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Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Napoleon never had it this easy ! rss

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Chris Baylis
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NAPOLEON: The Waterloo Campaign 1815
Designed by Tom Dalgliesh 4th Edition

COLUMBIA GAMES boardgame of Napoleon’s battles in Belgium is a 2-player block army game that can be enjoyed whether the players have some knowledge of the actual battles, at Ligny, Quatre Bras, Wavre and Waterloo or not. They just need to be prepared to play at a pace generally unheard of or unknown to regular war game players. This is fun wargaming aka wargaming on speed and it is faster and more of an entertaining diversion than probably any other wargame you will have encountered.

You know you are in for a fast ride when you have completed positioning the stickers on the supplied blocks and pick up the rules book to discover that there are only 8 pages to cover all the eventualities and possibilities. This is a wargame for the people.

The components comprise of a Mapboard; 2 Battle Maps; 60 Wooden Blocks in 4 colours (2 player colours + terrain+ Prussians) 2 Order of Battle cards; and 4 Dice. Plus, as I said, one rules booklet. Living Rules are maintained online www.columbiagames.com/napoleon

The players take one Leader each: Either The Blue (French) Napoleon or the Red (Anglo-Dutch) Wellington, the Anglo-Dutch player also controls Blucher and the Prussians, but they, like the other two armies, are independent and can only be led by their specific Leader.

The map-board is directly related to the terrain of 1815 and shows three major cities; Brussels, Ghent and Liege, several smaller towns, Roads, Rivers, Woods and the Franco-Nederland border. Play is alternating between the French (first turn) and Allies, each Turn having three Phases; Movement, Battle and finally Supply & Victory Determination. Each of these Phases has its own segments.

You don’t have to move every (or any) unit but if you do there are specific rules, all of which will be familiar to anyone who has previously played any tabletop wargame. You can move through friendly units but must stop and fight any enemy units you encounter on the road or in a City or Town. Moving off the map is never allowed. As I said, it’s all pretty standard stuff and even if you are new to tabletop wargaming the rules are so excellently laid out and explained that you should have no problem understanding how to play. What is just so good about these rules is that everything is clearly defined by headings, bold and Red with Bold and Black bullet points.

The game itself is played out by army units (blocks) which are positioned and moved facing their controlling player. Units are marked as Infantry (@3000 men), Cavalry (@1500 men) or Artillery (16 guns and either Foot or Horse) and Leaders (not just the main man but their Staff, Couriers and Escort Guards). Each unit block has 5 attributes: Nationality, Strength 1-4 around the sides; Type; Corps and Firepower. Non unit blocks like Woods, Farms, Streams and Hills have just about the right amount of information on them with the full description found in the rules booklet.

NAPOLEON is fast paced and enjoyable. Decisions are usually easily made, only you can make it difficult for yourself really, and actions are carried out efficiently just by following the rules. Unusually, the battles are all part of the main campaign, they are not separately described as specific missions, in fact there is very little by way of introduction to the campaign in general, but then I guess just about everyone knows the basics of Waterloo so no introduction is really required. But just in case you’ve forgotten or never heard of the Battle of Waterloo, it took place on June 18th 1815 in and around an extremely wet field not too far from Brussels. Napoleon was a master tactician and extremely experienced leader but his decisions in this case went against him and Wellington finally ended the Frenchman’s dreams.

This game is well balanced even though it puts the units in the right place if you follow direction or you can set them up under your own direction to get different situations.

I know it’s becoming a cliché but this really is a game that could happily and easily be used to introduce new players to tabletop wargames, leading them gently into block gaming and how to understand unit statistics. It is about as complex as Command & Colours Napoleonics (GMT) but with the card play replaced by human decision making.

Within the box there is a separate sheet about the Eagles & Napoleon card game which is apparently more of an in-depth and versatile system. There are also rules for a Double-Blind game using two or three copies of the game - I here assume because there is a cover art picture that the game in question is this one and not the card game. I’m not sure why this is in the box because it doesn’t read like or look like an advert and yet there are no cards in the box of the Napoleon game so it must be. The card game does look interesting I must admit, maybe one for the future then.
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Kevin Whitmore
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I love this game, and have played it many times. I own the 2nd edition, published by Avalon Hill. I would mention that the element of limited movement, due to road and bridge limits, is a key concept. These road limits makes the game a game of maneuver. Picking off lonely units, and avoiding a majorcollision is a tactic I look for while playing.
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Minot
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The card game is an option for battle resolution, which, as you write, provides a supposedly more detailed, in depth battle. personally, I have never found the need for it (I think the battle board in the game already works as well or even better than the card game).

Short of translating the battles into a CCN setup, I think it is pretty good as is.
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H.M. Woggle-Bug, T.E.
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Chris Baylis wrote:
"...but with the card play replaced by human decision making."


Perfect analysis!
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Chris Baylis
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Thanks Kevin. You are correct and I should have mentioned the element of limited movement. I appreciate you tagging this on for me and for those who read the review.
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Chris Baylis
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Thanks for your thoughts on the card game. As all I have seen is the in-box flyer I cannot comment further on its necessity or usefulness. I agree the battle boards work well, but then systems using off-board combat resolution have been around for many years and generally do help keep games tidy as well as helping with the speed of play.
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Pokke
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My two cents: Earlier this evening I played the 4th edition, which is owned by a friend. I own and played the 3th edition myself, but that's been a very long time ago and it's been gathering dust since then I'm sorry to say.

Anyway, while it was fun manoeuvering in an attempt to go for the big cities and trying to split the allies, this fun part was soon overshadowed by the fact that the map is way too small for the blocks. (Or the blocks are way too big for this map)

And note that in this 4th edition there's already less units than there were in the previous version! I remember that being a problem in version 3 as well.

Now as you do have to keep the units close to each other, for orders and for reinforcement purposes, IMHO that really is a problem. If you do, they clog the map. You simply cannot see the roads and bridges. So you put them really very tight to each other (which only helps a small amount) but then you cannot see the units data...

As I do like the system and the numerous game-mechanic-links with the historical campaign I really would like to play it again. But first I must find a way to print this map at (at least) double size... for a reasonable price.
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Jim Lee

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Pokke wrote:
My two cents: Earlier this evening I played the 4th edition, which is owned by a friend. I own and played the 3th edition myself, but that's been a very long time ago and it's been gathering dust since then I'm sorry to say.

Anyway, while it was fun manoeuvering in an attempt to go for the big cities and trying to split the allies, this fun part was soon overshadowed by the fact that the map is way too small for the blocks. (Or the blocks are way too big for this map)

And note that in this 4th edition there's already less units than there were in the previous version! I remember that being a problem in version 3 as well.

Now as you do have to keep the units close to each other, for orders and for reinforcement purposes, IMHO that really is a problem. If you do, they clog the map. You simply cannot see the roads and bridges. So you put them really very tight to each other (which only helps a small amount) but then you cannot see the units data...

As I do like the system and the numerous game-mechanic-links with the historical campaign I really would like to play it again. But first I must find a way to print this map at (at least) double size... for a reasonable price.


My complaint is the same, Pokke. I am picking up my map in Atlanta tomorrow increased to 1.6 times its original size. I cannot stand the Columbia Games maps. Always too small and crowding is always an issue. I have had all of them modified because the games (Hammer of the Scots and Julius Caesar) are great. I just cannot play without a true, and sufficiently-sized map. It's worth the $50 for me, because I will only do it one time for a game and then play it for many years.

I did it with Age of Napoleon (an old Phalanx game) and Holdfast: Russia 1941, too (a Worthington Publishing game). So worth it!

Napoleon's Triumph originally sold for $80 with wooden components and a thick-mounted 44x34 map. I simply cannot understand how Columbia cannot do the same and provide great maps. The graphics are usually very good, but this cardboard garbage is SO annoying. Bowen Simmons' old company was not a big company, and he could pull it off. I don't mind paying another $10 or $20 US Dollars for a good quality mounted map. A company like Columbia ought to pass that expense on to us. Anyone that can by a $70 Columbia game can buy an $85 Columbia game. Skip a dinner out, a six-pack of beer for one week, or a movie and spend on a mounted map, I'd say.

The "plexi-glass guys" don't care either way - they will play either on that or with a mounted board. But the other contingent of us who love mounted maps cannot tolerate a shoddy "playing ground" for a great game like Napoleon at Waterloo. shake
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Evil Bob
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GA Jim wrote:
Napoleon's Triumph originally sold for $80 with wooden components and a thick-mounted 44x34 map.


Not to mention the custom metal corps flags, 2 copies of stickers, 2 copies of the rulebooks, ...
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alex w
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Thank you for the review.

Personally, after playing with the latest 4th version and previously the 3rd Edition. I somehow still lean towards AH edition. Groovy blocks and dice rolling fun for a short evening.
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Chris Farrell
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I really enjoy this game, but I think the balance is only really good if you use the variable setup. Under the standard setup Napoleon is loaded for a drive up the center which is tough to execute if the Allies are expecting it. The French player will be more competitive if he can see the Allied setup and try to exploit a weakness, if they have a flank open or other weakness. In the standard setup the French cavalry is out of position for any kind of outflanking maneuver, so you're really just trying to slam through the center and hope. It can work, but it's tough.
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Norm Stewart
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I've always liked this system, particularly as an easy introductory game - my wife would even play (before we were married).

My usual gaming buddy and I recently played four run-throughs with the new version, and by the end, we could predict each others moves so well and avoid unfavorable battles, that the whole game came-down to a climactic fight for Brussels - with almost all the blocks in the game participating.

We kind of lost interest in the game after that.

So, either replay value for serious gamers may be limited, or we need to get out more.

I also thought the crowding of additional blocks in the AH version detracted from the design of the original (and recent Columbia versions).
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Jim Lee

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Here is my enlarged map of the game, 35" by 40". This is my first game with my son today. Not finished yet. He has the emperor and is moving too slowly in my estimation but has won the opening battle between Grouchy's heavy cavalry forces and Thieleman's III Corps, which was smashed at Dinant.

 
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Minot
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VA-Norm wrote:


So, either replay value for serious gamers may be limited, or we need to get out more.



Going to go with the latter. ;)

I have not really sensed there is "one way to win" with this game.
 
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Shell R
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Hi. The wife and I bought a few dozen games this Christmas most of which we've learned easily, but we're struggling with this game.

We find a lack of player aid cards in the box, along with a rationing of instructional text has inhibited our learning (we've only been playing modern board games a few years).

We're looking for someone familiar with this game to give perhaps a demo of the game.

We're in the Midlands - is anyone kind enough to offer a demo, do you know?

Thank you.
 
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