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Steve Carey
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"It is truly difficult to have fewer brains than the Duke of Reggio."

Napoleon Bonaparte referring to Marshal Nicolas Oudinot, French commander at Grossbeeren




INTRODUCTION

Grossbeeren 20 (G20) is a 2010 wargame that covers the 1813 battle where French and Coalition forces engaged on the roads to Berlin. French ambitions were thwarted, and their commander (Oudinot) was subsequently replaced (by Marshal Ney), leading up to the Battle of Dennewitz the following month.

This is a self-contained release that uses the standard 'Napoleonic 20' (N20) system.




PRODUCTION

G20 was produced under Victory Point Games (VPG) prior basic (i.e., pre-deluxe or current "Gold Banner") standards. This 'old school' style holds a certain charm for me, so I admit enjoying the familiar yet non-spectacular components.




RULES

A bit over 1 page, the Exclusive rules are very easy to absorb. Anyone familiar with the N20 basic rules can get this game on the table right away.




PLAY

G20 is similar in many ways to its expansion Dennewitz 20, including a shared countermix. One immediately noticeable difference is that the map orients vertically (lengthwise) instead of horizontally. This has a subtle effect which telescopes the action flow as the on-map situation tends to yo-yo back-and-forth.

Another striking feature of the map is that it is packed with Forest and Marsh hexes (which function identically), along with an extensive Road network. Road hexes will take on extra import for players who want to keep troop cohesion, and for units who wish to remain in contact (or leave contact) with the enemy.

The initial setup is an intriguing one; formations start scattered, with the powerful Prussian III Corps exposed by its occupation of a forward enemy Objective hex. How aggressive or passive both sides choose to be will thus determine the course of the battle.

An important rule to remember is that only the French can lull; the Allies are prevented from doing so. This can help the French in maintaining their army, but often they will need to keep the initiative, so balance is key.

A nice piece of chrome is the Danish (1-2) unit, which is part of the French force, if it arrives at all. Indeed, there are 5 potential reinforcing units (3 for the French, 2 for the Coalition) who can have a significant impact on the game when considering the small number of units actually in play.

Along with the 2 normal Coalition reinforcements, whose arrival is also dependent on a die roll, one can easily see that luck can be a large factor in this game. For me, a sense of the unknown kept things interesting.

Besides the 'Thunderstorms' random event, 'News From Schwerin' is a crucial card when revealed. This event first allows reinforcements to become available. When drawn again, only the drawing player can start rolling for his unit(s) on the following turn. The other player will have to later draw the card on his own turn to attempt to bring his side's reinforcement pieces into play.

Included is a Sudden Death rule for ending the contest on the last few turns; I like this mechanic for the uncertainty it provides.

I utilized version 3.0 of the standard N20 rules so there are no Leaders available as this title has not yet been retrofitted as such.

In three complete sessions, the results were: 3 Draws.




SOLITAIRE

N20 has a good reputation for solitaire play, and G20 follows that reputation. There are no noteworthy factors to deter solo play.




WHAT I'D LIKE TO SEE

Nothing to suggest - this is a fairly straightforward game.




CONCLUSIONS

Grossbeeren 20 is a quick-playing, solid effort. For such a small game, it nonetheless conveys a strong feel for the congested campaign and challenging terrain. Both sides will be hard-pressed to achieve victory.

Luck perhaps plays the largest factor here more than in any other N20 game that I am familiar with; that is not a criticism, just an observation.

This same battle is also portrayed in OSG's Four Lost Battles, which I have played. 4LB is a totally different animal than G20, so which system you prefer (for me, that is the simpler and faster N20) is a matter of choice.

Ownership of G20 allows purchase and play of Dennewitz 20, which is a good thing.

In sum, I do like this game - it is a fine representation of the tested and true 'Napoleonic 20' system which I continue to greatly enjoy. The Series Developer (Lance McMillan) once again turned his talents towards the design table, and once again he scored a success. If only all of Napoleon's Marshals had proven so worthy!


(NOTE: the reviewer was formerly associated with VPG, and has previously served as a playtester, developer, and designer within 'Napoleonic 20').
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Nicely done, Steve! A very well written and informative review.
Thanks!
Hermann
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Lance McMillan
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Glad you guys like it -- it was fun to design, including all those strange "might have been there" units in the mix to liven things up. Have to admit, though, that my favorite in the Germany20 sub-series is 'Katzbach20.'

I'm hoping Steve will do a review of that one too.
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Steve Carey
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Lancer4321 wrote:
I'm hoping Steve will do a review of that one too.


Katzbach 20 is another excellent title; I got in my 3 plays earlier this month.

Maybe I should do a Review - at the moment, I'm K20's only BGG-listed fan!
 
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Kim Meints
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Great little review Steve
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