barbarossa2 -> Why CoG:EE Is A Solid 8/10 Game (3/26/2009 9:15:47 AM)
Crown of Glory: Emperor's Edition-A Solid 8/10
This post is really intended for people peeking into this forum to determine whether or not to buy Crown of Glory: Emperor's Edition by WCS. To those people, I have to say that I have played a lot of Napoleonic games in my day, but Crown of Glory: Emperor's Edition by WCS is by far and away the most satisfying. Here is why...
1. The number of diplomatic options is simply stunning
+Incredible peace treaty systems bypass the painfully simplified Parker Brothers Risk system and Total War: Empire conquest rules (you take it, it is yours)
+The way protectorates are formed and managed is simply impressive. I have been amazed to see diplomatic fortunes change as protectorates are formed if a player gets too aggressive in regions.
+Napoleonic fans have never had these kinds of options in any game. It is "next gen" diplo.
-Sometimes the treaty system doesn't seem to work well with ceding provences. WCS staff has told me they are working on some issues with this. (for an example, see my post on Problems with Poland)
-There could be a few more options for treaties (for instance, forcing someone to declare war on France if France attacks you, instead of just anyone...or specifying that someone need to declare war on France ONLY if France has declared war on you herself--because at the moment, you can declare war on someone and drag others with you). It would also be nice to be able to specify who will pay the bill when one nation uses another's depots. However, complaining about a lack of options here is like looking a gift horse in the mouth.
-It would be nice if we could make treaties with minor nations as well as major ones.
2. The march and simultaneous movement style is satisfying
+A system which uses army and leader initiative to determine if units can move from one region to the next works well and is exciting at times.
+Winter is addressed in a very satisfying manner, this often is lacking totally in other games. I love getting caught in a winter region in a snow storm. It makes playing in winter a very exciting thing.
-It might be nice to have some kind of "interception movement" option so that there aren't as many turns spent "dancing" with your enemy trying to move to contact.
3. Access to the conflicts of 1792-1804!
+Many wonderful new scenarios which allow players to computer game conflicts which they have never had access to! How refreshing it is to be able to play as revolutionary France as Prussia and Austria try to shove your king back down your throat in 1792! The whole thing comes complete with an Austrian Netherlands! This finally allows players to fight conflicts which resulted in many large and significant battles of the time, including the campaign by France against Austria, culminating in the battle of Hohenlinden in Dec 1800, with over 50,000 French fighting 55,000 Austrians, deciding the fate of Bavaria.
4. Political events and historical events!
+WCS has entered over 100 events for players to better experience the turmoil of this revolutionary era in European history, often giving players a choice as to what to do. You have never played napoleonics like this. By doing this, WCS dealt with my biggest complaint about all Napoleonic games.
-Sometimes these event dialog boxes have far too little text in them. Especially when players have to make decisions and choose a course of action, I would like to have more information about what the event was. WCS staff has told me they are working on this.
5. "Detailed" economy
+CoG:EE gives players economics like no other Napoleonic wargame ever has. The Continental blockade and system actually make sense now with fleets actually able to blockade trade routes via sea.
+You can set your draft ages and training time of your recruits to affect morale of your armies.
+You can set tax rates
+You can adjust feudal levels of your nation, which has effects on how you raise troops and earn money and waste money.
+A good "happiness" system which takes all kinds of things into account. If your happiness drops too much, your ability to wage war is hampered as more and more revolts occur and you might even be forced to surrender to your opponents due to insurrectionists.
-It seems that some players would like to be able to tell their provences not to raise feudal levies to save money. I think this is a good idea, but it is not an option yet.
-(in my opinion) a weak "mobilization limit" system constrains player's actions in some important ways (see my other post: Mobilization Limit Issues)
-At times the trade system is a bit frustrating (for instance, when trading, all trades must go directly between exactly two provences and if your provence doesn't have money as one of its top 4 resources, you can't offer it to sweeten a deal).
6. Warfare experience system
+Nations can purchase strategic, tactical, and naval advantages and advances in doctrine with points earned in campaigns and even from military losses (learning your lessons the hard way). It is a wonderful system which adds tremendously to the enjoyment of the game.
-The only minus I can think of here with this is that it might have been a good idea to allow for nations to "unlearn" some of this for some of the longer scenarios. To allow them to become sloppy. Napoleon III's French army wasn't nearly as drilled or capable as Napoleon's 1809 army. However, this is a minor, minor, minor complaint and it works well within the framework of the presented scenarios.
7. Adequate to good AI
+In roughly ten days of very heavy play, I haven't seen the AI do anything horribly unrealistic yet.
-However, I do think that the navies of minor powers tend to wander the seas somewhat energetically and think this could be toned down, perhaps spending some time in port once in a while.
8. PBEM is wonderful
+A simultaneous move PBEM allows human players to reach out beyond the challenges of what any AI can provide. Simultaneous is nice because people can open the file, take their turns, and send them to a single central processor (one player playing the game usually) who then combines the files and sends out the new turn file to everyone.
-I have had an issue with trading resources in PBEM which have caused my CTDs. However, this problem appears to go away if I reboot and do my moves immediately upon boot up and before I load any other application.
+Most of the game is played on a beautiful map of 18th/19th century Europe which someone at WCS has figured out how to combine with satellite images to delightful effect! Certainly one of the better maps I have seen in some time.
-Because of the fact that regions must be of a minimum size, some of them are overly distored in my opinion, leaving places like Switzerland out of place and odd looking. France is perhaps too skinny as well. However, it doesn't take long to realize much of the map is compressed and distorted where needed and you learn to live with it.
-Sometimes it is hard to tell certain kinds of units apart on the map. For instance, some ship types are virtually indistinguishable from each other, even when viewing the fleets. And it took quite some time to figure out the system where by "loose" infantry units look more and more powerful as you add them to the region (for one infantry unit, a man stands there in his casual wear, if you have two present, he gets a gun and hat). I believe there is a similar system for ships at sea, but I have yet to really grasp it.
10. Interface (menus, control panel, etc.)
+While the interface isn't exactly the zenith of graphic or functional design, in most cases, it doesn't take long to figure out where everything is and how it should be used.
+The interface works most of the time (only a couple of minor issues have popped up on the trade screen for me)
-In some places, there are some tricks that you have to learn to get through the game (for instance, on the economy/trade screen you need to learn with some experimentation that you have entered the trade by hitting "propose trade" and can then propose a new one without hitting "okay", or that you can retract your current trade proposal by hitting the name of the regions you have already activated).
-Once in a while the arrow buttons for increasing and decreasing amounts of good traded are difficult to get to work or entirely too slow (it takes too long to get from 1 unit to 10 units).
-Finding the menu from which to turn conquests into protectorates or liberate them took me more than a little effort.
11. Relatively few bugs
+I have been able to play several games by myself without any serious issues and after 10 days of heavy play have experienced only 2 CTDs and one lost game (regular saving might have prevented this). It seems that by playing the game immediately after boot up, I have eliminated these problems.
-Initially I thought there were almost no other bugs, but the more I play, of course, the more I discover (see my Polish War Problems/Bug thread for instance).
-I am sure by the time the first patch has been issued, the game will be up to 9/10 for Napoleonic Wargaming fans.
+The manual is attractive, mostly well written, and helps get a player on the path of learning CoG:EE, but lots of learning will be done in game, and visits to the forums are a good idea. Especially for the areas of the rules which are not so well explained (for instance naval supply).
+Another super feature are the video tutorials which provide a brand new player fresh in off the street with a fantastic hour long overview of where everything is at, making getting into the game within 60-90 minutes entirely possible (but not easy). However, if I wanted a simple game, I would be playing Halo 3 again.
+The music in CoG:EE is great. It is basically a blend of 60-90 minutes of randomly played 19th and 18th century classical music (lots of wonderfully played early 18th century Vivaldi's four seasons, which is rather out of place in terms of the era, but who cares). 90% of the tracks are extremely well done and top quality. One of the guitar pieces always leaves me wondering what it is and by who it is. I would like to get my hands on more like it.
-Two tracks leave me wondering. One of those two questionable tracks is a version of the Marseillaise which sounds like it was played on a Casio keyboard found at a garage sale (I just discovered it is the version posted in the commons at Wikipedia). One other track sounds like someone who hasn't quite come to grips with a piano is having a go at it. But on the whole, it is a wonderful sound track which enriches your game experience. I would however, say that after hearing the 1812 Overture 100 times, it is time to turn off the sound and dig out some of your own classical music to play in the background.
14. Tactical Resolution System
+The game features the ability to resolve each land battle and tactical battle on a "zoom in" map (randomly generated for each battle). Though I do not play these battles personally (I always use "instant resolve"), I have heard from others they are enjoyable and engaging and feel they need to be mentioned here.
15. Most of it makes sense
+As a 41 year old with over 30 boxes of books on military history and military science (including titles covering obscure and "boring" topics such as logistics) and 25 or more years of gaming experience I have to say, yes, 90% of the game makes sense to me and is well thought out, which is all I can ask of any release. What follows is a list of some things which I might have designed differently, if I had unlimited capital. This is all purely subjective and anyone might disagree with these points. They are in italics, and for those not interested, they can skip right to the end, or stop reading now:
-Mobilization limits kind of bother me and set unrealistic "hard walls" for players in my opinion
-Conquering a Poland which is someone else's protectorate seems to be a war of exermination (see my Polish War Problems/bug post)
-The forced evacuation of your forces following a surrender is a bit contentious and problematic. In my opinion and the opinion of some others, a victor's units should be allowed to stay in a nation after the surrender and simply immediately shift the player to a state of violating the loser's neutrality.
-Seems in hotseat mode (where more than one player plays a game from one computer), that the messages to individual nations need to be more clearly marked as to who they are for. In many cases a room with three or four players will get messages like, "We declared war on Russia", "France declared war on us", "Insurrectionists force us to surrender to Austria" and no one knows who they are directed at. Could be fixed by adding a flag to each and every message which pops up.
-There is no "turn replay" in PBEM mode.
-Minor neutral nation fleets seem to bounce around too far and too much
-A port or naval base like Gibraltar doesn't seem to give its nation's ships operating in the area enough of an advantage. Or rather, operating far away from these points doesn't seem to penalize a navy enough. Blockading an enemy port for months took supplies and the closer you were to a port/base the more time more of your ships could spend "on target".
-The interest rate a nation is charged on its loans is purely a function of how many wars it has been involved in (I believe). Having taken a full college course on Enlightenment Era Economics, it would have made more sense to link this to whether a player had defaulted on a loan or not and how much money is in circulation and perhaps a little random fluctuation--keeping it independent of the number of wars which have been fought. One could get more involved than that, but I don't think you have to as these factors probably account for 90% of the variation in rates.
-There is a little Empire flip flopping. That is, when a player hits 20 "Empire Points" he can declare himself an Empire. If it drops to 19 next turn, he is already not an empire again. A subsequent rise of 1 point and he is an Empire again. It seems it would be better to give someone the option of being an Empire at 21 points and taking it away at 18, so that it wouldn't cycle as quickly and allow for minor hiccups.
-Perhaps some of the bad weather systems (rain) could be larger. Seems often only one provence is affected, when perhaps 2, 3, or even rarely 6, or 8 adjacent regions could be affected by a major storm front in a month. THIS would be interesting.
-Seems that bad weather should sink ships. I am currently reading, "The War for All the Oceans" by Adkins, and there is a litany of ships which ran aground or were outright sunk by bad weather while on convoy duty or on blockade duty (especially hazardous because they could not seek shelter if they were to maintain the blockade).
-Swedish Pomerania is not represented, which was to Sweden what Gibraltar was to Britain.
-CoG:EE uses an area movement system, in which one area is always one "movement point" away, regardless of its size or distance in real life (though my quick description is a drastic over simplification of the CoG:EE system as different types of terrain can lower the likelihood of movement to new regions). However, I would have preferred a system which charges miles/kilometers between the capitol city of each region against the unit and then reduces initiative to make the next move based on how many miles it has already marched. This would prevent units in Russia from covering 2-3 times as much distance in a month as they do in Germany. But that is a whole different story.
-If I would have designed the game, I would have provided players 5 times as many merchant ships and divided each ship's potential income by 5. This would have allowed players to spread risks and rewards around more evenly.
-Sometimes enemy generals tend to linger around your country even after you have come to conclude a peace with them. Minor nation generals too. If this is by design, I like it. If it isn't, WCS should be made aware of it.
-In the doctrinal experience system listed above, according to the rules, the first loss of yours in a war to another country gets you 300 experience points, after that, losing is worth significantly less. In my opinion, they should always be the same. Or better yet, a random number between say, 80 and 160.
I had another major Napoleonic gaming buff come over so I could show him this game which has dropped into our world and we did a hot seat game for two days. From the sound of things, he will be picking up a copy in the next couple of days. As well as several of his friends (as soon as the first patch is out).
CoG:EE has been such a find for me, that I decided to postpone or entirely cancel my purchase of Total War: Empire. Having played and very much enjoyed the other Total War titles, I am sure that the strategic end of that game will be weak in comparison to the feast which WCS has offered us here. While not hitting the level of "simulation of napoleonic Europe", it is a good GAME of napoleonic Europe. I recommend any Napoleonics fan give this a try. By the time the first patch is out, it should be a 9/10 and something I would HIGHLY recommend to any good friend. :) In a few months, I may even pick up Forge of Freedom.
The above information was made based on about 10 days of heavy play. If any of this is incorrect, please inform me and I will gladly change it. All of it is presented as pure opinion, nothing as fact.