Sunday, October 11, 2015

Product Review: Field Commander Napoleon

 My brother bought me my first boardgame for my 16th or 17th birthday.  I was instantly hooked on this new hobby.  Sometime later, I joined my brother's friends who already had their own gaming group established.  My first taste of playing with miniatures was a World War II naval scenario of the Battle of the River Plate.
During my high school and junior college years, few of us had full time jobs--and fewer of us had girlfriends.  We scraped together whatever money we could get--allowances, mowing lawns/shoveling snow/babysitting for neighbors--in order to fund our boardgame/miniatures purchases.  But since we all lived within walking distance, more often than not, we managed to get together on the weekends and play our games.
Then at some point in my adulthood (at least as measured chronologically), I reached a transition point.  Having decent-paying, full time jobs allowed, and still allows, me to purchase the games and miniatures that tickle my fickle fancy; even many out-of-print stuff I wanted to buy when I was younger--as long as they're not being sold at a "collector's price."
However, I now have less time to game than I did when I was a girlfriendless, introverted teenager.
In conversations I've had with my fellow middle-age-ish gaming buddies, I've found many that have experienced this phenomena. 
So what's all this waxing poetic have to do with a product review?
Well, tabletop gaming is a social and interactive experience, and it's hard to interact with your gaming buddies, even via the internet, when you're life-schedule gears don't mesh well together.  (Due to my rotating shift work, I swear I have the worst attendance record in my regional gaming group).
Anyway, I've tried a handful of times to play a game solitaire.  I have a couple of friends that do this on a semi-regular basis.  I've found the experience lacking, primarily because I'm playing a game designed for two or more players, and have had a tendency to cheat favor one side over the other.
But thanks to Dan Verssen Games (DVG), I may have found a solution:  Field Commander Napoleon.
This game is one of four currently in DVG's Commander Series and is designed specifically for solitaire play.  The player assumes the role of Napoleon, and plays-through one of the 11 campaigns, which span from 1796 to 1815.  These can be played separately, or combined.  The rules contain a handful of modifications needed to tie all the campaigns together.
But no matter which way you play, the goal is to see if you can achieve the same fame and glory as Napoleon did...
(Image found on New Historian)
...or meet the same ignominious end.
(Image found on the Napoleonic Society website)
Or both.
The quality of Field Commander Napoleon is exceptional.  The campaign maps are mounted and the counters are extra-thick, and the tactical maps and quick reference sheets are cardstock.
The game is expensive, $99 at retail, but I found mine through the Boardgamegeek Geek Market for about three-quarters of this cost, including shipping and handling.
The artwork is good.  My only quibble are with the images of Prussian infantry, who look like their wearing headgear popular during Fredrick the Great's reign. 
The rules appear to be clearly written, but often gave me the impression of reading a legal document.  This isn't a complaint, merely an observation.   I do most of my reading while exercising on a stationary cardio machine, so I don't have the game with me when reading examples of play.  The "legalese" impression comes-in when reading how the non-player coalition forces move and act.
There's even a two-part video review by Marcowargamer available.
I look forward to taking to the field as Field Commander Napoleon.
(Image found on IZ Quotes)

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