Age of Napoleon: 1805 - 1815
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Age of Napoleon: 1805-1815 is a colorful boardgame for two players that is based on the rise and fall of one of the greatest military commanders in history: Napoléon I, Emperor of the French. One player commands the forces of France and its allies and tries to achieve domination of the European continent. The other player leads a coalition of nations aiming to force Napoléon's abdication once and for all.
The game not only represents the military units with playing pieces but also elegantly integrates famous events, important personalities and random factors by using playing cards.
Age of Napoleon contains three different scenarios, starting in 1805, 1809, and 1813. Players familiar with the game are able to finish the 1813 scenario in 45 minutes.
This is a neat game. Whether you are the Coalition or Napoleon's forces, there are different strategies to pick and try each game. The little bits of realism, like winter attrition and decisions about whether to spend a card to keep your army fresh, keep you on your toes.
It is handsomely made, too, although the plastic liner inside the box seems to have been made for a different game, as there are many compartments that don't seem to have pieces to go into them.
My young son, who likes Axis & Allies, likes this game, too. And I think he does better at this one. I think it helps him that there isn't the "what to buy" choice every turn. In Axis & Allies, he gets tempted to spend his money on the inventions and big ticket items, and his strategy is handicapped by that. In this game, you put as many 40,000-men corps on the board as you can each year and see what you can do with them. That way, it's easier for him.
I have played it against fellow adults, too. They have all liked it and wanted to play again.
Also, I got the updated/clarified rules from boardgamegeek.com, written by the game's designer.
Very fun and satisfying, and not-overly-long game!
A two player, strategic level card driven game covering the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, Age of Napoleon manages to combine exciting game play that is true to the era, in a format that can be completed in three hours! No other game on the same scale and subject comes close to doing that.
Components: The 1' double sided counters are thick, handsomely illustrated and convey the game information clearly. A deck of 55 cards features well chosen period art, and looks to be durable. The mounted area map is just as attractive, and the areas are large enough for the moderate counter density. Charts and tables are mounted on cardboard. Rules and a separate scenario booklet are well presented and concise, with examples of play. In short, the components are stunning for a game of this type.
Scale: Counters represent about 40,000 soldiers. The map covers Europe from Portugal to Moscow, Denmark to the Black Sea. Each turn represents two months. Three scenarios run from 1805, 1809 and 1811 to (potentially) 1815. Astonishingly, all are playable in an evening. Really.
System: The cards are the heart of this game, handling diplomatic and historical events, in addition to preventing battles from becoming stale and predictable. Combat is handled by single die rolls using simple force comparisons, no Risk or Axis &Allies dice fests here. An innovative combat results system portrays the stress of years of warfare on a nation's forces without the drudgery of bookkeeping. Supply and seasonal effects are handled by simple and elegant rules.
Playability: Here, AoN shines. The rules are well presented and kept as straightforward as possible. Playing time is superb for a game of this scope. The players are constantly making intriguing choices about where to focus forces, what card to play or reserve, when to stand or fall back. Combined with the variable events inherent in the card driven system, the game will not shortly become stale or familiar.
The designer, Renaud Verlaque, has hit this subject out of the park. Forsaking needless detail without sacrificing depth, AoN succeeds as an accessible game, as a rich simulation and it is a beautifully presented joy to own. Hard to recommend this gem strongly enough.
I fully endorse Roy's comments about this outstanding game, which I can also recommend without any reservation. I have been playing board wargames for 30 years and Age of Napoleon has rapidly become one of my all-time favourites. It is huge fun to play and always succeeds in generating a plausible historical narrative. It is a simple game, without being simplistic, and, with its stunning production values, should prove attractive to people who would not normally play board wargames.
In my view, this is by far the best strategic-level Napoleonic game available and gives the players a gripping and exciting ride through the years 1805 to 1815, while taking only 3 to 4 hours to play to a conclusion. The use of event cards prevents stereotyped play, making every game different, and there is excellent re-play value. The rules are short, clear, concise and (unusually for a wargame) have required very little in the way of errata.
This game deserves a tremendous success, and I strongly suspect that it will achieve one.
Age of Napoleon is a rare combination of entertaining 'gamer's' game and engaging wargame. This is no small achievement, as those of us who have spent years looking for a decent 'introductory' wargame will appreciate. This game has just about everything right: attractive, solid components that rival any 'German' family game, clear and consistent error-free rules, suspenseful and thoughtful play, and strong historical feel and dynamics. It's truly hard to praise this game enough: its designers and developers have created a real wargame that everyone can play.
Two things make this game truly remarkable though: its they way it towers above its competition and its richness as a wargame. Most of the games that compete directly with Age of Napoleon as basic introductory or family wargames are just abysmal as games. Games line Risk, are, of course, not really wargames at all (though fun for the occasional party), but an increasingly crowded field of games (including Attack!,Napoleon in Europe, Battle Cry, and Axis and Allies) seeks to be taken seriously as 'wargame the family can play'. The problem is that all of these games are terrible as games. Pointlessly complex rules, terrible graphics and production quality, and tedious play characterize these games as a group. Against this backdrop, Age of Napoleon shines: everything in this game works perfectly together to produce a fun, smooth, and engaging gaming experience. There are many many hours of thoughtful play in this game, and only a few minutes of rule reading. That is far more than can be said of any of its competition, which fails as both 'war' and 'game'.
Success as a fun game at an introductory level would seem to rule out being a good wargame, which requires some effectiveness as a simulation of the complex issues faced by leaders and decision makers in the situation covered by the game. But Age of Napoleon manages this as well--and with grace. There is surpsineg depth here: the complex geometry of campaigning across vast spaces, the difficulty of managing lines of communication, the frustration of diplomatic reversals, the drain of prolonged warfare on a nations resources, the cost of extended campaigning (both in terms of manpower and momentum), the varying abilities of commanders to conduct independent operations, the difficulty of concentrating large forces for battle, the hard decisions between seeking and avoiding combat--all of the important issues of grand strategy in the Napoleonic era are covered here, and all without resorting to cumbersome special rules, but rather through an artful combination of simple and consistent rules whose interaction produces a rich simulation. (It is also worth noting that these rules are rock solid: except for the few typos noted in the errata -- available from BoardgameGeek -- there are no exceptions or special cases not covered in the rules as written. Experienced wargamers will appreciate what a rarity this is!) Age of Napoleon is so successful in this regard that it is arguably a better simulation of Napoleonic grand strategy and diplomacy than much more cumbersome and 'serious' wargames on the topic (like GMT's Napoleonic Wars).
In short, great game, great wargame, and great Napoleonic wargame. Attractive and fun too. Very highly recommended.