Manoeuvre from GMT Games is an abstract simulation of warfare during the Age of Napoleon. This simulation is “abstract” because while based on the tactic of the era, it is not based on any actual battle or historical event. Manoeuvre is a two-player game, where each player controls an army made up of Infantry and Cavalry units. Each unit has a certain amount of inherent Artillery firepower for bombardment actions, as there are no separate Artillery units. Control of the units is by the use of a deck of cards; these cards consist of 40 “Unit” cards and 20 “Headquarters” cards. There are five cards for each of the eight units you command.
Let us begin at the beginning. The map for the game consists of 24 4 x 4 square sections, the starting player picks four of these section and arranges them as he sees fit. These sections contain open squares, hills, towns, woods, etc. When arranged the game surface is 8 squares by 8 squares, or 64 squares. Shuffle the complete Action Deck. Unit and headquarters cards, and select five cards. Once you have selected your cards, you now place your units on the board. Your army consists of eight units represented by eight two-sided counters which you place on the board do your moving and fighting. Each counter has a full-strength side (solid color background) and a reduced strength side (colored stripe background). Each is also identified by the unit name, which corresponds to the name on the cards. There are eight armies to choose from, each with its own mix of units and its own strengths and weaknesses. You place your eight units on your half of the board to begin; your opponent does the same.
The first phase of the Player turn is the Discard Phase. You may discard any or all of the cards in your hand. The next phase is the Draw Phase, where the player draws cards to bring him back to the full hand of five cards, this allows you to change your strategy at the beginning of each turn. Next is the Movement Phase, the player is required to move one of his units, either Infantry or Cavalry. Movement is one square for Infantry and two squares for Cavalry. There is no diagonal movement in this game, movement is either horizontal or vertical. This means an Infantry unit may only move one square to the side or one forward or backward. Additional movement is possible with certain Headquarters cards, for instance Forced March allows one additional square and Supply allows the movement of an additional unit.
The Combat phase is next; a player may initiate only one combat per player turn. Combat takes one of four forms; they are Ambush, Assault, Bombardment and Volley Fire. In Ambush the player plays a HQ Ambush card, he declares the unit to be attacked (any unit on the board), the defending player may utilize the option to withdraw if there is an unoccupied square adjacent to the defending unit and the defender has a HQ Withdraw card in his hand. If the withdrawal is out of the question, the defender may play Unit Cards matching the defending unit to increase his Defense Total and may play a Leader Card to augment the Defense Total. The Active Player (attacker) may play cards to assist the Attack Total. These cards are Committed Attack (one per attacking or Supporting unit), Sappers, Engineers or Skirmish card and one Leader card. In an Assault Combat the attacking unit must be next to the Defender and the rest of the procedure is the same as an Ambush.
If the attacker plays a Leader Card with a Command value of 2 or more, additional units can be brought into the combat. For each Command point an additional unit can add its attack value to the overall Attack Total without the playing of a corresponding unit card. These units would have to be in squares adjacent to the defending unit. Terrain effects must also be taken into account when calculating the Attack and Defense values.
Bombardment and Volley Fire share a separate combat procedure from Assault and Ambush combat. The attacker states which unit would be attacking and needs to play a Unit Card with a Bombardment or Volley value. The attacker advises which of the Defending units is the target, in a Volley attack the target must be adjacent to the defender while in a Bombardment the defender may be up to 2 squares away. Terrain affects Line of Sight (LOS), Bombardments cannot be conducted through squares that block LOS.
Combat results include Elimination, Hits and Retreats. Should the Attack Total be les than the Defense Total the attacking units each take a hit. An equal result ends in no effect to either side, Attack greater than defense the defender either Retreats or takes a Hit, defenders choice. Attack twice that of Defense, attacker chooses whether defender takes a hit or Retreats. A Hit requires the full strength to be turned over to the reduced side; a reduced hit eliminates the unit. A Retreat can only be accomplished if there is an empty square for the defender to retreat into, otherwise the unit is eliminated.
The final phase of the turn is the Restoration Phase. In this phase an active player may choose to try to restore one reduced strength to full strength. This is accomplished by playing either a Supply or Regroup card from your hand or play a Unit card for that unit, the so-called Reinforcement method. Restoration is automatic under these circumstances, unless the opponent plays a Guerilla Card from his hand negating the played card. A third method is to play a Leader card and announce a restoration attempt.
The Active Player must roll a six-sided die and the rolled number must fall in the Leader’s Rally Number range for the attempt to be successful. This ends the player turn for player one; player two now repeats the sequence for a complete turn.
To win at Manoeuvre there are two methods. First is to eliminate 5 or more of your opponents units from play. You may lose even though you have eliminated five of the opponents units if you lose your fifth in the same battle. The other method is by controlling more of the opponent’s squares then he controls of yours when the day ends.
As a rule Eighteenth century fighting did not take place at night, so when each player has gone through his Action Deck once the day has ended and control of the battlefield is assessed. To control an enemy square your unit must be adjacent to it and none of your opponent’s pieces is in the square or immediately adjacent to it. If there is a tie, the first tiebreaker is the side that eliminated more of the opponent’s units. If still tied the side with the fewest units at reduced strength, and so forth until a winner is declared.
This game involves a certain amount of strategy on the part of the players, but is still simple enough to be recommended for play by ages 12 and up. While you will not become a master of Eighteenth Century warfare playing this game, you will have many hours of enjoyment doing so. I recommend this game to die-hard wargamers looking for some relaxing fun and as an introduction to new gamers wanting to get their “feet wet”.
Available from GMT games at www.GMTGames.com