I'm not a huge fan of the period...for some reason I tend to glaze over when reading historical accounts of campaigns and battles in the Napoleonic era. I do enjoy Sharp Practice from TFL...partly because of the more skirmish level action but also, I think, because of the narrative driven, cinematic style of the game. A friend had kindly offered to host an all day game at his home however and this seemed too good a chance to miss, so armed only with some dice and chocolate cookies I made my way into darkest Surrey.
Blücher is a large scale game with units representing Brigades. It uses an interesting activation system: your opponent secretly rolls a number of momentum points which you then use, not knowing of course when you are going to run out...in a multi-player game (there were 5 of us) this can make for interesting haggling among commanders. The rules were surprisingly simple...the are no formation changes etc to worry about...I guess at this higher level game a lot of that is assumed within the Brigade. Units are all of a standard size (mainly 4 bases), can fire or move and can interpenetrate freely and manoeuvring is relatively simple (there may be exceptions to this that I was unaware of/have forgotten etc) all of which meant we all picked the principles up quickly and there was relatively little rule-checking. As only 2 players had tried the rules before (and only once) this seemed pretty good.
The scenario was a re fight of Talavera with around 20 units per side. We allocated sides randomly and I ended up with the Spanish. The British and Spanish lined up on their hills and defended with the French trying for a full frontal assault. The game hung in the balance for a few turns as the French gained the top of the ridge but could not hang on as more British reserves moved up to drive them off. My Spanish sat around drinking sangria and cheering on their allies while waiting for Jerome to arrive opposite them. They then came under pressure from the French pinning attack but that was too weak and eventually they were able to advance as well and much to my surprise managed to break some of the opposing brigades (I had pretty low expectations!).
The game lasted 26 "turns", a turn being a French go or Allied go and 30 turns is a complete day, at which point darkness falls and the game is stopped.
We didn't use the additional rules which allow the use of blinds and reserve movement which would make some of the early foot slogging speedier and add some uncertainty.
So the verdict is pretty positive...I'd guess people who want more detailed manoeuvre etc may not be so keen but for a high level big battle game these seemed really good and felt very intuitive. We played with 15mm figures but the rules could easily be used in any scale. I also liked the unit cards which have been released for the 100 Days campaign which could be used instead of figures giving a sort of board game/miniature game hybrid and downloadable templates are available on the website.