. After the first turn, the CC may attempt to change the order type for any UGC within his command radius. This involves a successful die roll by the UGC (and usually the CC). If successful, another order marker is drawn to replace the existing marker.If not, the unit continues to follow its current order. The important thing to note about orders is that they LIMIT a UG choices, but they do not force a UG to take any action. IE, a UG with an Attack order MAY simply stand in position, or change formation. If, however,it moves, it MUST move towards the enemy.

Card Draw Phase: Each player has a minimum of three cards he can hold in his hand to influence battlefield events such as fire/melee attacks, cavalry charges, movement to avoid attack, rally, etc. One of the two options on the cards could be used during the opponent's turn, and one could be used during the player's turn. After use, the card is discarded. Both players draw their cards from the same deck during this phase. These cards also contain the combat resolution results mentioned below.

Action Phase: This is the heart of the game. This is where the orders assigned in Command Phase are carried out. Remember the "sequence number" mentioned above? Well, this brilliant innovation really makes the game fun. The orders OF BOTH SIDES are carried out according to the sequence number. So, the French might have the lowest sequence number and move that UG first. Then the British have the next TWO lowest sequence numbers and move those groups. Then back to the French, and so on until all UG have had the opportunity to take action. The sequence number definitely will affect how you make attacks. The phase itself is divided into two parts. In the first part you may move or change formation or fire. In the second part, you may change formation or melee. Formation (line, column, open order) affects your firing, melee, and target status. Remember that with two units face to face, the one with the lower sequence number goes first, there is no simultaneous combat (and there was none in the actual events). Combat is a totalling up of pluses and minuses, added to the roll of a ten-sided die. After this number is determined, a card is drawn from the same deck as in the Card Draw phase. This is used to resolve the resulting number. The table is different on each card, so it is impossible to know the exact result of a combat. Common results are "disorder", 1 casualty, retreat, officer wound.

Rally Phase: Routed units (units which have suffered more than one "disorder") may be rallied by commanders if they are within their command radius.

As this review has gone on too long already, I will limit my remarks to saying that having played the game several times with different opponents (and several solos), I feel that BoN does an excellent job of recreating Napoleonic warfare. The order system does keep players from making "perfect" moves every time, while the combat system does have a definite Napoleonic feel to it. There are a few small quibbles about cavalry vs square (which is probably accurately represented in the game, but is not quite as glorious as we players would like) and one or two other minor points, but overall, a very superior product. I am definitely hoping this game line goes forward to the Austrians, Russians, and Prussians.



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Chuck Parrott
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Fantastic review Tom, I don't think I could have done better.

This is a great game and a great system, I hope they do have long term success with it with many more expansions. If you're on the fence and want an excellent Napoleonic miniature/board hybrid game, don't wait any longer and get this one.
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Nick Szegedi
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Nice review, Tom... I'm happy to own (and play) this game as well... this seems the way to go for a "light" war game but more than an average C&C system based game... which is a Good thing for me. (It just seems more realistic with this game system)
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Andrew Martin
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Thanks for the review! My copy should be here in a few hours!
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Aaron Silverman
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What benefit does drawing a card for the CRT provide? Are there a wider variety of combat results than will fit comfortably on a generic d10-based CRT?
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Chuck Parrott
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Yes, each card is its own seperate CRT. In play, it's very intuitive and easy to follow. It also eliminates some extra die rolls you see in other wargames for the odd occurance or special check.

It accomplishes a couple things in practice. A larger range of possible permutations of results for one. It also handles things like rare critical hits and officer loss checks for another. There are only a few cards in the deck that have officer casualties on them. Because they are paired with the events cards it also randomly distributes the event deck better since some events get taken out as CRT cards. It also distributes the die result itself a bit. Rolling high is usually better, but you can roll just enough for a success, draw a card and still get a good result, other times you can roll high but only get a relatively minimal result. So it can help balance the weighty swings hot dice can sometimes give you in wargames but still give you a sense of what you want to roll (high in this case).

I thought it was one of the most innovative features I've seen in a wargame in a while.
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Tom Shydler
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DJ Kuul A wrote:
What benefit does drawing a card for the CRT provide? Are there a wider variety of combat results than will fit comfortably on a generic d10-based CRT?


The immediate thought is that it does increase uncertainty. Once you achieve the necessary total of "eleven" with the die and your add-on numbers, you know you have achieved a "hit"....but you don't know how severe that hit will be until you turn the card and see the combat table. I'm sure some will argue it is "too much" uncertainty, although I did not find it so.
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Aaron Silverman
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Thanks, guys. It sounds like they used the card draw in lieu of a more complex combat resolution system. Cool!
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scott keenan
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hey nice review mate, now all we need is some battle reports and this game will be taking all my hard earned cash away from me.

Just one small point though

Skiprydell wrote:
(Note: I am using "British" to include the English and their allies, as there are Portugese dragoons and Hannoverian infantry in the game as well. Not to mention Scots.


The Scots are not allies of the British, they are British. So there is no need to make this distinction.
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Lance Harrop
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Nice review. I've only read the rules so far.

However, I'm going to point a couple of things out.

First, the French-Austrian campaigns were the 'classic' Napoleonic confrontations. After the Duke of York's campaign in Holland the English were very poorly regarded, and after Napoleon chased Moore into the sea, they weren't very popular with their Spanish 'allies'.

As for Wellington's army in 1815, that was more than half German, so I wouldn't credit the English too much for Waterloo.

Second, someone in production managed to give the French English guns and the English French guns. Nitpicking I know, but that bothers me.

Third, the scale of the terrain, the range of the artillery, and the supposed size of the infantry and cavalry units doesn't seem to mesh. The Units seem more like brigades and the Unit Groups more like divisions. However admiting such a thing would make the game definitely NOT a Tactical Napoleonic game.

And I suppose that is meant to be a selling point.
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Mark Kwasny
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The French had some epic battles against the Russians, Austrians, and Prussians. However, the most famous battle has to be Waterloo, and that means including the British forces, and thus I understand why they led off with British-French battles. As for Waterloo, I agree that the Hanoverian and Dutch allies, as well as the Prussian allies, were critical to victory. But the British infantry (Guards, Picton's division, Highland units) were the backbone of the lines that held that ridge, and most of the cavalry that launched attack after attack were British as well. And Wellington was the commander of that line that held all day, and still could counterattack in the late evening along with the Prussians. So he also lends some fame and credit to the British.

As for the units, I think the Unit Groups are supposed to represent brigades, with each unit perhaps a battalion. Thus you would command a division of infantry in most of the scenarios, perhaps with a division or brigade of cavalry in support.
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Sword of Damocles
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Also, let's not forget that the Napoleonic wars can be regarded in some sense as one continuous conflict between the British and the French.
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Eðvarð Hilmarsson
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Astyanax wrote:
Also, let's not forget that the Napoleonic wars can be regarded in some sense as one continuous conflict between the British and the French.


This is somewhat true (since Britain was never really defeated), but the focus is more on France vs. everyone else during the period. The Austrians in particular where fighting the French early (in Italy) and even ended attacking France without the aid of a coalition (like Britain they carried a grudge for the entire period). Russia (the land as well as its army) also crushed the largest army ever raised in Europe during the period, severely reducing the strenght of future French armies (in quality and things like supply wagons that where hard to replace).

Without Britain there still would have been a very vicious war in Europe just a longer one if anything.
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Eðvarð Hilmarsson
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Back to topic - thanks for the review! Been waiting to hear more and I´m encouraged by the positive tone of it.

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Tom Shydler
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scottyk wrote:
Just one small point though

Skiprydell wrote:
(Note: I am using "British" to include the English and their allies, as there are Portugese dragoons and Hannoverian infantry in the game as well. Not to mention Scots.


The Scots are not allies of the British, they are British. So there is no need to make this distinction.


I was attempting a Sean Connery moment. Should have put a smiley
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Derry Salewski
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North_Wolf wrote:
Astyanax wrote:
Also, let's not forget that the Napoleonic wars can be regarded in some sense as one continuous conflict between the British and the French.


This is somewhat true (since Britain was never really defeated), but the focus is more on France vs. everyone else during the period. The Austrians in particular where fighting the French early (in Italy) and even ended attacking France without the aid of a coalition (like Britain they carried a grudge for the entire period). Russia (the land as well as its army) also crushed the largest army ever raised in Europe during the period, severely reducing the strenght of future French armies (in quality and things like supply wagons that where hard to replace).

Without Britain there still would have been a very vicious war in Europe just a longer one if anything.


Mmm. The naval stuff is what the British really did.
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Kevin Duke
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Quote:
Third, the scale of the terrain, the range of the artillery, and the supposed size of the infantry and cavalry units doesn't seem to mesh. The Units seem more like brigades and the Unit Groups more like divisions. However admiting such a thing would make the game definitely NOT a Tactical Napoleonic game.


I think the unit scale is very intentionally nebulous, or "abstract" if you prefer. People putting battaions into brigades seem to overlook that most Nap period armies had battlions as part of regiments which were then formed into brigades, but even then, the size of regiments/brigades between the French and the Russians and the Austrians (to name three wide points) was extremely different.

As a look at the scenario OBs will show, sometimes a "group" is as many as 3 stands of troops to represent someone's brigade, or it might be 2 stands to represent someone's regiment, or only PART of a regiment.

They are working without the firm lines of most miniatures play and there most certainly is no "every figure - ## men and every hex = ## yards/meters.) It's okay. It works for them and the game. It only really creates a problem if folks start bringing old concepts and expectations and try to force this into those... and then knock the game because it does not.

I recall the Martin Wallace 'Waterloo' had notes that said very specifically he was not trying to create or use any sort of "each Napeeple = X" and yet there were folks trying to do exactly that and then debating the historical errors which resulted.

I think BoN is bringing a lot of new things to the table and, if people will give it a chance for what it is, they may find a very good game here. If, on the other hand, folks try to fit a square peg into a round hole, they may be unhappy and, as gamers frequently do, will end up criticizing the peg for not being round enough.
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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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scifiantihero wrote:


Mmm. The naval stuff is what the British really did.



Which makes me wonder how can one have Napoleonic Wars without a naval influence?
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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StevenE wrote:
Which makes me wonder how can one have Napoleonic Wars without a naval influence?

But this game is Battles of Napoleon, not Wars of Napoleon. Seapower was certainly a huge factor in the Napoleonic Wars. Trafalgar was easily as important as Waterloo.
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Tom Haesendonckx
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and that leads to my next question:

Why isn't there a game that focuses on naval warfare on a hex boad with tide-of-iron complexity?

Seriously: there a lots of good simulations around. But there is not 1 game that hase some nice minis and rules that go are 'medium'.

I would love to have a game like that in several settings actually: ancient, napoleonic, WWI, WWII, and even some fantasy.arrrh

Can't be THAT hard to do...

Imagine a sea expansion for C&C: A or Battlelore...or Tide of Iron or...snore ow well...you understand what I mean whistle

Orhas a game escaped my radar...?ninja
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Roberto Di Meglio
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There is not such a game... yet
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Tom Haesendonckx
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Hm...I wonder who we should turn to for making this happen...

I fondly remember games like Man o' War

Simple but fun to play.

Anyway: my copy of the Eagle and the Lion has just arrived here in Belgium devil

Now...where is Joséphine when I need her...kiss
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Mark Crane
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Is the game fun?

I liked Manoeuvre and thought it was pretty fun even though it wasn't a very tight simulation.

Will non-grognards enjoy this?
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Steve Rogers
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Folks hoping for a nice looking Age of Sail game focusing on miniatures and tactical engagements might want to look for Trafalgar (2009) from the Warhammer Historical line.

If you are looking for more of a simulation you might need to step up to Wooden Ships, Flying Colors or Sea of Glory.
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Roberto Di Meglio
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Quote:


Hm...I wonder who we should turn to for making this happen...


Guesses are open...
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