I have dabbled with Epic Warhammer and 40k. Flames of War. I like miniatures games but they are cumbersome and expensive. I have always been a little jealous of those well dressed gentlemen sliding tiny European men with muskets across what looked like small train layouts sans railroad track. My Warhammer stuff is all gone. Flames of War is soon to be on Ebay. Oh it's time...
I am lucky that I live near one of the best Game stores in the nation. One day, out of pure foolishness I asked if they could recommend a good Napoleonics table top game. They said, "Funny you should ask that...because Honour is publishing a new Napoleonics game soon". That was a few months back, since then I have ordered the book and the "Hundred Days" expansion. However, I promised myself no painting rows and rows of tiny men. No, no, no.
Again, I am a game designer by trade. Slogging through a poorly written rule book is a big pet peeve of mine. There are a lot of great games out there with poorly written rules. It is no small thing to 1) create an excellent game and 2) write the rules so they are concise and clear. Blucher succeeds on both counts. Not only are the rules spelled out (the author makes no assumptions that you understand the genre) but he also includes design notes that explain why such and such a rule was designed the way it was. Bravo! Understanding the core logic makes playing the game so much easier.
As a gamer, I WANTED MINIS. It was like having a tiny Angel and Devil sitting on my shoulder, "Relax, after you get started they will be easy to paint" and "You don't need another hobby to waste your time on". I duped myself into thinking that the armies could be beans glued to card stock. I experimented with various colored rice, lentils and toothpicks. To my surprise it took a lot of work to glue them down in neat little rows. And I also wondered if I was crazy.
Eventually, I decided to use painted wooden blocks. A lot of searching did not find a source for the size I wanted, so I bought 3/8ths strip from Home Depot and carefully made each block. The blocks were then painted to represent French and Prussian units.
I redid the card graphics, here you can see samples of the units. Ultimately this will allow me to create what ever units I need for what ever battle I plan to play.
I made clear bases for the cards so 1) they could be flipped showing the concealed side and 2) be sturdy enough to be picked up with the units on them and moved around the battlefield. The top of the clear base is lightly sprayed with a re-positional glue to hold the card in place.
Here's the first game, the starter scenario from the website "Along the Danube". Before I made anything else, I wanted to make sure everything worked. So far so good. My son and I got through the rules and we are ready to play again, probably tomorrow.
Everything is designed to be modular. Here is a close up shot. The blocks represent "Elan" (basically the unit's strength). Blucher has three kinds of units, Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery. For Infantry the blocks are arranged in rows parallel to the front edge. For Cavalry they are turned 90 degrees and the Artillery I cheated and used scrabble tiles. The purpose of this is so you can see at a glance what a unit is and how strong it is. I have some ideas on improving the overall look by possibly adding flags to show the Corps. We shall see. My son gives Blucher a big thumbs up (keep in mind he is a video gamer). So looking forward to the next battle! I also like that this game is independently produced by Sam Mustafa. Long live the independent game designers!
BTW, Blucher scores an 11 out of 10, for me. You can find it at: Blucher
Finally, a miniatures game that actually works!
Frau Blücher: I came to tell you that your fiance should be arriving any second!
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [shirtless] Elizabeth! Here, tonight?
Frau Blücher: I suggest you put on a tie!