Sunday, 7 September 2014

a Napoleonic board game

David B. came over with his elderly board game Napoleon for a play,  a block style game by Avalon Hill from 1977!  
The rules are fairly simple, a good thing not bad, which often serves to give a better game as one can concentrate on strategy than on looking through the rules each turn.

Based on the 100 Days/Waterloo campaign, the idea is to eliminate over half the respective armies blocks (these based roughly on a half corps each or so with artillery and cavalry elements)

Movement is a simple point to point move with some restriction in the number of block which can be moved all at once. Simple but effective.

As it turns out, the campaign played in about two hours or so, had some exciting moments as both our dice rolling was quite poor and sixes hard to come by.  I hate when sixes are required as inevitably I roll ones.  Perhaps I need more wrist action to get them to turn over?

A neat little campaign idea is to have the Allies lose a whole unit should Ghent fall (one from the Allies), Liege (from the Prussians) or Brussels (one from each!).  This simple mechanic, has the Allies looking to protect these three cities and the French to take them, all the while knowing that the destruction of armies is still the main task.
I have been looking for a simple map system and campaign focus for my miniatures collection as I want to run a campaign to generate tabletop battles and for player focus on the larger campaigning purpose.  How many tabletop battles have you been in, in which the player unknowingly has found himself outnumbered 3 to 1 and under a flank attack?  And he cannot complain as, well, he put himself there!  Good stuff indeed!
Allies (British, Hanoverians, Nassau and Dutch-Belgians - did I miss anyone?) in red, Prussians in green, French in blue.
For the game, I as Napoleon, made my main thrust against Ghent.  After one of the 'opening battles' had some of my French 'retreat' into that unoccupied city.    These initial battles had us practice the 'battle section' of the rules which handle all the engagements under a wholly different dicing system with the player moving around elements from one of three zones, right and left flanks and center and needing basically 6's to hit - sometimes 5 and 6's - but quite the dice game which I have noted we both sucked at.  Averages be damned.  Once a flank is eliminated your army is "in rout" and further hit upon.  Strength, as in most warfare, is the key and in what turn about to the ultimate battle I came close, initially outnumbering the Allies but David had a large Prussian force nearby to keep feeding in reserves.  Sound familiar?  I had a strong artillery contingent so I sat back a continued to bombard to only some effect finally throwing in a very strong element ( the Imperial Guard ? ) in a bid to overwhelm his centre before he took out my flank.  Again sounds like Waterloo?  I had no reserves to put into the fray. "Where are those men!!" However after some exceptionally large amount of 1s, David finally blew away my flank to have my army go into rout.
The "battle board"  This is one of the 'opening' battles which are small and over quickly.  Personally I still like the pomp and colour and eye-candy of the tabletop action!
Yes, that battle went badly but the campaign was not quite over as I still held Ghent.  This meant that David was forced to remove an Allied block which immediately put that army over 50% losses.  Wellington was forced to leave the campaign for home.  No train station named for his great victory I guess.  However, just as Napoleon was writing a victory speech for the people of Paris, the remaining Prussians, themselves close to defeat, followed up on the French remnants of the great battle of Sottegen to finally gain ultimate victory.  Napoleon was overheard as he rushed back to Paris, "It was a near run thing"

Thanks for Dave in coming over, and leaving this game with me to study as use as my guide with my 100 Days Campaign collection in the near future.


  1. It was great fun! Glad to have a chance to take the game out for a spin. I'm looking forward to see what can be done to make some linked campaign games.

  2. Doug,

    Haven't seen this one in a long time. Was this the game that was originally published by Columbia Games, oh so long ago?


  3. I guess I got this backwards. Looking on Boardgame Geek I see it was first published by Gamma Two Games, then Avalon Hill and finally Columbia games. A long and winding road for a pretty good game.

    1. I'm sure glad most of the miniatures don't have such a convoluted history.

      While simple rules, they create the right strategic influences for this campaign.
      As always, thanks for the comments. Hope to see you in the future.

  4. Yes this is the first real 'block game' by Dalgleish, same designer (& owner of the 'block game' concept) there is a 4th edition of the game out now and if you look on the Columbia Games website the full rules are free download. Combine with Cyberboard for a free computer based system for running a quick campaign.

    Doug, very roughly the Waterloo Game map and concepts are at the core of the game I plan to run of the 100 days campaign, the change is in the use of tabletop battles rather than the abstracted block battlefield.

    1. Great minds think alike. Even early in this game, I thought this campaign board and rules are exactly what I was looking for. I might alter the army organizations (the number of blocks as it were) as divisions rather than the half-Corps, but the overall concept is good.
      I am very interested in participating in your campaign, and should have most my Allies (approx a brigade per stand) done in the next few months
      Email me direct for further details
      Thanks for the info

  5. Great game from Columbia Games back in the 70s. If you recall, Doug, you and I played Quebec 1759 many years ago. That was another early Columbia release from the 70s.

    1. Yes, I actually do remember the game, now that you mention it! Thanks for the recollection. I really do not know why I have got into more of these type of game as I really enjoy the strategy part of the action. Simple moves and rules, with basic strategic aims is a solid basis of an interesting mental challenge. I suppose I am just a stuck in the rut historical miniatures kinda guy....
      Cheers David.