Great game design makes the complex simple, replayability maximum, and abstraction credible.
It’s not how well you roll that counts but how well the dice suit the game.
Don't underestimate anything made by a game company called Hexasim.
There you go. That's a synopsis of the production quality of Allemagne 1813 in a nutshell.
Thank you for reading this review.
Oh, you want a bit more? It's 1813.
Furious of the Prussian armistice with Russia in December 1812, on the heels of its defeat as an ally of Napoleon in the invasion of the latter that same year, the Emperor sallied forth with one of his largest armies to date.
A war of German Liberation by the Prussians had been declared. It would see magnificent victories against them by the Emperor at Lutzen and Bautzen; the signing of another armistice between Prussia and France as a result; the formulation of a coalition comprising England, Russia, Austria, Sweden, and eventually Prussia again; a searing victory against this coalition by Napoleon at Dresden; followed by a rapid retreat into the environs of Leipzig – where Napoleon would find himself surrounded in a bitter defensive struggle to survive, known as the Battle of Nations…
All the while, set backs in Spain would nag at the Imperial resolve.
Hexasim's: Jours de Gloire Campagne – Allemagne 1813 de Lutzen a Leipzig (there’s a mouthful for a full title), allows gamers to fight out this entire period, across five scenarios, and a vivid 33 x 23.5 inch point-to-point map, at the corps level – two weeks per turn – with the entire campaign lasting 16 turns.
It's a sleeper with a big punch waiting inside.
Components Befitting Glory
The first I'd heard of Hexasim was some chatter some years ago regarding a game depicting the late Western Front of WW2, Liberty Roads, that contained a controversial, if beautiful map.
Since that time, mentions of zip locked games would pop up such as Kawanakajima set in 16th Century Japan. It was only on GMT Games becoming a supplier of Hexasim titles, that a more complete catalogue opened its virtual pages forth. Then lo and behold, my local war game store soon began to stock its games too.
Never a fan of zip locked fare (such offerings always spoke a cheapness of production values to me, rightly or wrongly), I was quite attracted by the sturdy box offering of 1813.
Now for some background. My purchase of this game, has coincided with a recent trend towards Napoleonic board gaming of late. Whetted in appetite by Kevin Zucker's superb Operational Studies Group's (OSG) various series, and pulled further along by Ed Wimble's Clash of Arms (CoA) La Bataille tactical games, my coming across Hexasim's 1813 was pre-primed for acceptance through a yearning to see anything on the era that bespoke user friendliness and quality.
More importantly, other that CoA's in-print Lutzen battalion-level title, and OSG's Napoleon at Leipzig 5-in-1 brigade-level game currently on P500 pre-sale at GMT, nothing really exists on the subject matter – particularly allowing a complete coverage of the campaign from inception to outcome.
So what is it that excites me so much?
Let's start with a 16-page (that includes the covers), full color rulebook. Twin-columned, with a comfortable font, and with color-coded explanatory text to help the reader along – you'd be amazed to find that the actual rules only run to nine pages.
Pages 10 and 11 cover rules specific to the title. Pages 12-13 outline rule changes and errata for three other games in the Jours de Gloire series (all magazine games it seems). Page 14 is a remarkable list of every city in the game with its grid location (more on that later). And finally page 15 discusses some designer notes – for what in fact are, the “Version 2” rules for the Jours de Gloire family of games.
1. 1813 bases itself on a desire to be played with hidden force movement. That is, corps and leaders are flipped to show merely a nationality flag. The intent being, that as with the epoch, much of Napoleonic operational warfare was built on deception and finding the enemy first.
2. That said, the game specifically includes a rules section for solitaire play! Lovers of solitaire campaigning, this game is indeed for you too.
3. Even where players choose to face-up mano-a-mano, the Special Rules outline three Options for play: a) "Play without uncertainties" – all counters are deployed face up; b) "Limited blind play" – only leaders are deployed face up; c) "Complete blind play" – all units start face down.
As a kicker to the last point, in options b and c, players get to select whether to also introduce Dummy counters, to further thicken the fog of war. Solo-play as can be expected, does away with hidden movement, dummies and rules relating to recon.
Rules are printed on a sturdy paper stock. No need to thumb through for charts though. These come next.
Charts and Tables
If the paper stock used in the rulebook is sturdy, Hexasim has outdone many an established war game publisher with the quality of the cardstock used in its charts. We're talking heavy card here, something above 250gsm at the least.
Smooth to the feel, and full-colored too.
There's a 4-page fold out detailing the game's five scenarios and the set-up configuration for Scenario 4. A double-sided card outlines the set-ups for the remaining scenarios and the reinforcement schedule for the Campaign Scenario #5. A further single-sided card outlines the reinforcement schedules for the other scens. A double-sided combat/terrain chart rounds things off. All set-ups and reinforcements are accompanied by large, easy to read graphics.
Four loose 80gsm stock paper sheets accompany these charts – by the looks of things, these are destined for scanning and copying – showing army orders of battle for in-game recording purposes.
The Armies – Counterplay
A single sheet of matt playing chits furnishes the game's maneuver units and informational markers. They're so perfectly die cut that even the barest touch wants them to fall free from their protective sprues. I'd go so far as to say, that people who do not like cutting and trimming their cardboard, will get by quite admirably playing with their markers as they fall out.
As a nice quality touch, little chance exists for overprinting or off-setting as the fronts of all counters (the unit identity side) are all bordered by the plain colorings of their armies (light blue for the French, gray for the Prussians etc.), meaning that their graphical depictions and corps names will not run one into the other (a huge bug bear of mine – but a part of the cardboard gaming life these decades past).
Ditto the counter rears (goodness me, in holding up the counter sheet to write this section, sixteen counters just fell free!). Ok…
These chits are of an excellent thickness too. Those who do like to cut and trim (like me) will have a very easy time here.
The Emperor's Map
Again, the paper stock used with this beauty will hold up to many, many plays (more if protected by plexiglass because obviously, it is not mounted – you can't have it all, every time). It's thick – not card stock – but not of the easily creasing type employed when Liberty Roads was first introduced.
That said, 1813 runs its engine across a point-to-point map creation. Cities comprising location boxes are connected by various colored lines, that in turn, regulate the movement and combat of units. The terrain chart interprets these costs and abilities. A large alpha-numeric grid superimposes the map mainly to assist with city location.
The thing that really stands out about this map though – is that it is extremely busy! I mean, I've never seen a map so clogged with movement options before. More so than GMT's WW1 Pursuit of Glory! This game will be very interesting on the march as a result.
It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for its sheer scale – and for the benefit of the solo gamer, all city labels are printed facing the player length-wise – it appeals to me.
And a Final Surprise
In addition to two very well thought out six-sided dice (one imperial blue and the other a mahogany red-brown), there also exists a deck of 24 playing cards.
They're beige backed, with matching colored edges on their fronts, meaning little chance of marking during play through wear and tear (unlike the trend of many companies to use black-edged cards in their games) – kudos.
They're full colored in their depictions too, and their use is outlined in the 2-page special rules section of the manual. Color-coded to a specific side regulating their play, they serve as resources for a tactical boost, or as events "driving" parts of the game.
Smaller in dimension than a card found in the typical GMT game (and definitely not plastic coated like a casino card) they're sturdy enough to not need sleeving if handled with care.
So There We Have It
Being a French publisher, Hexasim liberally throws the Continental language around its games – you'll find some components cross referenced in both French and English in 1813 – just see the box's rear for its side-by-side bilingual description. Then there's of course its title! But the rules, charts, and cards do not suffer this fate thankfully in EN editions of the game.
For a game such as Liberty Roads this could get a bit irritating. But in a game of Napoleon – well, vive la France! It's kind of quirky.
Now it's not as in-your-face as in reading say, the Regulations XXII (system rules) belonging to CoA's La Bataille Series, where the true Napoleonics fan can really feel in the element with its assauts, a pieds, a chevals etc.
That noted, Hexasim's Jours de Gloire Campagne – Allemagne 1813 de Lutzen a Leipzig, has just proven to be a wonderful out of the box surprise.
Remember, that though premised on hidden movement, the game is still deliberately aimed at the solitaire gamer too, as it is, for those who wish to play competitively with its fog of war tuned down.
This really should be highlighted in the game's marketing for nowhere other than inside the box, is this reality found.
Allemagne 1813 offers itself as a solid and intriguing study of the entire 1813 German campaign. Already with its massive map expanse the anticipation of Napoleon's "one last try" at bringing Europe to his heel can be felt. This game is definitely on my list of "must plays".
Well-done Hexasim, on bringing a wonderfully boxed, quality offering to the hobby. Really looking forward to seeing what more can be done.
The series it seems, once covered the Austrian, Polish, and French campaigns too by way the Vae Victis magazine. Given the care shown in bringing 1813 to the public, I hope that these titles can see a fully reprised box release not too far away.
Adam I too have this game although it's not gotten onto my gaming table as yet. One to look forward too when I'm in a Nappy moodD
Here is my problem with this review - every line of it is about the components and not one word of it is about the game.
How does it play? What are the decisions the players are making? What goals are they after and what constraints are they operating under, besides each other's actions?
What is the logistics system, what is the force raising or reinforcement system, how does attrition work, how does combat work?
I've played Napoleon At Bay and similar OSG titles in this genre. But with literally not one word in the review about such matters, I have no idea whether the game would be remotely interesting to me.
"I have no idea whether the game would be remotely interesting to me"
You could always just buy it and play it, instead of relying on someone elses opinion
Then what is the point of a review?
Adam Parker wrote:
More importantly, other that CoA's in-print Lutzen battalion-level title, and OSG's Napoleon at Leipzig 5-in-1 brigade-level game currently on P500 pre-sale at GMT, nothing really exists on the subject matter –
Napoleon at Lutzen
Thunder at Luetzen
Napoleon at the Crossroads
The Battle of Bautzen: Napoleon vs. Wittgenstein, 20-21 May 1813
The Battle for Dresden 1813
Napoleon's Art of War: Eylau and Dresden
particularly allowing a complete coverage of the campaign from inception to outcome.
Actually, The Struggle of Nations and Napoleon's Leipzig Campaign do exactly that.
This game and system is great.
Use either counters to have fog of war or counter sleds highly recommended.
Easy turn sequence and highly colorful examples.
similiar to OSG games in some ways on Napoleonic battle/campaigns.
French have to do things without Napoleon to start.
a game of manuever, not just line up and fight it out.
You look for opportunity on a pt to pt to get more troops and cav. and leaders in a place to fight.
If you are not good at campaigning, you will lose most likely.