Got it yesterday and had a few games with a friend. It says you can play in about 15 minutes. Took us quite a bit longer than that but once you get the idea and what are the main tactics you really can play very quickly. It is not balanced as the French were always going to have a hard time of it but there is a scoring system and you can just play a few games as each side and see who does better overall. It is good fun though just playing a game regardless of who wins.
Set up for a game:
Here are some of the basics of the game:
- The aim of the game is to rout or break the opposing army. The French and British start on 10 morale and various action will reduce it. As casualties build up the casualty track indicates if a rout test is needed and if any die roll modifiers - when checking need to exceed the morale on a D6.
- Pieces on the board are just to show the strength of the various Corp and are removed as casualties. The cubes show occupation of the farms and Plancenoit or strength of Grande Battery.
- Game turns are more abstract and the game does not end because of time. There are three periods, Midday, Afternoon and Evening. The only effect on the game is that in the Afternoon route rolls have +1 and in the Evening +2. Time moves when 5 Prussians arrive and when French and British combined casualties hit 10.
- Each turn you can take one action. Every Corp card has an action on it and you can choose any one if them (if Ney does his grand charge the French have to choose that until the cavalry are back under control but that is the only time there is not a choice). Some cards flip when certain things happen and the action changes (e.g. when the Prussians take Plancenoit they start to damage the French more).
- Some cards have a counter which has to be taken (if you want to do it at all) right after the triggering action from the enemy. So for example, when d'Erlon attacks the British cavalry have a counter and can double his losses and can take their normal action (attack the Grande Battery) with +1.
- Napoleon and Wellington each have a single use action. Wellington's is more directly a game winner if you are in the right position at the time.
- If a Corp runs out of men they can't take an action.
The Corp action cards:
Each turn you take an action from one of your cards corresponding to the various corps. There is a starting and a reverse side. For example, if you role high on one of the French cavalry corp it triggers Ney's charge and the card is flipped and the French action has to be this is future turns until a roll return control.
Blucher showing the side when Plancenoit is captured.
I think the ideal French plan would be for Milhaud and Kellerman to put Orange and Hill in square for d'Erlon and Reille to attack with plus one to damage the British but mainly to take La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont. That then gives the Guard plus two and will make their attacks powerful and can break the British - with Napoleon giving the option of choosing the best from two dice at a critical point (a one time thing this). However, those pesky Prussians keep arriving and depending on how quickly they arrive the French need to react to that and perhaps lose some Guard to hold on to Plancenoit and use Lobau to push the Prussians away. Really tricky thing is you can only do one thing a turn so building up to take both Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte is no easy job with the clock of the Prussians coming. Also not sure about the Grande Battery - to use early or not? I think getting the infantry in to keep the British reacting then the Grande Battery once the casualties mount up and you want the British morale down may be a way to go? Good thing is with such a quick game you can try out the different approaches very easily.
For the British the main tactic seems to be to do nothing other than react as necessary and to put the main effort into getting the Prussians on the board. The Reserve is key as they can lose a casualty to prevent a French capture of Hougoumont or La Haye Sainte or prevent a previous turn loss to the British (so would only do if it was a big loss). Wellington is a great card to use (one off again) when you are close to a win assuming not too much damage to the British (British losses equal number of Grande Battery squares left) as it give 2 casualties to the French and +1 on their rout test - but mainly a finisher to push through a win.
It is actually a game of momentum - if the French attacks are effective then the Reserve is needed to counter and hence no Prussians arriving. As soon as the French don't achieve much the Prussians start to build up and the French have to react to that. For such a simple game gives a really good feel for the development of the battle and for around £17 is insanely good value.
Our first two games where pretty much about getting the hang of it and I won as the Allies first with the Prussians coming on quickly and French casualties building up much more than the British. A final push with Wellington's ability sealed the day. Next game I was the French and the Prussians did not arrive too quickly and I took Hougoumont and managed to inflict a few more casualties on the British than the French took and so two attacks with the Guard rolling high was enough to break the British.
Just played through solo and the Prussian rolls were woeful and Reille and d'Erlon inflicted a lot of casualties with Reille fairly untouched but d'Erlon pretty spent but both taking the farms after the reserve ran out (repeated capture and recovery meant no rolls for Prussians and low rolls when able meant they barely even got a toe hold). I used Uxbridge's counter attack a couple of times after d'Erlon attacked to try and destroy the Grande Battery but they were not very effective and I may have been better just rolling for Prussians? I had to use Napoleon on d'Erlon's last attack to try and ensure the capture of La Haye Sainte as he was almost gone (can't take actions if they run out of men). But the Guard then rolled high and smash the last British resistance - Vive l'Empereur!
Battle as it ended:
I really hope they bring out some other battles (Up Games from Finland), Borodino and Wagram would be good I think..