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Subject: Napoleon's Triumph, a rambling review rss

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Matt Jolly
United Kingdom
Bourne
Lincolnshire
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This review is based on a single play of the game (and yes, I know this is not ideal, but bear with me...)

Components

These really are top notch.

The pieces are nicely crafted and look good with a good heft. They require a minimum of stickering, and no further prep. Each piece shows a number of icons representing its strength, and corps are designated with mounted flags.

The rulebook is clear and suffers from trying to pack a lot of "different" concepts into a small space. Some things seem spread through the rulebook (for example, artillery in combat). On the whole however the rules are well laid out and the examples well chosen. A nice touch is the provision of two copies of the rules, as you will want to refer to them often in play!

The map is a thing of beauty. It works incredibly well at doing its job, to regulate movement and combat and is that rare combination of attractive and functional.

The combination of bits make you want to play the game, as it feels like a moving version of an historical battle map, and the use of the areas quickly becomes natural.

Gameplay

This is odd, but weirdly satisfying. At its core, there is actually a simple system struggling to get out here.

Assuming we played something approaching correctly (I am confident we didn't get everything right), each side moves and fights either as corps, or individual units. The alliance has disadvantages in the command and control of both of these, creating interesting command problems.

For me, this was conceptually reminiscent of De Bellis Antiquitatis et al with group and element moves, and felt very natural. Most moves are one area, but roads can add more. Each piece in an area can be in reserve in the centre, or committed to one of the specific approaches.

Combat is as simple as the winner is he with the most icons. But the devil is in the detail, and all sorts of things can modify these. I had the feeling of trying to work out who was going to win in combat in Civilization, with the added bonus of fog-of-war created by the fact that the icons on the pieces are concealed until the moment of combat.

Artillery and its correct use is critical here, and time taken to prepare an artillery attack is seldom wasted.

Casualties are also in icons, and these not only reduce the combat power on the field, but also the morale of the owning army. This can lose you the game if you lose too much. Which leads to:

Winning and Losing


At the start the Allies need to grab a victory area to gain a marginal victory - if they sit in defence they will not achieve this. This commits them to attack, but attacking without support will attrit them faster than the defender. They must be careful and recognise that the attack has run out of steam.

The Allied juggernaut can look very threatening for the French, who start off with a lower morale total, but reading the terrain and nicely judging counter-attacks can capitalise on command agility to give them a real advantage.

Elite units and French reinforcement decisions add chrome, but also real decisions for the players.

Learning to play

These are my observations one game in. Your mileage may vary of course.

1. Trying to learn the game on your own does not work as well as learning with a partner, even if neither of you know the rules.

2. The system is not really as "different" as it seems at first glance. Don't be put off by the "innovation".

3. Terrain is vital. Make sure that you understand the differences between blocked and obstructed terrain, and its effects on the different units.

4. The morale track is the heart of the system. Don't let it run away with you!

5. Learn how artillery works.

Overall

What a great game!

I can't wait to play again. The physical components mesh nearly perfectly with the mechanisms to create an immersive and entertaining experience.

I think I understand the historical battle better too.

It was a really rewarding experience for me, despite knowing we got some of the rule details wrong, having only a limited interest in the historical period, and being on the losing side. That's a pretty high recommendation from me.

Cheers,

Matt

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Sébastien Schmutz
Switzerland
Fribourg
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I received it last week and had one try with a friend. Components are awesome, even though I had to re-glue all the generals' stickers. Rules make perfect sense but still, the combat phase is very tough to have a grasp on. I found very useful player aids on BGG, even in French. This game is very special and I really look forward playing it again!
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Brad Miller
United States
Seattle
Washington
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I would say the combat system is very simple. It is, however, difficult to internalize the few simple combat rules to determine what will, or may, happen.
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David Janik-Jones
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
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Up Front fan, Cats were once worshipped as gods and they haven't forgotten this, Combat Commander series fan, The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me!, Fields of Fire fan
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Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
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Windopaene wrote:
I would say the combat system is very simple. It is, however, difficult to internalize the few simple combat rules to determine what will, or may, happen.

Especially artillery. I still struggle with understanding bloody artillery.
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