OSG in BATTLES #3 Magazine: Commentary

BATTLES Magazine #3 contains perhaps the best and most comprehensive overview of the OSG Napoleonics games yet seen, covering pages 66 through 72 and finishing on page 74, all with glorious graphics of the operational series games. If you are at all interested in this company or their games, it's worth getting a read of the article. Jean Jodoin covers both the operational-scale games (such as HIGHWAY TO THE KREMLIN and the 2x series like NAPOLEON AT THE CROSSROADS) and the tactical titles like FOUR LOST BATTLES). What is refreshing about the article is that he treats Zucker's designs as a body of work and judges the designer's efforts in that light. While there are brief discussions of individual games (to include BGG rankings), it's clear he's interested in how the designer approaches simulating military problems and decisionmaking. Accordingly, he characterizes Zucker's games in the following way--and these are mostly aimed at the operational series games:

-- Reconnaissance: Realism is High. Gotta love those vedettes!

-- Rewards for having a reserve: Realism is Appropriate.

-- Split combat results (rare when somebody comes out of a fight unscathed): Realism is Appropriate.

-- Maneuver is rewarded: Realism is High. Where to put that Center of Operations? Can I put my highest Initiative Rated leader with the best troops and where do they go? It matters when maneuvering "sur la derrieres!"

-- Logistics: Realism is High. Administrative Points have to be husbanded so you have them when you need them. And if you march too fast for too long you lose a lot to straggling!

-- Command and Control: Realism is High. I must say, this was the first thing I grabbed onto when I first started playing these games. Who you had where and leading whom/what actually mattered. In the campaign series games, it's all about Initiative Ratings and Subordination Ratings. In the tactical games, it was where your leaders were on the field--and which leaders they were.

-- Unit type differentiation: Realism is Very High. We expect that in the tactical games, but in the operational series games, the author points out the the combination of logistics rules, Command and control, reconnaissance, and maneuver makes for a rich palette to paint from given the three basic units of infantry, cavalry, and artillery.

-- Quality versus Quantity: Realism is High. It's generally not the troops, its the leaders and "the system" of the national army.

The result--most easily demonstrated in the operational level games--is the application of Boyd's OODA Loop theory to Napoleonic campaigning. As Jodoin relates:

"...the army with the best leaders...can be expected to outmanoeuvre its less capable opponent when operating within the support of [Administrative Points]. Thus the better army has to create the conditions whereas either the opponent does not have sufficient [Administrative Points] to manoeuvre its entire army, and/or operate totally outside the range of their respective [Center Of Operations]."

The article finishes with a section entitled "Unfulfilled Potential"--as we now know, OSG is back with another game in pre-pub (THE COMING STORM) -- check out the OSG website for more.

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Comment by Allen Hill on March 14, 2010 at 1:03pm
Thanks for posting; I think it's an interesting body of work, even though I haven't had the pleasure of playing someone.
Comment by Eric Walters on March 7, 2010 at 10:05pm
Make no mistake about it, BATTLES is expensive, but I'd say it's worth it. I subscribe to altogether too many magazines, but if I had to cut it down to two, this would be one of them. AGAINST THE ODDS would be the other. STRATEGY AND TACTICS and WORLD AT WAR I confess I do like, but not as much as these two!
Comment by Dave Smith on March 7, 2010 at 7:17pm
I'm looking forward to reading this article..... Overall, the magazine is another outstanding effort from Battles. Looks like I may break down and subscribe.

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