Reading through some of the recent comments of the "Negative Nicks" … or "haters" as the kids call them on social media who once more started a round of bad-mouthing this game, gave me the motivation to start my third campaign game. (I successfully had completed two previous ones). The haters prematurely killed sales of this wonderful simulation and have ensured that a much needed DLC was never released. Civil War II got no such negative reception and has now gone through half a dozen updates, now? If only such updates were available for Wars of Napoleon, to further polish it.
I know that many are hesitant to change the settings and levels of play for their campaigns, but making some changes can make a world of difference to how challenging the game can be. To provide some background, Napoleon was a master strategist and brilliant at Grand Tactics. His weakness was in Grand Strategy, or rather who and when to go to war. It was the invasion of Russia and the constant drain of Spain which destroyed his amazing fighting machine. He also would have been well advised to come to some arrangement with England, and he needn't have alienated his natural ally the United States. If Napoleon had decided to merely maintain control of western Europe and Poland, he would likely have continued to defeat the Austrians, Prussians and the occasional Russian army coming west.
That being said, it is up to the player to decide if he will follow Napoleonic strategy, however, the game conditions do require taking Moscow, Madrid and London, and this will need to be pursued, but not necessarily at the time that Napoleon chose to do so.
Napoleon always trounced the Allies, at least up until his army was destroyed and replaced with younger soldiers and foreign components, so complaining that the AI does not fight well enough is probably quite realistic. In many cases it was a lack of supply or harshness of weather which caused him the greatest losses, and the first change to the options should be to turn off easy supply. Supply can be a nightmare in Poland and east and if you want the same challenges, this option is essential. I just learned a painful lesson in this latest campaign when I allowed Davout's III corp to come out of winter cantonments early, lay siege to Danzig and then cut off from supply when the weather turned again, literally evaporate at the gates of Danzig. And my efforts to rush Lannes and Murat to reopen supply was incredibly slow, difficult and costly.
Historic attrition is a setting that is also a big challenge when you are using the full supply rules. Since a lack of supply will increase attrition losses such as those sustained with low supply and in harsh weather.
Another setting is to turn up the difficulty level. I am playing Lieutenant on this game and along with that change, Took detection setting to medium (helping the AI). I also gave the AI additional calculation time. I mean, it takes 20 minutes for me to complete my side of a turn, given game cards, events, restocking my replacement pools and putting in diplomatic initiative. I guess it is only fair to give the AI more time to plot its move. With these settings, the AI is throwing me a regular number of curve balls, mostly in the way of very inconvenient counterattacks against, single corps.
With larger losses coming from the enhanced difficulty, enhanced AI and supply challenges, economics become more challenged as you are having to dedicate much larger amounts of resources to just replacing your losses.
Another setting is to impose the traffic rules which slow down units using the same route and really enforce the usage of Battle Squares and having parallel lines of march. Getting your troops to the battle field is a key element for victory and the traffic rules will make your job much harder.
One change I would not recommend has to do with AI aggressiveness, as I have found it can make the AI act rashly, rather than necessarily effectively.
Lastly, I would say that if you are not using the Battle Planner, you are losing a great deal in gameplay. It is picking the battle tactics that are optimal given the force balance of the artillery, infantry and cavalry, combined with the leaders skills and special abilities that give the battles flavor and can make a huge difference in the battle outcome. For instance, using a Grand Battery with Napoleon's Bounding Artillery option is a great one for minimizing French losses. If you have Murat commanding a battle with his cavalry reserve, you don't choose a infantry charge and instead try to envelop with his cavalry numbers.
Hope that some of you try cranking up the difficulty level with options. It can give you a much more realistic flavor to the game.