This is a game judged harshly for what it isn't and what people thought it was instead of for what it is and what it was meant to be. What this game isn't
is a grand strategy game seeking to model every cultural and economic aspect of running a nation in Europe in the early 19th century. What this game is
, to put it simply, is a Napoleonic version of Hearts of Iron. It's purely a war game and that's all it aspires to be, and as
a war game it's pretty enjoyable.
Thus the mechanics of everyting relating to the military are deeper than most, if not all, Paradox games barring Hearts of Iron itself, and everything else is simplified. You can't adjust taxes (though can take out loans in an emergency), you don't need to justify declarations of war, war begins almost immediately after you unpause the game, and technology is represented as a linear set of techs organized by category that you purchase with "idea points" that accumulate each month.
The entire point of the game is the military and that's where the depth comes in. Similar to Hearts of Iron, provinces are very small to allow for maneuvering, and most importantly, armies are extremely customizable.
- First, each army has a main commander as well as up to four subcommanders, one each for the left, right, center flanks, and the last for the reserves.
- Then, units in the army can be manually distributed between the flanks and the reserves so it's organized just how you like it.
- Finally, the main commander and the four sub commanders all have independent tactics you can set for them, with the main commander having unique ones. Some examples include scorched earth, standing your ground, delaying, entrenched defense, feint, etc. with each having their own requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to be usable (for example, "feint" requires the flank to have at least 15% light infantry and 15% cavalry in order to work).
So you could have a right flank that entrenches and stands their ground, a center flank of line infantry that conducts a feint, and a left flank of elite guards that conducts a counter punch to enemy troops caught in the feint, each with the perfect commander to accentuate the tactics. As an added bit of Napoleonic immersion, it tracks the number of enemy flags captured for each brigade, which had an deep impact on troop morale.
The possibilities are endliess and no two armies are alike. Unlike every other Paradox game that isn't Hearts of Iron, this game's combat isn't a simple matter of just shoving two doom stacks into one giant province, watching floating numbers for a few seconds, and the other one scurrying off. It's about creating highly customised and unique armies commanded by countless possible commanders in order to give yourself a tactical edge. Combat is deep, nuanced, constant, and satisfying