GRAND STRATEGY IN THE AGE OF NAPOLEON
In European Empires you control one of the great powers of Europe at the time of Napoleon. You direct the armies and order the fleets in the first of the Great Wars that redrew the map of Europe. You make and break alliances and fight the campaigns of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
The map is divided into land and sea areas. Land areas contain terrain (mountains, uplands, lowlands, plains, forests, wetlands and deserts), population (which generates income), armies (which fight) and forts (which make armies stronger defensively) and naval bases. In addition to the armies on the map each kingdom has a army reserve and navy reserves.
Several different sizes and formats are provided for the map. Explorer seems to have problems with the full sized GIF version (it's fine in Navigator...) but is happy with the Jpeg. But the Jpeg file is huge and the quality degrades with use (it smudges every time you edit and save).
A printed rulebook is included in the starter pack (not for freemailers). The rules can be viewed online (see the links below). The online versions should print OK from your browser, but not with a very sensible layout. We expect to have a downloadable printable version available soon.
Empires Rulebook           Standard rules for all versions of Empires.
Empires Supply Rules     Additional rules for European Empires.
The rules for economics have been kept simple. This is a game about the Napoleonic Wars, not economic development or the industrial revolution. Income depends simply on your population.
The cost of increasing your income rises the more you grow, so thereís a rapidly diminishing rate of return. And if you build too few armies your economic growth will go for nothing, except to enrich more warlike neighbours (if theyíre not warlike already, try looking prosperous with a weak army, and see what happens).
Supply costs limit your ability to build up your armies indefinitely. Build too many armies and youíll spend your whole income feeding them, with nothing left for moving and fighting.
ARMIES & SUPPLY
For this game weíve developed supply rules that are simple to use but very important, that force armies to concentrate or disperse in a way thatís true to the historical period.
In a well-planned campaign your armies can move quickly and remain concentrated, so that you can march your troops from one battlefield to another and chase weaker opponents from one end of the map to the other (or more likely, force them back onto their reserves or into fortifications or difficult terrain).
If your supplies run short or your supply lines are cut then your armies will move slowly and have difficulty combining on the battlefield.
Armies can retreat when attacked by larger forces. To force a decisive battle you must manoeuvre to prevent your opponent from retreating, or make your attack against a position your opponent cannot afford to lose.
Army concentrations are limited by the dispersal rules. At the end of each turn an area can hold only as many armies as population, plus one for each fortification. Above that they begin to disperse into your reserve (from where they can be re-mustered and redeployed).
There are no random numbers, even in the battle routines. Uncertainty and variation ("friction" in military jargon) are provided by a unique processing system, under which the "fog of war" increases as the turn progresses.
Terrain and tactics play a part: itís not just the biggest army that wins, but although the smaller army will rarely win a battle it will often win a war. Speed and movement means you fight your battles when it suits you, when and w here itís least convenient for your opponents.
NAVIES & NAVAL BASES
The naval rules stress the importance of naval bases and the slowness of ship building, allowing for battles and blockades. Armies and supplies can be moved by sea and landed on enemy and friendly coasts if you can maintain a fleet offshore.
ORDER OF PLAY
At the start of the turn everything in the game is exactly as reported at the end of the previous turn. As the turn continues and the armies and fleets move around the situation can be very different and your best laid plans come into conflict with the best laid plans of your opponents.
If youíre first in the order or play, your first action will be made against a situation thatís exactly known. By the time your second action happens, everyone else will have made their first action, and the situation will have changed a little. By the time of your last action everything will have changed, and your actions had better be things that donít depend on what other people do.
The order of play in each turn varies according to what you spend on initiative in the previous turn. The more you spend the sooner you move, but the less youíve got left to spend on other things.
SCOUTS & SPIES
Scouts report whatís happening in all territories adjacent to your own. Spies can go anywhere and send back reports as they move, or go to ground and continue sending back their reports until an enemy guesses where they are and hunts them down. They can also lie in wait for enemy spies and ambush them as they move, or sabotage enemy defences.
Turnsheets (your instructions for the turn) can be sent by the usual methods (post or fax) and can also be sent by email through our website at www.softsim.co.uk. We can also send your game report by email, in which case it could be back in your hands within minutes of the adjudication being completed. For this you need to download our printer utility, which is available from our Downloads Page.
The Hints & Tips Page includes a sample turn with a commentary on what's happening, that will probably give you a better idea of how the game works than reading a decsription or the actual rules (the rulebook is trying to tie down every loose end and specify exactly what should happen in which situation - the details are important and you'll want them once youre up to speed, but it doesn't make for easy reading when you first start).
STARTUPS & WAITING LISTS
You can start by waiting for a new game to start or by taking over an existing "standby" position (where the previous player has dropped out). You may have to wait a while for the chance to join a new game starting from scratch, but standby places and positions in short-handed practice games are available very quickly, and itís a good idea to use one of these to learn the system while you wait. The current state of the waiting lists can be seen on the Waiting Lists Page.
HOW TO JOIN
To play for free, see the Freemailers section. Email us, or use the Freemailer Startup Form to request a startup. You can upgrade a freemailer position to a major power either by paying turnfees or by becoming an Online Member.
For online membership the freemailer restrictions don't apply, except you must still play entirely online - the cost is £24.50 per year in the UK (Aus $74.50, US $48.50, Euros 44.50) and you get an extra freemailer startup as well. The form for this option is inside the softsim website, on the same page as turnfee renewals.
To join as a turnfee/postal player you'll need to send your name and address along with a cheque or postal order for £5.00 (payable to Software Simulations). This covers the cost of your rulebook, setup and first three turns (or five turns in a standby position or a short handed game). Use the Startup Form provided.
Freemailers and Online Members don't pay turnfees. For other players turnfees are £2.20 for one, £10.00 for five, £22.00 for ten or £36.00 for twenty. There are discounts if you play in more than one game. Games normally run with two-weekly deadlines (with fourteen days between turns). We welcome players from outside the UK. We charge extra for overseas postage, but not for email.
As for more details of any of our other Historical, Science Fiction and Business games or any of our many sports strategy and stats games (covering Baseball, Ice Hockey, Soccer, Cricket, American Football, Australian Rules, Formula One Motor Racing, Rugby League and Basketball). Details of these games can be found on our website at www.pbmsports.com.
European Empires is one of a series of games that have a lot of rules, concepts and software in common. Medieval Empires, World Empires and Australian Empires are very close relatives, using the same basic rules with various optional rules either added or taken away.
Dark Age II and Barbarians at the Gate have a slightly different background with a lot more special rules to reflect their historical settings. Dark Age covers the invasions of Britain after the Romans departed, and Barbarians at the Gate deals with Europe at the fall of the Roman Empire.
Spaceplan II and Star Chase are closely related games (in fact, the original Dark Age I and Spaceplan I were exactly the same game, even with the same map, but with all the names changed). Spaceplan is the heavyweight game of the group, with complex economics and battlefleets setting out to conquer the galaxy, while Star Chase is a lighter and faster game.
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