By Michael Stultz

Publisher: Legion Wargames LLC

Designer: Andy Loakes

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Recently, the Maine Historical Wargamers’ Association held its annual convention. Primarily a miniatures event, there are those blasphemers like me who prefer to battle on a map with cardboard pieces. Thankfully, the Association is happy to accommodate the grognards by making space available for us in a corner where we may huddle over our cardboard minions in deep contemplation. As is my custom, I usually host a game or two each year. This year, the simulation I brought to the table for my willing comrades in arms to play was Legion’s Toulon, 1793. A fascinating subject that I don’t believe has been the subject of treatment before, one that reminded me of the SPI game, the Art of Siege, or AH’s Siege of Jerusalem—two of my early favorites. Toulon was the battle that generally ushered Napoleon onto the European stage, and while rather obscure when compared against his later victories, it was here that Napoleon attracted attention and formed friendships and loyalty that would come to serve him in the years ahead.

Usually when one thinks of Napoleonic battles, what comes to mind is a combined arms battle that involves climactic cavalry charges, artillery bombardments, large formations of infantry marching into position for the assault, and a battle of maneuver. There is none of that in Toulon. This is siege warfare. Battle is methodical and development slow. There are no hugely bloody clashes. Playing this game is an exercise in planning and patience. Grab a cup of Earl Grey, hot (thank you, Captain Picard, for that enduring memory), and enjoy the experience for victory is the reward of careful resource management and thoughtful development of position. But, time is not eternal. Each player, especially the French, will be up against the clock and limited resources as they strive to defeat the Allied forces.

by Paul Comben

Designer:  Denis Sauvage

Publisher: Golden Games, Shakos

 

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Napoleon’s 1806 campaign in Prussia was one of those occasional examples in military history where two culturally similar nations, armed with much the same sort of weaponry, and this in the hands of more of less similar numbers of men, managed to produce entirely different results. To be blunt, from beginning to end, this campaign really wasn’t close. One tempting comparison (involving much the same combatants, broadly speaking) was the German offensive against France in the spring of 1940. One side (no two guesses which) had the modern method to match the modern weapons, and a daring plan to match the method and the weapons. The other side (narrowed down to a choice of precisely one) thought they were still fighting their last war, and thus had no relevant method, no daring plan, and not that many commanders who would have looked out of place posing for one of Mister Fenton’s photographic portraits in the Crimea.

It was largely the same story in 1806 – just with the roles reversed. Napoleon was the modern military thinker with an army nearing peak performance. By contrast, Prussian leadership was obsessed with the doctrines of Frederick the Great (in 1806, the best part of half-a-century past their best) and the higher tiers of its automaton army were thoroughly overpopulated with aged fossils with no inclination to think or fight other than how it had all been done decades earlier.

by Paul Comben

Designer: Kevin Zucker

Publisher: Operational Studies Group

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If you keep fighting battles and if those battles keep getting bigger, and if there is never any end in sight save the nagging feeling that sooner or later your luck must run out, eventually you are very likely to fail.  Napoleon did not say this in the first bright twilight of his decline, at least not in so many words, but he certainly suspected it to be the case.

When precisely he first sensed it is open to conjecture, but it is impossible to think of the man in the high heat of a Russian summer in 1812 without his being occupied at various points in his mounted forays and carriage dashes by the first intimations of total disaster.  All of a sudden, with his legions still advancing upon the dusty road to Smolensk, he declared that the war against Russia would be a three year affair – 1812 to see his army encamped between the Dvina and the Dnepr; 1813 an advance upon Moscow; 1814 a conclusion in Saint Petersburg.

But this was not the original plan, and it was not even some clever extemporization upon the original concept as events unfolded.  It was a consolation.  It was a pretense.  It was, for all intents and purposes, a bulletin composed for his own benefit as well as for those who commanded the corps and the divisions he led to calamity.

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by Russ Lockwood

DESIGNER: Mark G. McLaughlin
DEVELOPER: Fred Schachter
ART DIRECTOR: Rodger B. MacGowan
MAP, CARD, & COUNTER ART: Mark Simonitch
PRODUCERS: Gene Billingsley, Tony Curtis, Andy Lewis, Rodger MacGowan, Mark Simonitch

The great thing about a Weekday Wargame is that taking a full day during the week feels like such a treat. On Wednesday, Dec. 20, at around 11:00am, Marc, Rory and I gathered at Dan’s house for a day of gaming. Fueled by doughnuts, coffee cake, and other sugary goodness, we started with the GMT game Wellington.

This fantastic four-player game — admittedly a little long in the tooth now, but entertaining as ever — pits English and Spanish players against two French players (north and south, or as the counters are colored, blue and green).

By Paul Comben

 Designer: Emanuele Santandrea

 Publisher: VentoNuovo Games

 

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(N.B. Blocks are shown exposed in photos for illustrative purposes)

Yes, the title quote is from the film Waterloo, and the game is about Borodino, but the quote, nevertheless, is entirely apposite and appropriately Napoleonic.  Bloody Monday is a game very much about timing – timing and unit movement/placement; timing and the ordering of attacks; timing and the waiting game; timing and the implied sense of having not too much time to do anything.

Part Two of A Review of Trafalgar Editions’ Game of Nelson’s Epic Battle

by Paul Comben,  Designer:Crisanto Lorente Gonzalez,  Publisher: Trafalgar Editions

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Trafalgar has a range of advanced and optional rules designed to add a higher level of detail to the process of an engagement in the Age of Sail.  Not quite all of these are relevant to restaging the famous battle of October 21st 1805.  In that context, to give the obvious example, the rules for shore batteries belong to other designer scenarios, or to what players may create for themselves.

What I want to do here, rather than progressing through the pages of the game’s rulebook saying “you can now add this or should be using that,” I will look at additional procedures where there is a significant change to proceedings compared to the relatively simple “move and fight” nature of the basic rules.

A Review of Trafalgar Editions’ Game of Nelson’s Epic Battle

by Paul Comben,  Designer:Crisanto Lorente Gonzalez,  Publisher: Trafalgar Editions

Part One: Components and the Basic Game

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There is always a certain challenge facing designers looking to create games relating to the things men make to fight in – be it ships, be it tanks, be it aircraft, the challenge remains the same: just how much detail should be included?

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Paul Comben takes a look at the inaugural design of a new company, Trafalgars Editions. and their simulation of the Battle of Waterloo which combines elements of miniatures with traditional historical board war game mechanics.

by Paul Comben

Designer: Jose Antonio Luengo

Publisher: Trafalgar Editions

By Paul Comben

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In the last weeks of 1812 Napoleon had witnessed the wholesale destruction of the army he had led to the gates of Moscow.  Too long a stay in that abandoned and razed city; too readily beguiled and deceived by the illusion that the Tsar might yet come to terms; too much indecision; too little supply; an abundance of Cossack raiders and the winter’s relentless cold, all had played their part in reducing La Grande Armée to nothing but the last straggling fragments of total ruin.  Not too long after the desperate crossing of the Berezina, the emperor informed his marshals that he was leaving the army and hastening on to Paris.  Murat was left in overall command, and whilst he falteringly went about the discharge of a duty far removed from all his customary notions of martial splendour, Napoleon raced across Europe in a small and anonymous group of vehicles, and was in the French capital a little under three weeks later.

By Paul Comben

Publisher Vento Nuovo Games

Designer Emanuele Santandrea

(Some images courtesy of BoardgameGeek.com)

 

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Inevitably, some games on some subjects have us searching around our catalogue of game play experience looking for the most apposite terms of reference. However, from time to time you get a game that really does not put us in mind of anything else. My recent review of W1815 for The Boardgaming Life highlighted such a game; and now, I come to a second Waterloo game which is unique and entirely of itself.

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Superficially, this Vento Nuovo title might prompt considerations of similarity with several Columbia designs – especially their Borodino – but beyond a certain resemblance in physical format, Waterloo 200 has very little in common with Columbia’s work. What we have here is an entry-level block game, which, surprise surprise, emphasizes fog of war, but adds to that impulse movement on an area based map, as well as the wearing friction of command, maneuver and combat, the various crises pertaining to battlefield commitment, and all this alongside a dice-less combat system, which, at least initially, will leave many a player scratching their head and wondering what to do. My advice to such players: leave your personal Waterloo baggage elsewhere and give this game time to work its charms on you, because this is really rather special.