Saturday, December 17, 2011

Napoleon At War Playtest

Gave Napoleon At War rules a run out today at Stephens. My Prussians vs his French. Found the battle/game rules to be quite good. Movement outside of engagement range (Artillery range within 12" of Mounted or 6" of Foot) very flexible ala Black Powder and more restricted as lines close and an end of turn Support move for units far enough from enemy, which all worked fine. Shooting straightforward dice fest as is close combat with end of turn ability to rally casualties if outside engagement zones. Every 4 hits from shooting causes a 'stand' loss whereas each hit in melee is a base gone (winners of melee take a hit loss) Squares seem more durable than in Lasalle and we liked the simple support rules (all units mutually support each other within 4"). Command and Control fairly generic with Commanders exerting a 12" Command range but no orders system. I am not fond of active player having the ability to move then shoot first and inflict casualties before defender gets to return fire. This would be ok if classed as simultaneous. We used the first scenario which is a basic attack vs defence. Terrain generation was simple with one player rolling for number of terrain pieces then players alternating a random roll to generate terrain which is placeable anywhere. The defender has increased odds of selecting desired table edge via a die roll. Defender then sets up first then attacker who also moves first (Stephen did not like this)
By far the biggest bug bear for us both (and Stephen in particular) is the points system, army lists and force characteristics which are quite simply broken (I appreciate the lists etc on line are only generic starter/sample lists) Prussians had numerous advantageous characteristics (bit like those in Black Powder) compared to French (such as ability to pass morale tests with extra die rolls, ability to counter attack in melee with extra die rolls etc) and yet the French costs more in points. Also the French force list is very restrictive compared to all other nationalities and indeed those online contradict the book examples (book has French Brigades with 4 units of Foot but lists only allow 3 per Brigade). In our test I fielded some 15 units versus Stephens 9 and had he have been attacking it would have been farcical especially as his units inherently inferior in many ways. For instance a French Brigade of 3 foot units cost 420 points whereas the equivalent 3 unit basic Prussian Brigade was a mere 270pts and a battery of 4 Heavy Guns was 10pts cheaper for Prussians and yet no difference in stats/capabilities (in fact Prussians guns could be split into 2 gun units).  Also basic confusion/errors such as units of Prussian Cuirassier Brigade is given points for being on table support as well as (cheaper) off table Reserve status and yet army lists only allow them as Reserve. Not a biggy as such but annoying.
All in all I enjoyed the game rules but not sure they are sufficiently better than Lasalle or Field Of Battle to draw us back to them certainly not with army lists as currently supplied.

iPhone pics (of set up) as yet again I forgot camera !

French deployed

Prussian left wing

Prussian Infantry Regiment on right

French defend the village

And the central hill

Prussian guns ready for artillery duel

Prussian Landwehr in center

Prussian left wing again
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