HistWar: Boney Retreats From Battlefront

Not a good week for Combat Mission creators Battlefront. After waiting donkey’s years for Jean-Michel Mathé to finish his ground-breaking Napoleonic ‘First-Person Commander’ wargame HistWar: Les Grognards, the scamp has jumped ship at the eleventh hour and decided to self-publish. Battlefront are sticking doggedly to a ‘we cancelled because of repeated delays’ line, but the simmering annoyance radiating from their statements suggests subtler shenanigans.

I could puddle the mud with my own ill-informed speculation but, to be honest, you might as well choose your own explanation:

  • Battlefront Version A – After four years of missed milestones, patient publicity, and sensitive shepherding, Battlefront finally snap, walking away in disgust despite JMM’s assurances that HistWar will be done by Christmas.
  • Battlefront Version B – After four years of missed milestones, patient publicity, and sensitive shepherding Battlefront finally snap, walking away in disgust after JMM refuses to confirm HistWar will be complete by Christmas.
  • JMM Version A – With the finish-line in sight, JMM goes back to Battlefront and attempts to renegotiate the original five-year-old deal. Talks founder over the thorny issue of moulah.
  • JMM Version B – With the finish-line in sight, JMM goes back to Battlefront and attempts to renegotiate the original five-year-old deal. Talks founder over the thorny issue of DRM (Battlefront insist on shackling HistWar with their own eLicense system).
  • JMM Version C – With the finish-line in sight, JMM goes back to Battlefront and attempts to renegotiate the original five-year-old deal. Talks founder over the thorny issue of retail distribution (Battlefront are no longer able/willing to put HistWar on store shelves)
  • Stone Version – All is going swimmingly between Battlefront and JMM until, during an all-night drinking session involving both parties, one of the Battlefront crew makes an off-the-cuff remark about Ney’s performance at Quatre Bras. JMM visibly bristles, then demands the comment is retracted. When the BF man refuses, a five-year relationship disintegrates in a chaos of flailing arms and hurled furniture.


  1. Lack_26 says:

    I like the Stone Version.

    Also, why was I not informed of this game before now! It sounds brilliant.

  2. DJ Phantoon says:

    Why does the Stone version sound the most reasonable?

  3. Shadrach says:

    I’ve seen this on the BF page since forever it seems. Also interesting is that the ‘screenshots’ link on histwar.com links to a page on BF with the text “Looks like Matt has something else to fix!” :)

    I’d go with the Stone version, it seems plausible!

  4. Vinraith says:

    “patient publicity”

    Well, that line pretty much kills both Battlefront versions, being that this is a very interesting-sounding project in a genre I’m very fond of that I’ve never heard of until this post.

  5. 12kill4 says:

    Say what you will about Ney’s failure to capture Quatre Bras quickly (I’m of the mind that the evidence suggests the fault here lies with Napoleon for issuing the orders too late) and his rather unfortunate decision to call D’Erlon away from his march towards blocking the Prussian retreat (which again resulted from Napoleon not informing Ney about his plans in a timely manner…) in order to assist him at Quatre Bras- But you can’t deny the man had style, given his last words at his execution:

    “Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her … Soldiers, Fire!”

    Besides… if you want to criticise the man, why not got for the jugular and comment on his cavalry charge at waterloo… probably lost he battle then and there…

    • cliffski says:

      Indeed. I’d like to throw my napoleonic geek hat in the ring too, and echo the sentiment that if Ney fucked up, he did it on the big day, not some minor skirmish beforehand.
      If you really want to get anal thoguh, we could all contend that it was the rains fault, not Napoleon’s or Neys. Le grand batterie is a bitch to manoeuvre in mud :D

    • futage says:

      It’s comments like these two which (besides the actual posts) keep me coming back here.

  6. Mort says:

    I don’t have a lot of love for Battlefront, they’re masters at over selling second rate war games, banning naysayers from their forums, and restrictive drm. (Yes, still bitter about ToW).
    But at least it now looks like I can consider buying Histwar. ;o)

    • Dominic White says:

      Battlefront are run with all the hard-headed stoicness you’d expect of a hardcore grognard publisher, and it’s hurting them badly. They never drop prices, they don’t advertise, their entire business practice seems to be ‘If we build it, they will come’. And then they wonder why nobody comes.

    • Weylund says:

      What, precisely, is a second-rate wargame? They publish games that would never get picked up by EA, surely (seriously, Combat Mission: Afghanistan? What mainstream publisher would touch that?). What’s a “first-rate” wargame? The Combat Mission series surely rates in that category.

      Battlefront has limited means to advertise – they’re not some huge studio that rakes in millions. They’re guys who do their best to make sure that games that might otherwise slip through the cracks get made. The games get advertised through channels like RPS rather than banner ads on GameSpot. Is that wrong somehow?

      They do drop prices, by the way. The direct download services that carry their titles don’t – the original Combat Mission is still $35 on D2D – but Battlefront’s online store certainly offers games at discounts.

    • blaargh says:

      What was the ToW DRM? The elicense thing they have with the combat mission series has been quite gentle, from my experience. The real annoying thing is that you can’t re-download the installers. Haven’t been on their forums in ages but I only really remember them banning one guy who has been a font of drama on other sites as well. Yeah, one can question some of their decisions (the quick battle system for CM:SF, for one), but it’s pretty minor stuff IMO (TLAs ahoy).

  7. Fede says:

    There has already been another post here at RPS speaking about HistWar:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Funnily enough reading this thread about BF dropping HistWar I wondered if Tim Stone would have posted about it, so I refreshed RPS and found this article :D

  8. Gap Gen says:

    Hang on, they actually said “it’ll be done by Christmas”? No wonder it didn’t work out.

  9. HALF says:

    Well with total war doing its own official Napoleon thing now(not counting all the mods) i guess most of the interest in this game will be lost anyhow. Admittedly i dont know a great deal about this game (I could not however find or see anything unique about it) but from the videos it seems a poor mans total war – outdated graphics – shoddy animations -poor sound. I dont want to be overly harsh as i am sure it will have its charm but i think its a case of just being too long in development and missing the boat so to speak.

    I cant help having a feeling though there is a sudden rush after 5 years to push this out probably due in some small part to Napoleon: Total War.

    • cliffski says:

      I’m a huge Napoleonic geek who loved Imperial Glory, and I’d probably consider this over total war. Partly because its not bolted onto a huge unwieldy, slow, and cumbersome overcomplex 4X style game, and partly because although the visuals look good, I find the actual gameplay of the total war series pretty depressing, and just ;’not fun’.
      I know I’m in the minority there, but there is a big minority of people who don’t assume that the total war series will eb the last word on whatever era of history it focuses on.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      Given that Napeoleon: Total War will probably not actually be in a playable state until 2-3 years after release (based on the previous several games in the series), I doubt very much this is the case.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I just thought of a dream game.

      Napoleon Dynamite: Total War

      Can you win the school presidecy (or whatever the word is) while managing the concerns of watermelon artillery and bostaff combat?

  10. Jomini says:

    Les Grognards is a simulating Wargame. Comparing this with Empire/Napoleon TW is like comparing rFactor with Mario Kart.

    • HALF says:

      @jOMINI – Not that i doubt what you are saying because i dont know a whole lot about the game and most of the information seems to be in French – so i am going on videos and the english text on their site.
      Could you please enlighten me as to what makes this game “stand out” or as you put it a “simulating Wargame”. Just out of interest what are say the key points/features –

    • Fede says:

      One random reason why HistWar is completely different from N:TW, from the previous article about HistWar on RPS:
      “HistWar armies utilize five different levels of intertwined AI (commander, corps, division, brigade and regiment) and can’t be retasked at the drop of a bicorn hat. Credible command-chain modelling means lots of authentic inertia plus the potential for lost and ignored orders.”

  11. Torgen says:

    Jeez, it’s seems like decades since I first started following this game. It would really be nice to play it before I start collecting Social Security.

    I used to play the actual tabletop 15mm Napoleonics in the 80s, and it’s probably still the basis for my most treasured gaming moments.

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