Friday, June 06, 2014

Nick in Launceston -- Napoleon At War

Nick vs Starn, in a trial of Napoleon At War. Nick (French) attacking vs Starn (Austrian)

There was lots of reading of rules, as it was the first game. And lots of improvisation, as Napoleon At War uses a basing system different from Lasalle etc. So we used 4x Lasalle stands in line, as that had the same frontage as 6x Napoleon At War stands. We had to use a die to record the actual size of a unit in stands.

The battle was a bit of a trial, with my first experimental charge against Starn's artillery succeeding where the odds were my cavalry would have been blown away. And Starn's experiment charge in column against my thin blue line of French failed (and this ultimately lost him the game, as his elite units were chewed up in a firefight and advance / retreat / advance cycles, eventually breaking and delivering enough victory points to me to get the win).

I liked the game, as there is a real Napoleonic feel to it. For instance, a charge of a French line against an Austrian column would go like this:
1. French column advances to 4" away from the Austrians.
2. French column fires -- 3 stands in the front rank, so 3 dice needing 4+. But lose one dice due to Austrian skirmishers. Skirmishers matter! Need to get 4 hits for a guaranteed casualty, and with one or two hits there are low odds of getting a casualty -- the Austrians need to save hits by rolling more than the number of hits on a dice. But the Austrians have the 'Grosse Battalion' rule, so they reroll fails.  Each nationality has special rules that give a Napoleonic feel.
3. French column announces a charge and moves into contact. Skirmishers on both sides are moved behind their lines.
4. Austrians have 6 stands in their front line. They can fire with 6 dice. Or can decide to fire at point blank, with 2 dice per stand (12 dice unless the French were really lucky). If they fire at point blank they have to roll a discipline test (skill test in FOW). If the discipline test fails, they don't fire at all! (British have a special rule allowing them to hold fire with better odds).
5. If the French took any casualties they can lose a skirmisher instead. They have two skirmishers, so in effect the first two hits are 'free'. (But skirmishers are really useful, so losing skirmishers hurts in the long term!)
6. If the French took any fire, they need a morale test to charge home. The French have a special rule - Elan - enabling them to reroll failed morale tests. However, if they took a base casualty from the defensive fire, that rule is cancelled. (Hence losing skirmishers helps).  There is roughly a 50% chance of charging home unless you are French or the enemy is weakend
7. The French now have 3 stands (the front of their column) in combat, so they roll to kill a stand 3 times -- a 4+ kills.
8. The Austrians, regardless of casualties, have to roll a morale test to fight back. If they fail morale, they retreat 4" (one full move for a line formation).
9. If the Austrians passed their morale, they fight back with stands that are still in contact.
10. The force that took the most casualties loses the melee, and retreats a full move (6" in column). Any winning force that didn't take a casualty takes at least one casualty.
11.  The end result is one force will be where the defensive line was, and another will have retreated.  Morale matters a lot.  Firing formation matters a lot.  Lines are quite devastating due to the number of dice in defensive fire.

Starn thought that cavalry were underpowered.  I'm not sure I agree on reflection.  The Austrian Hussars destroyed a French unit that failed to form square.  The Austrian Cuirassiers bounced off a couple of French squares and took a lot of casualties, but we forgot that you can rest troops and get casualties back, up to one stand below full strength (and the Austrians, being 'overstrength units', can get back to full strength)

In the end I won, through breaking 2 out of 5 Austrian brigades, and taking an objective.  The objective counts as an Austrian loss, so they had more brigades broken than on table, so their army broke.  However, the French Guard Brigade and the French Light Cavalry Brigade and one of the French Infantry Brigades  were all on wood, so it was very, very close.

There was also a game of Battlefield Kursk by Dennis and Rob.  It looked fantastic, and apparently was on a knife edge.


Jim Gandy said...

11 steps to resolve one combat ?
That's not good game design.

Nick said...

Jim -- its a variation on the FOW sequence (move, shoot, assault)

Anonymous said...

Hail Napoleon