Gamers comments on Napoleon's Battles

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Napoleon's BattlesThese are reactions from gamers about the original Napoleon's Battles rules taken from various web chat rooms. We have left the comments anonymous.

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"I have played numerous sets of Napoleonic Rules including Empire, which drove all but the most dedicated new guy away from Napoleonics. Because of the cleanly written and well edited Napoleon's Battles, we have more people playing and painting armies. Yes, NAPOLEON'S BATTLES is a fine game and should not be belittled by the arrogant and self-absorbed."

"... here in Europe, NB has meant a rennaissance in Napoleonic Miniatures wargaming. Some players move on to other rules, or make their own, but for most the taste for it at all started with NB!"

"Napoleon's Battles is quite popular down here in Australia, partly because they allow for reasonable approximations of Napoleonic grand tactics without too much stuffing around with endless tables and charts so much favoured by other rules that claim to be "realistic". Of course they were not perfect, but they were a lot better in their overall texture and feel than many others."

"It (Napoleon's Battles) sucks."

"The author drew the obvious conclusion: Legacy of Glory was much better in the realism department, while Napoleon's Battles was much better in terms of playability.

As a military historian, the author expressed a preference for realism over playability, but acknowledged that this was something of a personal matter. So Napoleon's Battles seems to be much more playable than Legacy of Glory or other games of the ilk. The question is: Is it realistic, and, if not, would a few rules changes fix things, or is it fatally flawed?"

"Napoleon's Battles' standard rules raises the focus a level or two and WON'T ALLOW the player to be concerned about what a single battalion (much less a company) is doing...

It assumes a level of "delegation" from the division general to the brigadier (in some cases regimental colonels) that entrusts them with the workings of the battalion and company... For instance, it assumes that one or more of the battalions in a regiment or brigade space turned about to meet the threat on the flank... It takes into account the reduction in combat effectiveness through modifiers that are not referred to as "flank modifiers" as in EMPIRE, but can have the same effect on combat...

To say the least, when I started playing NB after ten years playing EMPIRE, I had to learn a new paradigm of play!!!"

"I have found that Napoleon's Battles, while tactically frustrating (I have never played a game yet where I was not reduced to a state of dice-hurling frustration and declared a blood-oath that I would never, never play this set of god-forsaken rules again), gives me a very real strategic challenge that I find very satisfying. So I always find myself coming back.

So many "tactical" games I have played lay so many command/movement/activation restrictions on a non-French or non-British commander that it hardly makes it worth while to play the game - I know about the history, I've read the books. And the battle being played is not Napoleon versus Mack, it is me versus you."

"Napoleon's Battles - a failure at the tactical level, a success at the grand-tactical level. I wouldn't want to try to fight Eylau, Friedland, Wagram, Borodino, Lepzig or Waterloo with any other rule set."

"I regard Napoleon's Battles as a game which maps to solo play well, Alternate movement is good for solo players. Also, the fact that Napoleon's battles abstracts out most low level manoeuvre removes the burden of having to micro-manage both armies in an honest way. Finally, the command radius system (subject of much criticism) is again good for solo play. It requires little calculation or record keeping."

"Napoleon's Battles - We've played this rule set a few times. The inter- penetration rules and recalling cavalry seem Ultra-liberal.

Geesh - If you have the 'Gods' (French Guard Heavy Cavalry) with a decent (+2) officer you can recall these babies almost indefinately! Sure wrecks any battle plans the target of the recall charge has.

I also have a problem with being able to charge a brigade of cavalry throught two or more infantry brigades in column with absolutely no penalties or chance of mishap. This doesn't seem realistic to me at all - regardless of the scale of the game. No troops were THAT diciplined."

"The club I belong to has begun to use Avalon Hill's "Napoleon's Battles" for Napoleonics. Yesterday we had our second game, and the first one modeled on a historical engagement -- the Battle of Fleurus, 1794. This was one of the largest battles of the entire period of the French Revolution. The system handled it as well as we could have expected.

While acknowledging that these rules are more abstract than those in both battalion-level games, we are so far generally satisfied with their ability to allow us to refight large battles in a reasonable amount of space and time.

Personally, I find the 3/4" deep stands much easier to handle than the 1/2" deep stands typically employed in 1:60 games. Physical appearance is also enhanced by mounting figures two-deep instead of in a single line. As we begin to get other armies painted up, we expect to continue using "Napoleon's Battles" to explore other interesting nooks and crannies of the period."

"One of the most significant strengths of NB is buried in the optional rules - supply wagons. My own feeling is that if you don't use this rule, then NAPOLEON'S BATTLES is just another not-so-hot 'big' tactical game. But if you do use this rule (and beefed up C3I rules), then NAPOLEON'S BATTLES becomes a state-of-the-art simulation of grand-tactics in the Napoleonic era."

"What you have described is a serious problem with the Napoleon's Battles rules. I call it "ambushing". However, if all that you are peeved about is not being able to fire with the infantry, then I think you have missed the point.

Basically, a player who has an infantry brigade and a cavalry brigade free during his movement phase can select an enemy infantry unit and destroy it, with a high degree (80%) of certainty.

The infantry unit pins the enemy unit as described. The cavalry unit then charges it. Unable to form square, the infantry unit is doomed, barring an unlikely combinationn of dice rolls. Being able to fire would not make any difference to the target: it needs to shoot at the cavalry to have any chance of surviving. Shooting at the infantry would only be a petty sort of defiance.

After our group discovered this tactic and put it to good use, I challenged anyone to point out a historical incident where the equivalent situation occurred. No-one could provide an example and we now forbid this tactic.

Infantry and cavalry cannot charge the same unit in the same phase and infantry charged by cavalry can always attempt to form square, regardless of the presence of enemy units."

"Bear in mind that Napoleon's Battles uses a completely different scale than most other rule sets. ... Napoleon's Battles is designed to refight big battles in a reasonable amount of space and a reasonable amount of time. The other rules sets are more detailed and less abstract, but only permit (heroic efforts aside) refights of smaller battles or portions of larger battles. You pays your money and you takes your choice."

"Here in Australia, it seems to be divided into two factions: Empire (whatever the latest edition 5? 6?) and Avalon Hill's Napoleon's Battles. Our club prefers NapBat hands down. It is at a fairly high conversion rate (1:120 from memory) but gives an excellent flow and feel of Napoleonic warfare, much better than Empire (in my opinion)."

"I use NAPOLEON'S BATTLES, modified to support event-driven command-control. NAPOLEON'S BATTLES has easy-to-learn and easy-to-use "fighting rules," and it adapts easily to an event- driven system. However, NAPOLEON'S BATTLES does not represent battalions (the smallest formation is a brigade), so if you want battalion-level control it's not the system for you. But if you want to recreate large-scale encounters at an affordable price, on an average-sized table, then NAPOLEON'S BATTLES using 6mm figures is my favorite rules set."

"There are no orders, no light or medium foot guns, no flanks, no skirmishers, no battalions, no cavalry squadrons. That was an interesting and clever design decision, but not one that can be based on any historical argument. Corps commanders certainly were aware of their battalions - they could see them, lead them, adjust, them, etc.

They can't do that in NB except in an abstract way.

To me the most curious design decision was, that in eliminating tactical clutter to focus on the Grand-tactical, Napoleon's Battles should have had something to say about command control. What it says is very problematic to me and to many others. However, your sheer number of adherents must make my criticisms fairly easy to bear."




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