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Napoléon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815
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On June 18, 1815, one of the most decisive battles in military history was fought in Belgian fields twenty miles southeast of Brussels. Within a short 100 days, Napolon, former Emperor of France, had returned from exile on the island of Elba, again seized power, quickly assembled an army, and marched to defeat the dispersed British and Prussian armies now preparing to invade France.
Napolon invaded Belgium on June 15th, defeated the Prussians at the Battle of Ligny on the 16th and, after a day of pursuit, faced the British and Dutch army commanded by Wellington. Aided by superb defensive tactics and the timely arrival of Prussian reinforcements, Wellington defeated the French in the great Battle of Waterloo, ending forever the military ambitions of the great Napolon.
Fans of the original Napolon will enjoy this new third edition. The number of wooden blocks has almost doubled (from 48 to 84) to allow for an accurate division level order of battle. Rule changes include leader rules for Blcher, Napolon, and Wellington.
- Mapboard: full color (22 in. x 17 in.) mapboard of southern Belgium
- Wooden Blocks: 84 hardwood counter provide step-reduction and fog of war with no muss or fuss
Average Rating: 4.3 in 5 reviews
This is one of my favorite wargames. Why? It plays with such simple elegance that you very quickly get away from the rules and then concentrate on strategy and tactics.
The point to point movement system works well for this era. No need for terrain factors at this level. French Cavalry are nicely used to raid supply behind enemy lines. The blocks create large amounts of tension as you never quite know what you're going up against because groups merge and split as they leave towns.
The battle system in Napoleon is a game within a game as you match up your troops off the main map on a battle board. The battles flow back and forth like you would imagine really occurred. You can reinforce battles which also leads to some great changes in fortune.
You will play this game over and over and over again and each time you'll see new strategies that you overlooked. It's a classic.
Even wondered why wars were fought in rank and files? Why the Artillery fired before contact was made with the enemy? Why horse drawn artillery were so valuable? You'll never figure it out in most hexagon dice war games; this one puts all these elements in a compact simple game.
If you were a student of Napoleon warfare, much of what you read will be illustrated by playing one game. History teachers should use this to teach about warfare of the time (Even the Civil War).
Here's another of Columbia Games' classic 'block' games that's maintained its niche in the wargaming hobby for almost 30 years. It was introduced in 1974, and has had a facelift or two since then. My 1993 edition has more units than the original, and it plays great.
Napoleon can be played by 2 or 3 players. Some of the aspects of the game include:
Limited intelligence. Reminescent of the original Stratego, units are represented by colored wooden blocks that stand upright; you can see all of the game information on your blocks, but only the blank backs of the opponent's blocks. Strengths are revealed in battle.
Step reduction. Units are weakened in steps through combat. Each time you register a 'hit' on an enemy block, that block is rotated to reflect its next weakest side, which reduces its firepower. When a block on its last side takes another hit, it is eliminated.
Leaders. Napoleon, Wellington, and Bluecher are presented by their own blocks. Their co-location with a group of friendly units offers movement and combat bonuses.
Strategy. Just as in the historical situation, Napoleon's French army (blue) on the south edge of the board is confronted by Wellington's British/Allied army (red) and Bluecher's Prussian army (black) converging on the center of the mapboard from west and east, respectively. Should he take on the British first? The Prussians? Should he split his forces to take them on together? Risk fighting a joined British/Prussian force? He must determine his strategy early and move decisively. Meanwhile, the British/Prussian player must quickly assess the French offensive and adjust defenses accordingly. Shall they screen with cavalry to slow the French advance and buy time for a link-up with the Prussians? Should he rush a Prussian corps to Wellington's aid, or launch a concentrated Prussian drive into the French right flank to relieve French pressure on Wellington?
Tactics. When opposing forces are located at the same place, a battle must be resovled. Pieces are moved to a tactical battle board, where each side places his pieces into left wing, center, right wing, and reserve positions. Once each side has done so, all the blocks except those in reserve are revealed to the opponent. Through fire and maneuver, each side attempts to break the enemy's left, center, or right in order to send them into retreat. Blocks can be moved from the front to the reserve, and vice versa. Cavalry in the reserve can be particularly effective in exploiting a weakened or broken flank. Artillery can engage blocks opposite them via bombardment.
Simplicity. All the strategy and tactics are captured in just 8 short pages of easy to comprehend rules. This makes it ideal as a introduction into 19th Century tactical warfare, wargaming, and the block gaming genre. Despite the simplicity, it's still an excellent historical simulation, and can be valuable as a teaching tool.
Additional rules. Forced-marches; battle reinforcement; routs; artillery bombardment; cavalry shock action; command and control (optional); infantry squares (optional); battle morale (optional).
Components. Excellent. The mapsheet is beautiful and functional, and the colored wooden blocks look great deployed on the map.
In summary, this game is a wonderful package of history, strategy, tactics, and FUN. If you've never played a wargame or block game before, but want to give one a try, play Napoleon.
This 'abstract' wargame may be one of the most fun military style games ever devised. It uses block counters for fog-of-war, a map of the Waterloo campaign theater, and a smaller tactical map for battles.
Movement and the number of units you can command each turn are limited. The allies have more troops but less control over them. Napoleon has more command/control, simpler objectives, and stronger units. Trying to combine force to win battles is the key challenge of the game.
One gripe--that keeps Napolean from getting 4 stars--is that the campaign map is too small to comfortably move the 80+ pieces involved. Otherwise, it's a great game.
We have now played this game several times but to no avail for the French. We have enjoyed Crusader Rex immensely but havent found a way around the time limit in Napoleon for the French. If the Allies set up further back on the board from the French border and head directly to their supply cities, the French force will exhaust itself attacking the Prussians or English and will not be able to chase down the other distant army before running out of turns. Basically, if the allies just go and sit in force in Ghent, Brussels and Liege, the French cannot execute the objective to win (eliminate both English and Prussian armies). If you disagree, please email me at michaelpuryear AT hotmail DOT com. I would love to hear the counter. Thanks.