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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Elite Mooks: Napoleon's Young and Old Guard units. The Old Guard units at Waterloo will teach a British player the meaning of fear, especially at higher difficulty settings.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Too Dumb to Live: Napoleon carries over the "garrison building" mechanic that was introduced in Empire, along with the two problems about it. Infantry can garrison burning buildings and will not evacuate them unless manually ordered to do so.
- 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.