A second look a Blucher and Brigade level games in general

This week Matt and I played Blucher again, my second time and the first for him. This time around I’d read the rules a bit more having printed the PDF (I had real problems printing it past page 13 or so, which really frustrated me) and had generated two armies of just over 300 pts. We played with the Anglo-Portuguese having Wellington with the mobile trait and no corps, and the French with a bog standard CinC.

The game really does seem to motor along, we played 8 turns in a little under 2 hrs with lots of talking and referencing to the rules to check specifics. During that time we came across zero “game breaking” issues and no “this doesn’t feel right” moments. This is a first for us.

Things we picked up on:
1) Mobile is a massive trait for Wellington. Being able to move a chunk of troops for no MO cost at the start of your turn is hugely advantageous.
2) Reserve moves are long but on a relatively open battlefield you soon run into visibility of other troops if you’re not careful. The rules don’t appear to explicitly say, but we presumed you could move UPTO the point you’re visible.
3) Everything being measured in BW is a pain. We are using 60mm frontages which makes quick measuring a bind if you’re not particularly good at maths. We need a QRS in cm and/or some measuring sticks.
4) There’s a definite feel to the game we liked although the absence of command figures on table is an oddity.

We like what we have seen and I suspect we might have a new Brigade level set of rules.

On the subject of Brigade Level games we have looked at 4 over the past years:
Principles of War
Grande Armee (and Fast Play Grande Armee)
Volley and Bayonet
And now Blucher.

PoW remains a favourite of mine. It looks good with 3 60mmx30mm bases to a unit and plays well. The issue is that with any more than a Corps or so a side we run out of room on a 6×4 and games can take several nights to complete. Some have issues with formations being represented in a brigade level game but personally I don’t mind it.

Grande Armee had some real interesting mechanisms within it, the CP system to pay for actions and the determination of sub commanders initiative if left to their own devises, random movement distances etc. However we found that for the Peninsular that the SP attributed to the French units was generally higher and it devolved into a “whoever throws most dice wins” game. Again it seemed quite slow to play and could take mulitple sessions to get to a conclusion.

Volley and Bayonet hasn’t been a success with our group. The requirement for skirmish bases is an oddity, and the set up rules from the Road to glory system resulted in a frankly bizarre game of putting troops on the table, moving them once, then removing them due to them being ghost/phantom wings. A whole waste of time. The complete lack of any command and control system is also a let down.

From what I have seen Blucher looks like the main contender and although it clearly has some design similarities with Grande Armee, I don’t feel its an extension but a successor. A streamlined and refined successor at that.

Anyway, enough of my opinions, here are some pictures of the game. As ever click on them to make them bigger! By the way I really do love this Geo-Hex!

Matt starting to move

Panorama of the British reserve position just kyboshed by Matt's cavalry advance

Markers show these two brigades are prepared in the face of Matt's heavy cavalry

Having gained the ridge too easily, cavalry looks to take infantry in the flank.

A Corps column of infantry advance past the village

Portuguese Light Dragoons wonder why they're being kept in reserve

Anglo-Portuguese division behind the crest oblivious to the danger on their flank

Thin Red line awaits for the Frenchies


  1. Richard says:

    Shame to have missed out – again, apologies for not being able to make it. Think Blucher is shaping up pretty well, glad to see most things remain positive. Hopefully a lot more Napoleonics to come this year!? Out of interest, how did Wellington do?