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Subject: First Game, First Impressions. rss

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Peter Collins
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I thought of putting this post under reviews, but declined. First, I don't think that there is anything I could say to persuade someone to purchase this game that hasn't already been said more eloquently in one or more of the excellent reviews on this website. Second, it would simply be inappropriate of me to review this game based on only one play. That would be like a kindergarten-aged fingerpainter doing a critique on French Impressionism.

Neither is this a full-on session report, with arrows and photos and all, since I didn't take very good notes and the game was played two days ago.

I'll do my best. Apologies in advance if I'm verbiose.

Wednesday night at the game store, I finally got to take NT out for a test spin. I had read the rules through three times and went on BGG for answers to rules questions, plus downloaded the FAQ's, the combat flowchart and the one page attack summary 2.0 by G. Haggerty (all three, excellent sources).

Duane (a serious Napoleonic era buff) and I met a little after 4:30, randomized for sides (he drew the red piece so I got the French) and off we went. I should add that I did not enter this game with much thinking on strategy. I simply wanted to road test the thing--getting a feel for game mechanics, mapboard intricacies, etc. Here's how I remember it going down:

SETUP

Right off the bat, I'm faced with difficult decisions of how to deploy my troops. Should I stack my weak flank (Legrand) with more and stronger units? Shall I load up on the left? How strong should the reinforcements be without diluting my on-field strength? How shall I react to Duane's setup? But the setup rules are simple--four or five short paragraphs.

I opted for a rather balanced deployment, each corps more or less equal in strength with balanced unit type distribution, except for Murat's strong all-cavalry corps. I detached Legrand in a wide line and set the fixed battery on the Santon, where it sat untouched the whole game. Davout and Bernadotte had equal strength--a guard infantry and three strength two infantry.

Duane did more or less the same thing, but he gave Bagration 8 blocks to show strength on his right.

My early impressions? The quality of components is outstanding--the artwork of the map, simple block design, and ease of setup (deployment issues aside) had me sold on the game from the get go. The only small wrinkle for me is the way the map folds up. I don't imagine that I will ever unfold that thing the same way twice, it's like a huge rigid origami experiment or something. "Look! It's a stork this time!" Also, I need to get a piece of plexiglas over it--it's too beautiful to risk some schleb dumping his coffee or mustard dog all over it.

GAMEPLAY

Duane started with a strong push on my right with Kienmayer and Doctorov that had the effect of shattering Legrand's forces. I could have defended better, but I accepted combats I would ordinarily have refused, just to see, "what happens when I do this?" By 10:00A.M., I'd had enough mauling, brought in Davout to shore up the right, deployed Bernadotte just north of Schplanitz in anticipation of my planned advance on the left. Duane began pressuring the center with Langeron and Prebyshevsky against St. Hilaire. I brought over Vandamme for support and advanced on the left with Lannes, Murat and Bessieres.

There was a lot of combat because we were trying to get a good sense of the combat procedure. Mistakes were made on both sides. I used my cavalry to execute lots of feints and was able to force Bagration's corps to disband down to three or four blocks. I disbanded two of my corps with foolhardy assaults, but was able to rebuild them back to effectiveness. Duane had a failed assault early that led to him wasting multiple turns rebuilding Doctorov's corps, so that it was never much of factor in the rest of the game.

My right flank devolved into a stalemate with Davout, the remains of Legrand and a weakened Vandamme (through detachments) holding off Kienmayer and having an artillery duel.

I pushed hard on the left, at one point advancing adjacent to Bagration's deployment locale. Lannes and Bessieres, with Bernadotte, held off a strong Allied advance on the center left in the Bosenitz- Blaschowitz-Tirzikowitz triangle and counter-attacked. This culminated in the complete destruction of Kollowrath's and Miloradovitch's corps. At this point, I had opened his center and was starting to search for stars.

Unfortunately, I pushed too hard and opened a gap in my center at Buntowitz. Duane accepted the gift and advanced through the hole with Prebyshevsky and Liechtenstein, disaster! By withdrawing, I was eventually able to send Liechtenstein back and mend my line, but Prebyshevsky parked on the French main road entry point so that, at 2:00 p.m., I had no chance of achieving a marginal victory. Duane, however, was down to 3 morale (to my 9) and we discussed whether I would have time and opportunity to win a demoralization victory. We left it there, however, because I had to get up in three hours and drive across the state for a professional conference. RESULT -- Marginal victory to Allies, contested.

It took about 5 and half hours for us to play this game, all due to learning curve issues. We both agree that the next game will be substantially shorter. Yes, there WILL be a next game. devil

MORE FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The RULES are easy to understand and well written. We had a few moments of trying to understand the intent of the rules (see my post on RETREATS, for example), but we were able to find answers for every major question that came up.

MOVEMENT, for me, was intuitive. I was pretty much able to figure out how to execute the manouevres that I intended. The organization of the mapboard is brilliant. It takes real thought to decide how to march one's troops efficiently and to have them in place where and when(!) they are needed. It made me feel like a real general, trying to achieve specific tasks, but limited by the vagaries of terrain and manpower. Later, I read through the FAQ's and found a lot of intricacies that I didn't know were possible while we were playing. I can't wait to try some of those out next time. I figured out how to use the feint before Duane did. I was able to use it to good effect during my advance on the left. I really like having the ability to impact the enemy's fighting and moving capability, without even firing a shot.

The COMBAT SYSTEM will take some time to master. We did some things wrong, until we caught them. We were also unaware that certain things were possible (for example, assaulting through the same approach following an artillery bombardment). Still, we were both able to achieve some big wins. We saw the effects of blocking an approach too weakly while keeping troops in reserve. We learned how to set up a locale for assault by using feints and flanking. And learned the futility of the frontal assault.

I really love the PLAY BALANCE of this game. Everything changed when I brought on my reinforcements. Suddenly the burden of attack fell on me and I had to rethink my strategy mid-game. The COMMAND structure elegantly models the logistical and tactical issues of the historical battles. The Allies have weight of numbers early but are more cumbersome to move, due to command deficiencies. They also start with a morale advantage. The French are more adaptable, but have less numbers. They get the tie-breaker in drawn combats. The reinforcements can swing the battle, but then the victory conditions change.

CONCLUSIONS

This game is everything that I want a wargame to be--strategic, tactical, easy to learn, difficult to master. It takes away luck. I win because I plan and execute correctly. I lose because my opponent does so more effectively than I do, NOT because I roll a 1, needing a 6.

I was tense and nervous, confident, even cocky at different stages of the game play. Do I have the nerve to forge ahead with my original plan? How do I respond when plans must change?

The most important thing I can say is that this game is REPLAYABLE! For the last two days I've been thinking over the game--how I could have done things better, what mistakes I made, how could I have deployed my troops differently and so on. Best of all, I'm thinking, "how am I going to change things the next time?"

There will be a next time. Many next times, that's for sure.

NAPOLEON'S TRIUMPH rating -- 10 out of 10.

Thanks for reading my post.

'nuf sed








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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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PeteyWA wrote:
Second, it would simply be inappropriate of me to review this game based on only one play. That would be like a kindergarten-aged fingerpainter doing a critique on French Impressionism.

Knowing that there is more to know is a mark of true wisdom. Excellent session report!
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micah qs
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Call it what you will - Excellent review!
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David
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No matter how one may think himself accomplished at playing war-games, when he sets out to learn Napoleon's Triumph, he has entered a new realm, as truly if he were a child learning to ride his first two wheeler.

Great session report.
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Mark Christopher
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In the wonderful game, Bonaparte at Marengo, this is how to get nasty Frenchies out of a village.
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PeteyWA wrote:
I was tense and nervous, confident, even cocky at different stages of the game play. Do I have the nerve to forge ahead with my original plan? How do I respond when plans must change?

The most important thing I can say is that this game is REPLAYABLE! For the last two days I've been thinking over the game--how I could have done things better, what mistakes I made, how could I have deployed my troops differently and so on. Best of all, I'm thinking, "how am I going to change things the next time?"


This spells out my feelings during and after a game of NT as well. While other wargames bring these out in me as well, none do to the extent and degree that NT does.

Great session report!
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PeteyWA wrote:
...For the last two days I've been thinking over the game--how I could have done things better, what mistakes I made, how could I have deployed my troops differently and so on. Best of all, I'm thinking, "how am I going to change things the next time?"


When a game can produce this reaction from me, I again undertand why I am in this hobby.

Nicely stated and great session report.
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PeteyWA wrote:


This game is everything that I want a wargame to be--strategic, tactical, easy to learn, difficult to master. It takes away luck. I win because I plan and execute correctly. I lose because my opponent does so more effectively than I do, NOT because I roll a 1, needing a 6.

I was tense and nervous, confident, even cocky at different stages of the game play. Do I have the nerve to forge ahead with my original plan? How do I respond when plans must change?



Amen!
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shinobu wrote:
PeteyWA wrote:


This game is everything that I want a wargame to be--strategic, tactical, easy to learn, difficult to master. It takes away luck. I win because I plan and execute correctly. I lose because my opponent does so more effectively than I do, NOT because I roll a 1, needing a 6.

I was tense and nervous, confident, even cocky at different stages of the game play. Do I have the nerve to forge ahead with my original plan? How do I respond when plans must change?



Amen!


Great game!

I knew you couldn't help yourself Nagato.... he he... My friend whom luck departed....
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PeteyWA wrote:


Right off the bat, I'm faced with difficult decisions of how to deploy my troops. Should I stack my weak flank (Legrand) with more and stronger units? Shall I load up on the left? How strong should the reinforcements be without diluting my on-field strength? How shall I react to Duane's setup?

GAMEPLAY

Duane started with a strong push on my right with Kienmayer and Doctorov that had the effect of shattering Legrand's forces. I could have defended better, but I accepted combats I would ordinarily have refused, just to see, "what happens when I do this?" By 10:00A.M., I'd had enough mauling, brought in Davout to shore up the right, deployed Bernadotte just north of Schplanitz in anticipation of my planned advance on the left. Duane began pressuring the center with Langeron and Prebyshevsky against St. Hilaire. I brought over Vandamme for support and advanced on the left with Lannes, Murat and Bessieres.

I pushed hard on the left, at one point advancing adjacent to Bagration's deployment locale. Lannes and Bessieres, with Bernadotte, held off a strong Allied advance on the center left in the Bosenitz- Blaschowitz-Tirzikowitz triangle and counter-attacked. This culminated in the complete destruction of Kollowrath's and Miloradovitch's corps. At this point, I had opened his center and was starting to search for stars.

Unfortunately, I pushed too hard and opened a gap in my center at Buntowitz. RESULT -- Marginal victory to Allies, contested.

Yes, there WILL be a next game. devil

MORE FIRST IMPRESSIONS

We learned the futility of the frontal assault.

I really love the PLAY BALANCE of this game. Everything changed when I brought on my reinforcements. Suddenly the burden of attack fell on me and I had to rethink my strategy mid-game. The COMMAND structure elegantly models the logistical and tactical issues of the historical battles. The Allies have weight of numbers early but are more cumbersome to move, due to command deficiencies.

CONCLUSIONS

This game is everything that I want a wargame to be--strategic, tactical, easy to learn, difficult to master. It takes away luck. I win because I plan and execute correctly. I lose because my opponent does so more effectively than I do, NOT because I roll a 1, needing a 6.

I was tense and nervous, confident, even cocky at different stages of the game play. Do I have the nerve to forge ahead with my original plan? How do I respond when plans must change?

There will be a next time. Many next times, that's for sure.



Yes, imagine, if this is your First Game, First Impressions, just exactly what your Second Game, Second Impressions will hold!

You are right on every level that you addressed in your post. The game starts before you ever place a piece! You've got to have a battle plan, and you've got to be able to adjust your plan according to the events that unfold in front of you.

This game, again, you are right, is VERY replayable. I could play this game 2-3 times a day, everyday, all year, and be extremely pleased with the "variety" of my gaming habits...the set-up variability, alone, creates endless outcomes, events, stories, layers and hours of fun.

Welcome to the World of NT!
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