Sunday, September 13, 2015

Value for money

I have had the new edition of Napoleon's Battles in my possession for a day I thought the first question I would ask would be: Is it value for money?

There are two aspects to the answer: how does it compare to other products and does it give a good game.

This post will look at the comparison with other wargame rules that I have purchased recently (last five years give or take).  As to whether it gives a good name, it is easy to just look at the number of AARs I have made referencing the rules.

So what do I have to compare it to?  DBA 2.2, Line of Battle, Blitzkrieg Commander, Galleys and Galleons, Saga, Field of Glory, Blucher and Regimental Fire and Fury are the most recent rule acquisitions.  The other important reference point is the other editions of Napoleon's Battles - I have the 1st Edition by Avalon Hill and the 2nd Edition by Five Forks.

The Avalon Hill edition is a classic.
(For the record: 116 pages, b&w, three A4 softback booklets in a box with various player aids)

The 2nd Edition (176 pages, b&w, A4 softcover) I recall took forever to arrive, was of poor quality and had two major changes: withdrawal became a standard rule, not optional (something I've only just come around to accepting); and, most importantly, fixed the flaw in the pin rule were a cavalry unit could pin an infantry unit and stop it from forming square when charged by a second cavalry unit.  The Marechal Edition is certainly better than the 2nd Edition, but clearly not a ground breaking new rule set as represented by the Avalon Hill production.

DBA 2.2 (120 pages b&w A5 softback) is a complete system, great game and very good value, although not in the same league as Napoleon's Battles.  It certainly was a ground breaking system.  I paid $52.40 for two copies of DBA 2.2 including postage.  

Line of Battle (50 pages b&w A4 softback) cost $38.40 (it still has the price tag on it, but based on the receipt I paid $36 and $7.50 pp which was within Australia).  I am yet to use them and they are more for research at the moment

Blitzkrieg Commander (140 pages colour A4 softback) cost $48.26 including postage (that was December 2011 and the Australian dollar was at parity with the US dollar) is a complete system (as in it has all the army lists and things you need).

Galleys and Galleons (82 pages b&w A4 PDF) cost $11.22 for the digital PDF as a download.  I have also purchased Songs of Drums and Shakos and Songs of Blades and Heroes which are equivalent rulesets more or less using the same system but applied to different periods.  Price and delivery was similar.  Not in the same league, but given the price and method of delivery plus flexibility of the rule system very good value.  Probably a classic as well.

Saga (76 pages colour, A4 softback) and Northern Fury (24 pages colour) set me back $90.90 retail from local gaming shop.  It is a bit pricey for what you get, particularly when you add in cost of the special dice.

Field of Glory (172 pages, colour, A4 hardback) and the eight army list books would have cost me well over $200, sourced from an number of places including conventions and mail order.  The rules book has a price tag of $65 and some of the army lists have price tags for $30, $26.40 and $35 still stuck to them,   To me this the replacement for WRG 7th Edition.

Blucher (175 pages, colour, A5 hardback) was on special bundled with the cards for 100 Days and cost $115.90 including postage.

Regimental Fire and Fury (96 pages, colour, A4 hardback) was picked up at a convention for $60.

So, where does that leave the Marechal Edition?

It is 183 pages, colour, A4 and hardback for which I paid $102.42 including postage and currency fees.  

Given the fluctuations of the Australian dollar and vagaries of postage and packing charges versus acquisition at a retail store or convention it doesn't warrant looking at the prices paid than any more as a guide, but, with the possible exception of a PDF download, the Marechal Edition seems very competitively priced.

There are other appropriate purely factual considerations - how much original material is in the rules, what about playing aids, quick reference sheets etc.  And in this day and age the availability and quality of online support is critical - from rules questions, scenarios, additional player aids and sourcing of ideas and fostering a community.

There is also an overriding issue with wargame rules - their ongoing availability.  The ability to refer people to a publisher so they can buy the rules.  For me, the Marechal Edition of Napoleon's Battles means the rules live on and that is something that I value enormously.

Having had a small insight into what it takes to produce something that ends up in a book, it is a long and drawn out process only for the brave and persistant.  Javier Gamez and Antonio J Diaz are to be congratulated for picking up Napoleon's Battles and seeing the Marechal Edition through to completion.

Some rulesets I haven't mentioned are Sails of Glory and Wings of Glory which I consider are more miniatures and therefore not really comparable.  The other missing set is Sands of the Sudan which I received in the NWS Kris Kirngle and is therefore of inestimable value :-) I just wonder if I will ever get an invite to a game one day? 


  1. so many rules, so little time...

    1. I would go further and say so many good rules, interesting periods and lovely figure...

  2. Something I should have noted, in case it isn't obvious, I live in Australia so all currency is Australian dollars, currently worth 71 cents US and 46p UK. For comparison purposes a litre of milk costs $A1.35 (which would be 96 cents or 62p)

  3. Looking at putting on a Dudan game for newbies at my place in October Mark - only ten minutes walk from your place you cheeky boy!!