So, yesterday I posted a somewhat rambling “first impressions” of my first game of Age of Napoleon, and I think the trouble I’m having making up my mind about the game came through in the slightly incoherent style. I also realize the comments could be seen as slightly negative, which would not be right … so now having had a day for things to percolate around in my mind, I offer you this somewhat more concise, bottom-line summary:
– I did enjoy the game, and I would absolutely play again. It’s straightforward, it plays cleanly and for the most part briskly, it’s got a nice historical feel, and has quite a few interesting player choices. All very good stuff.
– That having been said, there are a lot of powerful, game-altering events. These events are nicely historical and so add a lot to the “fun factor” in the short term, which is a good thing, but my instincts are uneasy about how well this will hold up in the medium term, whether the game will get to that magic 5-10 plays that means it was generally worthwhile.
– For people who are big fans of We the People or Hannibal, I suspect this will be a fun game, one that they will enjoy but not one with a big “wow” factor. It’s good, it’s skillfully executed, the events are interesting, but it’s missing that hook, that extra something that really grabs you. This doesn’t make it less than a good game, but there you go. People who have never played either of these classics (a growing number, I suspect) may well have a much more enthusiastic response to the game.
Do I recommend the game? If a friend of yours owns the game, you should absolutely give it a play. If you’ve liked Phalanx’ games so far (ignoring the whole Nero thing), you should also definitely pick it up because I think it’s easily the best yet, definitely better even than the classic A House Divided. If you’re looking for a low-end wargame and don’t own We the People (it is out of print and fairly expensive these days), you should definitely consider it. But, it is a touch pricey (the list is only $30 from FunAgain, but shipping costs will jack that up pretty rapidly), and it isn’t a no-brainer.
And here my conflict comes through … because I do wish I could unequivocally recommend it. There is a good chunk of me that wants to, and it’s quite possible I’ll play another couple times, and then I will.