Review – Leipzig 20 from Victory Point Games
Designer – Lance McMillan
Art – Christopher Magoun
Victory Point Games provided a review copy of this game
Victory Point Games seems to be growing in their ambitions, spreading their wings, etc. as they are clearly moving into some larger, more complex games. One of their flagship games series is the Napoleonic 20 series and with Leipzig 20, they have taken a step up in scope and complexity, beyond the smaller engagements covered in the series. After all, the Battle of Leipzig was a huge fight lasting from 14-19 October, 1813.
This is a game that experienced war gamers should be able to pick up and get into without much problem, especially if you’ve played any of the Napoleonic 20 series. This is a particularly interesting situation for a game as it has Napoleon falling back to his supply base at Leipzig as Four Allied armies converge to trap him. More than half a million troops were involved in what became known as the battle of Nations.
Victory Point Games has produced the largest game of the series which comes with –
– a 17″ x 22″ paper map which is very nicely illustrated show the main terrain features and a superimposed hexagonal grid
– 96 5/8″ die cut counters
– 24 5/8″ die cut markers
– 24 event cards
– 4 player aid sheets
– an 8 page rules booklet with standard and optional rules for the Napoleonic 20 series
– a 6 page booklet booklet with exclusive rules for this particular game
The map is very attractive as are the counters. A very nice job and it all looks great. The markers are functional and that’s fine. Some of the nicest art work I’ve seen from VPG.
The standard game process is as follows:
– First player random events phase – a card is drawn from the Events deck. This is one of the great aspects of the Napoleonic 20 system as the two-tone cards provide a variety of events which add some spice to the game as well as some unpredictability which means you can’t absolutely plan and have to make do with events and react the best way you can. To me, this adds a lot of reality to playing a war game.
First player movement phase – standard stuff with movement regulated by movement factors and terrain effects
Second player reaction phase – the 2nd player can use his cavalry to react to enemy movements through counter-charging or retreating before combat
First player combat phase – combat is mandatory when units are in the enemy’s zone of control and this is based on a combat differential system with the results of the combat found on a combat results table
First player night operations (night turns only) – eliminated units may be rallied, morale is adjusted subject to line of communication
2nd player turn – repeats these
There are optional rules for hidden units adding to the fog of war, cavalry penetration, artillery support, additional rally locations, routed units, unit reduction, and unit breakdown and buildup
The Exclusive rules are specific to Leipzig 20 and cover initial unit starting positions, reinforcement arrival, specifics about random events, French command limitations, Allied Front morale, and morale recovery from night turn rest.
Winning is based on Morale and Demoralization. Morale is used like a currency and gained or lost during the game through various actions/costs.
Optional rules cover the Prussian II Corps, Unreliable troops, Light Infantry, Bridge demolition, Fatigue, and Leaders.
The remarkable thing in all of this is that the rules are so concise and they work. No surprise, as the system has had enough games to have worked out the bugs. So the system works very well and in Leipzig 20, adds more to think about, so another layer of depth, but managed in a user-friendly way. Lance McMillan has done a great job creating the system and stepping it up for Leipzig 20. It’s been a while since I had played a game using the system and it took me little time getting back into it. The feel of the rules makes sense, is manageable and gives you a strategic sense as Napoleon has a heck of a problem on his hands.
If you are new to war gaming, I would suggest trying one of the earlier games in the system as an introduction. Leipzig 20 is bigger and has more to consider, as it is a longer game.
Did it work for me?
Having played and reviewed Grossbeeren 20, I felt that I liked the mechanics of the Napoleonic 20 system. It was a very nice step beyond the old SPI Napoleon at Waterloo system without bringing in a lot more complexity, but enough to give you more of a sense of a Napoleonic battle. But, the limited amount of units and map size is a little bit of a down side as your options are more limited. Compared to the old SPI system, I preferred the higher unit count and larger maps which gave more of a grand sweep to the battlefield.
So with its larger counter density and larger map, Leipzig 20 is a real step into a meatier and grander scope. Huge battle, desperate situation for the French, the Allies desperately trying to corner them. 4 allied armies which need to be managed, Napoleon fighting to defeat each in detail without losing too much morale. And it all works very well in a tried and true system. You are really put into the Emperor’s boots for the French and the combined leadership of the allies. its much more an operational level game which I find much more interesting than a more confined, battle. Its really a series of smaller battles combined into the whole and you can play scenarios or the larger battle altogether.
You also have strategic decisions to make such as whether to abandon or defend Dresden, choose when to activate Napoleon which will impact your reinforcements. The optional rules, although adding more complexity, do not bring in so much as to make it a tougher game to play. In fact I recommend using them, especially the Leader rules for a better experience.
Ok, the limitations of Victory Point Games production may put some off as they are more “budget” games with card and paper components, compared to a number of games available today but they have sure made some great games and I would warn you not to dismiss them.
Leipzig 20, in fact, for me has quickly become one of my favourite games from Victory Point Games. This game is simply awesome in my view and I believe will be the flagship for the whole system.