Compared to Brandywine, the Marengo map is huge! There are pros and cons. This was our assessment.
Wide Open Feel
My favorite games are usually strategic. Why? I always wonder what is past the edge of the map? Why can’t I go there? I know. I probably wouldn’t go there anyways but still.
We started play testing on the full big map. We figured at some point we would crop it down to a more manageable size. What stood out to me most about Marengo is how fluid the battle was. This is a battle of maneuver over a wide field of mostly clear terrain. Refreshing! I loved that feel. Very spacious. Luxurious. Very Napoleonic. Cropping it down would cut costs and save space but it also makes you feel more boxed in.
One of the most striking and detailed parts of the map was Alexandrie. The problem is, that wasn’t really part of the battle. Still, it seemed a shame to just hack that and the river off. We noticed that by leaving it on, it opens up several strategic options for the Austrians. They could attack straight up the center. They also have maneuver options to the north and south. Even combinations of the three. There we go. Now we have some justification for beauty.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, consider the historical value. This is based on the real French map of the period on the battle. It felt wrong to cut off and just provide part of the historical map. Wouldn’t it be more historically accurate to have the full map? This adds extra value to the game. A minor quibble perhaps but it is kind of nice to be able to tell people that this is the real map from the real campaign! Full size in all its Napoleonic glory.
In fact, we’ve had people ordering extra maps. One to play the game and one to frame and hang up.
The maps are more. About twice the size of Brandywine. We also need bigger tubes. The small cardboard format won’t work with this size. Shipping is more.
True, true, true but it felt wrong to skimp when it comes to Napoleon. We decided to just absorb the extra expense. It’s worth it preserve Napoleonic glory!
This battle still plays fast but can you fit that huge map on the bar? Well, this is a downside. It won’t fit on the bar. It does fit on a normal sized booth table. We tested it at several different bars. (just to make sure!)
It is easier to accommodate this than you might think. The French can just setup Victor and Lannes. Let the east edge of the map hang over the table edge for turn 0. The French can’t move anyways. The Austrians quickly cross the river and deploy on the field. For turn 1, you can slide the map over and let the west edge drape over the table edge. Now you can setup the rest of the French and fight out the rest of the battle normally.
Lots of good pros. We took care of 1 con, so all you have to do is be willing to slide the map once on turn 1 IF you are playing on a small table. That’s not too much to ask. In the end, this seems like a small price to pay for all the great advantages.