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"What are Empires strengths as a ruleset?" Topic

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1,546 hits since 2 Jul 2013
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Personal logo optional field Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2013 8:06 a.m. PST

I've never played Empire, but all this talk of the game and its place on TMP has me wondering about the game. Ergo, I have several questions on the subject:
1. What are Empire's strengths?
2. What is the smallest practical battle that can be played with Empire?
3. What is the best edition and what are the relative strengths of the different editions?
4. How, if at all, does it handle campaigns?
5. Would it be useful at all for the War of 1812?
6. How easily would it work with ImagiNations and/or alternative history?
7. What else do you have to say on the topic?

rmcaras Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2013 8:09 a.m. PST

is this a Doctoral dissertation?

Trajanus02 Jul 2013 8:15 a.m. PST

For openers it would be useful to say which Empire you are talking about.

I played III,IV and V and there's differences in all of them let alone "Revolution and Empire".

heavyhorse Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member02 Jul 2013 8:37 a.m. PST

played empire 2 and 3 and gave up on 4..liked 2 a lot.. if you want multiple corps battles 3 works just fine and as with any set of rules a little tweaking makes it run well and is a lot of fun

21eRegt02 Jul 2013 8:38 a.m. PST

Some things that I consider strengths others might consider a weakness, so be fore-warned. I'm also talking the last version of Empire, no longer numbered, just "Empire."

1. Ability to be a corps commander while still retaining a tactical feel. Quick resolution of melees with no multiple turn melees going on. One dice roll for shooting, no need to roll a variable for a good or bad volley. No saves! Superb command and control rules that add a wonderful flavor to the game. Comprehensive tables of troop types that let you tailor the games from early war battles to Waterloo.
2. I've played games with an infantry and cavalry element per side. That said, it will feel better with more.
3. Scotty liked Empire III best but some loopholes allowed rule rapists to ruin it. I really like the latest version and have not played Revolutions to Empire.
4. I have used the Empire Campaign System successfully for several campaigns after removing some of the more book-keeping intensive elements. It was designed for Empire III in mind but should work with any edition.
5. 1812? For Plattsburgh and New Orleans and maybe Bladensburg sure. But for the majority of the battles you would probably want to tweak the figure ratio. Empire does provide ratings of US forces.
6. It is a great game system IMHO so just agree on values and plug in the game mechanics. It would do very well IMHO but is NOT designed with the Lace Wars in mind, so would fail for a SYW style world because of the cavalry rules.
7. The number of charts and flow-charts have caused a lot of criticism over the years that have some merit. If it is the regular game of choice you will find that you typically don't need to work through the elan test to charge or look up the fire factors for some morale class. They will become intuitive. But it does require regular play to get to that level. You can't just play one or two games a year and expect it to play fast. But IMHO again, the trade-offs are well worth it. I've played or purchased dozens of Napoleonic rules and I always come back to Empire for a "grand-tactical" kind of game.

Hope that helps. There is a Yahoo Group on the subject.

sneakgun02 Jul 2013 8:44 a.m. PST

It doesn't have books for each nation that don't keep up with rule changes. Back in the day, you could play across the whole country.

marshalGreg02 Jul 2013 8:54 a.m. PST

I found best play (as GM- since seldom no one else would do the planning out)was each player command an Inf division supported by a cav brigade and extra battery from the corps reserve. Most players could handle this with playing only 3-4 times a year.
I don't see it at conventions any longer and I can't find anyone to play. I have consider overnight travel to play a multicorp size game.
R & E should be looked at. I think it has potential to play better than Empire V. I have same issue regarding player availability.

Strength- feel of play, command and control challenges, along with tactical still present.
Weakness- complex, number crunching/time consumption per turn and player availability.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2013 10:43 a.m. PST

It was designed for gamers in a different era where all day battles on a Saturday were the norm, there were few choices in rules, gamers had time to digest and argue every little rules point, etc. I played Empire for well over a decade and have some good memories, but its mechanisms simply do not appeal to today's gamers. There's no way it would be played today in my current group as everything needs to fit into a 3-4 hour window.

We did use Empire for several campaigns and it seemed to work quite well at the time. The advantages were that pretty much everyone had the rules and you could travel anywhere in the US and have a good chance of finding a game. We had several people over the years who had temporary job assignments in our city who fit right in as they already had Empire.

Vincent Solfronk Inactive Member02 Jul 2013 11:34 a.m. PST

#5: Unless you create a "fantasy" US (or British in North America for that matter), Empire really doesnt fit into the Wo1812 and I created (and sold) a 15mm USA and Brit Army for Empire! Empire works on such a larger scale and the North American campaigns were so much smaller than Europe, it just doesnt fit well.

Now I am almost finished creating a new 15mm USA army for FoGN!!!

Am I crazy or what!

badwargamer02 Jul 2013 4:11 p.m. PST

optional field…that's a lot of questions….why don't you post them as seperate threads so that each one can be discussed in full.

Might be worth crossposting to the general napoleonic board as well to reach a wider audience ?

le Grande Quartier General Inactive Member02 Jul 2013 5:52 p.m. PST

Revolution and Empire, in conjunction with the Empire Campaign System, is a great model to use to design your own practical ruleset. link

rmcaras Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2013 5:57 p.m. PST

21eRgt has won the right to post "PhD-Empire" after his nom de plume.

winner, winner chicken dinner!

WarDepotDavid Inactive Member02 Jul 2013 6:30 p.m. PST

As an avid Empire V player at a weekly group and solo as well, I agree with all 21eRgt says.

We added tweaks based on our understanding and research and as long as majority of the group agrees. We now play pretty quick and are adding a new player or 2 each couple of months.

Easy to learn and play if you have a good understanding of the tactics and troops types of the period.

I play smaller contacts using brigades and even regiments as separate units.

If you want a quick overview of the backbone of the rules:

GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2013 5:27 a.m. PST

They are heavy enough to use as a door stop.

Malefric Inactive Member04 Jul 2013 1:49 a.m. PST

1. What are Empire's strengths?

Very Napoleonic flavor. Maneuver within your command structure as opposed to random battalions all over the place as in less structured rules.

2. What is the smallest practical battle that can be played with Empire?

Divisional battles are possible, but the game is really structured for Corp vs Corp (meaning a couple of MEs--generally brigades or divisions on each side).

3. What is the best edition and what are the relative strengths of the different editions?

III and V are the heavy favorites. V is better written and covers lots of "gaps" that are left unclear in III. The multi-page charts are annoying from both editions. I re-did them for my club.

4. How, if at all, does it handle campaigns?

Empire Campaign System, if you can find it, covers just about every aspect you could ever want with a campaign. You may need to hire an CPA to shuffle all the paperwork around though.

5. Would it be useful at all for the War of 1812?


6. How easily would it work with ImagiNations and/or alternative history?

Just make a spreadsheet w/ unit ratings… same as any other wargame.

7. What else do you have to say on the topic?

A lot of the hate for Empire comes from how units or generals are rated. I really don't see this as an issue if you're playing with a club and can just modify the rules. Changing a commander from Despicable to Mediocre takes about 5 seconds in excel.

Small Arms/Artillery is great, simple and fast. Close combat is fairly quick as well if everyone know's their command's ratings, however one thing I never quite like is there are no "attritional" melees. The victor never takes losses from melee, only the defeated side takes casualties. Very much favors preparing the attack with artillery and musketry… which its argued is more period appropriate… allegedly…

Bandit Inactive Member05 Jul 2013 8:35 p.m. PST

1. What are Empire's strengths?

Battalions on the tabletop due to 1:60.
Corps command player role.
Grand tactical scope.

2. What is the smallest practical battle that can be played with Empire?

You could play a 1 brigade vs 1 brigade battle with Empire, the degree to which it scales down to the tactical is actually a weakness.

3. What is the best edition and what are the relative strengths of the different editions?

I, II, III = revisions (some are big)
IV = why are the French so strong?
V = why is it impossible for the French to lose?

[I say this as a French player]

4. How, if at all, does it handle campaigns?

Fine, like most all other tabletop systems, you'd use a different campaign system, but that said, due to its level of detail it is *more* amenable to a campaign system than most.

5. Would it be useful at all for the War of 1812?


6. How easily would it work with ImagiNations and/or alternative history?

Fine but you'd have to write up and balance stats.

7. What else do you have to say on the topic?

Nothing, this topic appears to be trolling bait.


The Bandit, a guy who has played Empire and doesn't love or hate Empire.

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