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Subject: A "first" game of Napoleon's Triumph rss

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the scrub
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I first saw Napoleon's Triumph at the Niagara Boardgaming Weekend just a few weeks ago. Though I had heard about the innovation of Bonaparte at Marengo years ago it wasn't until I saw a copy of NT being played at the con by generalisimo that I was able to finally fondle the pieces, peruse the rules and chat about the game with a player.

I am not the biggest fan of Napoleonics but I was wowed. NT, generalissimo told me, came with TWO rulebooks ("WHAT?!" I exclaimed), two big chunky heavy mounted boards, sweet wooden pieces that in concert with the map evoked the military diagrams and maps of old.


Nice close-up of our set-up.

"There are extra stickers, blocks, commander pieces and even glossy divider sheets for between the layers of components in the box," generalissimo added.

I picked my jaw up off the floor and muttered to myself, "How can a self-published wargame so this without costing me an arm and a leg?" What we have here, in my humble view, is a game that made by a gamer for other gamers. After getting a good overview of the game I was even more sold. I ordered NT the next day.




The set-up. I'm the allies, Prawn is the dirty French.

Okay, so I lied. This session report is actually of my second game with my f2f wargaming buddy "Prawn". He and I generally play ASLSK, Twilight Struggle and Manoeuvre. Little did I know, when I described NT to him that he was a closet Napoleonics fan. One quick look at the game had HIM picking his jaw up off the floor.

We tried a "learning" game last week or so when we hashed out the rules and just pushed blocks around the cool map. When we broke to go home we swore we'd figure out this wargame without dice and meet again in real battle soon.

Today we got out the game, set-up fast and had at it. We choose the one-day scenario, with me as the Allies and Prawn pushing the blue scum of the Earth around.



Heavily weighted on the left, with lots of cavalry on the right, the Allies push close on turn 2.

The game started fairly tame. My strategy, such as it was in my first real game, was to utilize the cavalry I had and harrass the hell out of the French. I also weighted down the left flank with the majority of my forces, keeping only 1 and 2 strength units in the middle and in reserve... insanity? Probably.

With equally reckless disregard, Prawn had Bernadotte enter on turn one and blammo, the battle was on.



End of Turn 2.

The second turn was the most eventful and longest. It was turn 2 that we started engaging each out on each flank and started digging deeply into the rules and the attack procedure. It must have been a long day at work because I was not the equal of the Prawn -- his enthusiasm for the game was palpable too. It was not going to be pretty for my "reds".



Right flank, cavalry harrassment.

I was lucky to draw first blood early in the game when attacked on the right flank. My corp of 3 cavalry units split into three locales and subsequently fell back in the locale and caused the game's first retreat and morale loss. Alas, it was to be one of my rare victories on this day.



End of Turn 3.

By the end of the third game hour of battle my flanking and harrassing manuevers by the cavalry had discombobulated the French right flank but I was not able to manuever and take advantage of the disruptions, being disrupted myself. My beefy stacks in the centre left eyed the 4 capacity towns and bottlenecks to get to the blue objective areas in the French rear and knew it would be a tight squeeze.

Note also that the French left (my right) was starting to penetrate the line, much to the chagrin of Bagration.



Earlier, logjam of the left Allied flank developing. And look at that ILLEGAL five units in the village locale! Nobody tell Prawn!




End of Turn 4. (We had to move the board during this time so some pieces are all over the place.)

Nothing helps you learn better than losing. And I was losing. And unfortunately, not learning fast enough. Prawn was disecting good size chunks out of my right flank and I did not have the orders to reattach units to provide much defense. Live by the horse, die by the horse.

During these last couple of turns I learned painful lessons about what "committed" Guards units were (retreating = committing! Yay!) and my morale started taking swift dives towards zero and Decisive French victory.



End of Game.

Here's a shot of the end of the game map. Beautiful even in defeat!

The Allied cavalry that end run around the left flank were chased about the board in the rear doing god knows what. The middle stacks were too late to affect much in the grander scope of the battle. On the right, though dispersed with the French, too many losses had demoralized the Allies.


Thoughts and Reflections

1. This is a very, very nice looking game. Every once in a while, though engrossed in the game, I'd look around the board and just marvel. Pretty.

2. No dice? No problem. I'm still coming to grips with the attack procedure and tactical do's and don't's. Prawn definitely got it better than I. More study of the rules should help (I didn't have time to reread the rules inbetween first and second game!)

3. This game plays surprisingly quick. It's a bit refreshing to be able to decide Austerlitz in about 2 and a half hours in your second ever game.

4. Thanks to NT, I'm a much bigger Napoleonics fan. I may not "get" the game just yet but I'm "getting" some of the feel of the type of war being waged.

5. Are cannons very one-dimensional or what? Our misguided history lessons seem to place a lot of emphasis on cannon and yet cavalry and infantry seemed to do a lot more "stuff".

6. The bluffing aspect of this game seems very promising. Looks like it will be the biggest factor in the game's replayability.


Lastly, Prawn and I were eager to share our first real game of NT on the 'geek to get some feedback on our play. Granted we made some very very aggressive moves early and we're not sure if that was typical or just silly. We'd love to hear experienced players yell at us.

Thanks for reading. Napoleon's Triumph -- it's fun to look at, play and share.


laugh

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Stephan Tourville
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Man, Scrub, are you capable of writing something that I don't want to read?!



Great report--I, too, was never very much into Napoleonic warfare, but I'm just a few turns into my first couple games (by PBEM) of NT, and I'm loving it!

Keep the reports coming. Great photos, by the way!
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Excellent report, Scrub!

scrub wrote:
What we have here, in my humble view, is a game that made by a gamer for other gamers.


You're absolutely correct.

scrub wrote:

I'm still coming to grips with the attack procedure and tactical do's and don't's.


I strongly recommend that you download Garry Haggerty's superb one-page NT Attack Summary and refer to it as you step through your battles.

scrub wrote:
5. Are cannons very one-dimensional or what? Our misguided history lessons seem to place a lot of emphasis on cannon and yet cavalry and infantry seemed to do a lot more "stuff".


It looks like most of your engagements were skirmishes. As you play more games, you'll get into situations where larger corps go toe to toe and pound each other for several rounds. The artillery will come into its own then.
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Scott Henshaw
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Quick question: If he brought on reserves in the first turn, why were you even advancing?
As soon as the French reserves come on board, the Austrians should be in full fall back and be defensive. If I was the Allied Commander and the French reserves hit on turn 1, I'd be ecstatic! No offense for me, only defense, and on good terrain!
ScottH.
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Charles Lewis
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Thanks for the pictures! They show one of the main attractions of his games for me - they just look darn pretty!
 
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the scrub
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SgtShellback wrote:
Man, Scrub, are you capable of writing something that I don't want to read?!


Keep the reports coming. Great photos, by the way!


Thanks for the nice comments all. I have to say that I really enjoy sharing the fun I have with the games I play.

Sphere wrote:

scrub wrote:
What we have here, in my humble view, is a game that made by a gamer for other gamers.


You're absolutely correct.


I want to add my thanks to Mr. Bowen Simmons for the game. He's jumped into my personal list of game designers who are "good guys".


Sphere wrote:

scrub wrote:

I'm still coming to grips with the attack procedure and tactical do's and don't's.


I strongly recommend that you download Garry Haggerty's superb one-page NT Attack Summary and refer to it as you step through your battles.


We had the one-pager printed and after perusal I think I would personally prefer the alternate version by Alan Richbourg. Regardless, the player aids from the community here are all great.


Sphere wrote:

scrub wrote:
5. Are cannons very one-dimensional or what? Our misguided history lessons seem to place a lot of emphasis on cannon and yet cavalry and infantry seemed to do a lot more "stuff".


It looks like most of your engagements were skirmishes. As you play more games, you'll get into situations where larger corps go toe to toe and pound each other for several rounds. The artillery will come into its own then.


When you say "pound each other for several rounds" does that mean some sort of attack where stacks don't retreat from each other, grinding it out?

ScottH wrote:
Quick question: If he brought on reserves in the first turn, why were you even advancing?
As soon as the French reserves come on board, the Austrians should be in full fall back and be defensive. If I was the Allied Commander and the French reserves hit on turn 1, I'd be ecstatic! No offense for me, only defense, and on good terrain!
ScottH.


I wanted to fight! I realized I could play spoiler and try to win but I had yet to really dig into the rules and I offered Prawn a skirmish. As you say, if this were a more competitive setting and not our first big game, I'd not be so generous.

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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scrub wrote:
I would personally prefer the alternate version by Alan Richbourg.


That is excellent as well.

scrub wrote:
When you say "pound each other for several rounds" does that mean some sort of attack where stacks don't retreat from each other, grinding it out?


Yes. When two good-sized corps enter opposite sides of the same approach, a battle can last for several hours. Sometimes you'll see a line of contiguous approaches with corps facing each other in line of battle.

Naturally both sides will be attempting to turn the flanks, but meanwhile artillery (which can't retreat anyway) will be detached and pounding away, and a corps commander who senses weakness will detach infantry units for assaults, hoping to soften up the enemy line prior to delivering the killing blow.

As you play more games, you'll see more of these climactic battles.
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R Larsen
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Great report, thanks!
Funny, looking at the final picure, it looks like the game turned out almost historically correct.
Nice.
 
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