Sunday, 28 February 2016

Steiner & le Duc...and Blucher

I've been trying to get a Blucher game sorted out, so Sgt. Steiner kindly organised one in order to show me the ropes. I've been itching to try this, hoping that Sam's Napoleonic rules are as good as Maurice. I wasn't disappointed.

So the scale is grand tactical, in similar fashion to Volley & Bayonet, and there are some similarities with V&B and Maurice, though I'm guessing that some remnants of Grande Armee might also be in there.

Highlights included:

  •  Watch your deployment! If you don't have room to swing or pivot that brigade footprint, you're out of luck. The scale make brigade deployment and movement a delicate thing.
  • Nice reduction of artillery effectiveness, and of course army morale effects.
  • Everything is quite straightforward re. fighting and melee. The masterstroke is learning when/how to commit reserves.I mentioned epic defence in my last game of Maurice...I kind of got carried away and tried to carry the attack from a defensive position here (unsuccessfully I might add)...en avant mes amis!!!...pour la Gloire?
  • The momentum rules work beautifully. The opposing player knows how many 'moves' you have left, as he has rolled them. You don' you never know just how much further you can push.
  • This game is difficult in the right way! Rules are straightforward, but mastering the battlefield is difficult. You start to think like a Napoleonic commander in effect. It's less resource management, as in Maurice, and more attrition management - so knowing when and where to commit the reserve is critical.
There's a lot of flexibility in terms of basing convention. Something for me to think about for my 20mm perhaps.

Forces arrayed, with cards for unspotted units. This works well, though there weren't many surprises as the game went on.

Strong Prussian left and decent French centre.

 La Garde Imperiale goes nuts in the centre...what was I thinking?

The cavalry action on the French right became more desperate as the battle went on; well, there was an objective to defend!

Near the end, the French centre is crumbling, though the left is secure (since they were effectively held in reserve, but for too long) - yet those French troops are too far away to do anything on the crumbling right.

 Dodgy little move on the French left with light cavalry  stumbling through the woods to the Prussian rear...well, almost.

 The battlefield at game end. Too many French attacks, when they should have stayed put perhaps.

Blucher is a great system. Just the right level of detail, friction, chaos and still retaining the 'big battle' feel. The Scharnhorst campaign system probably adds to that chaos, and allows you to march to the 'sound of the guns' (then arrive at the wrong time). Great stuff here.

We also had some discussion on Crossfire for WWII. It's been gathering dust on my shelf for 20 years. Perhaps worth looking at in order to solve my WWII concerns for lower level games (see SLiM discussion last time)...and then I started looking at the Crossfire yahoo group, with its modern and Vietnam variants, and files started to get copied and...well, another set of rules won't make any difference now, will it ?...sigh... 


  1. Glad you had a positive first outing with Blucher. Say, that looks like a lot of troops and formations for an introductory game. Nothing is tackled by half-measure, is it?

  2. Yes, a bit of an epic game, though it flowed rather well.
    Interesting that you mention smaller games, as I was considering painting up some of my 54mm French and Austrian collection on 3"x3" blocks :) for a smaller encounter.

  3. 300pts of troops sort of standard for a 6' X 4' table and one of the gauges of Blucher is it works as designed for just this size of action

  4. Great writeup Darren. Your report makes me want to go buy Blucher now, whereas originally I was planning on leaving it behind until I was at least able to play Might & Reason or LaSalle!

    Looks like much fun.

    I love Crossfire. It's a game you should pull out and play every so often to lighten things up and all you need are a handful of tanks and about 12 to 20 infantry stands on a side and you take over as a company commander.

    The back and forth initiative mechanism, in my opinion, really gives you the flavor of the see saw nature of infantry combat. It is a splendid little game.

    That said, I do think you'll like my updated version of "Combat Team". Once it's ready, I'd like to send it to you for a read-over? I promise to keep down to a few pages!!

    1. Yes Steven, it's great game. I like Snappy Nappy and V&B of course, though Blucher seems to scratch a different itch. You're certainly making command decisions; it really brings home our interpretation of the period.

      I found a crossfire modern group too, with Vietnam and modern conversions (the squad replaced by a fire team of course). Looks very interesting.

      Oh I'd love to look at Combat Team when ready please :)

    2. Well it will be tough to ignore Blucher for much longer thanks to your write up, sir! :)