(Referred to as Napen... throughout this review!)
This review copyright by Steffan O'Sullivan, 1994 & 1997
This page last updated March 27, 1997

Napen... is a set of skirmish miniatures rules (one figure = one soldier) by Wayne Jacobs, of Seattle, WA, USA. The word is from the Lenni Lenape language (Delaware Indian) for "They will be scalping each other." The rule book says that Napen... is the skirmish part of the Flintlocks and Tomahawks rules system - but no further mention of any other Flintlock and Tomahawks modules are given. As far as I know, this is the only part published to date (as of 1994). The rules are written for 15mm figures, but an appendix tells you how to adapt them easily to 25mm.

My own bias in miniatures gaming is toward skirmish gaming, just so you know. I vastly prefer games where one figure represents one man to those where a stand of eight figures represent 20, 50, 200, or whatever large numbers of troops.

Napen... covers 18th-century New England, New France, and the old Northwest (out to Michigan, I suppose). This is basically the French & Indian War (in Canada it's usually called the "Seven Years War in North America" - all nine years of it :-). If you've seen the movie Last of the Mohicans, or Northwest Passage, you'll know the type of fighting covered in the game. The period could conceivably cover small engagements up to 1800 in Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky between Indians and invasive settlers, also. This is one of my favorite eras to game, and since my mother's ancestors fought on one side of these wars, and my father's on the other, I can play either side with great glee.

The game is sold in a variety of ways. The basic rule book is $5 post-paid - address at the end of the review. Mr. Jacobs also sells a complete game kit for $50 post-paid, which includes rules, 8 painted miniatures, rosters & initiative chits for each figure, 13 felt-and-dowel trees, range-stick, dice, and players' cards. This may be an excessive price if you can paint your own figures, but the rules alone are well worth the $5 requested. His figure painting is good, but not spectacular. (Better than I can do, but probably not as good as you can do. :-)

Terrain: The basic game (four figures per side) is played with 15mm figures on a very small area: 45 cm x 45 cm (18" x 18") - double the board size if playing with 25mm figures. For conventions and other games with multiple players per side, the board can be enlarged as needed. The basic game only concerns itself with trees and open terrain, but optional rules cover bushes, logs, stumps, large rocks, streams, hills, cliffs, trails and fences. A figure is either concealed, in cover, or in the open, relative to another figure. Of course, a figure may be concealed from one perspective, but either in cover or in the open from another vantage point at the same time. No rules are given for buildings.

The Rules: low complexity, emphasis on fun, speed and playability. There are a number of optional rules included to increase realism and complexity, if desired. I can think of a few more to add without even trying - the rules are basically sound, and allow for customization fairly easily. The writing is not always clear, alas, and only on a second or third reading are you able to figure some sections out. Still, it's easier to decipher than Phil Barker's writing, for example.

Basic Scenario Set up: Each figure is numbered individually, and a chit with that number on it is placed in a mug. In addition, three chits marked "End of Turn" are also placed in the mug. Each figure also has a 3"x5" roster card with markers to keep track of loaded condition of his musket and his wound status (you never write on the roster cards, making them reusable - a good idea). Each player helps to set the terrain, then dice to see who gets to choose which board edge they wish to start at. The other player then chooses any other board edge to start at: set up figures on the board edge. Other scenarios are suggested, but not fleshed out. There is a good victory point schedule given, which encourages intelligent play.

Sequence: draw a chit from the mug. The figure whose number is drawn then announces his attempted actions, and rolls a "skill die." (D6 for all in the basic game. There is an optional rule to use d4 for green troops, d6 for average troops, d8 for veterans, d10 for elite troops, and d12 for legendary folk such as Dan'l Boone and Robert Rogers.) Add the result of the skill die to his current competency (depends on wound level - ranges from 6 to 2), and the figure then has that many action points to spend. Loading a musket takes lots of action points, but can be done in three stages. Moving one cm (one inch if using 25mm figures) takes one action point. Turning more than 45 degrees takes an action point. Pointing your rifle in the correct general area takes an action point, and precise aiming takes another. Firing (which can be done without pointing and aiming, but you'd be foolish to do so) takes another. And so on. If you announced you would load one section of your musket, then run towards that tree, and rolled low - you might only run part way towards that tree, and be out in the open! I like this system a lot - similar to what is used by Desperado Old West skirmish rules, but it adds in character competency, which Desperado doesn't.

Melees are resolved at the end of all actions, if bases are touching.

When the figure has completed its actions, put its chit aside and draw another. That number corresponds to another figure, who then goes through the same sequence. That chit then goes with the first chit. When an End of Turn chit is drawn, put it with the numbered chits drawn previous to it, and continue drawing. The next number starts a different pile, however. This pile is ended with the next End of Turn chit, and a third pile is ended with the final End of Turn chit. At that point, there may or may not be any numbered chits left in the mug - it doesn't matter. Put the oldest pile back into the mug, and stir them up. Continue drawing until you get the End of Turn chit again. Then add the oldest existing pile, and continue until the game is over. This means there is a chance, extremely small, but still a chance, that one or more figures will never get a turn in this game! They just froze, I guess - combat paralysis. It's also possible to draw all three End of Turn markers in a row, then draw the number that just went, giving that figure two turns in a row. Neither of these things has happened yet in any game I've played, but it's statistically possible. Over all, the luck tends to even out, and the system makes for a very exciting game - I like it.

However, it is the clunkiest part of the operation of the game. I haven't yet really worked out a system I like for it - keeping track of which pile of chits is the oldest, the next oldest, etc., does take your focus away from the miniatures a bit - something I'm not fond of. It's not a serious problem, but one that needs to be considered.

Combat: Combat is broken down into firing and melee. Firing is done during the action point phase. Announce target before measuring. Then roll a d20, plus a skill die if you pointed, and another skill die if you aimed. Add the dice (one, two or three), plus competency, and the result is the distance in cm (inches if using 25mm figures) you can hit accurately - anything below 10 is a miss automatically. Damage is then the highest single factor based on reading the dice: if you rolled a triple (such as three 4s), you score 6 damage (instant death - obviously can only happen if you point and aim before firing); doubles score 3 damage, if the d20 is even you score 2 damage, and if the d20 is odd: 1 damage. If you get any two dice with the same number, that's doubles and is worth 3 damage and only three damage - do not add in damage based on whether the d20 is odd or even in that case. Subtract one damage if the figure is at extreme range (if you rolled a 16 result, for example, and the target between 15.5 cm to 16.5 cm) and subtract one damage if the figure is in cover. Damage is recorded on the target figure's roster card by moving the red "scalp" marker down, reducing competency and morale as it goes. The roster card also keeps track of musket loaded status.

Melee is a very simple system of competence plus a skill die vs. competence plus a skill die. You can get a +1 or +2 for various conditions, such as attacking from the flank or rear, or two figures on one, etc. Results range from a tie (locked in combat), to a marginal win to a decisive win.

Morale: anytime a figure is charged or fired at (if the result is at within 10 cm short of hitting it, even on a miss), he must make a reaction roll. Each level of competence shows a reaction range, such as 7-13. Roll a d20: if the result is above this reaction range, it is a High result. On a number within this range, it is a Mid result, and if below this range, a Low result. The reaction table, on the player aid card and reproduced in the rule book, shows what happens on a high, mid, or low result for various actions. You may stand, retreat, fall back a little, charge, or (the worst) fire your gun without even aiming!

Optional rules, aside from those already mentioned, include advanced morale rules, fatigue rules, rifle and bow rules, limited ammunition and misfire rules, and increased power at short range. I've already thought of such things as altered competence rules (instead of 6,5,4,3,2,dead, a character might be 4,3,3,2,2,dead for example), split competence rules (ranged weapon/melee weapon competence might look like: 7/4, 6/3, 5/3, 4/2, 3/2, dead) and morale independent of wound status for truly heroic fighters who just don't quit even when wounded.

All in all, I like this game a lot. It plays fast and quick, it can easily handle up to six players on a side and still be played in an evening, and the main emphasis is on fun. Some of the rules are written a bit vaguely, but I think I have figured out the intent of every rule in the book. Not for those who crave intense detail in rules, however - these are, as the author admits in the introduction, "closer to a caricature than a historical simulation."

BTW, he spells Napenaltowaktsche without the second "t" about a third of the time he uses it. I suppose the Lenni Lenape don't care much how it's spelled, so long as you pronounce it correctly. :-)

Disclaimer: I have no connection with Wayne Jacobs at all.

Napen... is available from:

Wayne Jacobs
2464 South Spencer St.
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 725-7548

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