Wargamer: Napoleon 1813

Snap17_1Napoleon’s 1812 campaign was a disaster. His decision to invade Russia left his men dead in the snow. But within months, the Emperor had raised another huge army to fight for control of Germany and ultimately of France herself. The ensuing campaign witnessed the largest battles of the Napoleonic Wars. Empire Interactive’s Wargamer: Napoleon 1813 seeks to recreate these cataclysmic events… in real-time. It’s an interesting concept, and it does justice in simulating the utter confusion of battle (to the game’s detriment).

There is a Campaign Game where reinforcements are raised, supply lines are created, and troops march. When opposing formations make contact, combat may be resolved tactically in the Battle Game. Alternatively, you can go right to the Battle Game to fight out the significant historical engagements of 1813.

You have a choice of either playing as the French or Allies, and the strategic problems varies with each side. The French Army is outnumbered and largely made up of conscripts and reluctant satellite troops. It is also cavalry deficient. On the other hand, French generals are superior and, under Napoleon at least, the army holds the central position from which it can strike in any direction. By contrast, the Allies have superior numbers (particularly when Austria enters the war), reliable troops, and a decided cavalry advantage.

These are all great touches, but the program has several design problems. Reinforcements have been known to join the wrong side and allies will sometimes fight each other for no reason. There are also occasional crashes. Information about your own forces is very difficult to get thanks to a cumbersome interface and less-than-informative graphics, and attempting to do so in real time is ill advised.

Snap25_1When the campaign generates a player-commanded battle, you are transported to the Battle Game. The Battle Game is prone to the same bugs that plague the campaign game and suffers from other problems as well. Although they have their exciting moments, the battles are somehow not very satisfying. You are never given much idea of what’s happening with your troops or why. You are bombarded with a stream of messages from division commanders, but have no time to read them and most are useless anyway.

There is no option to have corps commanders run their subordinates and it’s easy to forget who’s doing what. The really big battles are thus unmanageable even though orders can be issued while the game is paused. There was a plan to advance time in increments, but this was foolishly dropped sometime in development.

For all its failings, Napoleon 1813 does have its interesting concepts, but it marred by an army of mishandled designs and bugs. The unpatched version is not recommended for the faint of heart.

System Requirements: 486/33, 8 MB RAM, Win95

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