Jim Owczarski, 24 November 2021
Lest anyone think I am ignoring the elephant in the room, Snappy Nappy is, in a walk, the silliest name for a set of tabletop gaming rules ever put to paper. Searching for Russ Lockwood’s brainchild — I am the proud owner of a signed copy — brings up all matter of fascinating results including, but not limited to, brief moments in the classic movie Friday and snap-fastened diapers.
The odd name and a cover with art possessed of a color palette straight from 1982 may have proven off-putting for some, but, if you get past all that, I think you will find one of the more enjoyable fast-play grand tactical Napoleonic miniature rule sets available. What follows is an account of how it played as part of Project: Quatre Bras
The Ruleset: Snappy Nappy
Can I Still Buy a Copy?: Yes. The main store that stocks it seems to indicate that the promotional CD of Napoleonic martial music that got thrown in when I bought it back in 2009 is still available for all purchasers.
How Many Players?: Four
How Long Did It Take?: With rules being taught, a bit under five hours.
How’d It Play?: Snappy Nappy and I have a bit of an ambivalent relationship. Although I have never asked this question of the author, I think it purpose-built to manage the wonderful multi-table epic battles in which a dozen or more players compete in geographically separate but interlinked fights creating an experience as close as I have ever seen to a miniature Kriegsspiel.
Playing in one of these so-called “Campaigns in a Day” is a definite bucket-list item for me and I have unsuccessfully strained my brain on multiple occasions to figure out how to get one to work on Tabletop Simulator. The website “Blunders on the Danube” has an excellent catalogue of several of these campaigns here.
As well as it works for these, however, the scenario support for Snappy Nappy has always struck me as spotty. There are certainly a few of them out there and, based on the instructions given in the rules, it is not too terribly difficult to convert from any brigade-level system to this one, but a few examples more than the provided Austerlitz would have been welcome. One of the principles of Project: Quatre Bras has always been that we want to give each rule set a chance to shine on its own terms and that is hard to ensure if you are cobbling together a scenario from pieces and parts. In this instance I borrowed the scenario from Volley and Bayonet making allowances for a slightly different ground scale.
My mind also divides on the rules themselves. At their core, they are excellent. Simple, clean, and they push towards the design goal of fighting a battle to a clear finish. The maneuver element is the brigade, made up of only two stands, movement rates are brisk, and, most notoriously, units that sustain hits begin making saving rolls — it is a d10 system — that they can continue to fail until they rout straight off the board. I do not think this extreme, though I certainly know some do. On the contrary, I think it entirely in keeping with the spirit of the rules. On the other hand, I think the order system, at least in moderately-sized scenario, promises more than it delivers and tends to fall to a measure of irrelevancy after contact. In terms of presentation, there is a bit of errata that needed clarifying and the overall structure could have been changed to tighten matters up. I think a few other examples of play would have been useful.
Let me be clear, though, the Project: Quatre Bras team liked Snappy Nappy. For those that have not heard me say it, I have built the entire early 1809 campaign in Tabletop Simulator — weak PCs and connections need not apply — and am just looking for an opportunity to play on this one, massive board. In our game of Quatre Bras, the French would have given the Allies a much harder run for their money had they not shipped the better part of a division into the woods on their left flank. This prevented them from advancing quickly enough to get them to the crossroads. Lesson certainly learned in this instance.
Score Now: Allies 3.5, French 1.5, and one draw.
Some photos of how the game played out:
And the video:
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