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Design Diary for Napoleon’s Triumph

This section is a public diary for the design of Napoleon’s Triumph.
Newest entries are at the top, oldest at the bottom.

July 25, 2006

Napoleon's Triumph Less is More & More is More. This entry presents a new draft of the rules, with simplifications of the combat rules that are the result of feedback from the blindtesting process, new attack examples to ease learning of those rules (which are really the heart of the entire game), and various other revisions and changes. Text changes from the previous draft that do not change the content of the rules are in blue. Actual rules changes that alter the way the game is played are in red. As always, feedback is welcome and can be sent by email to or posted to the Simmons Games thread at talk.consimworld.com.)

July 13, 2006

Napoleon's Triumph Small Changes. This is a new draft of the rules, with some small changes (thanks to those who responded with their questions and comments). Because the changes are infrequent and scattered, significant changes (as opposed to mere corrections of typos) are in red to make them easier to find. As before, volunteer proofreaders are invited to give the rules a once-over; comments can be sent by email to or posted to the Simmons Games thread at talk.consimworld.com.)

June 30, 2006

Napoleon's Triumph A Quick One. Wow, what a lot of responses to the last rules draft! Here is a new draft incorporating suggestions from quite a few folks. There are no rules changes as such, but there are quite a few clarifications and corrections. While some of these are just the corrections of typos, there is a package of changes that have a unified object: to make the attack rules clearer to Bonaparte at Marengo veterans, by giving more emphasis to points where the two games differ. The most substantial change has been to the attack example, which has been substantially altered to make it look less like a Bonaparte at Marengo assault (it now shows units in reserve participating, whereas in the previous example all the units blocking). As before, volunteer proofreaders are invited to give the rules a once-over; comments can be sent by email to or posted to the Simmons Games thread at talk.consimworld.com.)

June 29, 2006

Napoleon's Triumph Picture Show. This entry essentially is just an illustrated inventory of the game components. Regular readers of the diary will have already seen much of this, though it has never all been collected in one place before. It is not utterly without novelty, however. This entry does provide the first look at what the back of the box will be like, and it also includes minor updates to the map and rules. Any volunteer proofreaders who want to give the map and/or the rules a once-over, by all means: your feedback is welcome! (Comments can be sent by email to or posted to the Simmons Games thread at talk.consimworld.com.)

June 21, 2006

Napoleon's Triumph Romancing the Stone. This entry updates the general design status (command pieces excepted, which were covered in the previous entry) and what has been going on with the game since the last general diary update in *cough* December 2005. You can see the current mapboard and download the current draft of the rules. Things are in very good shape at this point, and the map and rules are expected to be very close to what will ultimately be published. Any volunteer proofreaders who want to give the map and/or the rules a once-over, by all means: your feedback is welcome! (Comments can be sent by email to or posted to the Simmons Games thread at talk.consimworld.com.)

June 14, 2006

Napoleon's Triumph Round and Round We Go. Six months. Six months? Six months??? What on earth has been going on all this time with Napoleon’s Triumph? For the first part of the answer, click and read.

December 18, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph The Rough and the Smooth. In this entry, we have an update of the mapboard, a new draft of the rules, and scads of commentary about the game and its development, including quite a bit of commentary on the rules process. As before, continued thanks to all of you volunteer proofreaders out there for your efforts.

December 9, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Another Day, Another Draft. Thanks to all my volunteer proofreaders! Here is another draft for you to chew on. The combat rules are little revised since the previous drafts, but sections 1 to 10 have been substantially revised. The main object of the revision was to squeeze our redundant or what I decided were fussy comments. In writing instructions, you don’t want to include steps of the breathe-in-breathe-out variety, although it is not always obvious to the author where the line is between those and vital information. The text also now assumes wooden command markers, which I hope from a cost perspective I don’t live to regret, but there they are...

December 7, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Proofreader’s Delight. Volunteer proofreader's can entertain themselves by finding problems in this, the latest draft of the Napoleon’s Triumph rules. Thanks to those volunteers who already jumped in with previous drafts. Questions may not be answered individually, but they are nevertheless welcome as they help identify ambiguities in the rules. In general, each draft is the answer to questions posed in response to a previous draft. If you didn’t understand something from the previous draft, and still don’t understand it in this one, keep asking: eventually I may get the message.

December 5, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph That Was the Month That Was. This entry includes a link to a third draft of the game rules (volunteer proofreaders will want to download it, but otherwise it isn’t very different than the 3 December draft). This, however, is a real entry and was written as a bookend to the 29 October design diary entry, which marked the end of a long (bad) phase of the design and the start of a new one. This entry is also a bookend, marking the end of the highly fruitful November design process, and Janus-like, also faces the start of a new process, that of playtesting and tuning the game, which has now begun.

December 3, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Rules of War. I was racing to get this done by the bicentennial of the battle, but just missed. Anyway, there is no diary entry here other than the second draft of the rules to Napoleon’s Triumph. What happened to the first draft? Well, the first draft had no examples and had so many internal inconsistencies that I didn’t feel like publishing it, even as part of the design diary. Still, this is a pretty big entry even without commentary, and is the second major milestone in the design since the completion of the first version of the game board. There is much of interest, but undoubtedly the main novelty here are the rules on attacks, which are both very similar to and very different from those of Bonaparte at Marengo. You’ll understand what I mean by that paradox when you read them. Also of interest is the fact that the game rules are in fact shorter than those of Bonaparte at Marengo, thereby defying two expectations: (1) that any wargame sequel will have longer rules than its predecessor, and (2) that big games must have long rules. Oh, yes...one more thing: I'm not providing customer support on draft rules of an unpublished game, so while feedback is welcome, don’t expect that fast or personal responses will be forthcoming.

November 23, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Reinforcing Victory. Two intertwined design issues in Napoleon’s Triumph have been victory conditions and the burden of attack: which side has to attack in order to win, and which side has only to defend? The key to this long-standing problem came from a surprising quarter: the rules for reinforcements. Also tackled in this entry are two minor issues: the simulation of cossacks and (yet again) hidden units.

November 16, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph The Scope of Things to Come. A major problem in the design of Napoleon’s Triumph has been setting the scope of the design. Scope, in this sense, refers chiefly to the limits of time and space imposed on the design, the material implementation of which take the form of the map and the time track. How these scope limits have been set in the game is the topic of this diary entry. Of particular interest is the discussion of what scenarios are being included in the game and the rationales for their existence.

November 8, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Secrets and Lies Redux. One new feature originally intended for Napoleon’s Triumph which was not present in Bonaparte at Marengo was to further limit the information each player had about the other’s army. This entry traces the development of that aspect of the design from dummies through hidden groups and on to the current implementation: hidden pieces. Of particular focus are the problems inherent in the introduction of dummy pieces, and how the current hidden pieces implementation addresses the problems that dummies were supposed to address, at a lower complexity cost and with fewer unwanted side effects.

November 4, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Follow the Leader. The most important change in the design since the original conception of the game is the introduction of leader pieces. Bonaparte at Marengo had a highly abstracted command system, but I had a desire to make command in Napoleon’s Triumph less abstract and more concrete. The original conception was based on printing corps designations on the pieces. The failure of this approach to yield the desired results led to the addition of leaders to the game. One of the important benefits of this decision has been the overhaul of road movement, which has been abstracted to make it easier to understand as well as yielding more realistic limitations on the ability of the armies in the battle to execute complex maneuvers by road.

November 2, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph The Road Not Taken. This entry addresses a design direction that was taken back in June, which was not successful, and analyzes why it was not successful. It also links back to a previously unpublished design diary entry from that period, at the time when it was hoped that the June design would fix the problems with the previous version that had come out in playtesting. As a bonus, this entry gives a sneak peak at a new version of the map, although an explanation of it will have to wait for future design diary entries.

October 29, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph The Sound of Silence. It has been over 4 months since the last design diary entry; rather a long delay given that the plan was for one or two entries a week. In that time, there have been numerous inquiries about the status of the design, and those asking have received very little in the way of a response. This entry is my first real response to what has (and hasn’t) been going on in all that time. The bad news is that not much has been going on; the good news is that the project isn’t dead and may be seriously underway again at last. The entry is concerned with explaining the design problems that have afflicted the project, and why it was stuck for so long.

June 11, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Secrets and Lies. This entry addresses a design direction that was attempted in June, but the diary entry for which wasn’t actually published until November. The June design described in this entry was ultimately abandoned. It had extensive features to increase the amount of uncertainty and secrecy in the game. To learn about these features, you can read this entry (which has not been modified from its original form). To find out what went wrong, and why this whole direction was ultimately abandoned without even a real try out, read the entry for November 2.

May 30, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Time and Tempo. In the lower-right corner of the game board are three large play-aids for tracking time and demoralization. This entry begins with a discussion of those play-aids and how they are supposed to work, but this entry is really about tempo in the design of Napoleon’s Triumph. That subject begins with an overview of the tempo of the fighting at Austerlitz, and the initial plans for the adaptation of the rules governing tempo in Bonaparte at Marengo to the newer game. Finally, entry concludes with a summary of the results of the first two major play-tests of the game, and the how the results of the second play-test have altered the course of the design.

May 23, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph The Legend. This entry discusses the legend on the map board for Napoleon’s Triumph. The map legend is a double-function element, intended to both increase the resemblence of the game board to a nineteenth-century battlefield map, as well as to provide a full-color key to the symbols on the game board, as opposed to the black-and-white key that the rules to Bonaparte at Marengo provided. The diary entry is largely concerned with the graphical design of the element, but it does explain what the symbols mean and gives some indication as to how some of the symbols are used in the game. This entry was originally intended to appear last week, but the early and unexpected arrival of Friedrich meant that priority had to be given to getting the web pages for that game ready.

May 8, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph The Map Board. This entry presents the first public preview of the Napoleon’s Triumph game board (as it exists at the current stage of development). This is the first version that has all of the play aides in place and as such represents a complete (though no doubt not final) version of the game board. This diary entry provides a high-resolution (150 dpi) image of the map board that can be opened in its own window, and a top-level decomposition of the different functional goals of the map board as a component in a wargame design. Future design diary entries will address some interesting specific problems in the map board design for Napoleon’s Triumph in light of those generic functional goals, what choices were made, and will give the reasoning behind them.

May 3, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph The Game Box Cover This entry covers how the game got its name and the design of the game box. The cover art is from a painting by Ernest Meissonier: “The Cuirassiers of 1805”, which shows a regiment of French cuirassiers awaiting orders at Austerlitz. The original painting is currently on display at the Musée Condé in Paris. The box may seem like a somewhat prosaic thing to discuss, but I do feel that it matters. It is in fact the first visual encounter most people will have with the game, and it sets both their expectations and their mood: it should put them in the right frame of mind to enjoy the game. Just as much as the other physical components, the box has its part to play in creating the paper time machine that is the center of the simulation gaming experience, and its design should not be neglected.

May 2, 2005

Napoleon's Triumph Dear Diary. This initial entry covers the design diary itself, and a thumbnail sketch of the overall status of the project. Later entries will cover specific items of development work, such as the research, the map, the pieces, the rules, artwork, and other topics related to the development of the game. Much of the work on the game has already been done – necessarily so as it was not desirable to announce that the game is going to be published without a firm idea of what it would be. The diary will therefore be covering a review of work done weeks or months previously as well as updates on new work completed since the last diary entry.