Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Napoleon Rises!

A batch of approximately 300 soldiers - one of several
rediscovered goodie bags 
A few months ago I had a rummage through some bags and boxes that I had stored in my parents' attic room. In the process I chanced on a box brimming with historical figures that I used to collect back in the 80s. Some of these are English Civil War, a few are American Civil War, but the vast majority are from the Napoleonic era. Over the weekend I began to sort through these properly and started to think about using them on the table top again.

As you can see from the photo, the models are within the 1:72 scale range. I'm not sure about the manufacturer but a search around the web seems to suggest that they were from the now defunct Esci, which I believe was taken over by Italeri. All they need is to be based and painted and I'll have a whole new game to play with very little expense (my wife will like this aspect!).

When I was 12 my friends and I used to spend the day setting up a battle scene - usually Waterloo - and then use a very basic set of rules (of our own devising) for movement and combat. I'm not sure these will suffice today though (!) so I've been exploring some of the many different kinds of rule sets that are available for this era. (I found a very useful guide on the site Napoleon Guide).

What's immediately obvious is that this kind of game is far more 'serious' and tactical than fantasy of science fiction systems (nothing you didn't know already). Historical war games have always exuded a more mature tone because historic representativeness is key to their design and spirit. As someone who likes to mess around with house rules they'd always seemed a tad restrictive to me. 

But looking through three of the different sets of rules on offer I'm actually quite looking forward to playing within the tactical parameters of a 'realistic' historic setting. In essence, gaming in this era and at this scale is somewhere between open table top warfare (e.g. WFB) on one end of the spectrum, and more 'board-orientated' games (e.g. Dust Tactics) towards the other. Because my interest is gaming - rather than some kind of serious recreation - I'm actually really excited at the prospect of using a new and tactically-rich system.

I've begun by looking at 'General de Brigade', 'Grande Armee', and 'Elan', although there are several other systems that I mean to explore. What's useful is that there is no standard way of basing figures. This means that you don't have to settle for one system at the loss or exclusion of the others. One down side though, is that I actually feel rather lost at the most basic level of the game because I'm not being instructed on how to base my models! Individual infantry figures represent between 20 and 50 men, while in the case of Grande Armee it's the size of the base or movement try that matters, so there is an unfamiliar level of abstraction here. This has taken a bit of getting used to because the entire scale of the game is very different from what I'm used to.

Whichever system I decide to use I think I'm really going to enjoy the challenges that historical gaming at this scale brings. Luckily I have all the miniatures I need for several armies and a willing opponent in the shape of my brother. Occasional up-dates will follow... although maybe not until next year. 

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