Wednesday, 25 November 2009

More Thoughts on 'Napoleon'

Now I've had some time to read and re-read the rules I thought I'd post a few comments. It's not a full review - have a look at this for what I feel is a pretty fair view of them.

Basically there seems to be a good game in there, but a few things really need to be resolved / clarified.

1) If the rules had been given a final proof read by someone with an eye for these things then a number of annoying typos could have been corrected and some confusing text could have been clarified - both of which would result in a more polished product.
2) More playtesting with 'new' players (i.e. outside the original group) so as to find the areas of the rules that require better explanation. For example, when do units become 'unattached'? Or, can units that fail to implement an order card still volley fire later in the turn?
3) Some of the army lists are missing key pieces of info, e.g. how many skirmishers are used for different troops. This is irritating as presumably the the playtesters must have spent some time getting the balance right.
4) It would benefit from some extra rationale for some of the rules - perhaps playing a few games would help me understand why some of the rules exist.

None of these issues are insurmountable by anyone who has some experience of gaming, but I would really have expected Wargames Foundry to have produced a more mature product. Perhaps it was rushed in to print in order to get ahead of Warlord's Blackpowder? I would like to find a discussion forum so as to get some wider views on what needs to be improved or how certain rules should work in practice.

In conclusion, I like the rules and they have certainly given me the spur to collect more Naps for larger battles rather than just skirmishing, but it would have been even better if that 10% extra effort had been put in. The 'eye-candy' aspect is splendid and seems to be an essential part of any successful new ruleset these days. I'm sure I can add the necessary extras to the lists and figure out the confusing bits in the rules without too much difficulty, thus ending up with a satisfying game but I really shouldn't have to. Perhaps Wargames Foundry would be kind enough to publish an errata sheet? After all, how many rulesets do not require such things?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Wargame-o-meter #2

What a difference a few weeks can make eh? ;-)

Following from my first post on this topic, the top 5 now look like this.

1. Napoleonics (28mm)
As you may have seen in my earlier post I'm now the very excited owner of this splendid rulebook. The production quality is awesome, it's full of pics of beautifully painted Napoleonic miniatures, vignettes and complete armies. The rules themselves look to be quite promising in that they are a nice compromise between realism and playability. I'm not going to do a full rules review because I'm far from expert on Napoleonic rulesets (but I know a chap who is ;-)). The rules introduce the concept of orders for units as the armies close for action, and whether the orders are received and obeyed depend upon the proximity of the division or brigade commander - not unlike Warmaster if I remember correctly. Like many rulesets, it has a core set and an optional advanced set for more detailed play. The book also includes a good starter set of army lists to guide players in choosing balanced forces.
All this has inspired me to revisit my first historical gaming 'love' with a view to collecting both sides. My 'Sharpe' skirmish collection will give me a good start, but that's still a lot of fancy painting so my plan is to work out a way of painting Naps figures reasonably quickly and easily to a good wargames standard. I had dallied with the dip idea but having looked at the pics in the rulebook I've begun to think that the dip just doesn't quite suit the style of uniforms, but I have only the strong tone so maybe the soft tone would be better? Anyway, my initial plan is to look at something like the Foundry "two colour" method with some single colour thrown in for areas that do not notice so much. I first bought Naps figures in 1997 and if I'd painted just one figure a month since, then I'd have 5 or 6 battalions by now! It will be a lengthy project I'm sure.

2. Celts
After a couple of splendid games of WAB with Celts vs Romans "oop north" last weekend, I'm totally set on getting the army to 1,500pts as soon as possible. Another 21 warriors are ready for the dip with a further 12 part painted. To reach my target I'll need some more chariots too. I have 3 from Warlord, so may get 3 from GB just for variety.

3. Romans
Same as for (2) really. However, I've a bunch of Warlord EIR that I'm going to 'dip' so as to give me more Romans, they're now built and ready to undercoat. They will be replaced in due course with conventionally painted Black Tree figures to match the rest of the army.

4. Warmaster Ancients (10mm)
Whoa ... where did that come from!? Let me explain... for years I've been trying to get a very good friend of mine to do more than just collect (mainly Napoleonic) rulebooks and unpainted figures, i.e. to paint up figures and enjoy gaming with them more regularly. Various schemes have been tried and this is the latest. The idea arose from a WAB celts/romans post-game discussion about scales and tactics. However, this scheme is largely his idea and it highlights to me an interest in doing things at a grand scale, that is fielding a whole legion not just a few cohorts. I've not bought any figures or rules yet but it has certainly piqued my interest. The start up costs are small which is an advantage - the WMA rules (based on the Warmaster Fantasy set) are about £20, with armies starting at around £40. I shall wait for my chum to take the first step - it's not like I haven't got plenty to paint.

5. WW1
Pushing AoA off the table we have my trusty BEF. Now here's a potential change of plan ... When gaming with individually based 'skirmish' figures they tend to get a bit of a hammering and even the best varnish won't help. So why spend ages painting them really well? I'm thinking of switching to the dip for the rest of the army. It may be the only way they get painted. The figures I've already painted may get a very thin coat of dip just to make them match in with the rest and give them extra protection. Just a thought at this stage though.