By Dr. Richard M. M.D.

Introduction:

Napoleon Cover

Napoleon Cover

Columbia Games wooden block game “Napoleon” is a classic, and quite honestly my favorite board game of all time (and my memory stretches as far back as Tactics II).

Few games have achieved a strategic play that is so elegant in its simplicity. The wooden blocks provide uncomplicated but effective fog of war and step reduction. The mechanics are straightforward group activation for town-to-town movement, with road limits affected by crossing rivers, and can be learned in minutes. However, the free deployment, wide open map, faster speed for cavalry and horse artillery, as well as forced marches can lead to sweeping maneuvers that can take years to master. No two games are alike. It is a great strategy game.

When enough forces have coalesced and both commanders agree to a battle, the blocks are moved, with their step reductions, to a stylized battle mat. The subtle “paper/scissors/rock” differences of the Horse and Musket and Cannon era are preserved. The campaign map allows for reinforcements to be brought on adding to the tension. The movement of the blocks on to and across the “battlefield” have a tactile sense that no other board game can match. It gives a feel more akin to a miniature battle than any cardboard counter/tweezer game could possibly provide.


Napoleon Board game Map

The Background:

As satisfying as these battles have been, and I’ve fought hundreds, I’ve always thought “How cool would it be if I could move this battle to the table top instead of this little mat?”. The game provides an instant order of battle, with effective fog of war and a definite strategic context. With a proper table top road network set up, the reinforcements arrive at times unknown to the enemy, and on the flanks rather than just as a general Reserve-“Hey, what’s the dust on that road mean?”. What more can you ask for in a campaign vehicle?

HouseRules Napoleonic

I have long been a fan (acolyte actually) of Brian Stokes’ “HouseRules Napoleonics (HRN)” which we are currently revising extensively and renaming “Soldats de l”Empire!(SdIE)”. I use these for miniature battles and decided to come up with a way to fight the entire Waterloo Campaign using these two excellent gaming systems. I love HRN/SdlE, as it allows really big battles to be fought with a true “Napoleonic” feel to them. Please understand, though, that my idea can be adapted to any miniature rules.

 

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