Thursday, September 25, 2014

NAPOLEON AT WAR: Initial Thoughts

Oh joy!  Another rules set for my feeble brain!

I ordered the "Napoleon at War" rules from On Military Matters a few days ago and was pleased to find it on my doorstep this afternoon.  I don't have much time for a proper post and subsequent game but I did want to post some comments on my first thoughts upon taking it out of the box.
Impressive and hefty. 

First off, even though this game has been around for some time now, my hat's off to MAN AT WAR games for publishing a very nice product.  The rule book itself is hard-bound and weighty (not weighty enough for $45.00 but there is some "heft" to it!).  The printing and design are impressive upon first glance.
beautiful and easy on the eyes.

classical map of Napoleonic Europe for ambiance!  

The rules follow the flow that you would expect a rule book to have these days, with a nice history for the reader, tips for collecting and organizing a force, and then how to play the game.  Like the BATTLEGROUP series, there is also a nice hobby section in the back for those of us (myself first and foremost among bad painters)who are artistically challenged...  I am happy that the book contains some well thought out scenarios as well, because on a Friday night frankly, sometimes I just feel like a pickup game and rolling some dice.

There are some opinions out there that this game system echoes Flames of War in the rules style and while I have not read enough to agree or disagree, I definitely see the influence of Flames of War on the authors.  Don't read this like it's a bad thing! When Flames of War hit the streets, it created a huge resurgence and interest in World War II gaming, and almost became a "gateway" game for a new crowd of historical miniature gamers, in addition to spurring a collective "arms race" among the 15mm WW2 producers.

What I'm trying to say is that love it or hate it, we are all better off from Flames of War being around.

My thoughts are that Napoleon at War can do the same thing for Napoleonic Wargaming.  The rules are attractive and easy to follow.  In addition they do something that no other Napoleonic rulebook has, in my opinion, done a very good job of -

They teach Napoleonic era tactics to gamers who otherwise would not have an extensive knowledge of Napoleonic warfare.
nice explanations for the novice who might not yet be "into" the Napoleonic era.

Let me explain - many games, in my opinion, treat the reader as if he already knows it's bad to advance in march in column against an artillery battery.   These rules explain why you might not want to do that!  Forgive me, but I when I first set foot into a rules set, I like being treated like I've never played the game before.

My first impressions are hugely favorable and a game of Napoleon at War is most certainly in the cards!

In a few days, I would like to post a review of the combat system.

Now if only I could get some more 15mm guys painted up...


  1. Interesting. I looked at this when it was released in 2011? Never got it, but may have another look.


    1. Thanks for commenting, Yorkie. It all depends on what you like. I think these rules have a nice, clean feel to them. Lots of D6, and some interesting national characteristics. I'm looking forward to playing it.

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  2. The small sample seen here reminds me of the Age of Eagles system in layout at least.

    The is a lot to be said for rule sets that make the learning curve for beginners and otherwise inexperienced war gamers a bit less steep than it might be.

    1. Archduke,
      You're right - they are quite similar. I think NAW is geared completely towards a novice napoleonic gamer. AoE assumes you know what BOFF (Brigade Original Fire & Fury or something like that) is or at least have a basic wargaming knowledge to build on.

      I am looking forward to playing it.

      Also - I am not sure if you are a member of the "Panzer8" yahoo group which prides themselves on 2 page wargaming rules but they have a very decent 2 page Horse & Musket rules set worth checking out - units are battalions.

      I am also trying out Will's Wargames Blog "Will's Rules for the American War for Independence" which are available on a link on his blog. They are really not bad and geared for larger battles.

      They both have that "old school toy soldier rules" feel to them.