Very soon after purchase ( of Japanese version ), I’ve tried to play this game.
As my first impression after reading the rule, it looks more cumbersome then usual solo-play games. The sequence is really lengthy. And it is not easy to imagine how all the pieces could work as an entity. So, I was a little bit afraid of playing.
But, once I’ve finished my first and second trial, I’ve totally changed my evaluation.
It doesn’t mean the sequence is short. But, with carefully reading the playaid, it is not hard to play the whole sequence even on my first trial.
And, as an entity, you will taste the all pain of coalition to stand against the Corsican Devil.
As the designer described in his note, this game is really narrative and tell the story of Napoleonic War from the viewpoint of England. I think this point should not be underestimated.
1: playing coalition side on Napoleonic War
Honestly speaking, I wondered this viewpoint when I first heard. But, it is very successful as an entertainment. Once you play this game few times, you will think the Napoleon as a real devil. He is really berserk.
Coalition was a real mosaic. Preussen and Austria had been beaten more than once by Napoleon. I think it is a good idea to set the viewpoint on England. From this viewpoint, Russia and Spain are somewhat out of control by player. I think this is historical and even gives some excitement to the play.
2: Corsican Devil is really powerful and quick
French armee in the game mainly works during grand armee phase. Actually it is very hard to make non-player army to “work” smoothly. So, the designer made a smart solution.
Every turn, all French units are reset and set up again next turn. First, 4 units are set up in France. Then, 4 units are set up in BUT country. BUT country is the country which Napoleon has main intention in that turn. This is defined on turn record track. On the first turn, this is France. And on the 3 and 4 turns, this is Italy. These are historical and give the player time to prepare the threat of Napoleon. Later, this will come on Preussen and Austria directly.
With rules above only, player can predict the whole move of French army. So, after coalition force’s setup, Napoleon’s main force will strike a country by random determination. This is a real problem for the player. By setting up his force, he plan to control some important country ( usually Preussen and/or Austria ). But this plan was totally broken by Corsican Devil. Yes, this is a nightmare. But, I think this nightmare might be the real nightmare that Coalition had felt in those days.
3: colorful events
There are plenty of historical events during Napoleonic War.
Those are included in the game by 2 methods.
The first is historical events defined on turn track, so they happen determined turn.
The other is random event happened by random chits drawing. But, these chits are somewhat controlled by the rule and play. Some historical events required to put some random event chits in the cup. So, this can describe that some event cause other event as a result. And player can some estimation what will happen near future.
And this system gives the game a storyline, and it also gives an excitement to the play.
In my opinion, solo play games tend to be a repetitive paperwork and/or complex lottery.
Though this cannot avoid a repetitive work totally, those works can tell a story.
And it can give a situation that player need to decide.
So, this is a really interesting solo-play game.