Friday, 17 February 2017

A close run thing...

No guessing what this little ramble is about then... A quite uninspiring box holding a game which is well worth a look at, promise.

Napoleonics, Naps or whatever you may wish to call it, an intriguing time in history, possibly seeing the first real 'world war' with battles on most continents. Overly large characters and perhaps the last real effective 'sweeping armies' - fast firing weapons was to put an end to the 'effective' nomincular, although obviously didn't stop Commanders trying it. Naps - my first real wargaming love...

I was in mid to late primary school when I got friendly with one of our teacher's sons (who didn't go to our school). His older brother (at Uni doing history) was a wargamer and his bedroom and attic was a treasure trove of 30mm Hinton/Hunt figures all painted in the time honoured dip in red, dry, turn, dip in white technique - but to us they were masterpieces, lead figures in lead paint, but we survived. One holidays he showed us how to play, I presume they were wargames research rules but no real idea. But I was hooked. Couple this with Airfix bringing out their plastics range, a wargame book found in the library (along side 'A hundred days which shook the world') and a mate with a massive bare attic room to play on and we were away. Plastic figures on bar mat bases and books and blankets for hills... what more could we want?

Over the years the fantasy of the Scots Greys' charge and the march of the Old Guard have never been far away, numerous rules, scales etc have been and gone, including my own sets (most notable of which were a FoW derivative called 'Balls of Iron' which apparently had a big following with the Kiwi staff  of Battlefront and was close to being used for something exciting - that never came). But nothing ever really satiated the itch. Probably not helped by my insistence that the Peninsular War was basically 'Early War' and as Shaun, my long suffering mate, says I see May 44 in Italy as 'Early War' - anyway you get the idea. Naps to me is the Hundred Days with the Peninsular as Wellington's pre season warm up.

So, being easy to please (the game has to feature squares which have an outside chance of breaking in some circumstances - bring up the horse arty boys! -  cav charges, fierce close quarter shooting and melee and over exaggerated national characteristics) rams head to head with a want for it to 'feel right' - and for me that feel is basically the feel you get in the epic film 'Waterloo'. I am not bothered in the wheeling rate of xx troops in xxx campaign on xxxx weather affected ground - I want to be cheering and hollering as my Scots Greys ride to glory or doom !

And after alienating myself to a majority of Napoleonic wargamers over the last two paragraphs those unfortunate souls who have persevered must be wondering what this has to do with Command & Colours Naps...

C&C is a popular hex based system which has been used for a variety of games, probably the most widely known one being the 'Memoir '44' game concentrating on D-Day onwards in WWII. Over the years I have played this quite a bit, the ACW version for a while and other non C&C derivatives such as Battle Lore and the Games of Thrones Westeros games. Apparently we did have the Naps version for a while until it got lent out never to be seen again but I can't really remember it.

Naps was out of print by the time the Meeples crew got me interested again a few years back - but that has now changed and version 3 is available and I got one...

I'm not going to labour on the STICKER sticking saga - to be honest it was a pain for an afternoon but a bit like a smack on the thumb with an errant hammer it is now forgotten about, never to be bought up in conversation, ever again!

Here is what the game looks like, in fact this is Waterloo from the Brit perspective. People do swap the bricks out for models but I actually quite like them, it gives a kind of weird 1800s feel. Besides I spent 4 hours sticking the freekin stickers on .... oops wasn't going to mention that was I?

Plenty of other places on the web can tell you about the game play etc etc so I will not labour on it. However, this are some of the aspects I really like:

Fog of War - prevalent in any account of warfare of the age you read, limited visibility, messengers getting killed or lost, erratic generals - you name it, things were not going to go as planned. C&C models this with the card activation/reaction system, and it does it damn well.

Squares - form square boys - yep it works, yes they are hard, if not impossible, to break without combining arty or infantry with your cav charge and yes you can arrange the blocks to look like the chequered squares in the film!

Mine are different from yours - Yep national characteristics abound, love them or hate them, argue they didn't really exist, I don't care the game has them and makes the player play like the Commanders they are pretending to be - love it !

Easy and Quick - from a gamers perspective, will be interesting to see what non gamers think of the simple rules though. But quickish set up and quick play means no getting bored and more than one game a night. What's not to love. 

I could go on of course but no one is probably still reading. So all I have to say is that this avoided me for too long it seems. If you have similar Nap leanings as myself than it is a must to play. If you are interested in the period but don't want to fork out hundreds on figures and painting etc then this is a must. If you hate sticking things to blocks of wood - this is a must so long as you can palm the job off to a mate!

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