On Friday evening, Graham Number 2 (as I call him, he being the second gamer to arrive in Brussels with this name - Graham Number 1 being my dbm partner and recently married to the fiercely non-wargaming Lynn), invited me over for a little game of ‘Grande Armee’.
This is a fast play Napoleonics game, apparently owing something to Volley and Bayonet, although this is not a system I know.
We played it with my 6mm figs, using a 30x30 mm base (approx 24 infantry or 8 cav) to represent a regiment. So with about 3 or 4 regiments per division, we each had about 12-16 infantry units, a cavalry unit plus about 5-6 artillery units. Each unit has strength points, between 3 and 7, which determine the number of dice to roll in combat (a 5-6 normally scoring a hit) and the number of casualties it takes before routing. A nice simple system. The interesting bit is in the command points. Each turn you roll a die to see how many command points you receive. There is a matrix and depending on the type of army (French system is better than the pre-corps system) and your leadership rating (Nappy is magnifique, mon General a ete null…) you get CPs. These are used to command your sub generals. The thing is that each turn can have up to 6 sub turns and as long as you have CPs left you can order your troops for a second, third, etc time. A die roll per phase determines the end of the turn, and it progresively becomes more likely that the turn will end.
What happened in the game? Our correspondent on the scene, M. Claude Sur L’Horizon, reports:
‘Mon dieu, why you ask zees question? Les imbeciles sur le French droit attaque ze flat footy Autrichien gauche. Quel massacre! Nobody told ze French General Grandjean (Petitcon I call heem) zat ze strength points of ze French are very petits, no more zan 4 et ceux des ennemies sont very very much. Bouf! Ze droit is lost.
Sur le gauche? Aie, aie, aie. Ze Bleue Big Battery, I think you say in anglais, is mooved forward and is stop-ped and does not fire ze guns. Oh la la, ze French try ze attaque in ze centre and encore c’est la honte…’
I think I had better stop him there. You get the picture. One interesting point was that, in this 4 turn game (games limited to 3-6 turns), the first three turns ended after just one impulse. This meant that the French could not use their superior command and control to their advantage unti the last turn, and then it was a bit late. But the last turn showed what was possible, as the French centre started to knock the Austrians about a bit.
Summary - excellent game, simple rules, elegant, no messing about. I like it a lot and for an evening’s bloodfest, it’s perfect.