Pre/Post Game play observations on OSG’s NLB series

Having now played Napoleonic Library of Battles, Jours de Glorie and NBS from the Gamers….I’m stuck. Below in the video  is what I thought I would find in Kevin Zuckers series.

Most of you have seen the video already, but I wanted to add a few words about Zuckers games and COA since I’ve had a few questions via YT and email.

The opinions from the video are really no surprise given the rules are an almost direct cut and paste. Command is tweaked,  the  addition of charges and a bit of arty does a little for the enhancement of  flavor,  it does not however much aid the destruction or demoralization of your enemies.

So it is also no surprise that my expectation of missing the mark was met.

Which is a darn shame.

Good looking counters (when not flipped over to be ‘hidden’ ) on gorgeous maps, had so much potential.

Frank Davis and his admirable effort on Wellingtons Victory from SPI back in the day took the time to careful attempt to craft a system that more accurately reflects Napoleonic combat, than this system which clearly has it roots back in Zuckers old SPI first efforts. Its literally as if a clock has stopped.

So it is a bit of a paradox I face. While I enjoy very much the OSG titles in the Days series, I find the NLB stuff to be massively out of touch with  modern game design in the first instance and how what I have read and what I ‘understand’ to be historically true absent in the second instance.

Which leaves me headed down a slippery slope to test out Clash of Arms. NO! Too detailed….

The Marie Louise rules system has the appearance of ASL or TCS to me. This has a richness to it that will be rewarding IF I am prepared to invest the time. I fear I may not be wanting to do that.

The duration of a turn is a curious thing in Napoleonic tactical games. I often wonder why no one chose 1/2 hour turns. Why 20 minutes OR an hour? Why are those two time spans used almost exclusively by designers?

That said the NLB game is fun enough to play. It is fine. It works well enough.

You retreat – I advance, I retreat you advance. Such was life some of the time.

BUT, it is not presenting much of the story or the depth of the situation. It seems to me that it could be so much more. When I look at titles and series such as GBoH, or Musket and Pike and the level of effort they go to to capture the essence of command, combat, morale and weapon systems I expect that from this system.

Instead we receive a wonderful package, with lots of historical notes and a fairly weak gaming system laid upon all of that.

But hell I’m no expert on Napoleonic era combat. I’ve barely begun. I think that if more titles in the Days series come out I shall be first in line to Pre Order.

I will however wait to play this game NLB series opposed (face to face, since there are no VASSAL modules) at the tactical level before I discard the titles. You know just in case I’m horribly wrong.

Update August…ahh, screw it I sold the lot of Zucker NLB titles.

9 thoughts on “Pre/Post Game play observations on OSG’s NLB series

  1. The only surprising thing I find about your analysis is why you love the Days and dislike the NLB system. They are the same system, with only minor differences in scale.

    Zucker’s thesis in all his game series is that the maneuver and command is what is important, and the tactical details don’t matter much if you get the mass of your army in the right position to crush a fragment of the other side. Days is just a slightly higher scale to get a double map campaign onto a single map with slightly simpler rules.

    So to Zucker, you as Nappy, or Wellington, or Davout aren’t interested in forming square, or deciding which battalion shoots first. You send in an attack as a mass at the decisive spot and see what happens. It is like complaining that OCS doesn’t have armor facing effects. The designer decided that this was outside the scope of his simulation.

    So the NLB packs let you replay a battle quickly, but the real interest for Zucker is the day before and the approach to battle – can you get into a better state for a battle before you know where the enemy is and can you scout out the position with your vedettes. So naturally the boring old battle is abstracted, as if you did your job right it was predetermined by what you did before contact.

    So, again, to me it seems odd that you love this view in one set but hate it in the other. To use an OCS analogy, it is like loving the 5 mile per hex games and hating the 2.5 miles per hex games.

    • They are not minor differences in scale. regiments v Brigades, 500m vs 1.5 Km, 1 hr v 1/3 rd of a day.
      The fact that I need to surround a regiment to make it eliminated is frankly a farce.
      The constant retreating with no loss to effectiveness or battle capability unless you have a ZOC at the NLB scale does not work for me.

      Its the combination of lazy system mechanics, scale , and generic CRT that spoil it. If any one of those were better the game would be better by far.
      In the Days system I can rationalize it or suspend disbelief. But I cannot in the NLB. The difference for OCS is that the REST of the OCS system works – combat supply etc at the right scale regardless of TERRAIN scale and TIME scale, since the formations stay intact. Where they change formation size, they adjust the combat results to reflect some of the fidelity – ala Reluctant Enemies.

      I’ll buy the Days titles all DAY long (baboom)..but I wont touch NLB again.

      • The range of musket fire is 100m or less. Without flanking destruction was rare – slow attrition was the norm, hence the EX result. There is the ability to use Heavy Cavalry to form an “in hex” surround, but I think the main contention stands – NLB is saying that there isn’t a huge difference in the need for tactical chrome at these two scales because both are well above the time scales and distance scales where they come into focus.

  2. You do a great job talking up the Days series and arguing that Zucker’s strength/interest is not at the tactical level. Your OCS analogy is a bit off, instead it’d be like ASL not having armor facing.

  3. “The Marie Louise rules system has the appearance of ASL or TCS to me. This has a richness to it that will be rewarding IF I am prepared to invest the time. I fear I may not be wanting to do that”

    It was a tough slog to understand the La Bataille system. However, once I understood some of the more complex parts of the system, I am having fun playing the many battles in the system since I own most all of them.

    Thanks for the posts and keep em coming 🙂

  4. I dabbled at Squad Leader and TCS but could never wrap my head around them. I really enjoyed playing LaBat system. Haven’t played with the new rules, but hear they are great improvement. I agree with Mr. Anonymous that they can be tough at first, but the reward is great. I fully endorse you diving head first into the LaBat series…..

  5. Pingback: Fallen Eagles perfect mid level Napoleonic system? | Big Board Gaming

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