and the most requested new WBC
event is ...
"I've never seen THAT happen before!" is the comment
most heard around the room in the four sessions and 21 games
that made up the multi-player tournament of The Napoleonic
Wars. For most of the 67 gamers who heard that line, the
comment was a compliment, not a complaint. It usually marked
some entertaining and unusual combination of strategic choice
and event card play that pushed the envelope and demonstrated
that no two games are ever the same in The Napoleonic Wars.
the 16 games played in the two opening heats, winners advanced
to play in the four semifinals, and from there to the final.
Of the 21 games played, 19 were full five-player games and two
were of the four-player variety. France was the victor in seven
of those 21 games, including the final. This, as one observer
remarked, was only fitting for the first annual tournament of
a game named in honor of the French emperor who started all of
those wars 200 years ago.
The French may have won a third of the games, but that means
they lost two-thirds of them. Of the 14 games in which the Allies
triumphed over the Corsican Ogre, Russia won five, Britain four,
Prussia three and Austria two. In addition, in four of the 16
first round games, the Prussian player advanced on a "bye"
into the semifinals. (A 'bye" was given as a consolation
to any Prussian whose game ended on the first turn, provided
that Prussian was still neutral and had NOT influenced the die
to end the game early).
The winner of the final game, and the tournament, was Forest
Speck. As France he racked up a truly amazing 13 victory points.
John Haas fought hard as Russia to come in second in that game
(and the tourney) with five points, followed by Mark McCandless
as Britain with three. All three of these gentleman went home
with a plaque. Henry Russell as Austria finished fourth (no plaque
this year, but definitely next year). As always, timing is everything
in The Napoleonic Wars.
Fifth place in the tournament went to George Young, and sixth
to Edward Kendrick, who came all the way from Britain with his
son to play.
Rather than play in the tournament, designer Mark McLaughlin
set up his quadruple-size version of the game, complete with
painted lead soldiers, model ships and buildings, to teach the
game to new players and to play in pickup games with old and
new friends. This left Mark free to answer rules questions or
adjudicate disputes, of which there were very, very few
a mark of the gentlemanly atmosphere of the tournament and the
friendly nature of the competition.
The story of The Napoleonic Wars at WBC did not end
with the last die roll of the last turn of the tournament on
Saturday night. At the Sunday morning awards meeting The Napoleonic
Wars was honored TWICE. It received the Charles Roberts Award
for best pre-World War II Boardgame AND was the recipient of
the first ever "Alexander" award. Named in honor of
both Alexander the Great (whose likeness it bears) and the late
son of designer emeritus Richard Berg, the Alexander is awarded
"For Creativity in Historical Boardgame Design."
Although accepted by the designer, the awards in truth belong
to the veritable demi-brigade of playtesters and rules readers
who participated in the six-year process that resulted in the
completed game. The designer acknowledges that these awards,
and this game, came about because of the great devotion and attention
to detail of developer Don Greenwood and the other members of
the Last Stand of Avalon Hill team, notably Stuart Tucker, Ben
Knight, and Roy Gibson, as well as many others who have raised
the cheer "Vive L'Empereur" for The Napoleonic Wars.
Haven't played it yet, eh Mike?
To clip or not to clip ... is there time?