Saturday, 5 November 2011

Napoleon at War

I've been keen on the Napoleonic era for a long time. My school wargames club used to play Bruce Quarrie's rules from one of the Airfix Magazine Guides, and occasionally a set of (dreadful) home-grown rules that were entirely my fault. For a while, I started painting a bunch of Airfix figures as well as some Lamming Miniatures British light infantry, but in the end, university and D&D won out. On top of that, I absolutely aced my final (3rd year of secondary school, or year 9 to you youngsters) history exam before dropping the subject, largely due to getting to write scads and scads of stuff on Waterloo (based on the account in Ugo Pericoli's 1815: The Armies at Waterloo).

As I have commented in the past, I\ve been toying with shelling out on a bunch of Victrix and Perry 28mm Napoleonics and having a crack, probably with Black Powder. Gavin at the club has most of the Penninsular order of battle in 6mm, which is another way I could get a fix :D However, I was skimming a wargames mag last month when I happened on a full page ad for Napoleon At War. In a classic case of the Bader-Meinhoff phenomenon (look it up!), this was rapidly followed by an in-depth review in the most recent Meeples and Miniatures podcast which had me definitely intrigued.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the rulebook arrived on Tuesday :D Lovely presentation, in the modern tradition of colour hardback with pictures and diagrams. Well-written, clear and interesting ruleset - has some nice touches, particularly in the handling of reserves/unengaged troops, and of skirmishers, and in the national characteristics of each army (boy, that takes me back to Bruce Quarrie!). In fact, the latter are, to a degree, what makes the rules - British line vs French column would appear to take on the atmosphere one expects.

It's designed for tournament play, but will clearly lend itself to handling scenarios/recreations of battles. Army lists are quite nicely done - currently available from the website for the Hundred Days, and a Hundred Days campaign book is on its way, and then (one assumes) other eras of the war.

The other key thing? They're producing box sets of brigades of figures for the Hundred Days - in some ways this is intended to be Flames of War for the Napoleonic era. The figures are heroic 15mm (i.e. about 18mm, matching AB and Eureka, and maybe other ranges at a pinch), and the basing is a little idiosyncratic. It could be scaled to 6mm or 28mm, provided you adjusted ranges etc to match. The figures look, from the photos, to be very nice, and comments on the forums suggest that they're sculpted well and take paint very easily.

In short? I think this has real potential. I've (sadly) blown this months disposable income already on some figures and paints for Operation: Squad, but next month (unless a couple of eBay sales pan out) I'll be picking up some French.

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