RockyMountainNavy, 14 June 2022
New arrival this month is Siege of Mantua designed by Amabel Holland for Hollandspiele Games. This title is a new entrant into my collection of Napoleonic Block Wargames, going all the way back to Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815 (Avalon Hill, 1974)to the more recent Commands & Colors: Napoleonics from GMT Games.
Siege of Mantua is two-player block wargame depicting Austrian efforts to relieve the fortress of Mantua. It is part of Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaign. The game is of fairly low complexity and comes in a 2″ deep box (unusual for Hollandspiele) with 20 blocks, 56 counters, 2 dice, 1 “Doubling Cube,” a 34″x22″ map, an 8.5″x11″ Battle Display (on canvas), and a 12-page rulebook.
The standout component in Siege of Mantua are the blocks. Designer Amabel Holland relates in her blog about how another game in the Hollandspiele catalog was a slow seller resulting in a surplus of blocks around the design studio. After some noodling about Siege of Mantua emerged.
…and the blocks in Siege of Mantua are HUGE! Measuring 1.5″ square, they are much larger than the older Napoleon or newer Commands & Colors blocks. Hollandspiele printer Blue Panther also is using a “new” process to print directly onto blocks (apparently a lost-art since the 1974 Napoleon).
Play in Siege of Mantua is laid out in a colorful, helpfully illustrated 12-page rule book. The short book and easy-to-follow rules befits the low-complexity nature of the game.
The map for Siege of Mantua is illustrated by Ilya Kudriashov and looks gorgeous on the gaming table. The game uses a point-to-point movement system.
Unlike Commands & Colors: Napoleonics which has no separate battle board, Siege of Mantua harkens back to Napoleon with the use of a Battle Display that arrays your battlefield in the classic center/right/left columns. The use of canvas for this display is a nice tactile touch that helps immerse the players in the moment.
Although admittedly of lower complexity, the combat rules in Siege of Mantua produce very exciting battles. There is even a “push your luck” element involved using the Doubling Cube where you can continue a battle but at the risk of greater losses.
Siege of Mantua is a beautiful looking wargame on the table. There are enough deep decisions here that a grognard wargamer will be challenged. That said, the lower-complexity also makes this a good family wargame or a gateway game for those wanted to try a wargame for the first time.
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