Saturday 3 September 2022

Wednesday night madness. Last week's was cheap and cheerful; this week, a big SoN game


So last week's game was a two player versus one (Graham H. and I versus Peter J.) To the Strongest, Crusades, affair. 

Never, in the field of lead men conflict, have so many chits been turned in anger to so little effect: Peter J, playing the Franks, only failed to make four saves all night in what might rate as the most one sided game of TtS that I've ever played. We were hammered, crushed, and sent packing on all fronts. C'est la vie.  
So this week, with the return of Mark D. to the fold, I thought I'd go back to trying Soldiers of Napoleon. I really like this rule set and I have high hopes for it. 

I've set up a lopsided points game where the French (with more points) will attempt to crack the Anglo Portuguese position on a long ridge. The British players each have three commands, the French each have four (including a reserve). Who controls which sector/side will, as usual, be determined randomly by drawing cards - I don't actually draw a card, I just get the last one, for fairness.

The British position, holding the reverse slope of aforesaid ridge, will be an interesting test of the skirmish rule (terrain not blocking line of sight). 

Also, given this is basically an attack versus defence game, it will be interesting to see how defence favours card play - if at all.

The forces are quite large, with each SoN brigade actually representing a bath-tubbed division (as described in the previous post). The morale values are quite substantial - the British have 52, the French have 56 but many more units.

British on the reverse slopes.

Note the variable 'stand strength' dice cell trays. Disruption will be shown with white dice. All of my units are the same size but have variable strength. I don't do stand removal. All ranges, etc. are measured middle to nearest. This works surprisingly well and is much less fussy, for big games, than in the rules proper.
A lightly held centre. The Light Division, rifle units forward.
One of the French commands in columns with skirmishers and a leger unit in extended line giving cover. 

All about to get their feet wet, by the looks of it.

Finally three shots of my QRS which have the troop types on the reverse. 

Sorry about the order they appear in. Don't know why that happened. 

You should be able to enlarge to read and spot the movement rules differences / differences in troop classification (for the Peninsular) / and a couple of optional rules. 

Also note that my troop classification gives the 'bead colour code' of the unit. This saves any requirement for roster sheets and relieves a lot of strain on the memory - everything is plain to see at all times.

Note, there is a misprint here (corrected by hand since this shot was taken), Harass range is 20" not 24".


Sgt Steiner said...

Nice looking games both.
Re SON have only dabbled with it but unsure overall. Not really sure what extended line is simulating. Seems to be for Light Inf to adopt skirmish (no problem) yet they seem to be equal to Line and seems a sort of no-brainer formation ? The Heavy Cav distant threat (ala old Piquet) can be rather potent. Interesting to see your take on them. Do you prefer to PK/FOB ?


I think SoN have a lot going for them. I think, SoN is probably at its best for an evenings play between two consenting adults but, that kind of game rarely happens here these days. They are not particularly well suited to multi player games so, will I switch from Piquet? Probably not.

pancerni said...

Very nice looking table and figures. Interesting how much 'work' you put into sheets and other cues for playing. From experience, that must increase playing time and cut down on errors.


I agree, wholeheartedly.

The beads are the key. It was something I learned from playing Command and Colors ancients: Colour coding sticks in the brain. I use the same basic pattern for everything. Red is poor, then comes green (usually average), then going up, blue, purple, black; yellow always means light troops; pink always means an addition - in the case of SoN it is either fine horses or full caissons. White and brown beads are reserve colours for 'specials'- in SoN white means unusually poor skirmishers (SK1). Beads do away with roster sheets (this saves soooo much prep time) and you can never forget what something is or misread it during play - everything is in front of you all of the time. Even Graham gets it: He's red/green colour blind.

Rob said...

I do like your coloured bead system for easy recognistion and cognition! I'm looking forward to hearing how this game plays out especially with an attack vs defence scenario. Yet to have my first proper game with SoN but hopefully I have a weekend organised with friends in a few weeks time - if I can just convince them...

Keith Flint said...

Thanks for these posts on SoN. The game looks very interesting and seems to have been received very well. As a Piquet player I can see how a card-driven game would appeal to you. Unfortunately, for me, 'card-driven' usually means 'no thanks'! I always think my games have quite enough randomness via the use of dice without having another layer.

The command system is interesting. It falls in line with a number of systems, often using command points or similar, which enable players to concentrate their efforts where most needed, whilst limiting what they can do overall. I sometimes question this ability of commanders to 'focus their attention where it is most needed'. Sounds a good game device but the claim it represents actual conditions is more questionable. How did the real commander know where he should focus his attention? Not knowing this was exactly the cause of many defeats, so perhaps giving this option to players isn't as 'realistic' as some would hope.

For myself, staightforward rules that sometimes make units or brigades fail to act, or occasionally create surprise by having them act vigorously, seem to work better - and more simply.

Once again, thanks for a very valuable and considered assessment of these interesting rules.

Rob said...

A question... do you play your big / multi-player games with just the one deck of cards? When the deck runs out it's supposed to be nightfall and game end so with more units / players the deck should run out quicker i.e. more cards consumed per turn and therefore the deck being shuffled more frequently with cards removed permanently every time the deck is shuffled until there's none left (= nightfall). So do you use more than one pack (expensive), play this differently (how?), or not find it an issue?

Rob said...

A question if I may. Do you just use one deck of cards in your large multio-player games and if you do does it cause the deck to run out too soon i.e. not enough mpoves for the fighting to be completed? Or do you ignore the rule that when the deck runs out night falls and the battle ends?


We found that the deck, with four players (two a side), meant that we were going through the deck in less than two turns. Consequently, instead of rolling for 1D6 discards a turn, we rolled 1D3.

The game doesn't work brilliantly for multi-player games. They are not collaborative enough for the [social] players here. SoN will probably be relegated to one on one games - which don't happen too often.

We are also finding attacks very difficult to co-ordinate, and skirmish power far too great - units are having to rally before getting to anything like volley range - if, with skirmishing being sooo effective, the players can be bothered to do it in the first place. In the big game seen here, we ended up giving a discipline save to all skirmish hits just to pull their teeth a little. This worked to an extent, was an easy change to make, and made moving closer, and withdrawing SK, to carry out volley fire more appealing. General opinion here is that Mr. Kinrade has made SK fire battle winning - which is neither historic or entertaining.

Marc the plastics fan said...

So have you gone from high hopes to abandonment now? I’m getting mixed signals but if I understand your comments, you don’t think it works well for multiplayer games. Which is disappointing to me as that’s all I play.

vlad48 said...

Yes, there is a growing consensus that one part of the rules that do need tweaking is the power of SK fire. I had been part of a discussion on that on the SoN Facebook page.
Another option is to make ALL skirmish fire hit on 5+ only - instead of being based on the unit's volley fire stat. Better skirmishing battalions already get the bonus of more Sk firing dice so giving them better stats as well (4+ and even 3+ to hit) overpowers them even more.
Also, as 5+ is also the artillery hit number it is easy to remember.