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Quick Looks: Napoleon's Nemsis 1813

A question often asked of a boardgames is does its mechanics represent its theme? Or is the theme just art work over a set of dice rolls and cube trading?

Whether a war game simulates its historical era would seem easier to determine. Today we have a quick look at an east front war game set in 1813 1945.

1813 Napoleon's Nemesis covers the Leipzig campaign following Italian publisher Europa Simulazioni's previous game on the ill fated 1812 Invasion of Russia. The napoleonic game of maneuver has long been the grail of wargaming for me. I looked for it in Zucker's Day's series and found a bumper cars CRT, I looked for it here and found something more akin to Red Storm.

Turn 2

Lets look at some numbers.

According to the Wiki (that venerable source of 'facts') there were 380,000 coalition vs 225,000 French Empire men on the field at Leipzig. According to the Nemesis rule book each infantry counter represents a division of ~8000 men and 6 unit counters is the strict stacking limit per hex at all times (so yes traffic jams are a common problem).

So that is a maximum of 48000 men allowed in one hex assuming no cav or cannon divisons are present.

Each hex covers 33 miles.

So if Hiller is short on supply and has to sit in Linz his army of 48000 men, he is going to block any friendly troops crossing the river to or from Vienna, or taking the pass north to Prague for an for entire month long term.

If a battle is fought on a hex in theory up to three neighbouring defender stacks can join to give a total of four and two supporting attackers can join the attacking stack, so this gives (assuming every unit is infantry) a maximum of 144,000 in the attacking army and 192,000 in the defense. This is well short of the history and it appears to be a direct result of the games stacking. Admittedly most Napoleonic battles are half the size of Leipzig.

Before the Armistice, lines from the Baltic to the Austrian Border with Russians trying to break the centre.

I suspect the stacking limits are as they are to prevent players from piling half a million men into one city but the end result is a map that develops fronts and looks a bit like Prussia in 1945 rather than 1813.

The game has a rather harsh supply system, and combat is risky unless you have a significant leader or troop numbers advantage. If the die rolls are attritional or both sides a little risk adverse the game can gravitate towards two huge lines of troops stacked up facing off down the Elbe River.

Despite being unconvinced by the historical story I did quite enjoy playing this game. Before lines are formed, or if they break down after a violent battle, there are windows of precious maneuver warfare. On top of this the supply system gives each side a management problem to solve and an achilles heel. The foraging and force march rules allow for gambles and the Armistice is an interesting trade off decision for both sides. If the French accept they get 3 vps, the coalition gets the rubbish Austrian army and each side retreats from contact. Both sides must constantly assess the game state to judge whether a reprieve is a good deal.

Terribly dark photo captures the darkness surrounding Langeron's attempt at deep battle.

Counting against it; the game doesn't really gain much other clutter and setup time by being divisional scale. If the game was corps level with a few off map admin sheets it would be much easier to play. The combat system is also a little uninspired, tally up dudes, leaders and a few modifiers and roll high. I would prefer either a CRT or even bucket o dice. Given the mass of stacks around you have to spend a lot of time counting factors. There is also a tacked on event cards system. It's ok but I tend to think if I am going to pay for a card deck the game better really make good use of it.

On balance I'd recommend this game if you want a rather unique and interesting tournament game that can fit an eve. Don't bother if you really want a Leipzig campaign game. I am not as well versed in the 1813 campaign as I am in 1806, 1809 and the Peninsula but this game didn't match my minds eye of the conflict.


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