Let's cut to the chase: It is a GOOD game!
What it is not:
Not a tactical game where units have to be ordered into lines, columns or squares. This tactical element is abstracted and left to the appreciation of the local commander and the more appropriate formation is assumed to be taken at most times.
-Beautiful counters, very clear to read
-Map is very nice
-Rulebook is clear
The rules are not super easy to understand without playing a few turns first, in particular melees, cavalry charges and counter charges need a bit playing first to understand well what is happening.
Points to keep in mind with the game:
-It is strongly recommended to play first the shorter scenarios to understand the way you activate, move and fight with your units. It will save you a lot of time later.
-Each turn is about 1 hour of the actual battle but for someone starting with the game it can take easily 2 hours a turn. It is a long game. 20 hours for the full battle is not impossible, especially for a first game.
-Each corps is committed to a given order in the beginning (defence / geographic location to capture). Unless you precisely know what to expect in terms of objectives and manoeuvers, you are going to suffer a lot by committing your units to objectives you can't really understand well for a first game. It is not simple and committing entire corps to orders you could not figure out in the beginning is definitely going to impact your later moves and full gameplay. Is there a way around this? Not really, just by experiencing the game and trying it before committing one more time to the full battle.
-It is a game that gets better and better as you play it. The full battle should be played only 4 turns before playing the game again for real. You will understand much better the scope, challenges and general goals.
-Firing with units is not all that deadly. There is no real need to make big stacks, it is as if only the front row soldiers were shooting. The big stacks are only good during melee. So it is something you have to understand before jumping into play and deciding how you organize your troops.
-To make the game more dynamic and faster you might want to end each turn with a die roll one value lower. We haven't try and it may break another piece in the game, especially the victory conditions but we thought it might bring more excitement and tension.
How is it Napoleonic?
-Great feel of committing corps to follow a particular order until it is changed
-Absence of full control on your Corps unless their commanders manage to be activated
-Good sequential interactions between the two sides
-Initial uncertainty of what the other side is doing until the units are revealed
-Importance of impact over firing, importance of troop quality in melee. It all feels "right", like the fine pieces of a clock running perfectly together
-It seems to simulate well the difficulty of manoeuvering thousands and thousands of men at a time without being a painful experience either for a player
The game has a few different victory conditions, fog of war and flexible placements that allow each player to explore a few different approaches. We did not feel that the game was scripted. There are some cards provided that allow you to try as options different plausible what-ifs. We did not go to this level as honestly, we are still discovering this game and all its finesse.
Points for improvement:
-as mentioned, maybe introduce a way to shortern the turns with the end of turn die roll. It will put more pressure on the players.
-provide a few more player aids and flow charts, even a turn sequence as we had to go back to the rulebook quite a few times.
-In the design note, explain how to play tactically as we were pretty much left to our own device without really knowing what to do with our troops, how to arrange them, what to do with the artillery, how to use cavalry, how to conduct an attack even though we had read the rules. It just doesn't make particular sense until you see it in action a few times and make a few mistakes on the way.
Game is not extremely difficult to play, there are just a few mechanisms that needs to be acquired: you have to understand essentially how melees and charges work, all the rest follows pretty much standard rules.
Game is long, quite long but there is always something happening, always one corps in action. While I don't necessarily like long games, this one is fun. Plan two days. It is fun every turn and you will see that you do not mind at all the length.
As someone wrote, it is a system that is getting better and better with more releases.
Is it diving into the full Napoleonic warfare details? No, and this is not necessarily a bad thing but it keeps enough of the essence of the era to provide an experience that teaches you a thing or two about this very interesting battle.
The ultimate question:
Do we want to play it? Yes, we do. Finding two days is the only obstacle between us and replaying this game instantly. We might try the Ligny one instead that is shorter, if we have only one game day.
In my view: a solid 8.5, a long game that we actually want to play again.
Edit: for the usual grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Last edited Sat Dec 29, 2018 8:30 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:52 am