During his amazing lifetime, Napoleon Bonaparte radically changed the political face of Europe and has probably had more of an influence on the rest of the world than any other political figure bar Adolf Hitler. Sadly, the Napoleonic years have been greatly neglected by the computer war gaming fraternity and few realistic strategy games have emerged to capture the spirit of the times.
Fortunately, this is all about to change with Impressions' first foray into the Napoleonic era. There are three authentic battles to take part in, and each is accompanied by a lengthy explanation of the tactics employed by each side. Marengo pits the French armies against the combined might of the Austrian Empire, a battle that nearly resulted in a crippling defeat for Napoleon but which, in the end, was turned into a stunning victory.
Quatre Bras was the first encounter between Napoleon and Wellington and ended in an inconclusive stalemate, while the Battle of Waterloo represented the final rout of Napoleon and his global ambitions of conquest.
Each battle has a pre-set number of moves available which, when completed, signals the end of the game. You can either set your own objectives for each scenario or use those of the real battles which are documented in the excellent manual.
A turn consists of movement and combat phases. Movement can only be made if enough movement points have been collected to move onto an adjacent hexagonal square.
The number of movement points necessary depends on the type of terrain you wish to move on to. Combat involves artillery fire and close range fisticuffs or a combination of the two.
The eventual outcome of each encounter is decided by a complex formula of unit strength in conjunction with attack, defence and movement ratings. For added realism, reinforcements can enter the fray at any time, but such additional troops will abide by the historical accuracy of the sim. A battery of statistics are also available to help give an idea on how each side is fairing and there's an overview of troop movements.
For added value, Impressions have also included a Construction Kit disk which enables a player to define their own game parameters and crate entirely new battles from the same era. Simple to use, the Kit can create and modify the game's hex map, military pieces and even the rules of the game.
In all, Great Napoleonic Battles is a polished wargame which owes its appeal to its simplicity. Such straightforward gameplay lends itself to some complex tactics and planning, especially as the hex maps can be up to 100 screens wide by 100 high. Definitely one game worth fighting for...