Most wargamers have come to expect quality from TalonSoft's Battleground series and Battleground 6: Napoleon in Russia doesn't disappoint. Continuing in fine fashion, Napoleon's Russian campaign is handled in the usual historically accurate manner and provides plenty of alternative "what if" scenarios as well. This time around, the focus is on the bloody and intense battle at Borodino that served as Napoleon's stepping stone for his abortive invasion of Russia. Although victorious, the cost was too high and he was unable to sustain the momentum or capitalize on the outcome in the end.
As in all Battleground series games, play is turn-based and in this instance, daylight turns represent the equivalent of fifteen minutes while nighttime turns are one hour. Because of the five-phased detailed and rigid "Order of Battle" executed by both sides in the conflict, expect scenarios to span several days. You have the option of playing as either the French commander, Napoleon, or as the leader of the Russian forces, Tsar Alexander. The five variable victory conditions are point based with points awarded during each battle for objectives met and losses sustained. Outcomes can be Major Defeat or Victory, Minor Defeat or Victory and Draw.
Not only has TalonSoft faithfully reconstructed the historical scenarios that embodied Napoleon's thrust into Borodino, they have included several extremely interesting "what if" possibilities as well. There is no "campaign" option as such, but you have complete control over which scenarios you wish to play from a list of more than twenty, including historical and alternative battles. Playing only the historical scenarios in order of occurrence will emulate the actions that occurred in real life.
The interface is an easy to use point-and-click or point-and-drag affair, although the occasional picayune glitch arises during troop movement. The nice thing about playing turn-based war games on the computer is the freedom to concentrate on gameplay rather than managing and crunching endless numbers and this game is no exception. Any flaws in Battleground 6: Napoleon in Russia are decidedly minor ones, none singularly problematical enough to spoil gameplay. A solid interface system coupled with full coverage of every factor involved in recreating this 1812 confrontation makes the game ultimately enjoyable. Individual unit strengths for the dozen types available, variable formations (historically accurate), unique unit stacking conventions, terrain and man-made structure influences, optimal and varied combat rules, supply, fatigue and strategic and tactical planning are all part of the mix that makes the game challenging and rewarding.
Make no mistake, Battleground 6: Napoleon in Russia is easy to learn but devilishly difficult to master. Full concentration and awareness of current unit/battle status is required at all times to keep abreast of the changing battlefield conditions. Success in the game is measured one step (turn) at a time and impatience can doom your strategic plan to an early failure. The game is truly an engaging product.
Graphics: Terrain, uniform identifications and formations are clear and easy to recognize.
Sound: Fairly average for a turn-based war game with the emphasis on play, not sound.
Enjoyment: On a par with most of the TalonSoft Battleground series games, the series seems to improve with age for intense and immersing gameplay guaranteed to drain hours of your life per session.
Replay Value: Many customizable options and varying strategies prolong this game's life.
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