"Well, what do you think?”
“This battle is completely lost, but there is time to win another”
– First Consul Bonaparte and General Desaix
On 14 June 1800, the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte was taken by surprise and attacked by the Austrian army under General Melas. Outnumbered and outgunned, the French were defeated and forced to retreat. But later that same day, French reinforcements arrived under General Desaix, and in what amounted to a second battle the French counter-attacked and won, taking thousands of prisoners and driving the Austrians from the field.
Thus was won the battle of which Napoleon was always the most proud – Marengo.
Bonaparte at Marengo recreates that dramatic battle. The game is simple and fast-playing, departing from almost all of the standard conventions of wargaming in order to achieve the look and feel of nineteenth century linear warfare.
Bonaparte at Marengo comes in a bookcase-style 11.75" x 8.75" x 2" box. The cover art is Auguste Raffet’s pencil and watercolor “The Consular Guard at Marengo".
On opening the box, the rules for Bonaparte at Marengo are revealed. The rule booklet is 12 pages long, bound with staples, and printed in black and white on 8.5" x 11" paper. The booklet includes the Designer's Notes for the game, and also includes numerous illustrations and examples of play. Because Bonaparte at Marengo is a two player game, and it is not uncommon for both players to be learning the game at the same time, two (2) copies of the rules booklet are provided, one for each player. Underneath the rules is the game board. Although the economics of publishing has long forced most publishers to use stiff paper for their game boards, Bonaparte at Marengo comes with a hard-mounted board, but at a paper board price. That board unfolds in 8 panels to a size of 22" x 30". The game board includes all the play aides the game requires (no need to find additional space for extra sheets of paper) as well as the map of the battlefield on which the game is played. Of particular interest is the map design. Forgoing the conventional hexagonal grid, the map uses a unique design featuring polygons to regulate movement and combat.
Beneath the game board are the game pieces. Instead of cardboard, the Bonaparte at Marengo game pieces consist of 80 wooden blocks representing the two armies, along with three plastic markers for record-keeping. Red blocks are for Austrian units, blue are for French units. The pieces come in a re-sealable plastic bag, which is nestled in a pocket underneath the game board for their protection and storage convenience. Symbols are directly printed on each piece using a silkscreen process to indicate their type and strength. In order to allow players to conveniently conceal that information from their opponent, it is printed on only one side of each piece so that the player can have that side facing him while the blank sides face his opponent.