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"What do we know about Osprey's Absolute Emperor rules?" Topic

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Mister Tibbles20 Feb 2021 5:00 p.m. PST


I just saw this announcement today of the new upcoming rule set. Other than the blurbs on the Osprey page, I don't know anything about it.

Mike Petro20 Feb 2021 5:52 p.m. PST

Nice cover! I am such a rules junkie, I may buy them. 20 bucks?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2021 6:25 p.m. PST

Well, we're certainly in desperate need of another set of rules for the Napoleonic Wars. Let's just all pre-order them and then we can find out together whether the basing is compatible with existing armies, and whether they make any sort of sense.

Osprey has taken a lot of my money over the years, but they obviously have no respect for my intelligence.

Could be they're right. But I'm not quite stupid enough to buy a rules set based on a publisher's blurb.

Mike Petro20 Feb 2021 7:28 p.m. PST

Stupid or just COVID-bored? I like Osprey books, and twenty dollars will not set me back much for some entertainment.

I will approach with my ears open as Robert suggests, as I was never crazy about the Field of Glory Napoleonic stuff they put out.

Dave Gamer20 Feb 2021 9:04 p.m. PST

There's a Facebook group you can join to learn more about it…


Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2021 11:40 p.m. PST

Well, we're certainly in desperate need of another set of rules for the Napoleonic Wars.
Hear, hear! There are still groups of players playing the same rules. We still have a bit of work ahead to finish fracturing the Napoleonics community into isolated individuals who will only play their own set of rules that nobody else likes.

- Ix

arthur181521 Feb 2021 1:44 a.m. PST

I've submitted a request to join. But I certainly won't buy another set of rules without knowing more about them.

advocate21 Feb 2021 2:32 a.m. PST

Heaven forbid anyone should produce anything new.

Chad4721 Feb 2021 3:31 a.m. PST

‘Armies comprise multiple Corps ‘

That should be interesting for the advertised Late Revolutionary period when as far as I know the Corps organisation had not evolved.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 3:35 a.m. PST

A Facebook group. Joy. You know, prior to FB, people who worked for foreign intelligence services got paid in cash. FB expects people to do it for pet cat pictures.

As for producing something new, I'll confess ambivalence. Chess, most card games, baseball, basketball and all the various "footballs" have managed to go generations with minor tweaks--or centuries with no changes--and still produce interesting games. Try telling poker players that the decks are now 62 cards, or chess players that they now need an 8x12 board and new pieces. But even though we pay far more for our boards and pieces, we do it to ourselves all the time.

Yet actual innovation is rare. If you read Grant, Featherstone, Young and Morschauser and flip through old Wargamer's Digests and Table Top Talk--or just play 50 years--you realize we've been reshuffling the same ideas and mechanisms for about that long.

But I try to meet people halfway. In no more than five years, I'll be able to buy Osprey's latest and greatest for $5 USD in a flea market, and will do so. If I find anything I haven't seen elsewhere, I'll publish a retraction. (Probably in very small type on a back page, just like our professional newspeople.)

MiniPigs In the TMP Dawghouse21 Feb 2021 4:59 a.m. PST

Innovation requires inspiration, hard work AND an audience which desires to change. It sometimes seems that wargamers do like the same old, same old…but different.

You would think with the lock downs there would be loads of solo play systems being developed but these are not in evidence. I suspect this is because it is too much work to develop good solo systems,

And, just for the record, in their short history, both basketball and American football have undergone huge changes.

Nine pound round21 Feb 2021 6:55 a.m. PST

War games are essentially mathematical models. One thing that has always surprised me, since my return to the hobby: why aren't game manufacturers making use of smartphones to automate the more tiresome chart-and-dice elements of the games? It would save a lot of tile if you could simply pull the relevant situation off a drop-down menu, check the modifiers that apply, and let the phone spit the results out. It could prompt the players for (and dispose of) special rules and situations, and eliminate a lot of rules lawyering. It could make complex simulation models more playable, and solo play easier. But only a very few publishers have tried.

Mike Petro21 Feb 2021 9:12 a.m. PST

We do need more solo-focused rules to keep this hobby from fizzling out for some.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 10:29 a.m. PST

I don't want smart phones automating game play. I want to pick the dice up and roll them.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 10:55 a.m. PST

robert piepenbrink said:

Try telling poker players that the decks are now 62 cards
You don't even have to go that far. Just try getting an Omaha game together. "Four cards in the hole? How does that work…?"
In no more than five years, I'll be able to buy Osprey's latest and greatest for $5 USD in a flea market, and will do so.
I'll bet you $5 USD you'll be able to pick it up within 2 years. grin

- Ix

advocate21 Feb 2021 10:58 a.m. PST

Tough audience tonight.

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 12:02 p.m. PST

So does anyone actually know anything about these rules? I'm curious and interested to know.

Marulaz121 Feb 2021 5:07 p.m. PST

79thPA +1


Mike Petro21 Feb 2021 6:04 p.m. PST

Hi David,

More like does anybody do Facebook? Maybe somebody could get the author on this thread? Or at least somebody to provide a summary.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 6:56 p.m. PST

I just got admitted to the FB group and took a quick ride around. Some info:

  • From the author:
    The number of models on the base is immaterial. The base frontage determines everything.

  • This comment accompanies of photo of five 4-stand units:
    In 10 mm this is four divisions
    (I think he probably meant five divisions, but whatever – a division per unit is very high level.)

  • The picture of the author's Wagram scenario playtest seems to have 39 units in the frame, counting each gun stand as a single unit. There may be additional units outside the frame to the left. If each unit is an entire division, that would be about half of Wagram, but maybe the scenario is just the field of battle and the reserves and units coming up are off-table to each army's rear.

  • One poster asked tactical, Grand tactical, what level of command?? and the author responded:
    grand tactical. Waterloo can be played in less than 4 hours

  • The only clue I've seen about move distances is this comment by the author:
    Measurements are in imperial and metric. For example, an infantry unit in line move 4 inches in open ground.

That's enough for my scouting expedition. I'm going back to camp now, where the brandy awaits. grin

- Ix

Mike Petro21 Feb 2021 8:08 p.m. PST

You da man YA!

An upscaled AOE2, divisional fire & fury?

Mister Tibbles21 Feb 2021 8:30 p.m. PST

Thanks Yellow Admiral! thumbs up

WKeyser21 Feb 2021 9:02 p.m. PST

Yellow admiral a division is two companies so I think that is what he is getting at not a Division.

nsolomon9922 Feb 2021 2:48 a.m. PST

Details are scanty, even if you join the Facebook Group (yuck!) but they keep emphasising Grand Tactical so I think it means Divisions as in the next level down from Corp rather the divisions as in 2 companies within a battalion.

Not certain how I feel about re-playing Marengo with maybe 6 units per side? Do I really want to replay Waterloo in a couple of hours … hmmm … not sure about that. Very heavily abstracted to achieve that! Will it still feel napoleonic, or just like a boardgame with figures?!

Probably not for me.

Allan F Mountford22 Feb 2021 3:11 a.m. PST

You have it in one, Nick. It's a massive challenge. I play a lot of AoE (units = large regiment/brigade) and the abstraction is at the limit, IMHO. Also, at Divisional (Corps sub-unit) level, I am not sure how artillery fits in i.e. perhaps 4000+ troops in a Divisional unit and 150 in an artillery unit.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 3:23 a.m. PST

I do wonder whether we have now got to the point where there is nothing new under the sun. There must exist a set of rules pandering to every preoccupation there is.

What we need is a bit of meta analysis: a spreadheet grid where we have rule sets down the side, and an X in the columns across for what it includes:

casualty removal
national characteristics
stand = something / stand is a stand is a stand
figure = x men
turn length


Then you'd just download it, filter what you like and what's left is your ideal set of rules. I'd be amazed if any rational set of preferences produced no rule recommendations, implying a gap in the market.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 3:29 a.m. PST

MiniPigs, that would depend a lot on your understanding of "short" and "huge." Pretty much the entire history of historical miniature gaming post-dates the forward pass. How many new Napoleonics rules since the three-point shoot? And for much longer than that, playing areas and number of players have remained constant.

Personally, I'm not convinced there's a huge change to be had in miniature warfare. Break the rules down into their components--gridded or free-play board? Alternate or simultaneous move? Roster, figure removal or stand removal?--and how many are there? As many as two dozen? I doubt it. As many as three options per component, perhaps. Which would still be a lot of rules. But we've had a lot of rules. Looks more like taste and fashion than progress. Not illegal or immoral, but 10,000 Napoleonics players clinging to 5,000 50-page rule books is not going to result in a lot of big games--or anything much above solo play.

arthur181522 Feb 2021 3:33 a.m. PST

Yellow Admiral beat me to it; I don't have anything significant to add to what he has found on the FB site.

Unlike nsolomon99, I'd be quite happy to 'replay Waterloo in a couple of hours' – and have done so, using W1815 and the 1975 Pailtoy Battle of Waterloo boardgame, but using bases of Napoleonic RISK figures instead of the tokens provided for greater visual appeal.

The degree of abstraction necessary to fight large battles in a reasonable time, rather than using a 'bottom up' approach of battalion/regiment resolution [which IMHO takes far too long], doesn't inevitably lead to a loss of period atmosphere. Paddy Griffith's Generalship Game in Napoleonic Wargaming For Fun [Ward Lock, 1980] uses the corps as the tactical unit, but has more Napoleonic feel for the commander's perspective than many huge figure games.

Whether Absolute Emperor succeeds in its objectives or satisfying us as individual players will just have to be seen when it's published.

arthur181522 Feb 2021 3:43 a.m. PST

A fifty page rulebook? No thanks! Perhaps it's age, but I just can't summon up the energy or concentration for such lengthy rules any more. I want something that works as a game, that I can read, understand and learn quickly, then enjoy applying to all sorts of different scenarios. That's where, IMHO, so many wargames rules – past and present – have failed, and why it can be difficult for youngsters to enter the hobby.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 6:47 a.m. PST

The thing is, you can sell a 50-page rule book for £20.00 GBP, but you can't sell a 5-page rulebook for £2.00 GBP, so the former are what we get.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 8:20 a.m. PST

It is surprising how little info is out about these rules?

In regards to arthur's question, are the other rule's in Osprey's stable 50 pages of rules, or are there pictures, diagrams, explanations etc.?

As the 4th notes, there is a sweet spot on perceived value. If they are short, they should be free, or maybe a couple of bucks. The $30 USD to $50 USD mark requires some more cogitation than $20. USD

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 10:52 a.m. PST

You know, if we were doing this right, they'd be PDFs, probably available from Wargames Vault. The short ones we'd print out ourselves, and the long ones we'd have print shops do with spiral binding so they'd lay flat. (Actually, I wonder what Fedex/kinko's would charge to spiral bind three Ospreys for me?)

But my minimum information for buying a set of rules is basing, scales--ground, time and figure--intended size of battle, method of recording losses and activation system. If they aren't willing to tell me that much, I'm not breaking shrink wrap to find out.

(That's if I'm buying the rules for the rules, of course. I've got rule books which earn their shelf space by scenario generators, terrain-building instructions and such.)

Bellerophon199322 Feb 2021 1:26 p.m. PST

Testy lot, aren't y'all. I'll buy it and see how they play instead of writing a novel about how only games printed on vellum in the 70s matter.

oldnorthstate22 Feb 2021 7:05 p.m. PST

"It would save a lot of tile if you could simply pull the relevant situation off a drop-down menu, check the modifiers that apply, and let the phone spit the results out…It could make complex simulation models more playable, and solo play easier."

This game already exists…the Carnage and Glory computer moderated rules so all that an more. They have been available and continually updated and expanded for about 20 years now. Napoleonic rules come and go and this "new" Osprey endeavor will be the next shiny thing but the CG system is the the most new player friendly system available. For the dice rollers, try Vegas if you feel that lucky.

Mike Petro22 Feb 2021 7:51 p.m. PST

Hey ons, played that and missed rolling dice.

With solo play however, C&G 2 did have a lot I liked. Anchoring my flanks and blasting cavalry, the detailed headcounts, officers getting rebuffed by their men when rallying always lead to some howls and laughs from our group. Yes, it is a very fine system and fun.

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