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Monday, July 20, 2015

General Bonaparte Meets Chain of Command Play test

So my friend John M is an official play tester for a Division level Napoleonic game by Too Fat Lardies  I always like a chance to get in early on a game so I was eager to join in the test he had set up for this Sunday.  Playing with me was Mike Fisher a member of the Boston Trained Band.  I assume the rule title: General Bonaparte Meets Chain of Command
Like chain of command you have a pregame scouting phase I can easily imagine this as the light cavalry and/or light infantry ranging ahead of the army.  Of course it turns out my British "army" has no such light cavalry, but I do have some light Bobs to take on the job.
Mike has some hard chain of command early on but started forward on my right flank, this was interesting since my main thrust was planned for the left.
A generals eye view of the french center from the British center
I've moved up some men to cover the French advance... I was not able to charge them in column unfortunately. On the left my light troops screen the advance of my British Grenadiers and the Innisilling regiment, in the center my battery is doing good work getting hits on two battalions thanks to bounce through fire.
Our first clash of bayonets, interestingly I did not get closing fire, I am facing elite french troops and thus roll 3 dice to his six(facing higher troop quality gets you a -2d6 penalty, being higher quality troops gives you a +2d6 in combat)  My dice are bad at this moment and I take two shock.
Since no kills were scored rather than lock us in an unending hand to hand we back off an inch but are considered to be locked in a fire fight(I like this aspect of the rules).
My British elites are grinding froward while the light Bobs take a toll on French moral.
As you can see the shock markers are piling up, not many "dead men" yet but shock is casualties in this game (or that's how I see it, losing a stand in combat means you really got walloped)
We decided a smoke marker would indicated a fire fight (as opposed to men being really close to each-other) I opted to fire but my British in line lost a fire fight to French in column! (more due to dice than mechanics I think) and on his turn Mike opted to end the fire fight by closing for combat.
The Bayonet charge sent my men reeling back broken and disrupted the regiment behind them
But on the left I m closing in
There was some question if I could charge this unit (to the right) I can shoot it but charged have to go straight ahead(at lease that is what we think.
On my turn I broke two French units by fire and then charged the French guns and break them as well (again no closing fire, though they had so much shock they couldn't have fired).  At this point I had to bail for another engagement.

Over all I liked the game though there are some rough edges.

Thoughts and observation:
1) movement other than straight a head is tough, at one point I wheeled a unit and not only did I loose the distance inherent in making a turn but also half my distance... the time scale is 10 minutes to a turn its reasonable in my mind for a unit (even one of 500 to 600 men) to turn 90 degrees in 10 minutes.  I only tried to do it once so maybe I am getting hung up on small sample size but the game does seem to focus on lining up and getting at it and then bringing up the next line.. that's not necessarily bad but I like some maneuver and foot work in my gaming.

2) Positioning your leaders and removing shock seems like the key to success, we had two combats were units were so affected by shock they couldn't throw any dice in the fight.  Leaders can activiate subordinates and one of the things they can do is remove shock. You should do this as often as you can, even at the expense of other things.

3) The best point in favor of this game is that Mike and I were playing it pretty much on our own by turn 3 or 4 using John to check rules and make sure we had it right.

4)  I think the way elites are handled in combat is strange.

5) the lack of closing fire seems odd, it might not if they explained why.

One other note with 28mm troops the ranges seem too short (I would recommend 15mm or 10mm troops if you don't already have a Napoleonic collection).

John and I are planning to play again on Thursday so I might have more observations at that time.