Hundred Days 20, released in 2015 by Victory Point Games, is an introductory level Napoleonic Wargame that utilizes the Napoleonic 20 system (commonly referred to as Nappy 20), an innovative, quick playing small format wargaming system designed by Joseph Miranda. The hallmark of the system is low unit density (less than 20 counters on the map), medium weight complexity and fast playing turns with some twists. The system provides for interesting operational level maneuvers that set up dramatic battles and cavalry engagements. The system also includes random event cards and night game turns, which provides some additional obstacles to deal with that simulate conditions that affected both sides greatly during the historical campaign.
What is Hundred Days 20 About?
Hundred Days 20 features two complete games: Tolentino 20 and Waterloo 20, 3rd Edition, so this game is a great value with 2 wargames for the price of one. Jack Gill’s Tolentino 20 focuses on the battle of May 2-3, 1815 which occurred in central Italy during the period of the “Hundred Days” of Napoleon’s brief restoration to the French throne. Murat’s early gains were soon forfeit against the two advancing Austrian corps, but these two corps become separated by the Apennine Mountains. Like Napoleon’s Waterloo campaign, Murat hoped to defeat each corps in turn before they could reunite (divide and conquer). One player commands the Neapolitan army under King Joachim Murat while the other player commands the Austrian army under Feldmarschall-Leutnant Freidrich Baron Bianchi.
Waterloo 20, 3rd Edition from Joseph Miranda is a game based on the Waterloo campaign of June 15-18, 1815. One player commands the French army, taking the role of the returning Emperor Napoleon. The other player assumes both the roles of Wellington for the Anglo-Dutch forces and Blücher for the Prussian forces.
Victory Point Games tried to make sure that anyone acquiring this version of Hundred Days 20 would be receiving lots of upgraded extras for their faith to buy this game. The new 3rd Edition treatment includes the following:
* More accurate and expanded maps – the maps are beautiful and very functional. A big improvement over what I can see in the previous 2 editions.
* A revised Order of Battle (OOB) that much better reflects history and how the system works.
* A new scenario that moves the action 1 day earlier as the French cross the Sambre River and set the direction of their offensive.
* New optional rules and variants including weather, fatigue and Leaders with command radius (more on that later).
These changes and additions have come about as a product of experience and lessons learned by Victory Point Games about the Nappy 20 system. I read where Alan Emrich stated that he is “expecting this to be the game that crowns our work”.
Counters – I own several Victory Point Games offerings and one thing that they do extraordinarily well is their counters. The counters are very thick and as they are laser cut they are very precise with no “hanging chads” that need to be removed. The counters are also rounded so there is no need to clip them. As you can see from the picture to the left, the colors are beautiful and truly help the units to stand out on the map. There is not a lot of complex information on the counters themselves as they just have the units name, their combat strength and their movement value. One of my favorite parts about the counters is the campfire smell. That smoky perfume comes as a product of the laser cut process and VPG is gracious enough to provide a “wipes-a lot” napkin in the box for you to be able to clean the counters off by dragging them across the napkin to remove the soot. Charming!
Maps – The maps are good card stock and each map comes in two separate pieces but this is not a problem as they fit nicely together and only occasionally move when the action gets heated. The maps are very clear and well put together. The hex numbers are clear and large enough to be easily read and the terrain is well done, including forests, rivers, bridges and roads.
Cards – The cards are absolutely beautiful and well done and will wear well through many plays. The event cards are dual purpose and if drawn by the French player, the top of the card is used while if drawn by the Dutch, Prussian or Italian forces, then the bottom half of the card is used. The written directions are very clear and understandable and the events give flavor to the game using some of the actual events of the conflict. The best part though is the card back as it is beautifully illustrated with a picture of the Great Napoleon on a rearing white charger.
Rulebooks – The rulebooks are very well done and helps you to get a workable grasp of the system’s mechanics very quickly. The book also has several well illustrated examples of play and makes for a very good resource as you play. As in other series games from VPG, there are two rulebooks. One that covers the Standard Rules that are used across the entire Nappy 20 system and one that includes the Exclusive Rules for the scenarios included in the game. The Exclusive Rules can sometimes supersede or replace certain Standard Rules if they are in conflict. In Hundred Days 20, the scenarios include Waterloo 20 – Napoleon’s Last Campaign and Tolentino 20 – King Murat’s Throne. After one play, we felt very comfortable with the system and find that it is very understandable and intuitive.
Player Aid Card – The best player aid I have seen in a while! The Turn Sequence and Battle Sequence is located front and center and is in large enough print not to require a magnifying glass. There are multiple side tables that are used for various elements of the battles such as Rallying units, Hazardous Retreat once routed units have to enter an enemy Zone of Control or cross a Minor or Major River hexside, Controlled Advance when a Cavalry or Reluctant unit is eligible to Advance after Combat, and the rare Breaking Napoleon. The best part of the aid is the CRT as it is designed to be a slugfest with slow attrition. Very rarely will you roll and totally eliminate a unit. More often than not they will be routed, forced to retreat or nothing will happen.
In summary, the components are amazing. I don’t know why I would be surprised as my experience with VPG is that they have this part of games down pat and always produce quality components.
Similar to most other wargames, Hundred Days 20 is played in an I-Go-You-Go alternating fashion. At the very center of the system is morale. Morale can be lost as a consequence of having been routed and can also be gained for routing the enemy or by simply having a good night’s rest. This system also allows players to utilize their morale as an extra modifier to be used strategically in key battles, to rally units or to be used to force march units much further than they normally could. But players must keep in mind that if and when their morale total reaches zero, the game ends in immediate defeat. This element of the design adds a lot of tension and tough choices as you must always be aware of your morale total and how you can either lose or gain it through your actions.
The Combat Results Table (CRT) is also very interesting and I believe very thematic for this type of 19th century warfare with cannons, muskets and disease! The system decides which column to use by calculating a Net Combat Strength Differential. This Differential is calculated by each side after adding the combat strength of all their units plus any terrain modifiers or morale modifiers. For example, if a 2 strength Cannon attacks a 2 strength infantry in a Town, that would equate to a -1 Differential for the attacker and he would consult the -1 column after a roll (2 Cannon as compared to a 3 for the Defender (2 + 1 Town terrain modifier = 3). This is not recommended as you can see that results from that column favor the Defender with 4 results on their side versus only 2 outcomes that help the Attacker. Combat turns quickly to each side trying to maneuver their forces around the battle lines to get the combat advantage so they are making rolls on a column that is in their favor.
Cavalry are very powerful units that have exceptional movement (3) and decent combat strength (1 for Light Cavalry and a 2 for Heavy Cavalry). These units must be protected and used to bolster the strength of infantry units in battle to gain the advantage. Cavalry can also protect themselves as they have a special Reaction Phase that allows them to react after an enemy unit has moved. If that enemy unit is adjacent to one of your Cavalry, you have the option of either Disengaging (strategically retreating as you are most likely overmatched in the Combat Strength area) or to Countercharge Attack the enemy before they have a turn to attack you. We found that this was very strategic and if you do not properly utilize your Cavalry you will find you lose battles and you will find that your enemy has easy options to Break those units removing them from the board and reducing your Morale.
In the Waterloo campaign, Napoleon must race across the map to capture Wavre and Waterloo by the end of June 18th. This goal requires the commander of the French to skillfully navigate a maze of rivers that hinder his army’s ability to move. The rivers also provide several benefits to the defender as when all units attack across a Major or Minor River hexside, the defender receives a +1 defense bonus that can really even out battles. The defenders also are able to move fairly quickly into Towns to occupy them which also provides a defensive bonus. Once thing we liked was that no unit can receive more than one terrain bonus so if you are defending in a Town hex from an attack across a river hexside, you only receive the highest bonus, in this case a +1 and not +2 by adding the two terrain bonuses together.
With the addition of the grand armies of Wellington (Anglo-Dutch) and Blücher (Prussian), Napoleon’s goal truly seems daunting to say the least. The Little Emperor has a lot to think about as the French make their push. As you advance your units into the enemy’s Zone of Control, a battle must occur their at the end of movement. So, if that unit is adjacent to three separate enemy units, he must fight each of them simultaneously. So battles turn into a decision process where each player must calculate the odds of victory, remembering that the columns on the CRT are either in their favor or not. This caused us to try to attack with 2-3 units to ensure a good result with a favorable table rather than risking several 50/50 rolls that might fall in our favor or then again might not. The Event cards also add the to the tension at the beginning of each player’s turn. Event cards can work for you but can also really hurt your efforts, sometimes giving you bonuses or causing attack penalties. We liked the Event cards as it truly leveled the playing field and was very thematic as the events usually replicate some form of historic occurrence.
In the Tolentino campaign, the Neapolitan army under King Joachim Murat must contend with their own inexperienced and fragile troops (when rallying, a -1 modifier is applied to all rolls) while trying desperately to defeat the separated forces of the Austrian army under Feldmarschall-Leutnant Freidrich Baron Bianchi as they try to surround and eliminate the French. After the wounding of the talented General d’Amrosio (the Event card d’Ambrosio Falls!), he is replaced by an incompetent and hesitant leader in General d’Aquino who must roll to see if he can even advance. This scenario also introduces new terrain in Steep Slope Hexsides as well as Fortified Towns and Redoubts.
What I Liked About Hundred Days 20
Components – As mentioned above, the components are top notch and really make this fairly simply introductory wargame shine. The counters are amazing and the player aid is one of the best that I have seen in a wargame, as everything you need is right there in front of you for quick and easy reference.
Great CRT – I loved the Combat Results Table and the odds calculation that you had to do each time you planned your movements (before you jump on me I know it uses the Differential but you still must look at the odds of each column and decide if they are in your favor before you attack). Do you sacrifice a weaker attack with less chance of success to be able to bolster an attack and use the 4 column, which assures your victory? I also love the simple Combat Strength Differential calculation. You don’t need a calculator and you wont have to remove your shoes and socks to count on your toes. Simplicity is a good thing in this instance.
Cavalry Units – We loved the use of Cavalry units and regularly had to survey the battlefield and the lines to decide how best to use them but also how best to protect them after the conclusion of the battle. The Counter Attack Charge as well as the Disengage action as part of the Reaction Phase is a genius inclusion in the system and clearly demonstrates the power of mounted troops and how they would have been utilized on the battle field. I also really liked the choices that each player had to make about their targets. Near the end of one of our games, I was simply scanning his troops to find quick access to weaker Cavalry units that couldn’t retreat in order to pick them off and win the game through Morale reduction to zero. Fantastic strategic component of the game!
Addition of Optional Rules – I really like a game that is replayable and Hundred Days 20 has replayability. Not only are there two scenarios in the game but you can add optional rules to increase the challenge such as Command Radius, Fatigue and Weather.
What I Didn’t Like About Hundred Days 20
Balance – While we haven’t necessarily played enough to truly get a feel for the balance, there is no denying that the Attackers (France in Waterloo, Napoli in Tolentino) have an uphill battle as they must deal with many more issues than the defenders. I also found that the Attackers were always attacking across rivers or up steep slope hexsides which always brings a negative modifier to their rolls. Maybe this will become less of a concern after a few more plays as we are still learning the various strategies and paths to victory.
I really enjoyed Hundred Days 20! The Nappy 20 system is very sleek and easy to learn but more decidedly difficult to master, which is a good attribute to have for a game as it lends itself to more replayability. The production value of this game is amazing, as has in my experience become standard with all Victory Point Games’ offerings, and the components are very functional and also easy on the eye. I have not played other Napoleonic games previously but as for this one, I would definitely recommend it as an entry point to the genre. To check out the components, please see our unboxing video.