Friday, February 15, 2008

Featured game: System 7 Napoleonics

System 7 Napoleonics is essentially a variant for GDW's Fire & Steel miniatures rules with some modifications to account for the use of die-cut counters instead of miniature toy soldiers.
It provides interesting gist for debates over what constitutes a "miniatures" wargame. While not using miniature figures, it's clearly within the genre of historical miniatures wargames. Distances are measured using rulers and units do not occupy distinct cells such as hexagons, squares or areas as seen in board wargames.
One inch represents 40 yards on the ground, each strength point represents 20 men and a turn represents about an hour of fighting.
Each cardboard counter represents a company of infantry, a squadron of horse or a two-gun artillery section and takes up the appropriate frontage depending on the strength of the unit. The color scheme on the counters is based on the color of the uniform and facings for that unit, providing a good period "feel."
The game system is vintage chart-heavy mid-1970s GDW, with written orders and a very heavy emphasis on morale. In fact, while a unit's combat power varies based on its strength and weaponry, its most important characteristic is morale level. An elite unit has much more staying power than a line unit and troops from the French, Russian or British guards are very tough.
Special rules cover various aspects of Napoleonic warfare such as lancers, weather, spiking guns, prisoners, generals and formations.
GDW published 15 sets of counters before discontinuing the line. Each set contains about a corps-worth of troops based on nationality with a mix of infantry, cavalry and artillery.
By later standards gameplay is a little on the slow side, largely because of the written orders and chart-based combat system with multiple phases. While experienced players can handle more, the game works best if each player controls about a division-sized force.
If sufficient attention is devoted to terrain, the game can be attractive. The counters do allow a more realistic depiction of actual unit depths, which are greatly exagerated by using miniatures. Cavalry units, in particular, are always far deeper on the game table than they should be when using miniatures. Using System 7 one can see that even a column of horse was actually wider than it is deep, with similar insights for other formations.
While nearly forgotten today, System 7 was an interesting experiment in wargaming and still of interest for collectors.

No comments:

Post a Comment