By far, the game I have enjoyed playing the most over the past 2 years is a game called Manoeuvre. Manoeuvre is a Napoleonics game. It was designed to be learned quickly and played in under an hour. The game is absolutely one of my favorites. In this post, I will try to give the flavor of the game and a rundown of each nation and their strengths.
Size Does Matter
The game is played by two players over a 4 square map. Each square is divided into a 16 (4x4) grid. This makes a map that is 8 squares by 8 squares. The tight nature of the map encourages strategic thinking as well as forcing players into conflict after the first turn or so. The different map squares sport different kinds of terrain, and this is part of the charm and appeal of the game. The design allows for infinite replayability.
The pieces are typical cardboard chits, larger than in a wargame, but well suited for play. Each nation has 8 units representing units that existed at the time. The units are augmented by a deck of cards that detail the combat capability of the units as well as tactical cards that allow units to heal, move outside of their turn, build defensive groundworks, leaders, ambush, etc. The mix of cards and abilities are different depending upon each nation and their military skill at the time. Thus, France and Britain are the best armies of the game and the USA and Austria are the weakest.
The Game is Afoot
A turn consists of discarding cards and refilling your hand to 5, moving one unit, and then attacking with a unit. Lastly, you may heal a unit or build a redoubt also with the play of a card. Card management is the crux of the game. In order to attack, you need to have a card that matches the unit you wish to attack with. Then the defender has the option of playing a card to add to its defense. The attacker may then play a leader card to bring in other units adjacent to the defending unit. Dice are rolled and a simple calculation is used to determine losses. If the die roll is less than the defense, that attacker takes a loss. If the die roll is equal to the defense the defender chooses to retreat one space or take a loss. Twice the defense and the attacker chooses. Three times the defense and the defender takes a loss and retreats. Four times the defense and the defender is eliminated. If there is no retreat, the defender is eliminated. In order to win you need to eliminate 5 units or get the most victory points at sundown. Sundown is when both players have exhausted their decks one time. Each player calculates victory points based on where they are in the opposing side's terrain. The most vp's wins.
France- The best army in the game. France has the highest attack on their cards, and the most maneuverability of any country. They can make a mistake here and there and still recover from it.
Britain- England has the best overall attack and defense in the game. They are a good match for France. They have excellent leaders and high attack values on their units.
Russia- Great defensive cards. Russia can let the battle come to them and then stonewall. A solid counterattack and they can dominate. (My favorite faction).
Turkey- Lots of cavalry and that means pursuit losses. Turkey is very agile on the field and can even take down France if they play conservatively enough. I have won the most with Turkey, I think.
Prussia- An average country that has no real strength in any one area.
Spain- Weak leaders and low values make this a country that could handicap a better player versus a new player. Spain does have guerrillas which allow it to cancel some tactics. Very helpful for picking off wounded units.
Austria- Similar to Prussia but not as good. This country is the weakest.
USA- A bit better than Austria due to its use of ambush. I still don't think it is very competitive, but it is a fun country to play against. Very unpredictable.
All in all, this game is a phenomenal game that wargamers and eurogamers both should like. And you can get it now that it has been reprinted.
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