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Marcus Tregenza
Australia
Salisbury
South Australia
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Our group has a good selection of Napoleonic Peninsular 40mm figs (mostly Sash and Sabre + Perry's) and we've been playing a reasonable amount of SP2. The following short review (comparing Chosen Men to SP2) is based on a single reading and one game of Chosen Men (CM) - there may be some errors of interpretation. We played with 4 groups (8-16 men per group) plus 1 x artillery piece each and two leader figures on each side.

Scenario set up: both games provide reasonable rules to set up and start games and a range of useful intro scenarios.
Orbats and models: Both games use a similar 1:1 man:figure system although Chosen Men allows larger groups (platoons of up to 30 men)- but both systems are scalable so you could build successful units with more or less than the game recommended numbers. Both systems use a Warhammer style set of entity characteristics that define the capabilities required to execute game functions - nothing new or special here. They both use standard systems that work well.

Actions: Both systems use a similar "Action" pool: CM gives each unit 3-4 Tactical actions - such as move, fire, charge etc and the opposing sides "activate" units alternately to expend some or all of those actions. A key point is that you cannot move and fire in the same turn. SP2 actions are dictated by cards or chits drawn blindly to determine which units act and allows each unit (when drawn) to act twice in a turn where each action is move, load, fire ... and there are no restrictions on which actions follow others. I don't mind the SP2 process although there have been frustrations when one side gets a string of successive actions. CM is more predictable - although winning the initiative (and taking the FIRST action) can prove to be a significant advantage.

Movement: Significant differences here ... SP2, each move is inches x 1D6 (so you can move 1-6 inches), although with two actions a unit can do that twice. Units can also run (add an extra D6 per action and add "shock") and Light Inf has move bonuses. CM is more conventional with specified distances for troop formations and a die roll if moving at double time. I think I prefer CM - there is far less die rolling and units get into action faster. While it (mostly) works, the randomness of SP2 in the movement phase can be annoying.

Terrain: Neither game has sufficiently well described terrain rules - although SP2 is better than CM. One frustration with CM is that we can't find the rules for visibility and shooting through difficult terrain (woodland for example). The game implies that any distance of shooting through difficult counts as cover for the target ... but this means a unit on the wood's edge and a unit in the open shooting at each other can both count the woods as cover - needs clarification.

Shooting Both systems employ a similar process of having all models in a unit shoot at a single target (a unit or formation). Rolls (with modifiers) are made to hit and then to wound/kill. Both systems are conventional and work well although I think CM is a lot "cleaner" and the mods are intuitive. We spent some time rationalising the SP2 mods ... which are ok but not always clear.
The CM artillery rules are very neat - with the gunner selecting how many dice to roll to achieve the distance for the hit (max casualties) and then subsequent rolls to determine bounce through-casualties against depth units. Simple, effective ... and fun!
Generally, I think the CM casualty rates from shooting are a little lower allowing units to stand in firing lines and engage for a number of turns ... which I thought was a better representation of Napoleonic engagements. In CM (and some in SP2) there are rules for riflemen, 2 rank lines and a range of special weapons, however I think CM is a slightly simpler and more elegant system.

Melee: There is little to differentiate between the melee systems. The systems are a little different but (from our initial views) seem to generate similar results. I did like the fact that in CM I can take more casualties and still win the engagement - there are mods for leaders, terrain, standards and being the charger(!) that improve your chances of winning the melee.

Morale: SP2 uses the concept of "shock" which units accumulate from shooting and which are removed through rallying. Shock affects a units ability to move (towards enemy) and to fire effectively. I think this is one of the best systems in SP2 - it's simple, easy to apply and reflects well the gradual decline in unit state. Unfortunately CM has no such model. CM uses a series of "Command Checks" - roll a test to pass (modified by leadership). It's not a bad approach but it isn't implemented well - from what we could understand a unit with 5% casualties and a unit with 95% casualties pass the check on the same roll with no mods. Furthermore a unit (starting with 16 men) with a single survivor appears to be able to move and function as if it had suffered no loss ... odd?

Overall View: While we've enjoyed many games of SP2 I have always found it to be a little clumsy in some areas. I'm not a fan of the (always) variable moves and the shooting model is odd and seems too bloody to me. I do like the SP morale rules.
CM on the other hand seems a little simpler and is slightly more predictable - at least for command and movement. The CM shooting rules are also cleaner and in my view deliver a better (more realistic?) outcome.
I'm happy to play either game but I think I'll be investing more time in understanding the nuances and playing CM in the near future.
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Tweed Dust
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Uppsala
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Thanks for comparing these two games. I just stumbled on and bought CM but have been curious about the differences between them for a while.

I am a fan of unpredictable movement, as long as it is not totally random, and the SP2 chock system sounds interesting. But as you say CM seems cleaner in many aspects.
 
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Andy
United Kingdom
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Thanks for this summary, as someone currently 'auditioning' Napoleonic rulesets it's been very useful
 
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