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Napoleon's Art of War: Eylau and Dresden» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Magazine Game? You Could Do Worse… rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
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Napoleon’s Art Of War


Strategy & Tactics Magazine #75 (July-August 1979)
Designed by Bob Jervis, Bob Pollard, Olle Johansson, Omar DeWitt & Redmond A. Simonsen
Published by Simulations Publications Incorporated (1979)



I used to have a subscription to Strategy & Tactics. I had dozens of their magazines and games. The problem was most of them were never played. Of those that were played most were only played once. The number of quality wargames that have come out of magazines is very small in my experience.

The concept is fine. You get six magazines a year – each one has a game as well as historical articles related to the same subject as the game itself.

The problem is simply one of deadlines. When you have a tight publication schedule that must be met to keep your subscribers happy one thing that does happen is that the quality of the game testing suffers in order to meet the deadline. It is true to say that a lot of magazine games suffer by being rushed out before they were ready.

One of the small number of magazine games that I have played repeatedly is Eylau, one of the two scenarios in Napoleon’s Art of War. Read on and find out why…

Napoleon’s Art of War uses a system based on the Napoleon At Waterloo system – a system which was the basis for many S.P.I. games at this time (Blue & Gray, Napoleon At War, Napoleon’s Last Battles, and others). The game comes with two maps, two sets of counters and two different battles. I have only played Eylau and have played it more than 12 times.


The Game System
Eylau features your traditional wargame system where you have a hexagonal grid placed over a map to regulate movement. You have cardboard counters rated for strength and movement. During play all of one player’s units are moved and battles are then resolved between adjacent opposing units. Then the other player repeats the process and the turn marker is moved along the Turn Record Track.

In Eylau units are locked in place once they move adjacent to an enemy unit. The only way to escape is as a result of combat.

The system has a several nice features. There is no stacking – this makes it easy to keep track of all of your units without having to lift counters to see what is beneath. Artillery units can fight adjacent enemy units. If the artillery is not adjacent to an enemy unit they may then bombard enemy units that are two hexes distant. All units are divisional size and have their historical corps indicated on the counter – units of the same corps that attack together gain a bonus in combat – this makes players try to keep units of the same corps close together so as to be able to support each other. Also, most corps have a Fresh Strength marker. Once during each game these markers can be added to combat either offensively or defensively – this leads to a small element of uncertainty regarding the combat odds.


Playing The Game
The game is pleasant and has an element of excitement.

The game starts with two armies that are roughly equivalent size (the Russians may be slightly stronger). The French have more units but the average strength of the Russian units is higher than that of their French counterparts. Both armies receive reinforcements during the game but the French receive considerably more than the Russians.

The French have the initiative at the start of the game – all French units can move. The Russians suffer from command paralysis. On turn one only a single Russian corps can move and on the second turn only two corps can move.

The French have two turns where they can act with relative impunity.

The Combat Results Table is fairly bloodless – that is to say that there are a lot of retreat results. To be successful in this game, players need to set up situations where they can surround enemy units and thus turn retreat into destruction. To set up these situations often takes some gutsy decisions as to surround your opponent sometimes requires you to put your units where they can be surrounded later, should some of your attacks fail.

The use of Fresh Strength markers makes combats even more interesting. The attacker needs to keep in mind that the defender may be able to add strength to a battle at the last minute.


Closing Comments
The Eylau battle is good fun. The game plays quickly due to the small number of counters and the fact that there is no stacking. Once enemy units are adjacent they don’t move and this speeds up the decision-making process. The combat system is simple and yet requires some intelligent placement for your overall battle-plan to be effective.

The game is excellent as an introductory game for people with little or no experience of this type of wargame. The game is not brilliant, but it is fun and certainly a very professional product in every aspect of the word – and certainly an above average product for a magazine game.


arrrh “Dead Men Tell No Tales!”


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Frank Feldmann SoFrankly
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I had this a long time ago as an eighth grader! I wish I still had it!
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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da pyrate wrote:
I used to have a subscription to Strategy & Tactics. I had dozens of their magazines and games. The problem was most of them were never played.


For several years in the 70s, I played every single issue game at least twice. I had two other gaming buddies who subscribed, and each wanted to try every issue game at least once. Those were great times!
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Sphere wrote:
da pyrate wrote:
I used to have a subscription to Strategy & Tactics. I had dozens of their magazines and games. The problem was most of them were never played.


For several years in the 70s, I played every single issue game at least twice. I had two other gaming buddies who subscribed, and each wanted to try every issue game at least once. Those were great times!


What was your opinion of the quality of the product, in general?

The only magazine games I could really recommend are Cobra, Battle for Germany, Frederick the Great, Panzergruppe Guderian, Cromwell's Victory, Napoleon's Art of War, World War One (until you work out the puzzle that allows the Central Powers to win easily every time) and The Battle of Hastings. If you look at The Wargamer Magzine I can add Battle for Kasserine and possibly Drive On Damascus.
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da pyrate wrote:
What was your opinion of the quality of the product, in general?


I thought it was superb. It wasn't just about the games. The articles that were published along with them made S&T very special.

da pyrate wrote:
The only magazine games I could really recommend are Cobra, Battle for Germany, Frederick the Great, Panzergruppe Guderian, Cromwell's Victory, Napoleon's Art of War, World War One (until you work out the puzzle that allows the Central Powers to win easily every time) and The Battle of Hastings.


Those are all good, and I can think of many more. Just off the top of my head: USN, Borodino, Winter War, Ney vs. Wellington. How about the "fifth wheel" games that introduced quality quads, like Breitenfeld and Tannenburg? Then there were solitaire games like Wolfpack, Operation Olympic and Fall of Rome. Let's see, how about Conquistador, The Crusades, and Stonewall?

To understand how big an impact S&T had on me, you'd have to understand what the gaming landscape was like in the early 1970s. Just being able to find games like Armageddon or Year of the Rat seemed incredible. The breadth of subject matter, and the vision of Dunnigan and Simonton, swept me up and deeply affected my gaming life. I'll be forever grateful.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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I respect your opinion and now better appreciate the context of your comments. I had forgotten about Winter War and Conquistador, two games I have played, enjoyed and hold in high esteem.


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roger cox
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What about the lakes??? Do they have no effect on movement or combat? They aren't even listed on the terrain chart on the map or the chart beneath the CRT. In the real battle, some lakes froze over, but that isn't even mentioned. How do we play lake terrain?
 
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Kim Meints
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Roger

Yes they are mentioned as a "Note" under River Hexside on the TEC-

Note: Rivers & Lakes are frozen in Eylau and have no effect on movement,ZOC or combat
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