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"What drives you to play Empire?" Topic

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Davout197224 Feb 2013 10:34 a.m. PST

In this day and age of "Brigade Level" games that abstract almost all functions, in the name of time and convience, what drives you to stick with Empire?

Personally, I like my battlefield to mirror what I read in history books. I like squares being formed and broken, skirmishers fighting and screening, and battalions of infantry forming line and column together.

I spent too many years collecting, researching and painting my troops to have them dismissed in 4 hours by a game of blocks moving into each other.

I know the rules are time consuming and ponderous, but many good things in Life are too. So, what keeps you coming back?

John the OFM24 Feb 2013 10:42 a.m. PST

I play it because I have no Nappies of my own, and the guys who do and let me play with theirs like Empire.

It's not that bad. Empire gets a bad press. It's no more complicated than any other complicated game. grin

And to answer your question and agree with you, we have this image of how Nappy battles went, and that includes forming squares, shaking out skirmishers, etc. Higher level games do not have that.

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2013 10:47 a.m. PST

I stopped playing Nappies some time ago. But if I were still playing it would be with Empire rules.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Feb 2013 10:58 a.m. PST

Empire is the absolute worst set of rules that I have ever played. You cannot be a newbie and play it straight out of the box. The learning curve is too steep and even then I find that the person who knows the rules best wins the game.. You may be the best tabletop tactician ever created but you don't stand a chance unless you have a lawyers knowledge of the rules. This doesn't allow you to play the game, but rather, you play the rules so this is nothing at all like history, much less a simulation of history.

I've seen too many players sitting around doing nothing, praying and hoping to be able to activate their commands. For those of you who like Empire, God bless you, but it is torture for the rest of us as it is a totally unplayable game.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2013 11:29 a.m. PST

But back to the question asked, Der Alte Fritz, what drives you to play Empire?

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Feb 2013 11:36 a.m. PST

The threat of physical harm to me and my loved ones. evil grin

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Feb 2013 11:37 a.m. PST

…and I haven't played it in years, probably since about 1996

14Bore24 Feb 2013 11:38 a.m. PST

33 years tradition, big battles, multiple Corps.

Liberators24 Feb 2013 11:45 a.m. PST

I suspect most players who enjoy Empire enjoy it for similar reasons to those you listed – seeing each unit's evolutions and deployment, simulating history, etc.

I'm with Der Alte Fritz but Empire had some design elements I really liked. It's been…25 years?!?…since I've played a game but I remember thinking the telescoping strategic/tactical thing was pretty innovative and a really good way to handle reserves.


I really don't know anybody locally that still plays it, and I only own 1st edition.

basileus6624 Feb 2013 1:16 p.m. PST

I played Empire. It damaged my passion for gaming Napoleonics for years to come.

And by the way, it has the same relationship with "simulating history" than Warhammer 40K does.

Broglie24 Feb 2013 1:53 p.m. PST

I am sure like any rule set you can enjoy good games once everybody knows the rules well but I have to say there are other rules which allow columns, lines, squares and skirmishers without needing a law degree. We played it years ago but it was to much of a mental effort for most of us and the Empire players ended up creating their own separate circle.

One player, fired with enthusiasm, bought and painted up two Austrian Corps but they failed to activate their orders and he spent his weekends watching the others play until eventually he put both corps up for sale and walked away.

21eRegt24 Feb 2013 4:43 p.m. PST

Habit in part. I've been playing it with few interruptions since the 80s. From the beginning it fit my preconceptions and biases of "what happened" and how it happened. Yes, aspects of it I didn't like, but after buying and playing every set of Napoleonic rules that came along for 20 years I've stopped looking and just accept that Empire gives me the best game.

While it is statistically possible, however improbable, that one might not ever activate your troops you still play unless the other sides also fails against all odds to activate. I fail to see how it is different than needing to get pips or be at the mercy of a turn of the card deck. All can strip away any semblance of being a real general rather than a victim. It is just whatever mechanic you are willing to accept.

Lee Brilleaux Fezian24 Feb 2013 5:48 p.m. PST

I am actually playing Empire right now. As soon as I get a phone call to say it's my turn, I'll be on a plane to Atlanta to advance my command from the position I left it in in 1998.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2013 5:50 p.m. PST

The threat of physical harm to me and my loved ones.


Sundance24 Feb 2013 7:34 p.m. PST

I've had Emmpire V for 20 years. I've played it once. I don't own a single Napoleonic figure. I really should sell the rules.

nsolomon9924 Feb 2013 9:27 p.m. PST

These days, … nothing. I've moved on and found other battalion level sets that offer a richer experience IMHO. I encourage those that like Empire to keep playing it, whatever floats your boat.

oldnorthstate24 Feb 2013 9:55 p.m. PST

What I find amazing is that there is an entire board devoted to this rules system…

jdpintex24 Feb 2013 10:18 p.m. PST

A gun to my head.

GROSSMAN24 Feb 2013 11:44 p.m. PST


Skarper25 Feb 2013 4:51 a.m. PST

I really liked the idea of Empire. That you could have high level command and grand tactics and zoom in for realistic tactical combat. Calling a battalion a brigade and ignoring skirmishers never appealed to me.

However – as I think most people who've tried them know – the rules and systems for tactical combat are cumbersome and often produce results that are hard to reconcile with the historical data – such as it is.

With 'smarter' design a lot more could be done with a lot less effort and verbiage. But Empire's designers deserve credit for making the attempt.

vtsaogames25 Feb 2013 1:37 p.m. PST

"I spent too many years collecting, researching and painting my troops to have them dismissed in 4 hours"

Me too. That's why I've moved on looking for rules that let me get a resolution in two hours.

I haven't played Empire in this century.

The short answer to your question is: nothing.

Davout197225 Feb 2013 5:18 p.m. PST

hahahahaha!!! You guys made me truly laugh! "A gun to my head" "The threat of physical harm to me and my family"!!! Man, I didn't expect that response. I truly was being sincere when I wrote that.

I had mentioned that I had played for many years, and literally watched miniature gaming change before my eyes. We went from rolling a dice for every figure, not to mention moving them in the same way, to the novel concept of basing and a combat results table. We went from a few books on the market cornered by 3-4 prominent gaming authors, to an onslaught of new rules, progressive rules, scenario books, and Orders of Battle/painting guides published by everyone. For a while, it was crazy.

I first got introduced to Empire in it's infant stage, and hated it. For years I used "Battles for Empire", mixed with many house rules. People tried to shove that crap down my throat, so I'd shove it right back. Then a friend who owned a painting service came to visit our club in Germany, when I was stationed there. In an afternoon, he sat me down on the floor, and taught me Empire. By the end of this "learning session", I realized I had found the set of rules I had been looking for.

It took me a year and many battles to teach 10 of us how to play at the club, so I fully recognized how you could become an "Empire Lawyer" with all the study it does require. But, I think that's what I liked about it. It was difficult to master. It was not some mindless dribble on a page, but actually some well thought out rules. Something that required a little study. Anyhow, the 10 of us got so good at the game that we could play turns in 30 minutes, which made for some of the best action packed battlefields I ever had the pleasure to attend.

Then, I retired and came back home. That was the last I played, which was 1997. I came to realize that Empire V had become a dinosaur, as cumbersome as the 2,000 piece 10 foot boardgames I used to love (and still own hahaha). It had been replaced, like computers over boardgames, by sleek, faster paced, more abstracted rules. Quick and fast, just like our society has become with changing technology.

Now I search for just one guy I could sit down and play a game with. I am too old to change, although I own Naps Battles and others like it. I just really haven't seen anything intriguing on the market in the last few years, that would make me rebase and change my rules.

So, in the end, you who posted here were all correct. Empire V is old like me; a dinosaur. Vtsaogames, you were right. I haven't played Empire V this century, either!

sctrac25 Feb 2013 6:01 p.m. PST

I am currently dusting off my 15mm Napoleonics and have been re-reading Empire as well as debating learning Revolution & Empire. I started playing Empire when I was in Junior High and started collecting 15mm Russians in earnest in High School…and damn near failed out of college my freshman year because I found 4-5 friends who were interested in playing empire with me (well…that along with beer and girls).

I took a long hiatus from Napoleonics when I moved from my home state for work in 1994…got married..had kids, etc. In the meantime, I have bought and read numerous rulesets that were (and many still are) popular, but quite frankly don't offer the level of detail (or too much in a few cases)that I enjoy in a wargame. Empire isn't designed as a tournament game or a set up / play / finish in 2 hours…but that's ok by me. I enjoy the research, uniforms and history of the individual units, etc. – something that Empire allows while allowing corps or armies to engage in a wargame.

So, I recently made the executive decision to pull out my old figs, go through them and begin to replace many of the older (ie minifigs) with some nicer newer miniatures. I might be the only person in my state building an army for a 20+ yr old ruleset, but it will be a labor of love.

I get that Empire (or any other ruleset) isn't for everyone…but apparently it is right for me.

Spreewaldgurken26 Feb 2013 7:33 a.m. PST

"While it is statistically possible, however improbable, that one might not ever activate your troops you still play unless the other sides also fails against all odds to activate. I fail to see how it is different than needing to get pips or be at the mercy of a turn of the card deck. All can strip away any semblance of being a real general rather than a victim. It is just whatever mechanic you are willing to accept."

Oh no, no, no…. flipping cards or getting pips is "just playing a game, like Tiddlywinks."

Grinding through 20 pages of flow charts… now that's Simulating History.

pessa0026 Feb 2013 10:44 p.m. PST

This: "but after buying and playing every set of Napoleonic rules that came along for 20 years I've stopped looking and just accept that Empire gives me the best game."

Agreed 100% 21

Bandit27 Feb 2013 10:34 a.m. PST

I played Empire because it was the dominant game with 'battalions on the table' which I feel is important in Napoleonics. I don't like a lot of things about Empire, I don't like that the player ends up representing nearly all levels of commander under his command and is largely rewarded for micromanagement which can exacerbate the notion that players just sit around while one guy runs the table.

It's been sometime since I've played Empire but I still play 1:60 games and that influence is entirely because of Empire.


The Bandit

WarDepotDavid03 Mar 2013 10:01 p.m. PST

I tired most rules at the time but because the club played these I learned them as they gave me the closest outcome and visual impact that I expected from all the books I was reading at the time.

Then the flow and intent of the rules clicked in me and not its quick easy to play. I play in a weekly group and also solo at home. Anything new I read or find we just make and vote on a house rule. Easy.

baltojake17 Mar 2013 6:58 p.m. PST

Enjoyed playing Empire since Empire #3, 25 plus years. It takes effort to learn the rules but worth it in my opinion. I am certinally not the brightest bubblelight on the Christmas tree so I think the rules can't be as difficult as some suggest. The investment in time may be more than some care to make however. One further comment, I too have played a lot of other Napoleonic rules and none have given me as much consistant enjoyment as Empire.

John Miller

Personal logo vonLoudon Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2013 8:02 p.m. PST

I played mainly because my wargame group played it and they played with 15s while I liked 25s. So I played it and Stars and Bars and hardly ever got on the table or finished a game. I liked the numbers of figures being smaller per unit however.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2013 3:34 a.m. PST

Started with the first edition in the late 70's. Still enjoy it.


J. P. Kelly

John Miller06 Aug 2013 3:07 p.m. PST

In my experiance, having played both Empire and Stars n Bars extensively, that ptoblem can usually be remedied by scenario design. It is true however, that if, as an example, your group was re fighting the Battle of Antietam, and you were commanding the AOP's Fifth Corps you might never get into the fight. I have played numerous other rule sets at conventions, where they were attempting to recreate a specific historical battle, and had more action at a drive in theatre than I did in that particular game.

John Miller

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