Reviewed By Halden
Designer Dan Verssen
Artist Aaron Anderson, Wan Chiu, Jacques-Louis David, Miguel Santos, Dan Verssen
Publisher Dan Verssen Games (DVG)
Field Commander Napoleon from DVG games is an impressive game. From the moment you heft the huge 4” tall box you know there is a lot of game in here. The box is packed with tons of cardboard, loads of counters, rules and 7 Large Full-Color Maps (11" x 17"). The component quality is very good with nice design and a high gloss finish. The 7 unique maps are well laid out with lots of easily parsed information on the board itself.
The game covers many of Napoleon’s campaigns, each of which can be played individually or chronologically as a large series of games. The earliest scenario is Italy 1796 and the final campaign is Waterloo 1815, there are 11 scenarios overall. This offers hours and hours of gameplay.
The game set up has some basic common steps covered in the rulebook but each specific scenario will have their unique setup printed on the map. The unique characteristics are starting units, objectives, number of turns etc. Each scenario has its own challenges and all must be approached with different tactics and strategies.
The turn sequence of a round of Napoleon is:
Move – Move your troops to an adjacent area, this has no cost.
Resolves Battles - This is the most complex area of a turn that I will only cover briefly. To set up a battle you roll for a Fog of War effect that will benefit either the French or the Enemy it will also determine how many turns the battle will last. You check for envelopment which basically means if one side has overrun the other than the battle is won before it begins and the weaker side is destroyed. Once that is settled you will assign battle plans, insights and place the forces involved in the battle onto the Battlefield.
Force March – you can move forces that were involved a battle to an adjacent area, this will cost one supply point per force you move.
Resupply - Referencing the resupply on the area of the scenario map gain the appropriate amount of supply points. You can now use those points to refit injured units and purchase new units.
Orders – Roll a die and carry out the enemy orders listed on the scenario map.
Resolve Battles – Resolve battles instigated by enemy movement.
Resupply - Roll a die and carry out the enemy supply orders listed on the scenario map.
This example of a turn is quite simplified and not intended to teach the game but to give you a feel of the flow. After a few rounds it is quite intuitive but the game depth comes from strategizing you campaign to achieve glory for the Emperor and for France!
I really enjoyed playing some individual scenarios but found the game really began to shine when I started to play the linked campaign. It started to bring the vastness of history to life and gave my game to game choices deeper meaning as they would affect each other. Commanders that lose troops are given fresh recruits in the next game or Superior commanders can move onto the next campaign.
Field Commander Napoleon is a solitaire military game, it is filled with tactics and the ruleset can be daunting for those unfamiliar with war games but I would highly suggest that you press on as this game is one of the most accessible war games and is an excellent introduction into a rewarding sub-genre of table top gaming. While being accessible it isn’t a light game either and experienced war gamers will find it rewarding as well. The overall package and experience made this game well worth the time and money investment.
The Gentlemen Blogger
Jim is a lifelong gamer. He will play any game at least once. You will see a wide variance in the games he reviews.
Halden is our war game correspondent. He is on the front lines for skirmish game reviews.
Chris Globus is the newest member of the blog team. He is on a personal quest to fine tune his collection at all times.