2011-12-05

Napoleon at War rules review.



Short review of the rules for Napoleon at War and the rule book. 

This is my first try to review a rule book and system. I have been reading the "Napoleon at War" rules from "Man at war" which is design for 18mm Napoleon figures and Brigade sized battles. First thing you are struck by is the similarities to Flames of War. Man at war have design the rules around there own figures and basing system, they sell the figures in boxes where you get what you need for a regiment or battalion and the layout of the rules and the book is similar.
The rule book is hardcover and full colored print. My first imprecision was that it is beautiful there is allot of art and schematics of different rules and interpretation. The Art sets the era and gives a nice mood to the book. It includes; short historical introduction, the rules for the game, six generic scenarios and a short painting guide. There is no roosters or nation information in the book this is referd to there homepage and the upcoming scenario book about the 100days war.

Napoleon at War is i I go You go system but with a reaction fire when it comes to the shooting face but more about that later. The turn is divided in to 5 steps with allot of similarities to other rules:
  1. Initial Phase
  2. Movement Phase
  3. Firing Phase
  4. Combat Phase
  5. Reserve and Support Move Phase
For this game are there only two characteristics for your units Valeur and Discipline. Both characteristics have three levels. This makes it very easy to keep track of your units. Valeur describes the moral and how brave your unit is. You will use your Valeur to see if you can stand against the fire when you run in for the assault and if you dare to counter attack and off course if you will rout or not. Valeur is set to three levels: Brave 3+, Courageous 4+, Insecure 5+. Discipline is used for all skill related roles and is also set to three levels: Elite 3+, Drilled 4+, Raw 5+.
Napoleon at War is a D6 system where you role one D6 in most cases. Man at War have incorporated a smart little system to give less chance and more flavor to the game. Your dice role in certain situation can be favourable or unfavourable. A favourable is done by taking 2D6 and use the role you want and a unfavourable roles is done by taking 2D6 and you have to take the lowest result. There is allot of situation where this is used and three are allot of country specific stats that will change if your role is favourable or unfavourable.

Movement in Napoleon at War is some what different compared to other historical miniature games. There is three ways of moving your Units:
  •  Manoeuvre move: When a unite stays uncommitted or unengaged during it complete movemen it can change formation in the beginning and move its full distant. 
  • Complex move: If a unit will be or are committed or engaged it has to make a discipline test if it succeeds can it change formation in the beginning and move its fill distant. If it fails it discipline test can it make a simple move.
  • Simple move: If the unit is committed or engaged can it perform a simple move. The unit can change is formation in the beginning and move strait forward.
I get the felling that Man at War have tried to speed up the game by taking out wheeling and measuring when changing formation. Instead is all of the movement based on the command team and its orientation. So if you want to make a manoeuvre move you move your command base the distances allowed for the formation and orientate it in that direction you want then you line up the remaining teams in you Battalion. It think this will speed up the game allot.

During the firing phase are there not so much new mechanics. The only thing which can stand out is that the unit you are firing at can do a responsive fire and after both sides have fired do you see if there are on side that have lost more team than the other one. The losing side have to retreat.

Combat phase is the assault phase and there are not allot of new mechanics here either. But it is bloody and I think it is here where the game is decided. There are a few mechanics how different units will react on different assaulting troops. Example if your unit of foot soldiers are assaulted from cavalry can you try to form a square by rolling discipline test.

And finally do you have the Reserve phase. Reserves are handle as normal and you role to get them on the field if not the scenario say something else. During this step can you also move uncommitted units one more time. This support move is very nice because you can get your unit that coming in from the reserves fast in to action. 

The rules in total are very nice. Feels like you can have a fast play and that it will be allot of manoeuvering because of the easy movement rules. Regarding the rule book could it use a tuch up when it comes to all the sketches because they describe a rule in the text and show something that are 95% correct in the sketches so if you only look at the sketches you will make small errors. This is no mayor problem but I think Man at War could have fixed this if they have checked it before the sent it to the printer. On more complaint regarding the book is that allot of rules are in the text without being bold or highlighted so it is hard to find the exact rules some times and minor rules will be missed in the text. But in total do I think the book and the rules are very good. I have not been playing Napoloenics before because of they tend to be rule heavy and slow paced Napoleon at War is changing this and I hope that it will be as success full as Flames of War. 


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