Napoleon in Europe

By Richard Moore


Austerlitz: The Rise of the Eagle - the premier play-by-email Napoleonic wargame


It has been a very long time since this chap sat down at a table and looked at a boardgame, but Napoleon in Europe proved to be too big a temptation to ignore.

And big is the word - in both scope and physical presentation.

For Napoleon in Europe is a monster of a game with a huge three-piece cardboard mapboard and hundreds of plastic figures, counters and playing cards.

But it is also very playable - with three levels of difficulty that allow you to tailor it to suit the skills of those sitting down with you to partake in the domination, or conquest, of Europe in the times of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Click to EnlargeSeasoned strategy campaigners can go to town with fellow grognards and lose a weekend playing it, or they can entice less experienced players into the genre.

My six-year-old daughter thought it looked interesting and so we sat down and played the basic game for hours over a couple of days. With a bit of guidance for her we had a terrific time. I won't go into who won, however, it is fair to say there is more than one very able strategist in the house!

Napoleon in Europe has a definite flavour of Diplomacy about it - complete with time-outs for chatting to potential allies if you want to - and allows players to take over the running of empires from 1796 onwards. Your choice includes France, Britain, Spain, Prussia, Austria, Turkey and Russia.

There are 10 scenarios to play, each with specific rules and victory conditions, and all will give the grey matter a good workout.

They cover the rise of Napoleon in 1796, the war of the Second Coalition, the lull after the Peace of Amiens in 1803, the Austerlitz Blitz of 1805, Who's Next? in 1806 and 1807, 1809 in Austria and Spain, 1812 Into Russia, 1813-1814 Defending the Empire, 1815 Not Again!

As you can see it covers all the major aspects of the period and, being a boardgame, Napoleon in Europe gives you a better idea of the political and military situations than trying the same thing on a computer.

The scenarios give you the set-up figures, who begins the game with the initiative, who is allied to whom and the political situations.

The national-coloured units and counters in Napoleon in Europe are first class with a quality to them that makes you wonder how Eagle Games could produce the title and sell it for such a reasonable price.

The plastic of the figures is good quality, the castings nicely done and while there have been a few mutterings about them being too big - they are 1/72 scale - the idea behind that was to allow gamers to add to the range of what they could play with figures from Esci, Italeri or HaT.

Besides, if you want you could always go for 15mm metal figures.

But the basic set has artillery, infantry, cavalry, leader units and flag carriers (to represent multiple unit groupings). One way I found around the hard-to-fit-in small areas problem was to put numbered columns on to cardboard and then corresponding numbers on the flag carriers.

Units move through irregularly shaped map zones - you treat them pretty much as chessboard squares - and if two enemy armies collide then a battle takes place. That occurs on a separate small map and you can get stuck into the tactical side of warfare there.

The composition of your army will affect the number of dice rolls you get, as does the position of your forces on the field. Infantry get one roll per unit, artillery in the rear rank 2 (front rank 4), leaders 3 and cavalry three.

If both sides have more than six units involved then it is a major battle and the winner gets to pick up an extra production card.

You get the cards for the number of capital cities you have, major battles won and for every 10 regions your forces control.

In the basic game the cards are only used for getting new units, but the higher the level the more important they become as they offer political and random event advantages.

I haven't sat down and played every scenario at each available level, but at some stage I will do so. However, I have no doubt that this game is extreme value for money and is hugely enjoyable.

There are lots of chatrooms and forums on the Internet to help with any difficulties and any rule questions seem to get answered very quickly.

A fantastic effort Eagle Games!


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