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Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815» Forums » General

Subject: Map Size and Balance rss

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Jim Lee

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Hello gents,

I am real interested in purchasing this (4th edition) and am wondering where the majority opinion falls in terms of the map's size. That's a big deal to me. I HATE crowding and wonder if the slightly bigger 4th edition map is a significant enough improvement over the earlier (3rd edition) map. Do you have to stack blocks in crowded locales sometimes?

Also, I know play balance of the 4th edition has been discussed some in a few previous threads (e.g. "How the hell do I win as the French?"). Has anyone found (in recent weeks, or so) the scales tilting back toward the French after repeated plays?

I would hate for this game to be truly imbalanced. It's beautiful to the eye and the dual-mechanics (operational/tactical) is very appealing.

I may have to get the game regardless of where the map comments come out and just get it re-printed at 50-100 percent larger (like I did with Age of Napoleon - WOW what a difference).

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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Sean Norman
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I can't speak to game balance because I only have a few games under my belt, but I do find the map can get a bit crowded. In some instances, I have blocks overlapping into adjacent cities (especially at the start if you use historical deployment). Although they're pretty to look at, it doesn't help that CG used their bigger block size.
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Norm Stewart
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You do need to pile them two high in some areas - it's not too big deal.

It's a great game to introduce new players - three players work well too.
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Shayne Richards
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Hi Jim, you pose an interesting couple of questions, as with overcrowding, a lot is dependent on the persons interpretation. The map is bigger yes but they made the new version with bigger blocks, so there is some negation there. Yes there is some crowding, but not to the point of inconvenience or hassle. You may occasionally have to move one or two blocks to check what you have but not enough to be annoying like bobby lee.

Regarding balance this again is hard as it depends on how a game was intended and how you want it to play. Chess is balanced as a game until the variables of opponents come in. That's it's intention, this game, like Shenendoah and Julius Caesar have objectives that require an uneven game play, forcing one side to work harder and think harder, and onus on attack etc. that is what this game is about, but in saying that, yes I think it is unbalanced in the sense of while it is meant to be hard for the French and there are certain aims in that, until you play a lot, it's probably too hard for the French with two reasonably equal opponents...at any rate the previous edition had the same balance issues but nobody was turned off.

However in saying this...is it unbalanced enough to ruin the game...well I think the game would benefit from some slight French power adjustment, but the gaming experience remains first class and the increased challenge whets your appetite to keep trying the french.

This is a classic and has been around for a long time because it's a great game. Don't panic about any imbalances as I am sure that there will be some updated rules coming out in the future.

I strongly doubt that you would regret purchasing this game.
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Jim Lee

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Thanks for the helpful answer, Shayne. I've read too much about the game, I think, to not get it. I will take the map and take the $40 hit to upgrade it by doubling it's size. Then I'll feel like Wellington (or Napoleon, depending on which side I'm playing) hovering over a 50" x 44" map versus 25 x 22.

As far as balance goes, I don't think it's necessarily unbalanced if their are asymmetric goals and strengths for each player. For example, if it's harder for the French to figure out how to best approach each game to maxmimize their chances of winning 50 percent of the time, then that doesn't mean it's necessarily unbalanced. It may just have a steeper learning curve from the French side, initially.

If however, 20 players play the game 50 times each from both sides and the results are 80%-20% rate of victory in favor of the coalition, then it IS unbalanced. I don't think that's what we have in Napoleon 4th edition from what I've read. I'm willing to buy the game even if there IS a slight disadvantage for the French. As long as they have a chance....and I (anyone) can always play either side alternately. It just looks too fun. My post was to find out if anyone had empirical evidence, so to speak, that the French were doing better in recent weeks.

Thanks again!
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Black Bart
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Note that if you double the map size there will be lots of empty space while playing. I would definitely try out the normal map first, that will give you an idea.
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Jim Lee

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Yes, Bart. Point well taken.

My plan is to play a few games on the map that comes with the game and probably do what I did with Age of Napoloen (which worked perfectly to solve the crowding issue in that game) - increase by 50%.

So, a 25x22 map will be 37.5 x 33. A significant difference (improvement), but not ridiculous.
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Ron Draker
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I also think it's one of the all-time great games. At first I felt the game did favor the allies and had a hard time figuring out how to win as the French, but recently I've pulled off a few French victories and am now not so sure there is a balance issue.

My observation is that effective use of combined arms and assembly of the grand battery on the battle board are key to French victory.
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Jim Lee

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Thanks, Ron! This is EXACTLY the sort of reporting I am looking for. Very helpful. It will be my Christmas present. Thanks.

Man, why don't they use this same system to cover other Napoleonic battles. It seems the most obvious thing to do.
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Brett Soutter
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Look, you've got nothing to say and you're saying it too loudly. So...
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Based upon my preference (e.g. I consider EastFront2 to be one of the best war games ever made), the map is a little too small and the blocks are a little too big. However, the nature of the game design (point-to-point towns vs. hexes) means that this is workable. I definitely would not let this stop you from buying the 4th Edition.

If anything, my criticism would be that the Rules are a little weak - thin, and perhaps ambiguous.

But in the big picture of rating the game, these are petty criticisms.

With respect to your other question, I have only played once 2-player, and once 3-player, so I can't speak to balance yet. However, I very much enjoyed playing, and look forward to more games.

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David
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The map is too small or the blocks are too big. Either way, for a 4th edition effort with very nice production this is a real oversight. The game is still very playable but this was a missed opportunity to publish a very polished version of the game.
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Chris Rice
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I think that to make the map large enough that block clutter would never be noticed at all would be unfeasible.

If it really bothers you, here is a solution.

Get a few extra blocks of each colour and mark them up with corps IDs. These single blocks are what move on the map. Keep the blocks comprising each Corps off board, either on the order of battle sheets or on a sheet of your own devising. When two corps meet, you can then lay the compositional blocks out on the battle board as usual.

If you don't want to get extra blocks, just photocopy the OOB sheets, cut out the rectangular Corps ID descriptions and mount them on card. Use these as your on board army markers.

The only game effect this has is to increase fog of war, as you cannot see how many blocks comprise a corps. You can either play with this increased uncertainty or allow the opponent to ask at any time how many blocks (but not what type or strength) comprise a corps.
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Jim Lee

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Thanks, Chris. An excellent idea. I was thinking of a game design using this idea but never thought of incorporating it into this game! Thanks. May do it.
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Minot
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Ron D wrote:
I also think it's one of the all-time great games. At first I felt the game did favor the allies and had a hard time figuring out how to win as the French, but recently I've pulled off a few French victories and am now not so sure there is a balance issue.

My observation is that effective use of combined arms and assembly of the grand battery on the battle board are key to French victory.


I have a similar observation; through the first 4 plays, the French are 3-1. The first (learning) game was a tough loss for the French, the second a close win. The last 2 were, however, relatively easy wins for the French (the most recent one seeing the French able to recover from a couple of silly mistakes).
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Chris Bailey
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I have the 2nd and 4th edition. I suppose I could play 2nd edition on the 4th edition map if I was really worried about the crowding issue.
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