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Posted on Feb 14, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” Forbidden Games’ Victory and Glory Napoleon  Board Game Review

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” Forbidden Games’ Victory and Glory Napoleon Board Game Review

By Rick Martin

Victory and Glory Napoleon Board Game Review.  Publisher: Forbidden Games   Game Designer: Glenn Drover  Price  $79.00

Passed Inspection: Stunningly beautiful board and components, elegantly designed game, easy to learn, tough to master, solo rules included, fast playing, great fun for the whole family

Failed Basic: very large footprint, needs a greater incentive to keep a good economy, the Event Cards could use flavor text explaining their historical significant.

Victory and War Napoleon is, first and foremost, one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen and that beauty doesn’t just apply to the artwork – this game is pure elegance from its rules to its game play.  This game should be played on a wooden table by candle light!

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The box is huge and stuffed to the gills with goodies.

The components include:

10 page rule book

150 full color, beautifully illustrated Event and Campaign Cards grouped by decades

3 piece map board (total size when put together is 45″x36″,) representing Europe and North Africa from 1796 – 1815

Dozens of unique unit die cut counters (cavalry, infantry, artillery, and navies for each major nation and several minor nations)

Wooden Cube Influence Markers (Red and Blue)

Victory Point, Economic and Leadership & Tactics Counters for each side.

My “Premium Edition” also includes:

  • Wooden Meeple Military Units (Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, Navies)
  • 3 All-New Frameable Battle Maps: Waterloo, Quatre Bras & Ligny.

The more astute readers will probably be asking why no dice are listed in the component list!  Good call folks.  The game is a diceless game!  The combat system is very abstracted and utilizes the point value of the units plus modifiers for combined arms and such.  But more on this later.

Glenn Drover’s rules are simple and well written.  In 10 pages, the rules give you everything you need to play the game and even give you historical notes to help explain the history behind the game.  Rules are included for solo play and even for interphasing this strategic game with table top miniature battle games.  The entire scope of Napoleon from 1796 to 1815 can be played in less than 4 hours!  The promotional material says that the whole game can be played in 2 hours but it took me about 3 hours of playing solo to complete it.

The players in Victory and Glory Napoleon can chose to play either Britain or Napoleonic France.  Non-play countries include Russia, Austria, Spain, Prussia, Germany, Italy and Poland with other countries become involved due to Event Cards.

Some of the countries have troops and ships but their governments must be wooed in order to have these armies released to the players.

Units are infantry, cavalry, artillery and war ships.  Each unit is rated for its basic combat ability – this number is an abstraction of the unit’s offensive and defensive capabilities.

The huge map board is made up of three component boards.  When put together, they take up a respectable 45″x36″ (114.3 centimeters by 91.44 centimeters) or 3.75 feet by 3 feet.  I actually had to adlib an extension to my gaming table just to accommodate the board!    The board is simply a work of art.  It would look great framed and hanging on my wall!  It’s beautiful. Paul Niemeyer is the artist behind the stunning map and the unit counter artwork. The map represents Europe and parts of North Africa including Egypt.  A victory track takes up the lower right of the board and on it you will track British and French Economy Levels, Leadership & Tactics and Victory Points.  The board also contains holding areas to keep military units which have not been committed to a campaign.

150 Event and Campaign Cards are broken down in to three time periods covered by the game – 1796 to 1801, 1802 to 1807 and 1808 to 1815.  The card artwork and the cover of the game box are by renowned Napoleonic artist Keith Rocco and are simply stunning.

Each of these cards includes the dates that the cards are used (see above), a card name and text.  In addition, on the bottom of the event cards is an alternative effect of the card which can be used in place of the top event.  Campaign Cards list the name of the Campaign (for example the Battle of Trafalgar) and the outcome if the player wins or loses the campaign.

The cards are the heart of the game.  Event Cards can influence you or your opponent.  They can give you access to military units, influence on other countries, better or worse economic influences, etc.  The top text affects the player named on the card (either British or French) but the bottom text affects who ever drew the card.  In this way, you can both keep important cards away from the other player but still gain a benefit from the bottom text of the card.  In my review play, the British side kept drawing cards which would have given my side, the French, an alliance with neutral Spain and allowed me to command their troops.  The British player kept these cards out of my control so I was never able to sway the Spanish to supporting Napoleon even though I had the majority of influence in the country.

Campaign Cards are played like Event Cards but they start battles on the map – either ocean battles, land battles or a combination thereof.

The Influence Cubes are used to show how much a neutral country swings to either the British or the French side.  Some Event Cards will allow the party with more Influence in a Country to gain the military support of that country.  Other events can add Economic Points to the side which has more influence or subtract them if you don’t.

The turn sequence runs as follows:

Each player draws 10 Campaign/Event Cards from the draw deck

Each Player plays 1 card from their hand

Place any Influence Cubes or Adjust Economic or Leadership & Tactics counters

If playing a Campaign Card place military units in the Campaign area of the specific country

After all cards are played, fight any Campaign Battles discarding destroyed units and adjust Influence, Leadership & Tactics and Victory Points

After all the cards are used up, adjust Economics, Leadership & Tactics and Victory Points.  Extra Victory Points are earned by having more influence in a country than your opponent.  Also the more armies and ships you field at the end of the phase, the worse your country’s Economics Points are!

Move to the next Phase of the Game and start over with cards for that time period (1796 to 1801, 1802 to 1807 and 1808 to 1815). If you just ended the 1815 time period, the game is over. Figure out the winner and loser by final Victory Points.

Combat is abstractly but efficiently handled.  Each unit has a rating for its combat capacity.  There are ships, infantry, cavalry and artillery.  Some battles are for ships only while others are only for land units. Some battles include both land and ship units.  When a Campaign is started, each side adds in units to the country or sea area where the battle occurs.  Total the combat values of all the units for each side with a bonus for combined arms (artillery, infantry and cavalry or, if permitted, ships) then add the side’s Leadership and Tactics rating.  The side with the highest total number wins the battle!  The player who wins loses his lowest value military unit from the battle while the player who loses has to sacrifice his highest value unit.  Then apply the affects of the Campaign Card in terms of Victory Points, Leadership and Tactics, Influence Cubes, etc.  That’s it – no muss, no fuss!

 

The key to this game appears to be maximizing political influence while minimizing fielded military units.  In my review game I played as France.  At the end of the game, I had more Victory Points than the British but my Economic Points were in the negative!  I think the guillotine was waiting for me after the wars as I pretty much bankrupted my country!

There are many options with this game in terms of playing aesthetics.  You can play with the counters or play with the meeples.  A sticker sheet of combat stats is included for those who find the meeples more aesthetically pleasing.

The Battle Field Maps which are included can be framed and hung on the wall or used as a tactical map if you chose to use minis to fight the battles in detail.

I played the game with the solo rules and they worked very well.  The British really began to stomp me in the final phase of the game.

I simply love this game.  It can be played by new players as the rules won’t intimidate them or by old hats like me.  It has a wonderful cross-audience appeal.

If there is any tarnish on game’s brass it’s that the player needs a greater incentive to keep a good solid economy.  I think the ending economy of the country should have a greater affect on the victory points.

In addition, the Event Cards need flavor text explaining their historical significant or, perhaps, this could be added to the rule book as a sort of “concordance of historical facts.”

Don’t let these small quibbles keep you from playing this great game.  The map board alone is worth the price!

Armchair General Rating: 96 %

Solitaire Rating: 4 (1 to 5 with 1 being Poor and 5 being Perfect for Solo)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!  He is also the designer of Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Expansion Kit and Sherman Leader.

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