Napoleon: Total War is a game in the Total War series of strategy games. Somewhere between an immediate sequel and stand-alone expansion to Empire: Total War, this entry in the series follows the bloody campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte around the turn of the 19th century. Unlike other Total War games, the single player mode is not centred around one particular grand campaign, but around a number of smaller ones. The player may control Napoleon's armies and lead them to victory, or side with his enemies and help check the French advance. Scenarios include the Italian campaigns of 1796-97, Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and the Wars of the Coalition after Napoleon's self-coronation as Emperor, with the Peninsular Campaign added as a DLC. The "historical battles" mode allows the player to recreate such conflicts as Arcole, the Battle of The Pyramids, Austerlitz, Borodino and Waterloo.
Like other games in the series, the gameplay features a mixture of Turn-Based Strategy and Real-Time Strategy. The player moves armies around and manages cities on a turn-based campaign map. When two armies meet, the game descends into a real-time battle mode. Napoleon: Total War puts more focus on ranged weapons and artillery than all previous games in the series, though artillery is not the dominant force on the battlefield (as it was in the actual Napoleonic Wars). Cavalry are reduced to supporting roles; artillery is deadly but vulnerable to attack when left unprotected.
This game provides examples of:
- Alternate History: Depending on how one plays the campaign, it's very much possible to turn history on its head, whether it's defeating Nelson in Trafalgar or conquering all of Europe. There's even a special ending cinematic should you win at Waterloo.
- Used as a Genius Bonus in the trailer/opening movie. Napoleon boasts of his victories in Egypt and Russia, campaigns he ultimately lost after initial successes in real life. It then shows his men burning the captured H.M.S. Victory after successfully landing on the shores of Britain, while some of his troops are marching on to invade London.
- Anachronism Stew: As in Empire, Napoleon features Moscow as the capital of the Russian Empire, when it is supposed to be St. Petersburg from 1713 to 1918. This also includes the Russian unique buildings the Winter Palace and the Kunstkamera museum, which are located in St. Petersburg in Real Life but can only be built in Moscow in the game. During Napoleon's campaigns, the goal is to take Moscow, thereby defeating Russia and winning. Except, in Real Life, Napoleon did reach Moscow only to see it burned by the retreating forces following their "scorched earth" policy, and he was forced to return with nothing.
- Anti-Cavalry: The square formation is the infantryman's very eloquent and persuasive argument against cavalry, but charging your cavalry head on into infantry is a bad idea in general. Cavalry are restricted to flanking and maneuvering by this time in history, and the vast majority of infantry can hold their own against any force of cavalry stupid enough to try a full frontal charge, thank you very much. Cavalry are best used as flankers; failing that, they are best concentrated against small segments of line to break units in detail while the infantry focus on keeping the other side's infantry from turning their guns on the cavalry.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: The singleplayer AI's general plan is to just march in a straight line at the player's army, even if it is outnumbered, or if a straight line attack is effectively suicide. The only time the AI acts any smarter is if it is scripted to do so, such as in the historical battles.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Ironclads. You pretty much have to max out the naval research tree to get them. By that point, you will have, most likely, beaten the campaign or lost it due to the time limit. In custom battles and multiplayer, they are speedy, due to being independent of the wind, but only 80 cannons meaning a sailing ship with more cannons can take it down in a straight up fight.
- Also, First Rates, especially the Spanish-exclusive Santissima Trinidad, are just too damn slow to be remotely useful in most scenarios, and their upkeep is stupidly high - even a trade juggernaut like Britain has trouble keeping more than a few. Funny enough, Truth in Television as far as the Santissima Trinidad is concerned - in the Battle of Trafalgar, due to her huge size, she couldn't move in the light winds and got singled out as a target very quickly, so several British ships mobbed her and basically blasted her to splinters.
- Ax-Crazy: There is one steam achievement called "The Medallion of The Imperial Psychopath". It's description reads: "Declare war on all nations the first turn, never negotiate peace, and win the game".
- Badass Boast: The intro:"My enemies are many. My equals are none.
In the shade of olive trees, they said Italy could never be conquered.
In the land of pharaohs and kings, they said Egypt could never be humbled.
In the realm of forest and snow, they said Russia could never be tamed.
Now they say nothing. They fear me. Like a force of nature - a dealer in thunder and death.
I say: I am Napoleon - I am EMPEROR!"
- Bilingual Bonus: Units will answer to your commands in their respective languages, like in Empire.
- But Thou Must!: Anyone playing Napoleon's campaigns for the first time must do them in chronological order, Italy first, Egypt second, and Europe third.
- Cannon Fodder: The Armed Citizenry are little more than local townsfolk hastily given muskets and would break before just about any other unit. They are mainly used in sieges, either in massed rushes or for garrisoning buildings. Their main utility comes from the fact that they're free, making them utterly expendable, and more over that they can fill out smaller garrisons with utter hordes of angry, armed townsmen. They cannot leave their home city, making them only usable for defense.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Just like in Empire, trying to conquer the whole map in Napoleon is very hard and not practical as having too much territory will overstrech your finances and military strength, making you more vulnerable to bankruptcy, rebellions, and invasion. Unfortunately, getting an achievement mandates conquering all of Europe.
- Death from Above: Get yourself a decent number of heavy howitzers and bombardment mortars with percussive shells and watch your enemies get blown to smithereens. Incidentally, this function is actually what makes it safe to stick your own units in front of them... as long as you're not aiming there, anyway.
- Demoted to Extra: Factions that were pretty major back in Empire now are relegated to punching bags that fall incredibly easily to a major faction.
- Difficulty Spike: Napoleon's campaigns get more harder with each one even on easy. Italy is a walk in the park and you are likely to only get delayed due to outmarching your own supply lines. Egypt, while you have to deal with rebellions, is not that difficult unless you really botch things. Europe gets much more harder since you actually fight multiple factions at once who will attack.
- Elite Mooks: Elite units can easily give a player a major headache if they are not careful, but special mention goes to Napoleon's Old Guard and Young Guard. They are very accurate, can fire very rapidly, and do morale damage just by being near their enemies, which no other unit in the game does, and the morale ensures they do not rout unless they get massacred to the last man.
- Fragile Speedster:
- Horse Artillery are relatively small cannons and are vulnerable without an escort, but they can run. Used in bulk, this means you can have a roving battery of artillery that can move from one end of the battlefield to the other as fast as cavalry.
- Missile cavalry are incredibly fast, and can shoot very accurately, but will fall in a melee fight very quickly, unless it is artillery or skirmishers at the side.
- Skirmishers and riflemen. They're mobile, have very high range, and the entire rank can fire at once due to their spread-out nature as light infantry. However, they do not do well in melee, cannot perform a square formation, and generally reload more slowly than equivalent line infantry, especially riflemen.
- Friendly Fireproof: Averted, for the most part. PrinceofMacedon's YouTube videos for Napoleon have shown several incidents of artillery-induced friendly fire, the possible most hilarious being here. Light infantry are partially immune to this because of their skirmish ability, which lets them kneel down so as to avoid getting shot from behind by friendly soldiers. However, they may still get hit by friendlies depending on the terrain. The trope is somewhat in place compared to the infuriating friendly-fire incidents of the original Empire, where your artillery gunners would often respond to a "cease-fire" command by discharging their cannons into the ground a few meters ahead... usually where your troops were standing.
- Frontline General: Averted. Unlike most other TW games, this one takes place in an age where nearly all troops have firearms and artillery is exceptionally devastating. This means you generally want to keep your army's commanding officer well away from the front lines, as it is very easy for him to be wounded or killed by a stray bullet or cannon ball even if enemy troops are not aiming at him deliberately.
- Gameplay Ally Immortality: Certain historical generals - such as Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard von Blucher - can only be wounded, even in the event of a successful "assassination" attempt — they simply respawn later at their national capital. If he is wounded on the battlefield, however, his unit loses his special abilities and aura for that battle, essentially putting him out of action for the duration of the engagement.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: There are a number of times where the game is set to work with real history.
- In Italy, Piedmont Sardinia does not work with Austria unless the player really drags their feet. Histroicaly, Austria and Piedmont distrusted each other brutally.
- The Egypt intro explicitly calls Egypt Ottoman territory. Egypt was a technical Ottoman province, and while the Ottomans will send soldiers, they really hated the Mamluks.
- Gentleman and a Scholar: Its gentleman unit provides the page quote.
- Glass Cannon: Artillery. Despite being the core of a proper army, even moreso in the latter, they are extremely vulnerable in close quarters unless immediately supported by infantry (preferably line) or cavalry to check a charge... or with canister shot ready and waiting to be fired to do the same. Part of the role of cavalry in the game is to destroy (can't capture 'em) any undefended guns that they can charge... from the side or behind, that is.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: L'Empereur himself in his campaigns.
- In a Single Bound: Boarding fights in a Naval Battle are quite ridiculous as the crewmen of the attacking ship will jump at unrealistic heights.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Third-Rate Ships have the best balance of Cost, Crew Size, Firepower, Hull Strength, and Mobility. For the price of one First-Rate you can have 2-3 Third-Rates instead.
- Macross Missile Massacre: There are rocket troops and rocket ships, but their tactical effectiveness is limited compared to simply getting proper artillery (although rocket ships can kill any large and slow ship in the game, due to their long range and tendency to start fires). Rocket artillery also cannot move, though its wide and extremely long-ranged field of fire, as well as its massive psychological effects and explosive radius, make it quite useful as a battlefield weapon, especially when defending.
- Magikarp Power: Artillery in general requires patience to become a significant contributor.
- Although Cannons are a crucial arm of 18-century armies, freshly recruited and inexperienced cannon crews will struggle to significantly weaken enemy units before they get too close. And even if they survive long enough to become reliably accurate, you'll find that solid-shot cannons only have a niche role in breaking structures and infantry squares at long-range and shotgunning the enemy with canister as a last resort. Also, Cannons can quickly become useless on maps with hills and very uneven terrain: Even a small rise between a battery and the target will result in ineffectual fire.
- Explosive shells are your best and only option for quickly devastating enemy units from long range. The problem is that you need to invest a lot of time and money to research and prepare your infrastructure in advance as Howitzers are far in the tech tree.
- Mission-Pack Sequel: Fans disagree as to whether Napoleon was this in regards to Empire, or simply a stand-alone expansion. The Creative Assembly's silence on the issue just makes things more complicated.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: In the Egypt campaign, the Mamluks have a melee only armed citizen unit. Not only does it get shot to pieces relatively easily, but even if it gets into meele, they quickly rout regardless.
- The Musketeer: Ranged infantry and cavalry can befit the trope with varying effectiveness depending on unit stats and abilities. Dragoons are the best example, but are limited to mêlée attack when on horseback (since they're basically "infantry who ride to the fight"). France have cavalry who can fire carbines from horseback, such as Napoleon's chasseurs à cheval.
- One-Hit Kill: There's a small chance for a cannonball to go right into the powder magazine of a warship and set everything off in an instant, turning what was once a well maintained vessel into a drifting pile of smoking timbers.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The diminutive Bomb Ketch is armed with a Mortar that gives it the longest attack range of any naval unit in the game. This provides a considerable first-strike capability at the start of a battle which can really turn the outcome in the other side's favor. As shown in this video where a few shots set a fire on the flagship that eventually destroys it. And the flagship was a Santissima Trinidad, no less.
- Plot Armor: You can NEVER kill Napoleon in the Campaign Mode as any successful assassination attempt will only incapacitate him for a few turns. The same will occur if he gets "killed" in battle; even though the icon will report "Enemy General Killed", and you will clearly see Napoleon's body lying on the ground, it will simply report him as having been wounded, even if he was directly hit by a cannonball to the head.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: While keeping most upgrades from the vanilla Empire game, infantry regiments oddly can no longer fire in ranks (even if you're Prussian, or British!). The firepower of an infantry regiment takes a major hit as a result. While this does lengthen engagements (rank-firing regiments can level each other with just a few volleys) it seems a strange regression for a sequel which is chronologically later than the main game.
- Power-Up Letdown: If you were expecting the Rocket Ship to be better than the Bomb Ketch by virtue of being faster to build and firing more projectiles per volley, then you've set yourself up to be disappointed: The Rocket Ship has less accuracy, higher upkeep, and less hull strength.
- Reality Ensues: Quite a bit in this game.
- In battles where there is rain, either via a slight drizzle or a thunderstorm, the weapons technology of the time guarantees misfires.
- In the Egypt campaign, the French soldiers are not dressed for fighting in the desert and will notably tire out a lot more faster than in the three other campaigns set in Europe.
- The Mamluks are horribly outdated, with medieval cavalry and no professional soldiers. They get routed by the French with ease in every battle unless the player really screws up or overwhelming numbers.
- The Egyptians will not take kindly to French occupation, and you will have to garrison every single city with some regular soldiers to get rid of rebellions.
- In the event France is severely weakened, expect to see the Coaltion start fighting each other. Many of them have goals they need to meet that inevitably means fighting each other, so the Coalition breaks apart once France is presumed to be defeated.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: You can loot captured enemy settlements. While this gives you a massive one-time treasury boost, it also destroys the province's ability to produce wealth and makes everyone in that province hate you, making it a desperation move at best, or for those that really hate a certain conquered micronation.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: If you loot a captured enemy province, everyone in that province will hate you for years to come. A rebellion is all but assured, and if your forces in the province are not strong enough, then the rebels might win.
- Technology Marches On: Technology itself is still researched, but this is a plot point in the Egypt campaign. The Mamluks have a very medieval cavalry, not a lot of artillery, and only militia. They get curb stomped by the French with ease due to being incredibly outdated.
- Worthy Opponent: Enemy generals will be dubbed as this should they fall on the battlefield. Napoleon also admits the Russian soilders are "amazing" even when "they are led by fools!" should you lose the historical Battle of Borodino.