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Don Cooper
United States
Syracuse
New York
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Another Strategic Napoleonic game. Two years ago, we could only dream or try to find an ancient copy of "Age of Empires" to recreate Napoleon conquering Europe. Now there are at least four out there now and fifth on the way.

Many of the rules seem to be very similiar to "Napoleonic Wars" by GMT (e.g. Caculating losses, cards, etc ...).

It seems to me that there are two ways to go in making a strategic game of Napoleonic warfare in Europe, very complex or very simple. Avalanche chose the later, although it seems to me that everyone is looking for something inbetween.

There seems to be very little attempt at making this game a serious breakthrough game. It uses block movement, very similiar to "Napoleonic Wars." The only hex based game on Napoleonic wars was AH "War & Peace" back in the early eighties almost twenty years ago. By using hexes intead of blocks, the game would not be like "Napoleonic Wars-lite."

The pieces and board are excellent. It is the best produced game I have bought this year. Avalanche seems to be one of those rare companies that mount there maps on boards -- it brings back the old Avalon Hill days of yore.

The rules are very simple and to be honest there seems to be only a few lapses here and there. I played the game solitaire, so I didn't test the diplomacy rules. I am assuming the diplomatic rules like those in "Napoleon in Europe" because of their simplicity will cause problems amongst the "Rules Queens" out there.

It's a quick game and the mechanics are easy to grasp. The board is big but not too big. Some of the record keeping pieces do not fit on the record tracks. Definitely not enough dice, where it would not be unusual to role twenty dice per side per battle. The cards do not produce the kind of chrome-effect you would get from "Napoleonic Wars." Some cards can be devastating, whiles others in your hands are useless. There did not seem to be cards that added color to the game.

What I was hoping from Avalanche was a "Third Reich" of "Napoleonic War" games. I was looking for a game with lots of chrome. What I got was an impressively produced game with concepts from this game and that thrown in for good measure. Like in Soldier's King a world perspective should have been used, would it be interesting to see Napoleon capturing America or Napoleon with the help of the Americans capturing Canada. America, while not on the map, played a crucial ending role in the Napoleonic Wars.
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Ken Waido
United States
Fort Collins
Colorado
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Re:User Review
DUMASCLUB (#21918),


I too have added the new Avalanche Press game "Soldier Emperor" to my collection of strategic Napoleonic wargames that curerently also includes Avalon Hill's "War and Peace", Operational Studies Group's "La Guerre de l' Empereur - The Emperor's War 1805-1815", Tilsit's "Risk: Edition Napoleon", GMT's "Naploeonic Wars", and Eagle Games' "Napoleon in Europe". I once had Avalon Hill's "Empires in Arms" but sold it on ebay as a "counters unpunched" game, and that goes a long way to indicate I didn't like the game because I thought it was too complicated and the presentation was not that good. I am looking forward to adding Phalanx Game's "Napoleon Bonaparte (Age of Napoleon)" to my collection soon since the game should be available somewhere around 11/17/03.

I too agree with that the production quality of the "Soldier Emperor" game is good. The map and counters are well done, colorful, but not without some problems. One sheet of counters (France, Turkey, Sweden, etc.) was back-printed. What I mean is that what would normally be the front-side or full-strength side of the counters was printed on what would normally be the back-side or reduced strength side of the counters. This is not a major problem though. Another counters' "problem" is having to turn counters over to see if they are at full-strength or reduced-strength when considering which armies to assign combat step losses to because some armies are 2/2 at full- strength while others are 2/2 at reduced-strength. In other words, you can't determine full or reduced strength just by looking at the counter. Maybe full-strength armies should have had 2 soldiers depicted on the front side and only 1 soldier on the reduced-strength side.

The map too has some problems. While the map is mounted, I actually prefer paper maps. Regarding the map and play, is there a land connection between Tripoli and Cyrenaica in North Africa and, likewise, is there a land connection between Finland and Stockholm? Or, is sea movement only way to get from one box to the other? Also, how does one get armies to/from Majorca? There are no land connections, duh - since it is an island, and it is not a "coastal area" because it does not have an anchor symbol and therefore cannot be entered by fleets. We've been playing that it should have had an anchor symbol. Other people have already mentioned the map's two piece alignment problems.

What I find interesting is the manner in which each Napoleonic wars strategic game deals with diplomacy and alliances and how non-player countires join one side or the other. Since England and France are prohibited from ever being allies in these games, other countries should be either neutral or an ally of either France or England. For invasions, why not have a simple rule that says that if a country is invaded by another country the invaded country joins the "other side" that is at war with the invading country and its allies? I'm not a Napoleonic times history expert but, for example, was Spain ever at war with England AND France at the same time? I know Russia was at one time an ally of England, then at another time an ally of France, but Russia was not an ally of France and England at the same time. I guess I like to have things be simple, England, Austria and Russia start 1805 at war with France and Spain. If Russia goes to war with Turkey, then I don't want to have the paper work problems of trying to keep up with whether England and Austria are also now at war with Turkey. Maybe I am missing a major point of this historic period.

Alliances are usually influenced by things that are happening within the game. Conquests, battles won, and now bribary and counter-bribary are included. I love this "buy an ally" approach. A question came up in a game where England and Austria are allies and want to make Portugal a minor country ally. One of the considerations in making the alliance was a DRM from the alliance table that indicates a potential England/Portugal alliance gets a +2 DRM but an Austria/Portugal alliance gets a -1. Does this mean a net DRM of -1? Or, does Portugal just become an ally of England and not Austria? Again, I don't think I like the paper work consequences if it is the latter.

Another problem we've encounteed deals with the leader casualties rules. A dice roll is modified by adding the number of step losses in a battle. If the modified roll is 12, or higher, the leader is killed. We've found this unworkable, or else we are committing our armies to too many rounds of combat. I lost Napoleon in the very first battle of a game because his armies in combat suffered 2 step losses and rolled a 10. We've agreed to use a modified rule where the step losses in combat are still added to the dice roll as a DRM, but the number of armies still with the general (or fleets with an admiral), i.e., those that did not suffer step losses in combat, are subtracted as a DRM. If the net result is then 12, or more, the leader is killed.

Other rules questions: Does Naploeon also get a +1 DRM in conducting sieges? We think not. And, can fleets get repaired while blockading an enemy coastal area or while at sea? We think not - they have to be in a friendly port to get repaired.

We also think that saying "Soldier Emperor" is a card-driven game is misleading. It is not card-driven like "Napoleonic Wars" where card play determines movement/combat OR an event, meaning that players have to make some difficult choices. "Soldier Emperor" is an ugo/igo/he(she)goes game. Cards are important (if you get the right ones) and can greatly influence the game, but the game is not card-driven. If you have a card that is to your advantage - play it. You don't have to worry about it taking away from your ability to move and fight with your armies/fleets.

I'm real interested now in seeing how Phalanx Game's "Napoleon Bonaparte" stacks up against "Soldier Emperor" as a lite game.
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Darrell Pavitt
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Re:User Review
DUMASCLUB (#21918),

As an update, Avalanche have released Soldier Raj, covering India and the far east, and are working on Soldier President, covering the New World. These are going to be directly playable with Soldier emperor, so your wish will soon be a reality!laugh
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Jeremy Fridy
United States
Kent
Ohio
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It's been 10 years, and they still haven't reached America. They did do a Chinese spinoff, but it's a different time frame I think.
 
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Paul Brown
United Kingdom
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Er...regarding hex based strategic Nappy games there was actually Steve Newbergs Le Grand Empire in the Simulations Canada line way back in <gasp> 1978
Le Grand Empire.

 
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