From: Ferrara - Florence
The most important question is, does it feel like a game about Napoleon, or does it feel like a generic wargame set in the Napoleonic time period?
That is the most excellent statement I've seen and should apply to all games of all eras. Bravo Bravo. Most games do tend to fall in the latter portion of your statement though.
I’m not sure I understand the question. It reminds me the old debate “is this a game or a simulation?”. In this sense, we cannot properly say this is a simulation of the Napoleonic era. But….
This a strategy game, and I’ve never seen a strategy game that could properly be defined as a “simulation”. There are probably many tactical war-game simulations (think at Shrapnel Games like ATF and derivations, HPS Point of Attack, maybe HPS Decisive Action, the Harpoon Games, etc.), but the “real world” on a strategy base cannot be “simulated”: after all, Communism has failed because men cannot predict the consequences of their actions, how could a game achieve what Communism has failed (i.e.: how could a game predict and simulate the consequences of players’ decisions)?.
Suppose you play 1805 scenario. Suppose Napoleon lose the battle of Austerlitz and surrenders to Austria. Suppose France loses 1 or more provinces as terms of the peace Treaty (that’s exactly what happened to me in one of my first attempts to play as France). In this case, the alternate history you live in the game is totally different from the real world, and Napoleon cannot act any more as the “real” Napoleon (he could even be killed during the battle of Austerlitz). Anyway you cannot say the game is flawed or that is a generic game about Napoleonic era. The sense of the game is to give players an opportunity to live a Napoleonic era that is different from the historic era of Napoleon (and an era where Napoleon could even be killed in 1792). A “game” where Napoleon acts and lives like his historic counterpart is not a game, is a multimedia encyclopedia.
That’s why I don’t think the problem is “a game set in the Napoleonic era” or “a game about Napoleon”. The problem is: can a player adopt decisions that would have been plausible during the Napoleonic era? Are the effects of these decisions plausible? Does the game reward plausible decisions or can it be won through unrealistic strategies? Can a player achieve realistic results playing the game along historical strategies (even if it cannot be sure that historical strategies determine always the same historical results)?
Under this point of view, I think the game works fairly well: I would say, better than any other strategy game I’ve ever played (much better than Gary Grigsby’s World at War, something better than Hearts of Iron II), with the exception of War in the Pacific (but WitP doesn’t pretend to model diplomacy, civil infrastructures and people’s morale). Sure, even CoG has its own weird aspects: such as strange territorial concessions, somewhat chaotic fronts of battle, fleets sailing too long away from home land. All of these problems have been debated in these forums, and discussed with devs and beta testers: many features will (hopefully) be implemented in the next patches to let things work better. Anyway AFAIK the game as it is now can be played “historically” with historically results (or at least this is my experience playing as France in the 1805 scenario), and I haven’t read many posts complaining about “gamey tactics” (with the exception maybe of the use of POWS, that should be tweaked in the next versions): i.e. unrealistic strategies that can achieve unrealistic victories.