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"Why should I switch to Blucher? Or should I?" Topic


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1,885 hits since 26 Jan 2018
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Private Matter26 Jan 2018 8:49 a.m. PST

My old club seems to be going all in for Blucher. I'm not sure I want to trail along but there seems to be a fair amount of positive comments about the rules floating about so I'm on the fence. I have a ton of 6mm Napoleonics to paint and base (just over 6,000)but I was thinking of going with General d'Armee. While I have read those rules, I have never actually played them. I have played Black Powder and Age of Eagles and have enjoyed both. So my questions are:

1. What is different between General d"Armee and Blucher?
2. What is special about Blucher that makes it unique?
3. How easy is it to pick up for experienced gamers? for newbies?
4. What is your favorite aspect of Blucher?
5. What is your least favorite aspect of Blucher?

Thanks in advance for your input. Also, I have enough to chose from at the moment so please don't cloud the issue by throwing other rules into the mix.

Cheers

marshalGreg26 Jan 2018 9:30 a.m. PST

Answer # 1
There is little comparison
Blucher has the brigade as the tactical element and plays much MORE like a board game BUT with out the board or hex as the measurement element (as in board games). It is completely focused to the Grand Tactics and will be a faster game play.
Grand Armee has the battalion, CAV REGIMENT AND BATTERY AS THE TACTICAL ELEMENT and is basically Gen d Brig but with added command and control mechanics to place more to Grand Tactical play. I twill not play as fast as Blucher and will have to have a much larger playing table.

mg

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP26 Jan 2018 9:44 a.m. PST

Because everytime you say the game's name, the horses will whinny!
YouTube link

GatorDave Supporting Member of TMP26 Jan 2018 10:21 a.m. PST

1. I think Marshal Greg covered the significant difference in the unit level the rules portrays (battalions vs brigades).
2. Command points (dice) that cause uncertainty in how many units are able to move in a turn.
3. Easy to pick up and fast to play.
4. I like Grand Tactical play so this works for me. Gives you the ability to fight entire battles.
5. No real issues for me.

Dexter Ward26 Jan 2018 10:24 a.m. PST

1. General d'Armee has battalions as the units. You can probably have a max of 2 divisions a side. Blucher has brigades as units. You can play even the largest Napoleonic battles
2. Very streamlined play mechanics. Ability to use cards if you don't want to use figures. Very nice 'momentum' mechanic.
3. Easy for both
4. It cuts out detail that doesn't matter at the army level
5. Combat at this level is attritional. There's no column, line and square, it is all about reserves. That's not really the fault of Blucher, it is just how things are at this level

Footslogger26 Jan 2018 10:25 a.m. PST

4. What is your favorite aspect of Blucher?
5. What is your least favorite aspect of Blucher?

4) It gets me into fighting big battles rather than fielding about a division a side

5) You lose the sense of units being in a particular formation

Private Matter26 Jan 2018 11:38 a.m. PST

Interesting comments. thanks. One question about Blucher though: Do you need the cards to play? or are they just a nicety?

GatorDave Supporting Member of TMP26 Jan 2018 11:48 a.m. PST

You do not need them to play.

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member26 Jan 2018 11:50 a.m. PST

No the cards are in place of figures if you don't have any. Essentially they are figureless bases. It's just s feature to help people get started if they don't have armies

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member26 Jan 2018 11:51 a.m. PST

My favorite aspect of the game is the momentum mechanic.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Jan 2018 12:26 p.m. PST

Paint your 6mm and base them as you like. Then mount them on sabots for Blucher. Play both.

ernieR26 Jan 2018 4:50 p.m. PST

"You lose the sense of units being in a particular formation"

Napoleon and Wellington didn't worry about what formation a particular unit was in . in Blucher neither do you .

Blucher trades the fun of putting your units in square or line for the fun of fighting an entire battle on a table smaller than 20'x20' . Waterloo will almost fit on a 6'x4' table .

True Grit27 Jan 2018 4:19 a.m. PST

Or, look at DBN, they do all that Blucher does and less abstract.

HANS GRUBER27 Jan 2018 7:40 a.m. PST

Just out of curiosity, what details does DBN have that is missing from Blucher? I have played DBA. I like the game, but it is pretty abstract.

Trajanus27 Jan 2018 8:56 a.m. PST

As Mark suggests you could sabot your bases but it might be easier to figure out what kind of game you want.

Personally, if I had 6000 6mm Naps (and assuming I could actually see them at my age) I'd go with Blucher and make a show of the individual bases like a lot of people did with its predecessor Grande Armee.

This blog shows some nice examples:

link

I know quite a few former Grande Armee players use their old set up as well as those new to the rules.

No reason why you cannot use 6mm for General d'Armee but as mentioned they do have Battalions represented on the table and for my money anything under 10mm is hard to cope with where that's concerned.

Now that may be greeted with howls from 6mm fans but just my view.

Blucher is for playing bigger battles than General d'Armee, although we have comfortably played games with a couple of Corps a side in 15mm with GdA. You would really need a serious number of 15/25mm battalion size units for whole battles, even allowing for the fact you move Brigades at a time.

Blucher is you as an army commander, moving whole Divisions about at one go, so the approach of picking up whole Brigades be they the Unit Cards or block bases is more suited to this.

GdA is you as a Corps Commander so there's more detail and your player view is closer to the action you might see in that role.

Its a matter of which you prefer.

von Winterfeldt27 Jan 2018 10:45 a.m. PST

"Napoleon and Wellington didn't worry about what formation a particular unit was in . in Blucher neither do you ."

I disagree, read Napoleons dispositions for Austerlitz, he was very much into it how his battalions should be formed, or Scherer's fighting rules for his Armée d'Italie

Trajanus27 Jan 2018 2:10 p.m. PST

Fair point.

On the other hand Napoleon didn't ride three miles, in the middle of a battle, specifically to put the 2nd Battalion, 26th Ligne into square because by some miracle he just knew it had to be.

Gamers do it all the time.

evilgong27 Jan 2018 3:25 p.m. PST

Blucher lets you play the big famous battles, it is superbly written for clarity and kept as simple as possible to match the troop scale.

The chrome is boiled down to the essentials and enough to show the capacity of the various arms and some different troop types.

The 'hidden PIPs' command method works well.

On the down side; despite trying to eliminate small fiddly moves as potentially powerful ploys, some still exist – which may well be impossible to eliminate without a grid.

The units can lack 'personality' your veteran guard brigade might start on a factor of 7, but any incoming hit reduces them to just another line unit.

I've suggested that for computing melee nominal hits on a unit should be halved – which sees their hitting power remain longer but their staying power erode as usual. Or even changing the stat lines to something like 7,7,6,6,3, 3,1.

Not that my club has had a chance to try this out in practice.

von Winterfeldt27 Jan 2018 3:26 p.m. PST

he didn't but the battalion commander could do, so some wargamers just enjoy multipurpose functions on the wargaming table.

John Edmundson27 Jan 2018 4:40 p.m. PST

My idea of perfect rules would start at high level to allow the big battles but allow troops a reason to 'look' different in different formations. The visuals are important after all. Napoleon may not have galloped across the field "specifically to put the 2nd Battalion, 26th Ligne into square" but as von Winterfeldt notes, "the battalion commander could".

A battalion of two 'elements' to borrow DBx parlance: side by side (line), back to back (square) or one behind the other (column) would be enough for me, and where command filters down – the CinC has limited resources to tell Corps commanders what to do, ditto from corps to division, again from division to brigade or battalion. Early Austrians without a corps structure skipping a level would dilute the capacity by stretching the higher level commander's ability to oversee everything. Do such rules exist or are they my holy grail?

Cheers,
John

Trajanus28 Jan 2018 9:30 a.m. PST

he didn't but the battalion commander could do, so some wargamers just enjoy multipurpose functions on the wargaming table.

And nothing wrong with that at all. However, at Waterloo the French alone had 103 infantry battalions and 34 cavalry regiments.

The point being, for most gamers being able to put that lot on the table and then moving and changing formation for them, on your own, is a major task.

Not to mention that for something like Wagram you would need twice as many.

Blucher, where each playing piece is a Brigade and no line and column formations are taken into account, makes things possible. BTW, there is a "Square" option, although this is taken to be the infantry Brigade in a defensive posture.

As "evilgong" put it

Blucher lets you play the big famous battles, it is superbly written for clarity and kept as simple as possible to match the troop scale.

Well, "superbly written" is possibly a little subjective but the general idea is spot on.

The essential thing is the ability to run complete battles relatively easily, rather than always having to fight parts of them with more traditional rules.

My only real criticism of the rules would be the artillery could be better handled (in truth its the only part we have house rules for) but that's mostly a factor of it being represented as 'Reserve Batteries' as per the original "Napoleons Battles" rules from back in the day, rather than individual batteries as they are in other games.

spontoon28 Jan 2018 12:01 p.m. PST

No.

matthewgreen Inactive Member28 Jan 2018 12:30 p.m. PST

I bought Blucher on the basis that I could play a fun game in two-three hours – appropriate for club games.

They are very well designed and written, as you would expect from Sam Mustafa. I don't mind the bypassing of squares and columns – this is one of the few true army-level games in the business (not counting multi-level games that need a player per corps).

What I like best is that it has an effective system for handling skirmish combat (though sadly you don't get to deploy model skirmish screens on the table). That was a surprise because I felt that Sam's previous games (Grand Armee and Lasalle) were a bit weak on this.

What I like least is that it handles builtup areas badly – they become fortresses that it is quite foolish to attack (unless we were mis-playing). This really isn't realistic.

The problem with the few games that I had at my club was that they were a bit dull, and lacked a period feel. That may be because one of the armies was my 1815 Prussians, and under these rules they are quite a boring army (ironic given the name). My scenarios were a bit uninspired perhaps. Also I was using 15mm figures on smallish bases (12 figures to a base for infantry, just 4 cavalry). Other people at the club felt it didn't look right, especially the cavalry. You won't have that problem with 6mm figures.

One point worth adding is that Blucher has no role for divisional command: its corps and brigade. Having tried my hand at army level games design I appreciate that this is one of the design decisions you have to take. Either variable-sized divisions (like Bloody Big Battles) or uniformly sized brigades. There's no right answer. Both brigades and divisions feature heavily in grand tactical narratives of battles. But trying to fit both levels in means you spend too much time on command mechanics.

evilgong28 Jan 2018 4:22 p.m. PST

Hi there


Mattewgreen said

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The problem with the few games that I had at my club was that they were a bit dull, and lacked a period feel. That may be because one of the armies was my 1815 Prussians, and under these rules they are quite a boring army (ironic given the name).

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Not a unique observation, a few people have mentioned the rules might be improved by some more chaos at the point of contact.

David F Brown

I Drink Your Milkshake28 Jan 2018 4:44 p.m. PST

Im done with brigade sized units. I went that route before and have since rebased back to the old column, line, square aspect. For me its tactical Napoleonics or otherwise it could be any period.

True Grit29 Jan 2018 4:14 a.m. PST

IMO, Napoleonic Wargamers for many years have been sold the lie (misconception) that Napoleonic wargaming is all about ‘Column, Line or Square' it is in fact just a wasted effort and a distraction from fighting Napoleonic battles. 8 battalions with supporting cavalry & artillery moving from column to line and back again is not a ‘Napoleonic battle' it's a ‘skirmish' and in my opinion a tedious one. My first love is Napoleonic wargaming and I have been gaming for many years and of course have used many sets of rules, so I do know what I'm talking about when it comes to Napoleonic Wargaming. The first ‘moreover unit' in Napoleonic warfare on the battlefield is the Brigade, below this the unit is a Battalion commanded by a Major or LtCol at the best. This Battalion Commander just follows orders from his General Officer at Brigade level. However he will usually decide when to form Line, Column or Square but this is just to comply with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) as the situation dictates, so nothing particularly tactical in that. So, not to labour the point or bore you further, fighting a Napoleonic battle is all about large formations (at least Corps size) manoeuvring in groups in order to gain a tactical advantage over another group with the correct support. Whether skirmishers are deployed or an individual unit is in Line or Column is not a noteworthy concern for the Napoleonic General.
Therefore in conclusion, manoeuvring with individual battalions, deploying their skirmishers whilst forming Column or Line may well be fun for some or even many gamers but it is NOT a Napoleonic battle that any Napoleonic General of the time would recognise. So if you want to wargame a historically correct Napoleonic battle, then you need a set of rules that allows you to do that like ‘Blucher' or IMO even better use DBN.

Marc at work29 Jan 2018 8:09 a.m. PST

Horses for courses. I found them bland and felt it was a generic game. Nothing suggested "Napoleonic" to me

Glenn Pearce29 Jan 2018 8:43 a.m. PST

Hello Private Matter!

Your basic concern seems to center around how you are going to base your 6000 6mm figures to match a given rule set. I presently have 50,000 6mm figures painted and based and have been collecting 6mm figures for over 40 years.

My advice is never to base 6mm to match a given rule set. If so you will find yourself trapped in the rebasing cycle for the next new and shinny rule set. So always match your basing to fit the scale not the rules. One of the biggest sellers of 6mm figures (Baccus6mm) advocates that base size is 60mm x 30mm or 60mm x 60mm, along with its support base of 30mm x 30mm for artillery and crew and commanders. It's used in their Polemos series of rules. You may or may not be interested in the rules that's not the issue here. It's the simplicity and elegance of the system that might interest you. The first is that all infantry battalions, cavalry regiments, limbers, etc. are mounted on the single base 60mm x 30mm. So you can paint individual units with their difference facings, etc. on one base. No searching for fiddly little bases. For brigade games you can use the 60mm x 60mm base or simply use two 60mm x 30mm together. The two bases allows you to mix and match your brigades with different units. A nice option to have.

The other critical thing here is you can play almost any popular rule set as is or with a few simple house rules. So you don't have to choose between Blucher, General d'Armee, Black Powder, Age of Eagles or obviously Polemos.

The basing also allows you to expand into other periods in 6mm should you ever go down that road. It also allows you to establish a uniform storage/carrying system for 6mm which is very important as your collection grows. You can also often find these bases with fully painted figures on line.

I switched over to this basing 15 years ago and have never been happier.

Hope this helps you out.

Best regards,

Glenn

matthewgreen Inactive Member29 Jan 2018 9:26 a.m. PST

Im done with brigade sized units. I went that route before and have since rebased back to the old column, line, square aspect. For me its tactical Napoleonics or otherwise it could be any period.

Certainly at the tactical level the Napoleonic wars have many unique features. But there are unique features, or a unique blend of features at the grand tactical level too:

1. It's the first era dominated by the manoeuvre of brigades, divisions and corps, operating much more independently of each other than previously.
2. Artillery starts to be massed and given a proper grand tactical role. But it is not as lethal at long ranges as later eras, while being less effective at short range mainly because rifled infantry weapons make them much more vulnerable.
3. And the extra effective range of weapons such as the Minie rifle, and the rate of fire of the needle gun and chassepot turns infantry combat into an entirely different proposition.
4. And these weapons greatly reduce the impact of cavalry.

In summary, the organisational innovations of later combined but without the technological advances.

By and large Blucher captures these features, except the divisional command level. Corps and brigades feature strongly; firepower is not too lethal.

My battles developed into rather slow slugging matches. This may not be unrealistic. One thing that slows things down is the "momentum" system, which is a feature many like. But it makes decisive coups de main harder.

There may be ways to jazz it up a bit, which my lack of playing experience hasn't shown me.

Sho Boki29 Jan 2018 9:27 a.m. PST

I don't advice or suggest, but I myself base ALL my scales as 3 figures trips for infantry and 2 riders trips for cavalry. On thin metallic bases.

So if I want to use 60mm x 30mm basing systems for example, then I just use magnetic sheets in this size and put my troops on these bases in any formation I wish.

Trajanus29 Jan 2018 10:22 a.m. PST

+1 True Grit

Truth to tell with most commercial rules you really only play part of a battle at best. People lose track of the number of participants in Napoleonic battles and the size of the battlefront in a lot of cases.

I've always blamed the obsession with Waterloo for that! Well that and the "Glamour and Romance" of the uniforms. :o)

Truth to tell, the downfall of the old "Empire" series of rules was trying to fight Army size games and still do all the spade work with 12 figure units! There were some grand ideas but the overheads wrecked the intentions.

Trajanus29 Jan 2018 10:29 a.m. PST

My advice is never to base 6mm to match a given rule set.

And very sound advice it is too Glenn.

I've done a similar thing with my 28mm ACW who have seen two rule sets come and go and are currently used in parallel with an other two besides!

Glenn Pearce29 Jan 2018 11:39 a.m. PST

Thanks Trajanus!

Glenn Pearce29 Jan 2018 12:27 p.m. PST

It seems that a few posters are unhappy with a number of rule sets. Basically some because they have way too many useless moving parts and others because they have too few. The traditional CLS is not what many think it is and the modern brigade game seems to sacrifice too much. Well no matter what you do, you can't satisfy everyone.

However, I recently wrote a set of rules covering the North American Wars 1754-1815 for Baccus in their Polemos series of rules for 6mm, but you can use any scale. It's called "Ruse de Guerre". Since it includes the War of 1812 you can also apply it to the European wars of Napoleon. The only reason I'm mentioning it is because it is actually aimed at the level of play that some of you are looking for. You don't have to worry about CLS as that's handled at a level below the players. Brigades are not a single base. They are reflected by the actual number of battalions/regiments within. So as a player you adopt the role of the senior commanders on the field, not the junior ones. This means for example that you have to worry about the critical factors of a brigade such as how do I deploy my brigade to meet the intentions of my Divisional Commander and so on up the line. In one line or two or more? How do I employ my guns? What if any brigades support my position, etc. How do I act in concert with the other commands within the army? These problems just build and build as the battle develops or as you move up the chain of command to Division/Corps/Army.

The rules also have a sliding scale so that you can blow up small actions to mimic these same problems. As well you can scale down some of the larger battles to fit your table or the size of your collection.

I apologize Private Matter, as I have no intention to side track your discussion. It just seemed to me that a number of your responders are unaware that there is a third option for Napoleonic style gaming.

Marc at work30 Jan 2018 11:17 a.m. PST

I quite liked Sam's Grande Armee as I felt he had some very interesting concepts, such as the variable game length, the role of heavy and light cavalry etc.

A good rule set and, TBH, far more innovative and interesting than Blucher

Private Matter30 Jan 2018 5:48 p.m. PST

I do appreciate all the suggestions and comments. And no worries Glenn, the comments were interesting.

Edwulf31 Jan 2018 8:06 a.m. PST

If you want to command a Division or 2 per side. Black Powder is my favourite.

If you want to command a whole army then Blucher seems to be the way to go. I've not played it though.

HappyHussar31 Jan 2018 9:07 a.m. PST

Glenn – excellent point! Having moved over from a house set of rules called "Melee" back in the 1970s to Empire 2 I just decided to sell my Russians and paint a brand new group of miniatures rather than rebase those castings.

Now I would just put them on 2 inch by 1 inch bases per four 25mm infantry castings and folks would have to live with it.

Bottom line: they are your castings. Use a good basing scheme and stick with it despite what the tedious experts say.

HappyHussar31 Jan 2018 9:15 a.m. PST

I am working on a new computer game series that is brigade level. When I discussed the concept of formations the fellow the plays Napoleon's Battles said that it didn't matter.

Now for a brigade of only FOUR battalions I think it does matter. If you hit that brigade with a combined arms attack (hard to pull off in the Napoleonic Wars but not impossible) over a 30 min. turn then there would be a problem.

So I added in a rule that says that attacks can be Coordinated IF the units pass a Coordinated Attack test. If not then yes, the defending brigade slips into square for its defense against the cavalry and into line vs. the infantry.

However, if an infantry brigade attacks in the next player phase it is vulnerable to a charge. Thus there is no such thing as the "moving tank" in my series. You can't have your cake and eat it too in Napoleonics.

Even at a division level .. if you had something like Murat's Charge at Eylau the Russian divisions, had they been attacked by combined arms instead of sequential attacks (Augereau and then later Murat) would have been vulnerable unless they had cavalry support.

Thus any rule system should take that into account. A combined arms attack should definitely impact an infantry formation IF its a coordinated attack.

Glenn Pearce31 Jan 2018 5:04 p.m. PST

Thanks Private Matter & HappyHussar!

Happy

Most gamers don't see the value in Brigade formations because they have been brain washed into thinking that Napoleonic warfare is all about CLS. Most game/rule designs encourage what are called "shot gun" games. These are games where it's every battalion/regiment for themselves and they all scatter as soon as the game starts. So its not unusual for a gamer to say that Brigade formations don't matter.

The reality is the integrity of the Brigades formation is critical to its survival. Any breach in its formation could mean its destruction. Which in turn could destroy its Division and ultimately the army.

Best regards,

Glenn

Marcus Brutus31 Jan 2018 6:29 p.m. PST

I am curious about the similarities and differences between Blucher and Grande Armee, Mustafa's first set of grand tactical Napoleonic rules.

Trajanus01 Feb 2018 2:30 a.m. PST

Most gamers don't see the value in Brigade formations because they have been brain washed into thinking that Napoleonic warfare is all about CLS. Most game/rule designs encourage what are called "shot gun" games. These are games where it's every battalion/regiment for themselves and they all scatter as soon as the game starts. So its not unusual for a gamer to say that Brigade formations don't matter

Now that's a good point. All the more so as I'd lost track of the OP.

If Private Matter is looking for a half way house rather than an all out one Brigade per Base game then General d"Armee is a better bet.

That said it still won't do for a one player per side Wagram in a day kind of game.

Trajanus01 Feb 2018 2:39 a.m. PST

MB,

Sadly I can't recall the detail and I have played far more Blucher, however I do find Blucher far easier to play and it certainly treats Cavalry better. The rules are better written too.

Oh and if it matters to you, the system is better suited for the British and Allied armies (Spain and Waterloo). The GA command system put them at game generated disadvantage I found.

I Drink Your Milkshake02 Feb 2018 11:49 a.m. PST

Tru Grit,

There are plenty of examples of battles in the era with less than 10k men per side.

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