Saturday, July 10, 2010

Napoleon -- wargame man of the year for 2010?

Napoleon is like the Lady Gaga of wargames --- eww! Let me take that back.
He's the Will Smith of wargames, nobody's name is a bigger draw when you're trying to make a sale.

It appears that first-run copies of Battles of Napoleon will be hard to find, just as last month the initial run of Napoleon's War sold out before the game was even published. And I have no doubt that the publication of Commands & Colors: Napoleonics will be one of GMT's biggest hits of the year and will probably also sell-out quickly.

Now these are all good games, and most are based on previously successful games, but it's still interesting that Napoleon is still the go-to man for wargames even in this tough economy.

I don't even consider myself a big Napoloenic guy -- but I have at least 8 wargames named after Napoleon: The AH and Columbia versions of Napoleon; Napoleon at Waterloo, Napoleon's Last Battles, Napoleon;s Battles, Napoleon's Triumph, Napoleon's War and Bonaparte at Marengo. I expect to get both the Battles of Napoleon and C&C:N, so that will make at least 10 with the man's name in the title -- not even counting a various other games set in the era I also own.

Instead of blogging I've been sending too much time on BGG debating on a thread comparing Napoleon and Grant. Most of the discussion has been about Grant, and that may very well be that Napoleon truly is incomparable as a general and a historical figure. No matter how much I like and admire Grant, I have to admit that he has had nowhere near the impact of Napoleon on history. Grant is an important figure in American history, but Napoleon is a world history figure. Indeed, I would say that he rates among a very, very selct few generals who have achieved a degree of ppular renown that even the generally ill-informed have heard of him. Even people who slept through all their history classes have at least heard of folks like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan and Napoleon, And I feel confident in stating that he will still be among that select group (maybe the future will add someone) centuries from now.

He's been written about, analyzed extensively and probed in far more detail than I can attempt here, but I think it's notable how much Napoleon and his era are identified with wargaming. I think if you had to pick just one iconic image for wargames, you'd probably have to select a Napoleonic soldier or cannon for that image.

You can't get away from Napoleon, really, even as a Civil war buff, because he played a big role in that conflict. While long dead, the top leaders of the Civil War were marinated in Napoleonic thought, dreamed of Napoleonic glory and studied his campaigns intently.

So even though I'm only a casual student of things Napoleon, I expect to get a lot of Napoleonic gaming in this year as I put all the new games through their paces.

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