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Subject: A great wargame to start with rss

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Jordi Prieto
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Ni! Ni! Ni!!


Are you curious about wargames but you’re afraid your neighbours be aware of it? Thinking about them at night when you turn off the light scares you? Seeing more than 1 number in a counter sends shivers in your liver? Do you think wargaming leads always to compulsive purchases of military memorabilia? Have you ever thought that beholding a map with a hex grid could deform your pupils so they mutate towards that polygonal shape? Are you afraid of reading 30 pages rulebooks???

For those who answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions: read this review. And those who don’t, you can take a look too, it’s free and it will be short, specially if you don’t read until the end.

Napoleon at Waterloo is ideal for starting without pain or anaesthesia in the wonderful world of hexes, with all those concepts as combat factors, ZOC, odds-based CRT, TEC (WHAT???) and other tasty nuances of the genre. Don’t worry, it’s simpler than it seems and you can learn everything in life. As the saying goes, ‘you won’t get into bed without having learnt anything new that day’. Unless you’re going to learn something in the bed... Let’s drop jokes aside, if possible.



Historical environment

The battle of Waterloo, possibly the most famous one, that meant Napoleon falling from grace after being defeated by another Coalition devised to get him off the wagon. I won’t say anything unsaid so far. Well, I’m not willing to digress nor putting some wikipedia links, you are adult enough to do that for yourselves if you wish!



Components


Being print & play, pictures I’ve taken are not very reliable about the aspect of the game officially released, but at least you can see how it looks. Yes, visually it won’t touch you, it’s functional and not much more, but it’s nice. Or is Brass more appealing??? The stuff to download in case you want to follow my example is here:

http://www.alanemrich.com/PGD/Week_03/PGD_NAW_rules.htm

You just have to print the map and counter sheet.

There are other links in bgg with different map and counter designs; it’s up to the consumer’s tastes.

Anyway, don’t expect anything impressive in case you have bought the game. Being from the 70s or 80s, you can’t pretend anything glossier. But I’m here to speak about the game, I’m not an art reviewer.



Players/game length

Two players. That’s all. All units are activated in each turn, so more people could join so each player could move some of them, or a single player could be in charge of Prussians. However, in my opinion, that’s preposterous. Joint strategy is lost and enjoyment could decrease. Leave experiments to mad doctors willing to rule the world, please.

Well, it can be played solo, too… as a last resource if your acquaintances run more than you when trying to convince them to play. Of course your wife won’t try it, it’s an axiom I take into account. We don’t live forever, squirts don’t surf, women don’t like wargames. It’s like avoiding tides; there’s nothing you can do.

The game can be completed in an hour, let’s say one hour and a half for new players or snails made flesh.




Mechanics

This game portrays the IGO-UGO system, namely ‘I move all my units and attack and then you move all your units and attack’. No card activations (as you may wonder, there are no cards here), chits or anything else. Each counter has two main numbers, combat strength and movement in hexes. Each counter also has a unit designation, for history buffs, and the hex number where it must be placed at starting set-up. Some types of terrain have special features, for example forest hexes are impassable unless entered by road. Anyway, the game is so simple that there are hardly things to remember about the terrain; even Memoir’44 is more complex! If a counter reaches a hex adjacent to an enemy unit, it must stop. That is ‘zone of control’, or ZOC for friends: the 6 hexes surrounding a counter are its ZOC, which ‘ties’ enemy unit(s) to it. These enemy units only will get out the ZOC through combat. When a player has moved the units he wishes, combats take place, and every unit adjacent to enemy units must attack. There is only 1 attack per side per turn, and each unit will only be attacked once per turn. Combat works this way: combat strength of the attacking unit(s) are summed and the result is divided by the sum of strengths of defending unit(s). Then the attacker rolls a dice and checks the combat results table, consisting of odds. If attacker had 8 and defender 4, applies the result of the roll to the column 2-1. If attacker had 11 and defender 7, column 1-1 is the chosen one, etc. Results of the combat will yield losses and/or retreats. French wins eliminating 40 enemy combat factors before he loses 40 and getting off 7 units through a certain section of the map. Allied victory will take place if French loses 40 combat factors before Allies. These are, in a nutshellfire, the game rules.




Conclusion

Here you have a wargame with the characteristics usually that kind of games don’t own:

-Cheap: if you find it used, it’s often economic. In case you don’t stumble upon a copy, you can do it on your own. I will simply state yours truly did it (pictures are the token of my words), despite my ramshackle abilities for craftsmanship. So if I was able to do it, you really can!

-Short: as stated before, 90 minutes is the longer it could take I think.

-Easy: it has just 4 pages of rules or something like that. Mechanics are very simplified, without including many other features present in most of wargames such as stackings, skirmishers, morale rolls, cavalry charges, lines of command, order system…

Napoleon at Waterloo is more devoted to the spirit of a classic wargame than others usually recommended to start on this (Commands & Colors…). It’s also more historical, without being a realistic simulation. It hasn’t fiddly or lengthy rules and if it means just a light snack for your hunger for wargames, you can always delve into other games using this system or walk a step higher and lurking other products more demanding and meatier. If you check this game out and you don’t like it at all, maybe the hex&counter issue is not made for you. The game allows to get familiar with concepts and mechanics used in many others games of the kind, zocs, factors, combat table… with a very low counter density to make things easier to grasp. It’s a fast and light game just to have a good time, away from brain-burning feelings, and quite useful to call for new souls to the wargaming world. There are people who has played with their children. It’s been also tested on rats, with excellent results.



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Lewis Goldberg
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Boy the way Glenn Miller played // Songs that made the Hit Parade // Guys like us we had it made // Those were the days.
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Excellent little review, and nice pictures. You did a good job with this.

I played the game last back in 200x? as a 3-player, with a couple of kids that were in single digit years-old. We treated the PAA force as a separate army with one kid commanding it.
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sunday silence
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I'm not even sure how I got my copy, I think my best friends mom knew I was into this sort of thing and gave it to me one day. Anyhow it does the job as introduction to wargaming as it plays fast, easy to understand and is sort of fun for a few times.

Interestingly enuf, what really made this interesting was that I had read about the battle and realized quickly that the game has serious limitations about simulating reality. Much of it having to do with the lack of information about the other side (not to mention your own side). The situation at La Haye St. IIRC was that initially the Brits placed a 1-5 guy there and the best play was to bomb him with artillery I guess.

THis raised all sorts of questions: WHy should Nap. know what his best play is? How do you account for defensive positions like this? What about unit breakdowns into subunits, why cant we simulate this? Perhaps newbies who enounter the game will try to solve the same problems?

All sort of questions were raised in my mind and I began to tackle them. I guess I was about 10 or 11. It definitely had an large impact on my early thoughts about wargames and games in particular. For that it's worth a lot...
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Mike Windsor
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The prior version of this game was SPI's introduction to wargaming.



For the cost of postage, they would send you a three-color countersheet, the map, and the rules. I bit on the offer. Thousands (literally) of dollars later..... whistle

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sunday silence
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you know I think that's how I got it. My friends mom gave me diversion magazine to do the chess problems in it. And I then responded to an ad in there. I guess.
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Carlos A. L. de Miranda
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You would receive it as a new subscriber to S&T ans Ares magazines. I got mine that way.
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sunday silence
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what was Ares? that name vaguely rings a bell.
 
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Kim Meints
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SPI's Sci-Fi magazine with games in it like S&T
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Steven Goodknecht
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Jordi,

A great review of a game that brings back fond memories of my misspent youth!

You have also been added to the Wargame Reviewers geeklist here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/127822/in-praise-of-bg...
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Jordi Prieto
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Thank you Steven!
 
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Pete Henninger
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Best Intro to Wargaming Game Ever.

Even today, as I introduced Wargaming to a high school history class, they much preferred NAW to Target Arnhem, for example.
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