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Subject: Field Commander: Napoleon- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly rss

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Tom Volpe
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TheFlatline wrote:
There's a surprising lack of reviews on FC:N, so I thought I might post a little write-up on my initial views of FC:N.


I think this is most likely due to the amazing number of high quality video reviews by
Marco Arnaudo
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TheFlatline wrote:
The box- I'm not sure if it's a logistics thing or what, but a full 1/3 or so of the box is empty space with a spacer to hold everything up. Space is welcome due to the chits, but it's an awful lot of empty space and a very large box.


I always complain when a box is too small to hold all the components. Although I was confused at first I really appreciate the extra room provided. I keep all the counters under the spacer (really works well).
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No No No Sheep
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Cosmid wrote:
I think this is most likely due to the amazing number of high quality video reviews by
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macro (marnaudo) thru his excellent video reviews had convert me from a non-boargamers / PC-Gamer to fan of DVG solitaire series.

From what i see in other DVG games like Hornet and Phantom leader, DVG games got the theme and feel right , but (this is subjective) without the complexity of a full-blown wargame. And after i read reviews with FC:Rommel and FC:Alexander, both also imply on this 'simplicity of gameplay' and focus on 'Theme'..

from my stand point , i love the simplicity / abstraction while wallowing in the theme.. maybe later when i 'graduate' , i want to try the hard-core wargame that simulates details of combat (tac / strat)

BTW : Great review format mate, good job =D

regards..
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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TheFlatline wrote:
* The battleboard- It's probably the most-used piece in the entire game and... it's cardstock. Well-finished cardstock, but it's still cardstock. If anything begged to be a mounted board it's this. I understand cost issues and all so it's not going to be more than a gripe. Still... *sigh*

This isn't much help, but those of us who preordered the game through the publisher got a mounted version of the battleboard as an incentive...
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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TheFlatline wrote:
There's a surprising lack of reviews on FC:N, so I thought I might post a little write-up on my initial views of FC:N.

I don't think it's surprising, since it's been less than a month since even the folks who pre-ordered received copies. More reviews will follow after people get a chance to play and reflect.
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Walt Friez
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A few differing opinions based on my play so far (in sequence through the Danube 1809 Campaign):

TheFlatline wrote:


* The Manual- Oh man this is my biggest complaint. There are lots of typos, both missing words and misused words, that add an unreasonable level of confusion to the game. The game itself is pretty simple, but the manual knocks the learning process up a point or two. There are also frequently encountered scenarios that aren't instructed in the manual. That being said, the manual gets you about 70% there. That last 30% though... ungh... Do yourself a favor and go through the extended play example with all the chits on the board and go through the turn. It helps. A lot.


Agree about the example and some typos (not alot IMO), but I did not think the rules were that difficult. Because I am new to DVG and this series, I read the rules completely through twice before playing, and then kept them open through my first two campaigns. This seemed to work fine. What is really needed is a paragraph numbering system, and an index ala Conflict of Heroes.

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* Abstracted combat- No real maneuvers, no terrain, nothing to allow you to eek out a unique victory resides in this battle system. This leads to relatively generic battles. As someone else said, this is not a simulation system. It's a battle resolution mechanic designed to abstract things significantly while providing an element of choice and skill to the player. I appreciate that this makes combat take 5-10 minutes per battle, but it does introduce a "same" feeling to the battles.


Ok... but not that abstracted. The system still manages to work-in line, column, square and wedge formations. Maneuvers like wheel, pivot, flank and charge; and combat actions like volley, melee and shock. Very Napoleonic like if you ask me. Also, lots of opportunities to make bad decisions - I know, I've made em and had my hat handed to me. Tense, yet with the elegance of keeping within that 10-15 minute window to keep the campaign very playable. Designs that attempt mix the strategic with tactical in a boardgame usually do so at their peril - not so here. I think the balance struck is right on!

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Funky AI- you get units that never do anything and get annihilated. I might suggest a difficulty variant where you declare which unit you're pulling orders from, and if that order can't be executed by the chosen unit, to randomly assign it to one who could (perhaps with the original unit not doing anything that turn). I understand the intent though: especially in the early wars, troop units were entirely outclassed by Napoleon & his forces. I'll hold off on the variant recommendation until I've played some of the harder campaigns. This may not be an issue later.


As you say, this may take some additional battle hardening. My experience: They usually do nothing when I want them to do something (Flank BP wasted) or do grievous harm (endure a few Well Strucks or Officers). Then there is the all-time killer to my best laid plans: Close Ranks - I've come to despise that chit! cry Just wait until the 1805 campaign when the AI is drawing 4 BPs and see how often these gems come up! I'm finding every trip to the battle board an intense experience.

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* Funky fog of war- Rolling for a battle and getting results that impact stuff that has nothing to do with said battle is odd but... I roll with it.


Works for me - its the early 19th century after all! Plus, one may be making the strategic decision to forego purchasing scouts at their own peril.

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* Replayability- I'm not sure how replayable the campaigns are going to be as time goes on. This is a big issue for me.


Well - I've lost half the campaigns I've played, so I'm thinking at least with those there are many alternate strategies to try!

Quote:
* The cost- I'm on the fence on this. If you're not a big solitaire gamer or a nut for the Napoleonic Wars, this might be too pricey for you.


Had DVG not included all the major campaigns of Napoleon in one package, paying for the expansions would likely have cost me more. Napoleon's exploits were extensive (Chandler's Campaigns of Napoleon weighs almost as much as this game box), so getting his entire career in one package that is also a fun, challenging and varying game experience was well worth it to me.

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The Ugly

* Cavalry Sweeps- Scoring 9+ hits on a cavalry sweep and watching a massive portion of the enemy's army just... going away... Is both a wonderful and terrifying thing. I'm glad the enemy can't do it.


You want to talk ugly? Eventually you will likely experience this: Remove a significant chunk of your overall force from the battle for good, attempt to score six hits needing an 8 and 7 or less, and roll six straight misses, while your hapless infantry grunts wonder where all their cavalry support vanished to. The morale to this story? Use judiciously, it's not always all its cracked-up to be.

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The End of it All

So is Field Commander Napoleon a good single-player game? Yes easily. It hits a magic spot for meaty game time without becoming a major time sink. It presents interesting strategic and tactical options. It has a pretty good AI. It's production quality is through the roof. The bumps that you encounter when playing it are not game-killers and I was engaged not just in learning the game, but in *playing* the game, and that's a big compliment for a new game for me. I'm almost positive I'll work through all the scenarios: it's that good. Where the game goes from there I don't know. We'll see.


Very well stated - and I think you'll find plenty of interesting strategic and tactical challenges as you continue to play through.
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Adam Parker
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Excellent review for particularly taking the time to critique the "bad" and the "ugly" with honesty, elements that are so commonly overlooked, or noted by the side.

I applaud Dan for mounting the game's maps, but IMO for those who don't like preordering, it's quite silly penalizing them by way of withholding a central game component in terms of quality with the threat: "you'll never get the chance to have a mounted Battle Board ever again".

So my FLGS has lots of boxes of this game, at $98AUD and with a card-stock playing board I looked at it's hugeness today, and put it back on the floor.

Dan has always offered the best chits in the business IMO, but the "excessive" typos mentioned too are really a surprise and inexcusable.
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Darrell Hanning
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Since the game can be had online for $52.00, I don't know how anyone rationalizes paying $100.00.

In any case, after playing Field Commander: Alexander, I came away feeling like I had "commanded" nothing, and instead simply "managed" resources and risks. I hope there's another, more compelling layer that has been added on, in FC:N.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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DarrellKH wrote:
In any case, after playing Field Commander: Alexander, I came away feeling like I had "commanded" nothing, and instead simply "managed" resources and risks.

Is that not the essence of command?
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Darrell Hanning
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sdiberar wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
In any case, after playing Field Commander: Alexander, I came away feeling like I had "commanded" nothing, and instead simply "managed" resources and risks.

Is that not the essence of command?


No, those are the details of command, not the essence.
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Nigel Swan
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Great review. I am reading the rulebook and was getting confused with the battlefield instructions. At least I know it's not just me!
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David G. Cox Esq.
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I think you hit the nail on the head regarding the rulebook - it is not set out in a user-friendly manner and I found it difficult to quickly locate what I was looking for...an index would have been useful.

The lack of terrain regarding impact on manouevring and combat along with the totally random Fog of War are my only real complaints so far.

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Nigel Wright
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TheFlatline wrote:
sdiberar wrote:
TheFlatline wrote:
* The battleboard- It's probably the most-used piece in the entire game and... it's cardstock. Well-finished cardstock, but it's still cardstock. If anything begged to be a mounted board it's this. I understand cost issues and all so it's not going to be more than a gripe. Still... *sigh*

This isn't much help, but those of us who preordered the game through the publisher got a mounted version of the battleboard as an incentive...


*groan* now you tell me.

Still, glad to know they realized that it was important.

I just put the player help sheet and the battle board on the two halves of one of the other maps. Works fine for me, but I'd agree it would be nice to have them mounted too!
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