Grande Armee – The Peninsular War

Milton was running a game of Grande Armee at the somewhat misleadingly-named South Bay Game Club (they only play miniatures), so I had the somewhat flukish chance to play two non-Lord of the Rings miniatures systems in one week.

As a system, Grande Armee is certainly reminiscent of many good, recent wargames in its attempt to limit the players’ ability to predict what’s going on. Players get variable command points to spend on activations (moving and firing units), turns consist of a variable number of impulses, leaders have command ratings, and can go off and do their own thing if not adequately controlled.

In general, I thought it was a pretty solid system, better and more interesting than Piquet probably, although that might have as much to do with the period or the specific battle. Like Piquet, though, it had that sense of being a bit rough around the edges. The mechanism for attaching artillery to a unit didn’t seem to work cleanly, units seemed to both rout and recover to easily (and recover too completely once routed), and turns that went short (just an impulse or two) felt decidedly odd. But these are comparatively minor quibbles, which might go away once I have a chance to read the rules myself – this was a teaching game for most of us.

All in all, while I enjoyed both Piquet and Grande Armee at some level, I must say I didn’t think either system had much on Lord of the Rings for interesting gameplay, despite both having a lot more rules. So while I would play either again, I don’t see myself branching out into painting any other figures anytime soon. I do look forward to the GW’s 10mm Battle of the Five Armies game apparently due out next year, though, especially as major Lord of the Rings figure releases should be done by then (I am currently slogging through painting Catapults and Trolls and Trebuchets and Bolt-Throwers for the Siege of Minas Tirith game, and I look forward to having it done – hopefully before we get Southrons and Oliphaunts this fall).

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