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Subject: Tactical battle games with the most maneuver? rss

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Simon
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Any era between Ancients and post napoleonic.

What are the battlefield games you have played with the most maneuver decisions in them? Which games give serious consideration to different deployments or controlling different parts of the map?
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Jim Fardette
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I am a fan of the Commands & Colors games for exactly this reason. It does a nice job of handling things like sending reserves to a weak point in the line and covering a shot-up unit's withdrawal.
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Enrico Viglino
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Games with written orders do the best here, IMO.
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Jon
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Meeting engagements often provide opportunity for maneuver decisions.

For example, Gettysburg games. At least the ones I have dorked around with.
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Hunga Dunga
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La Bataille series

Battles from the Age of Reason (BAR)
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Simon
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Does anyone have individual battles or games to recommend rather than entire series or concepts?

I have played one La Bat game - D' Orthez and i didn't think it had a lot of maneuver decisions in it. The french start quite well deployed on a ridge. If they sit on the ridge, they might do a bit of reorganization but o the whole they aren't moving much. If they charge down off the ridge, the there is one major maneuver decision but after that it devolves into counter by counter tactics. It is possible that this game is the odd one out and the rest of the series are loaded with deployment and maneuver judgement calls.

I own, and do quite like Quatre Bats en Espagne, but even here the armies often start within a few hexes of each other and so the deployments are rather set. On top of this the biggest battle Vitoria has the french locked into static positions for the first half the game. There are some battles with units arriving on the edge, but they will logically proceed down the one road to the fight and have at it. It is rare that there are several serious options with what to do with new units arriving on the field. The written orders system does help however.


I've also played a fair amount of GBOH and Men of Iron, both likable systems but they are often slamming rigid lines of dudes into each other.

The only battle games i've played with a lot of positioning options are Simmons Austerlitz and Gettysburg, but these are perhaps more operational in nature.

I agree that meeting engagements are probably better because it is more likely that one side hasn't started off deployed in the only interesting terrain. Gettysburg is a good shout for perhaps this reason.
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Joseph white
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If you go to the us civil war, the line of battle series of games (MMP) have extensive tactical maneuvering due to the construction of the game system. Last Chance for Victory Last Chance for Victory(Gettysburg) has operational decisions, movement, and complexity as well. Based on the discussion this might just fit your request.

Stepping back one level in scale, many games portray very dynamic situations. I’m in the middle of an old school Dresden, 1813 Dresden 1813 game right with the battle swirling across the eastern side of the map and the Austrians about to move on the French right. The French player will have to realign most of his position to deal with the threat. The rules are in 4pt font and have a few small holes. The counters and map would not be called beautiful by anyone but their mother. BUT, the game is amazingly more fun than I would have guessed before playing. There are some very clever and subtle rules interactions to encourage lines and reserves without needing to spell out explicit rules requirements.

My point here is that this hobby almost certainly has something that will give you a solid game experience but it might not be from an obvious place.

I agree with you that many games and battles from the era you are interested in can be somewhat static with the enjoyment coming in the precise tactical execution of the assault/defense.

For ancients, if you have never tried Alesia Caesar: Epic Battle of Alesia look at it. Might also fit your needs.

Joe

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Enrico Viglino
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DukeofChutney wrote:
Does anyone have individual battles or games to recommend rather than entire series or concepts?



Gaines Mill, Seven Pines, and Malvern Hill linked
was the best experience I've had of such. The sheer space involved
in playing them out, and all the decisions of just where to fight,
whilst still maintaining a fully tactical feel to the combat really
made this something special.

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ER B
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calandale wrote:


Gaines Mill, Seven Pines, and Malvern Hill linked
was the best experience I've had of such. The sheer space involved
in playing them out, and all the decisions of just where to fight,
whilst still maintaining a fully tactical feel to the combat really
made this something special.



That was a great video series to watch too!
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Jeb
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The best tactical games with maneuver are ones that provide the maps to allow those maneuver opportunities. Different games provide this to different levels. Most of the NLB and GCACW series games provide maps that allow for maneuver. These games however are not what you may call grand tactical battles. Some of the earlier GBACW allow for larger maneuvers (Gettysburg because it was a meeting engagement and First Blood: The 1st and 2nd Battles of Manassas provided four maps for a battle that is really fought on a single map).

That said, most grand tactical battle games only allow you options for different approaches on the original battlefield. For example, you can attempt to end run the Union to the south of Big Round Top but if the Union block the move the option is at an end and you can only do a frontal assault but at a different part of the battlefield.

Ultimately, if you really want to do these wider maneuvers you are looking for a different type of game. You are looking for an operational or campaign game of a battle and not a grand tactical treatment of the battle.
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Clay Woody
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I found two GBACW games to have plenty of maneuvering: Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge, both SPI, but the former actually an S&T magazine game. Alternative entry areas especially make for much maneuver in Wison's Creek. I've also puttered around with COA's La Bataille de Ligny, thought there was some interesting maneuvering with that game.

And yes, you're right about Gettysburg games: the meeting engagement nature of that battle makes for many interesting possibilities of maneuver. I've only played Terrible Swift Sword, both I and II, but that was one of the reasons I liked it so much.
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Clay Woody
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jeb123 wrote:
The best tactical games with maneuver are ones that provide the maps to allow those maneuver opportunities. Different games provide this to different levels. Most of the NLB and GCACW series games provide maps that allow for maneuver. These games however are not what you may call grand tactical battles. Some of the earlier GBACW allow for larger maneuvers (Gettysburg because it was a meeting engagement and First Blood: The 1st and 2nd Battles of Manassas provided four maps for a battle that is really fought on a single map).

That said, most grand tactical battle games only allow you options for different approaches on the original battlefield. For example, you can attempt to end run the Union to the south of Big Round Top but if the Union block the move the option is at an end and you can only do a frontal assault but at a different part of the battlefield.

Ultimately, if you really want to do these wider maneuvers you are looking for a different type of game. You are looking for an operational or campaign game of a battle and not a grand tactical treatment of the battle.


Jeb, I just saw your post and agree that Gettysburg does limit the maneuvering a bit--primarily because the Union line is often (usually) formed atop Seminary Ridge, Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill, the famous fishhook. Still, the Conf has several points he can direct or emphasize his attacks, with the help of feints (which I have used successfully). Also, the majority of Conf reinforcements enter along the Chambersburg Pike--it's up to the Conf player, of course, to decide whether to send them south along or east.
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Clay Woody
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Hungadunga wrote:


Hunga, good examples. Three BAR games, Kolin, Leuten and Prague, allow the Prussian player to replicate Frederick's famous oblique maneuver; the Prussian player's big decision thus lies in where exactly to turn and strike.
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JPotter - Bits77
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To get maneuvering you need space and time. Space and time built into the game design, which means a map that isn't focused solely on the historical site of an engagement, and a setup that doesn't start at the time and place of initial contact, or with the historical lines of battle.

To that end your best bets are games that depict entire campaigns on a single large map, not individual battles, nor several battles each on its own separate map.

Right away the top of mind to fit this bill is the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War.

I'm no expert on Napoleonics but I'd bet there are Nappy games that do this as well.

Also look at cavalry (wheeled, hoof, or tracked!) engagements, particularly those set on the steppe (mongols!) or in the desert (ancients w/chariots, WWII North Africa).
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Clay Woody
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aesthetocyst wrote:
To get maneuvering you need space and time. Space and time built into the game design, which means a map that isn't focused solely on the historical site of an engagement, and a setup that doesn't start at the time and place of initial contact, or with the historical lines of battle.

To that end your best bets are games that depict entire campaigns on a single large map, not individual battles, nor several battles each on its own separate map.

Right away the top of mind to fit this bill is the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War.

I'm no expert on Napoleonics but I'd bet there are Nappy games that do this as well.

Also look at cavalry (hoof or tracked!) engagements, particularly those set on the steppe or in the desert.


A very good game in that respect is La Batalla de los Arapiles, a game from SIMTAC, which covers the battle of Salamanca in the Napoleonic Wars. The game not only gives you 4 tactical maps, but also a strategic map with which to approach the battlefield. A great meeting of both worlds.

Also, I believe the same could be done, tho I've never done it, with COA's L'Armée du Nord, which covers the Waterloo campaign on a three-map operational scale, and the 4 tactical games by the same company covering the Waterloo campaign, La Bataille des Quatre Bras, Ligny, Waterloo, etc, as there are rules that marry the two game scales.

One could argue that there were few true lines of lines of approach that Napoleon could have used in that campaign, but at least you have some variance, some choice in the line of approaches.

The other problem is that you'd need a small gynasium to layout all the games together. Even with just the operational game and any one of the larger tactical games, Waterloo, for instance, you'd still needs lotsa space.
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Tom Swider
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Seems mmany of the suggestions above are actually operational level games (e.g.gbacw).
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Simon
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I aware this is a have cake and eat it again request. I mostly play operational games because i like movement games. I'll have a look at more ACW battle games/systems.
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Clay Woody
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tswider wrote:
Seems mmany of the suggestions above are actually operational level games (e.g.gbacw).


I believe you're thinking of GCACW--Great Campaigns of the American Civil War, which includes Stonewall Jackson's Way, Here Come the Rebels, etc, and is operational

GBACW--Great Battles of the American Civil War is definitely tactical, each hex about 100-120 yds, each turn representing 20 minutes. This includes Wilson's Creek, Pleasant Hill, Gleam of Bayonets (Antietam), Terrible Swift Sword (Gettysburg) and many more.
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Clay Woody
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DukeofChutney wrote:
I aware this is a have cake and eat it again request. I mostly play operational games because i like movement games. I'll have a look at more ACW battle games/systems.


One Ancient operational game you might like if you can ever find it is called Druid: Boudicca's Rebellion, 61 A.D. by West End games. Probably tough to find these days, alas, maybe Ebay or Noble Knight Games. There aren't a lot of counters in the game, and there is a lot of room to maneuver. I like its system, as you draw chits for the numbers of actions you can perform each turn, and there are always too few; you'll almost always have units you simply can't move that turn. It's a tense game, almost chess-like. Maneuvering and positioning are what this game is all about. A bonus is hidden movement for the Celts in the forests.
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Cracky McCracken
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DukeofChutney wrote:
Any era between Ancients and post napoleonic.

What are the battlefield games you have played with the most maneuver decisions in them? Which games give serious consideration to different deployments or controlling different parts of the map?


All of them. I can't think of one that doesn't. Even leaving the realm of Wargames and entering the Ameritrash sector, games like Star Wars: Rebellion are all about maneuver and control.

What Wargame doesn't emphasize these things?

I encountered a tactical combat game recently that emphasized the "shoot then move" philosophy. Basically, the designer said that from his personal military experience, "move then shoot" games don't feel right. The game is very simple, too simple for most wargamers (and the production quality is a bit lacking), but the focus on "shoot than move" is great. It works. Star Fleet Marines: Module I – Assault
 
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James
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DukeofChutney wrote:
I'll have a look at more ACW battle games/systems.


I'm glad about this.
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Borodin wrote:
One Ancient operational game you might like if you can ever find it is called Druid: Boudicca's Rebellion, 61 A.D. by West End games. Probably tough to find these days, alas, maybe Ebay or Noble Knight Games...


There are continually several copies on eBay. People are asking $50-$75 for them tho. Argh!
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Eric Walters
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Consider Napoleon's Last Gamble with the Napoleon's Last Gamble: Expansion Kit I – The Highway to Bruxelles in the The Library of Napoleonic Battles. You'll find quite a few critics of the system--and they have their valid points--but this particular game (as well as others in the series) allow you the opportunity to back up the battle situation to show the arrival of armies onto the field--and a lot of pre-battle maneuver is therefore possible. I'd look into this before buying, particularly since you've played the Pratzen system.

This and other games in the series are perhaps best termed as "grand tactical"--the tactical routines are heavily abstracted where one can make a case that these aren't representative of Napoleonic-era combat to a certain degree of fidelity--but this is done to make that pre-battle maneuver possible. Some will also argue that the pre-battle maneuver possibilities can sometimes not replicate historical feats for certain titles in the series. This particular game does not appear to fit in that category...at least not yet.

If you are willing to sacrifice some historical fidelity to get that chance for pre-battle maneuver, this title is, as of this writing, still in print.

Regarding my favorite, I have to side with Calandale regarding the Seven Days' Battles games when all linked together (Seven Pines, Gaines Mill, and Malvern Hill -- very open maneuver possibilities given the relatively small troop densities on a huge map. No other experience like it! You should be able to get these games for a reasonable price on the secondary market, but you will need a huge table/playing area to enjoy the full campaign.
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Eric Walters
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aesthetocyst wrote:
Borodin wrote:
One Ancient operational game you might like if you can ever find it is called Druid: Boudicca's Rebellion, 61 A.D. by West End games. Probably tough to find these days, alas, maybe Ebay or Noble Knight Games...


There are continually several copies on eBay. People are asking $50-$75 for them tho. Argh!


This game was republished by LPS/Against The Odds magazine in Volume 9, Issue 3, Boudicca: The Warrior Queen--very faithful to the original game. I consider it operational-level, however. Not a tactical game.

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michael connor
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If I may suggest, Hampton Newsome's series of ACW games especially At All Hazards: The Cold Harbor Campaign models a grand tactical engagement with an astonishing degree of realism. Basic units are divisions, turns are 3.5 hours, hexes= 1/2 mile. Supply, fatigue, morale and stragglers are accounted for. One has to make painful and risky decisions in the context of an overall operation rather than a mere smash-up. The battle goes on for a few days with night turns and recovery issues
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