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Wargames» Forums » General

Subject: Empire III - Napoleonic minatures rules rss

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greg Forster
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Does anyone have info on Empire III Napoleonic rules? Where available, cost, are they good rules, etc?
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Bob Roberts

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The last version of the rules was Empire V, so I imagine you'll have to look to eBay or Bartertown or TheMiniaturesPage classifieds to find a copy of Empire III.

As to whether they are good rules or not, that is very much subject to what you are looking for in a set of rules. I will leave it at they are very much a product of their time as far as miniatures rules design.
 
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Mark Roth
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Glen Mills
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I play Empire more than any other game. Bob Roberts is correct that the current version of Empire is the fifth, although it goes simply under hte name "Empire". omitting the Roman numeral. I believe that it is no longer in print. The Emperor's Headquarters, which published the game, has been acquired by another company. Even before that, instead of reprinting the Empire rules, they created another rules set called Revolution and Empire, which I believe may still be available. R&E is largely still Empire, but made some changes that our group regarded as of questionable accuracy and/or utility.

I believe that a significant difference between the last version of Empire (V, if you will) and III was a reduced emphasis on skirmisher vs. skirmisher fighting, which tended to take up a lot of time for relatively little effect. (BTW, Empire IV was a very limited edition press run that introduced some of the same changes later found in V.)

If you are only casually interested in Napoleonics, I would suggest that you may want to give these rules a pass. In Empire (and its leading competitors, "From Valmy to Waterloo" -- from Clash of Arms -- and "Legacy of Glory" -- no longer in print, I believe) have the infantry battalion as the smallest principal unit (regiments for cavalry.) This was the level where historically most of the maneuvers that one associates with the Napoleonic era took place, ie, this was the unit that went into square line or column. An experienced player can comfortably handle the role of a marshal (ie, corps commander) where a corps might consist of two or so infantry divisions and maybe a cavalry brigade. All this may total mayber20-30 infantry battalions, 2-3 cavalry regiments and associated artillery batteries. The ground scale requires too much space to let you recreate or replay the larger battles of the Napoleonic era unless you have a huge table. But don't let that put you off -- you can create some very interesting battles, though it would be helpful if, for larger ones, you had a room where you could leave the table set up. Larger games can take quite a while. Keep in mind that this is not only true for Empire, but for each of the main rules sets geared to this scale.

If you want to play larger battles and don't mind some of the inevitable loss of detail involved in moving from battalion scale to brigade scale, an excellent set of miniatures rules that is currently available is Bill Gray's "Age of Eagles." I have not been impressed with AoE"s principal competitor, "Napoleon's Battles" that was originally published by the old Avalon Hill.

Of the battalion-scale games, our group greatly prefers the Empire system to its competitors. Old the system may be, but it holds up very well and was well enough designed that it has managed to remain consistent with a lot of the scholarship that has occurred since the rules were initially designed. All of us gamers tend to be attracted by newer, fresher rules sets because we hope that they will be better. Our group has played the other rules sets and kept going back to Empire because, in our view, it, better than the others, produces historical results when historical tactics are used.

Be aware, however, that this is not a quickly-mastered game. To get the most out of it, and to appreciate the full extent of its historical accuracy, it takes considerable familiarity. This is not helped by the fact that the rules of the latest version, though better-organized and clearer than the Empire III version, still are not always clear, and the organization of the rules has been a problem with each version.

One rap against the system, which has some validity, is that it disproportionately rewards the better tactical player, even if he is outmaneuvered operationally or grand-tactically. This is a function of simultaneously having the player be a corps commander and also get down in the weeds by moving individual battalions. Of its competitors, only Legacy of Glory made a serious attempt to get rid of that problem, although LoG had other issues.

So, if you're really into the Napoleonic era enough to want to dedicate a fair amount of time, and not a little expense, into learning the Empire system, I believe you will find Empire an extremely rewarding investment that, comparatively old as the system is, still produces exciting battles that are as close to historically accurate as you can get in a game. If you are merely curious about the period, or want to start out by dabbling to see how much you like the era, you may want to start with a less-intensive rules set.

Hope this helps.
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