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Napoleonic Battles: Austerlitz 1805» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Not Worthy of Consideration as a War Game rss

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Adam Parker
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This is shortest review I have ever written, for in its brevity comes the totality of expression necessary to rate a board war game, given such little thought for the buying public, that it should serve as a brief and clear warning.

Do not buy this game.

If you have ever read a battle history of the Austerlitz campaign of 1805, you would have encountered feats that bordered on the audacious, lauded the tactical brilliance of Napoleon, and suggested that for a series of perfectly fated choices, the Napoleonic Wars could have ended there and then in Austro-Russian victory.

Nowhere would you have read that the rolling countryside leading to the environs around the Pratzen Heights looked like a chunk of Photoshopped granite. Nor that the remaining terrain showed such infantile usage of the Photoshop medium that its textures could be replicated by the barest capable with that program, by means of a couple of clicks of the mouse.

The map is totally shocking, without any care taken in furnishing the gamer with an historic appreciation of the battlefield. In fact, the total arrogance shown in accepting this map as is for production, printed in the first decade of the 21st Century as it was, acts as an affront to war game developers everywhere.

This of course belies the even greater negligence taken in producing playing counters that cannot be read, by virtue of a choice of colors and patterns that completely obfuscate their alphanumerical designations they are meant to represent.

Avalanche Press's Napoleonic Battles Austerlitz 1805 is a game that should have been recalled on release.

I bought mine at a heavily reduced $24 from a local gaming store, in full knowledge of warnings akin to the above, but thinking how true could they be? This was Austerlitz after all! So few games of which, currently in print.

Those warnings were right. So let mine roar plain and clear.

If given the opportunity, walk past this game. Run.

Mine went straight into the garbage, ten minutes after breaking the wrapper.

Happy gaming (under better circumstances),
Adam.
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Edmund Hon
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I got it direct from AP at a deep discount of $10. The only thing worth while from the whole thing is the oversized promotion counter of HMS Iron Duke for the Great War at Sea games.
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Darrell Hanning
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Yeah, but...how does it play?

I mean, if you threw it away that fast, you don't even know how it plays, right? I've played some really good wargames that had fugly components, before.
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Mo Caraher
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Quote:
Mine went straight into the garbage, ten minutes after breaking the wrapper.


Hyperbole? Somewhat ugly, yes, and certainly bent,but not a broken game. You have to intuit the rules a wee bit, but no more than dozens of other games I've sampled, some from Famous Name Brand publishers.

I got my copy for around $10, also, and for that price I received full value, I think. Pity you paid $24, though, if you dislike it that much -- I know I'd hate that.
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Kim Meints
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I would at least put it up for sale even at a loss instead of throwing it away.

The System is sound,Just the horrible graphics which are still being carried over in their 1866 game(that is also a bland map)

I think AP needs to hire a new graphic artist
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Lance McMillan
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So let me get this straight, you threw it away a mere 10 minutes after opening the box? That's not even enough time to read the rules, let alone do a solo test run. And you consider this to be an effective review of the game (please note that I'm not saying a "fair and impartial," or even "accurate and thorough" review)? shake

Not helpful at all.
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Kim Meints
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Yeah.set up takes longer let alone reading the rules

AP did make new French counters for download on their site to replace the bad tiny print ones

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Aaron Morgan
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Needs more review, less purple prose.
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benji
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It should be made clear in the title that it is a review of the components alone.
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Moritz Eggert
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I have not played the game, just looked at a picture of the board after your rant about how ugly it was. Well, it doesn't look like your usual wargame map, but first I don't think it is that ugly, just a little "different", and second from a wargamers perspective it is actually a much more accurate representation of the terrain involved in the battle than all hex maps I know of about this theme.
If the rulese suck (which I can't comment about) your review should describe why and how instead of just representing your personal opinion of the ugliness of the map. Don't get me wrong - you might be completely right in your assessment of the game, but you can't fault it on the map and the counters alone...
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Adam Parker
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I want to smell the gunpowder and hear the cannons roar in my games even at the operational level.
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DarrellKH wrote:
Yeah, but...how does it play?


It is unplayable out of the box.

A board war game folks is a number of things - more than a set of rules. A game comprising a set of rules is a miniatures game.

It is entertainment in its whole. It is education in its whole. It is competition whether human-human or solo. It is a lesson in history including the what-if. It is a chance for young people, especially, to begin grounding themselves in the suspension of disbelief as they try to do better than an historical counterpart over a depiction of terrain the latter once fought. It is also playability... in its whole.

This review is simple and pure. It is designed to prevent any parent, who with good intentions, seeks to buy this game for their child as a present; or the adult who unwittingly believes that this game might let them game out an epoch of Napoleonics in a playable way out of the wrapper.

Caveat emptor in other words. If furnished with this review people see fit to buy the game, they've specific information to assist their decision making.

Eggo wrote:
I have not played the game, just looked at a picture of the board...


Good for you Moritz. I look forward to hearing a review from you at the Dicetower countering anything I've written herein. The game's just $10 it seems. If you then say "go and buy it", be it on your reputation. Post a heads up in this game's thread when you do, I'll be ready to listen.

Vive l'hobby,
Adam.
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jumbit
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Was there anything wrong with the rules? I'll take a tight set of rules with no mistakes and a drab board over a lovely game with unplaytested rules any day.
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Adam Parker
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I want to smell the gunpowder and hear the cannons roar in my games even at the operational level.
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Let me make my own history in my games limited only by their epochal possibilities.
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I'll be honest with you Jumbit, here's what happened.

The game was on the shelf in my local store for at least a year. I had read the initial reviews that claimed its counters were unplayable, but I thought, "hey, some people have worse eyes than others right? Maybe it won't be so bad for me?"

Then I looked at pictures of the map on BGG like Moritz, and on the physical box rear. I saw the stupid looking granite depiction of the rolling hills, and thought, "maps often look better in real life and full size when unfurled on my gaming table. Maybe this one will look really effective if I buy it for a peek?"

So I bought it. The first thing I did on breaking the wrapper was to rush and unfold the map. And I stared hard. I blinked numerously. Nothing changed. I aimlessly looked for familiar signposts like Pratzen and Tellnitz and could barely read them in the font used. The giant granite depictions of elevated terrain made absolutely no sense to me at all. The map was the biggest war gaming joke since the Photshopped creation used in Panzerblitz 2. But at least the latter was marginally bearable.

But I didn't want to give up. Maybe if the counters were readable, I'd set up a scenario and still give it a whirl - because yes - solid rules to make a game tick.

The counters were deplorable. Even with great short vision I knew that if deployed on the map, I'd never be able to work them out.

So the rules didn't even get a glance. Why bother? With quality Napoleonic games from Operational Studies Group and Clash of Arms waiting to be prepped, learned and played, my time was too precious.

And the game is now at the tip.

I do hope that many who have commented here based on personal gameplay can post reviews of their thoughts. BoardGame Geek is all about honest recommendations that help people find solid gaming amongst the chaff.
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Kim Meints
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Adam

The game was only generated around 80 messages over on Consimworld which I found slightly low.Yes the majority of the postings all complained about the poor graphics-counters getting the biggest slam.I find it strange no real talk about the play of the game(I guess we gamers are a fickled group)

For me it's OK as a game to play. The system it's based on AP's earlier "Eagles of the Empire" game system with some changes.right off the bat I know this game deleted the extend formations and the attacker seem's to have more of an advantage.

I downloaded the replacement counters from AP's website but alas they still are not mounted or cut out(I would rather "Buy" a replacement counter set to having to go through making my own).

Yes I also complained about the shuddy graphic's in the game but it didn't stop me from playing it when I got it.
But as with most games the flood of newer titles or the fondness of my beloved older games from back in the 60/70's I haven't got back to try it out again and I really should set it up and give it another whirl.

As a system it's good but like all games there's always something that can be improved rules/play wise.Rob Markham is a designer who I have always enjoyed playing any of his games.I feel AP really let him down with the production quality of this game which is sad because he surely deserves better(even 3W did better graphic's for his games and his design's were their best in the line up)

Is this in my Top 10 games on the Battle of Austerlitz? That would be a NO(right now might fall in at #12).

Maybe someone who has played this much more than I have can bring their thoughts to the discussion of game play,balance or if even they had fun playing it or hated the entire thing after a game session.
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Adam D.
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So you looked at it, threw it in the trash and are now yelling to the heavens it's not worth even being considered a wargame. Didn't read the rules, didn't play it, just glanced at it.

ohkaaaay.

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Adam Parker
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I want to smell the gunpowder and hear the cannons roar in my games even at the operational level.
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Let me make my own history in my games limited only by their epochal possibilities.
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jackiesavon wrote:
Rob Markham is a designer who I have always enjoyed playing any of his games.I feel AP really let him down with the production quality of this game which is sad because he surely deserves better(even 3W did better graphic's for his games and his design's were their best in the line up)


Thanks for that superb insight Kim and larger great post. Yes, unfortunately, whilst the designer's engine was humming inside, it never got a chance to make it onto the road due to shocking production values.

Once again to those who don't get the gist of my post:

A board "war game" = map + counters + rules. Sorry Meatloaf but in this hobby two out of three is bad.

In other words, the designer may have done a fantastic job on his rules, but as a board war game (definition above), it doesn't deserve consideration from those with money to spend imo.
 
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Chris Rudram
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Reviewing only two out of the three in this hobby is bad, as well.
 
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A quick glance at the other forum topics on this game, or the CSW folder, will reveal that Adam is hardly being unfair. There is a strong consenus that this product is so graphically challenged that nobody has bothered to try and play the mess. APL burned the ones they couldn't give away at $10.

Those of you wanting a more balanced review based on multiple playings are invited to submit it.
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Kim Meints
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Hey Mike

When I mentioned the 80 postings on Consim I would say(has you know) 90% was bitching about the counters and map.I don't think I saw a folder where barely anything on game play was talked about. Even all the forums here it's all about the crappy graphic's and no talk on the play of the beast.

Yeah,it's really bad when a game company was more willing to burn inventory as APL likes to do.This wasn't the only game that they burned any remaining copies left over from their Fire Sale(a very sick pun but true). I bought 2 of their fire sale games that were going to be consigned to the burn heap-But I got them here on BGG Market Place from dealers instead of from APL and cheaper too.

I have a slight interest in setting it up again and see how it does play.

I think( IMHO) Adam is getting hit mainly because he threw the game away.If he said after he saw the poor quality of the product that he turned around and gave it away it wouldn't be so bad in our eyes.

Adam sure isn't the first to truly hate this game because of the graphics.He just took it to a higher level the vast majority of us wouldn't ever go too gulp

LoL-Adam,I still cringe at the thought of a game being thrown into my garbage can cry
If I have nightmares I'm blaming you
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Adam Parker
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I want to smell the gunpowder and hear the cannons roar in my games even at the operational level.
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Let me make my own history in my games limited only by their epochal possibilities.
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My wife looked at me funny too. Then again she does so whenever I play a game.
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Adam Parker
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I want to smell the gunpowder and hear the cannons roar in my games even at the operational level.
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Let me make my own history in my games limited only by their epochal possibilities.
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And a PS.

If anyone wants to see how a small company can make a great Napoleonic board war game, though not the cup of tea of all, and earn a glowing out of the box review because its map + counters + rules = a completely playable game, I refer them to this BBG thread for Hexasim's: Jours de Gloire Campagne – Allemagne 1813 de Lutzen a Leipzig.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/779832/not-just-a-surpri...

Never played a Hexasin game before though closely perused its first release box of Liberty Roads. This company has earned my trust through a dedication to quality and the end user.
 
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Kim Meints
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I sent into BGG 2 files but they are also already posted to the Consimworld folder on the game with "Alternate Victory Conditions" and a new 'Early Battle" scenario loosely based on my own early battle scenario from my Austerlitz20 game design by Victory Point Games.

The Alternate victory conditions(while not perfect)try to address the issue of the Historical scenario where the Allied player has no incentive to launching his historical attacks on the supposed weak French right or center.I gave the Allied forward areas he has to take and not sit back holding onto the Pratzen Heights and other hight ground in his rear as the VP conditions now have him do.

The Early scenario has Napoleon not falling back but staying in place that he more or less already had held on the 30th/1st and waiting on the advancing Allied army to attack him on good defensive ground.Napoleon made the comment after the historical battle that he could have stayed where he was earlier and still defeated the Allies but it would be just another ordinary battle

Just trying to add some zing back into the game(it deserves better than APL treated it).


I really wish APL would make an updated edition.Expand the map by another half section(or at least use the wasted space on the West/Northern map bountry for more area's)

As it stands now at least 2 more rows of areas could be placed along the West map edge and idf the map had been shifted to the top another row of areas could have been placed in the south.At least maybe Tellnitz and the top portion of the Satchan Pond could have been shown.

Looking at the present map I think they combined both the castle & village of Sokolnitz into the one area since there are buildings like a town plus a larger castle looking building

I was so disappointed when I first looked at the map and saw that Tellnitz and the ponds weren't shown in the south.I mean the Allies did attack down there starting out the battle.

With a expanded map area and nice counters like they made for their 1866 game this game could be what it should have been from the get go.
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M Stumptner
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jackiesavon wrote:

The game was only generated around 80 messages over on Consimworld which I found slightly low.

That is because most of the people who bought into the Eagles series know that this game shares nothing of the brains behind that series, and so would not touch it with a stick, even if the map were not as ugly as it is and the counters as hard to read.

Quote:
Yes the majority of the postings all complained about the poor graphics-counters getting the biggest slam.I find it strange no real talk about the play of the game(I guess we gamers are a fickled group)

No, it's just that some of us do look at things with a critical eye and some will be happy with everything.

This game came out of a series that I have found to be second to none with regard to the level of history-relative-to-effort that it provided for the player (Eagles Of The Empire: Preussisch-Eylau and Eagles of the Empire: Spanish Eagles being the later incarnations; a couple of games are currently being worked on). But it is not part of that series.

Quote:

For me it's OK as a game to play. The system it's based on AP's earlier "Eagles of the Empire" game system with some changes.right off the bat

If there is one thing that determines the Eagles of the Empire system more than any other, it is the design of the maps. Because of the miniatures-style movement and facing rules, the area shapes are more critical than in any other system I have seen. There is a careful process behind them that, if the areas are done right, leads to the armies being arranged in historical-looking patterns like no other game except perhaps Napoleon's Triumph. However, when the designer left Avalanche, those design skills went with him. The games that Avalanche produced after he left, with a terrain design that is at best haphazard, play nothing like the originals because the terrain analysis is missing. This goes for Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Napoleon in the Desert. In Austerlitz the shapes of the areas are only a little more egregious than those others, but simply from looking at the map (which I did when the game was released) it is very clear that you're not going to get anything approach the historical constrains on unit movement and placement that make the Eagles series such a joy. It may be ok for mindless counterpushing but that's not why I play wargames. The soul of the system is gone.

(For the record, the same thing holds for Frontier Battles.)

I didn't buy Austerlitz - I think this sort of product does not deserve any of my money. I have played some Rob Markham games that I really liked, but this is something he would have been better advised to leave alone.

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M Stumptner
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jackiesavon wrote:
I really wish APL would make an updated edition.

I really hope they don't. I know that Brien Miller has had an Eagles map prototype for Austerlitz lying around for more than a decade. If this game goes away quietly, there is a bigger chance that Compass may eventually decide to publish an Austerlitz game that is actually part of the Eagles series and allows us to play the historical battle.
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Andreas E. Gebhardt
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M St wrote:
jackiesavon wrote:
I really wish APL would make an updated edition.

I really hope they don't. I know that Brien Miller has had an Eagles map prototype for Austerlitz lying around for more than a decade. If this game goes away quietly, there is a bigger chance that Compass may eventually decide to publish an Austerlitz game that is actually part of the Eagles series and allows us to play the historical battle.

well spoken, Markus!
 
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